Saturday, December 30, 2006

Thank you, Brent Blackwell!

I’ve been meaning to use this venue as an opportunity to thank a friend who kept me from becoming a hood ornament on the front of a bus seven years ago. This isn’t a figurative tail where I talk about how someone inspired me in a time of need. This is a story about how someone literally saved me from dying. It took place back in the winter of 2000. The dude who did the saving is Brent Blackwell. I met Brent in an anatomy class during my junior year at UM. I thought I remembered the name from a few years previous. I mentioned there was a Blackwell that had recently played football for UM. He said that was him. Anyhow, he was a stand-up guy. He answered all of the million questions that I asked him about his experiences with UM football. I asked him the usual questions like, “who was the fastest player you ever saw at UM?” and annoying stuff like that. His answer to that particular question was Amani Toomer which did surprise me a bit. I was expecting a DB since they all supposedly run 4.3 in the forty. I told him that I had so much confidence in Michigan beating NC State in the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl that I bet Michigan -42. I was certain I was going to take home a crisp ten dollar bill but Michigan wasn’t up to the task (the boys in Blue only managed to win by 35). To his credit, he let me ramble on about crap like that. He even considered joining our intramural basketball team before wisely declining. Maybe we would have won a game.

I’m guessing since Brent didn’t finish his career at UM that some people might not remember him. So I’ll relate a few things that I remember. I’m fairly certain that I recall Brent telling me that he transferred to Western Illinois before returning to Michigan to complete his degree. Western Illinois is the same place that David Bowens ended up transferring to after breaking Michigan’s single-season sack record in 1996. It is also the alma mater of former NFL madman Bryan Cox. Brent also has the interesting distinction of being the only player that I have ever seen play SS, LB, and DE in college. If anyone out there knows of another player that has done that, let me know. Here is some additional background information from the Bentley Historical Library.

On to the heroics. One day after class, we were walking along the C.C. Little bus stop next to the Museum of Natural History. I decided that I was going to ignore everything that I was ever taught about crossing the street and not look both ways. In fact, I didn’t look any way. I just blindly took the plunge into the bus lane. I’m still waiting for my plaque for the dumbest decision ever made by a human being. Before I knew what happened, I was being pulled back onto the sidewalk and a bus went flying right in front of me. It must have missed me by an inch or two. I can’t imagine it’s an easy feat to notice a bus barreling down on a person and pulling that person out of the street before getting blasted. Reflexes like that are why people like Brent play college-level athletics and people like me watch said college-level athletes on TV. I would have been one of those tragic victims of a freak accident that happen every year or two on campus where a student is hit by a bus or falls out of a dorm window. I have to say that I am glad I didn’t go out like that. I was not what you could call an early bloomer in terms of accomplishing things in life. I was 20 and had, for the most part, lived a meaningless existence. Luckily, I had struck up somewhat of a friendship with Brent or my life would have ended on the front page of the Michigan Daily in 2000. I’m sure there are countless occurrences everyday where people come close to dying without knowing it. This was not one of those occurrences. Thanks, Big Hit!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

2006-07 Bowl Extravaganza

I’ve got good news for college football fans. The good people at the NCAA went out and got everyone a gift for Christmas. It certainly caught me by surprise. I didn’t expect anything from them this year. Instead of 28 bowl games, the NCAA is generously providing you with 32 bowl games. Lucky you! Now you’ll be able watch eight more teams that you could not care less about. I think I can speak for most college football fans when I say, “Thank you, NCAA! You actually made the bowl season less enjoyable. I didn’t think that was possible but you’ve proven that where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Despite the absurdity that is the 32-game bowl season, there are 64 teams gleefully preparing for their make or break game of the season. Here is a preview of the bowl games involving those teams and some commentary to boot. I present to you year two of the Bowl Extravaganza. Enjoy!

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
TCU (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5) San Diego, CA

December 19, ESPN2, 8 p.m.

Believe it or not, this game is probably better than half of the bowl games this year. Northern Illinois has a star running back in Garrett Wolfe. The Huskies played Ohio State and Iowa fairly tough this year. They pounded MAC champ Central Michigan. Four of their five losses came to bowl teams. TCU should be the favorite and it is. However, TCU is favored by as many as 12 points. Don’t let TCU’s 10-2 record fool you. The Horned Frogs beat two bowl teams. Their second best win was over New Mexico. They were also clobbered by an average Utah team. I expect this one to be a close game with TCU’s defense being just good enough for the win.

Las Vegas Bowl
Oregon (7-5) vs. BYU (10-2) Las Vegas, NV

December 21, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

Out of the 32 bowl games, this is the game that I have the second least confidence in behind Alabama/Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl. I also have to admit that I never actually got to see the Oregon/Oklahoma fiasco from earlier in the year. I was driving home from South Bend, IN at the time listening to the Florida/Tennessee game. I still can’t believe that same Florida team that barely squeaked by Tennessee, S. Carolina, and Vanderbilt is playing in the National Championship game. Anyhow, because I didn’t actually see the Oregon/Oklahoma game, I was never able to fully understand the lengths to which the Sooners were screwed. That game actually cost them a shot at the National Championship. I doubt a one-loss Oklahoma team would have finished ahead of Florida but at least there would have been a chance. It’s also nice to see that Oregon took that Oklahoma win and ran with it. They capitalized on that “gift” by going 4-5 to finish the season. I would have loved to see a BYU-Hawaii match-up but the sweet bowl system the NCAA has in place prefers to bore college football fans. The difference in this game will be that one team gave up on the season a long time ago and the other team wants to prove it can play with the big boys. I’m going with BYU in this one.

New Orleans Bowl
Troy (7-5) vs. Rice (7-5) New Orleans, LA

December 22, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

This game sums up the worst bowl season of all-time. These two teams have combined to lose to Arkansas State, Houston, and Tulane. Troy’s best win was a one-point win over Middle Tennessee. Rice’s best win was one-point win over East Carolina. Rice is on a six-game winning streak which is more than enough of a reason to go with them. If you’re not busy hitting yourself over the head with a hammer at 8pm on December 22, then you might want to turn this game on. It should be a doozy. Bowl
East Carolina (7-5) vs. South Florida (8-4) Birmingham, AL

December 23, ESPN2, 1:00 p.m.

At least the organizers of this bowl aren’t trying to weave corporate sponsorship together with a traditional bowl name. Despite a 7-5 record, East Carolina has victories over NC State and Virginia. Those are things that Florida State and Miami (FL) couldn’t do respectively. South Florida has one of the worst resumes of any bowl team on record. An upset win over West Virginia has somewhat masked the atrocity that was S. Florida’s schedule. Aside from the upset win over West Virginia and a win over DI-AA McNeese State, S. Florida’s wins came against teams with a combined record of 21-51. I suspect this game will be close. I’ll go with South Florida simply because it looked much better against West Virginia than East Carolina did.

New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico (6-6) vs. San Jose State (8-4) Albuquerque, NM

December 23, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.

Do you think New Mexico might have home-field advantage in this one? Not only is the game played in New Mexico but the game is called the New Mexico Bowl. These teams have combined to beat one bowl team this season. Considering that 64 of 119 (54%) of D1-A football teams make a bowl game, the organizers of this bowl could have drawn two names out of a hat and come up with a better match-up. I’m guessing the state of New Mexico stepped up and sponsored this bowl because nobody else would do it. And to be honest, it is probably the only entity that would benefit from sponsoring this sham of a bowl game. San Jose State should win 2-0.

Armed Forces Bowl
Utah (7-5) vs. Tulsa (8-4) Fort Worth, TX

December 23, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

The Armed Forces deserve better than this. Utah and Tulsa are two of the least “watchable” teams in college football. I can’t name a single player on either team nor do I want to do the research to find out any of the names. My first thought when I saw Tulsa was playing in this game was that Tulsa and Tulane should play each other every year in a bowl game. Then I found out that Tulsa already beat Tulane this season. To be honest, I bet there would be more intrigue for both Tulsa and Tulane if they did that than if they didn’t do it. Anyhow, Tulsa actually has three impressive victories this season over Navy, East Carolina, and Southern Mississippi. Unfortunately, it also lost to Houston, Rice, and SMU. Anybody who feels comfortable picking Tulsa in this game would probably enjoy a midnight stroll through Central Park. What makes this game so bad is that the same goes for Utah. Anybody who feels good about taking Utah is either a Mormon or a family member of Rick Majerus. Go with the Utes with zero confidence.

Hawaii Bowl
Arizona State (7-5) vs. Hawaii (10-3) Honolulu, HI

December 24, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

Why can’t we get Michigan playing at home in December against USC in the Michigan Bowl? How did New Mexico and Hawaii manage to pull this off? Talk about a sweet gig for the Rainbow Warriors. I don’t know if I can take a Hawaii loss in this game. It would trouble me beyond words. Arizona State is an underachieving, season tanking pancake. Hawaii is a high-scoring, overachieving underdog. I will probably be rooting for Hawaii as much in this game as I will be for Michigan in the Rose Bowl—and that’s saying something. It could go either way but I’ll take Hawaii in a close one in a slightly biased prediction.

Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan (9-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (7-5) Detroit, MI

December 26, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Middle Tennessee won seven games this season against teams with a 27-55 record. It also won by one point at home against 0-12 Florida International. It lost to all four of the BCS teams on its schedule by an average score of 45-9. That sounds like something Temple could accomplish. Seriously, would Temple be a .500 team in the Sun Belt Conference? I’m not knocking the Sun Belt Conference or the teams in the Sun Belt Conference. I’m knocking a system that produces games like Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee the day after Christmas. As long as the players aren’t emotional wrecks do to the departure of their coach Brian Kelly to Cincinnati, Central Michigan should destroy Middle Tennessee. Judging from some comments left on Stadium and Main recently it seems like Eastern Michigan’s 33-14 loss against Louisiana-Lafayette must have given fans of the Sun Belt a sense that the two conferences are equal. The NFL will tell you that they aren’t even close. Although, that doesn’t mean that we should be subjected to four MAC teams in bowl games. I remember when one was too many.

Emerald Bowl
UCLA (7-5) vs. Florida State (6-6) San Francisco, CA

December 27, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

Is Drew Weatherford the worst quarterback that has ever played meaningful minutes for a big-time D-1 college football program? I thought long and hard about ways to prove whether he is or not. Then I finally came up with a fail-proof test. I would simply ask a group of Ohio State fans if they would rather have Drew Weatherford or Stanley Jackson. The answer was unanimous. To my surprise, they went with Stanley Jackson. So there it is. Drew Weatherford is officially the worst quarterback that has ever played meaningful minutes for a big-time D-1 college football program. Don’t feel sorry for him, though. He is related to the real William Wallace from Braveheart. So he’s got that going for him. All non-USC fans should be rooting for a revival of the UCLA program. With virtually nothing out West standing in the way of USC and an annual trip to the National Championship game with the exception of a big-time upset, a return to glory for the UCLA program doubles your team’s chances of playing for the National Championship. I’ll take UCLA in a 7-6 shootout.

Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Alabama (6-6) Shreveport, LA

December 28, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.

Put a team with a pulse against Alabama and that team should be the easy favorite. That is precisely why I have no idea who is going to win this game. Oklahoma State certainly has nothing on Alabama even with its current coach-less state. Out of the 32 bowl games, this is by far the game that I am the least confident. This is also the only game of the 32 that I picked the underdog which happens to be Alabama.

Texas Bowl
Kansas State (7-5) vs. Rutgers (10-2) Houston, TX

December 28, NFL Network, 8:00 p.m.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just three weeks ago, Rutgers was actually in the peripheral of the National Championship discussions. The Scarlet Knights barely lost out on the Big East Championship by losing a triple overtime thriller to West Virginia in the season finale. Their reward for such a fantastic season? A trip to the Texas Bowl against Kansas State. Now, I’m not so confident in Rutgers to think that their “C” game would beat Kansas State’s “A” game. Rutgers doesn’t have enough talent to “mail it in” and still win against KSU. Having said that, Rutgers should win this game rather easily.

Holiday Bowl
California (9-3) vs. Texas A&M (9-3) San Diego, CA

December 28, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

It could be argued that Texas A&M was the most impressive team in the Big XII this season. That argument probably gets usurped by the argument for Oklahoma but I’m going to give it a try anyway. Texas A&M lost only three times this year by a total of six points. Two of the losses were one-point heart breakers to Oklahoma and Nebraska. The other was a four-pointer to Texas Tech. A&M could have won all three games. It is amazing to think how close the Aggies actually were to finishing undefeated and playing in the BCS National Championship game. That would have blown everyone’s mind. It’s blowing my mind just thinking about it. Another amazing thing to think about is that none of Texas A&M’s conference games were decided by more than ten points. In fact, seven of the eight games were decided by six points or less. I can’t imagine that has happened too many times in the history of college football. Nonetheless, Cal has the better roster so it should take this one. Don’t be surprised, though, if this game is decided by six points or less.

Music City Bowl
Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-4) Nashville, TN

December 29, ESPN, 1:00 p.m.

Kentucky is proof that a college football team only needs to win one game that it isn’t supposed to if it wants to make a bowl game. Kentucky’s upset over Georgia proved to be all that was needed to send the Wildcats to a bowl game for the first time since 1999. This is probably the biggest mismatch on paper of all the bowl games. Kentucky played Louisville, Florida and LSU and lost those games by a combined score of 134-35. Clemson is more like those teams than the teams that Kentucky actually beat. I actually like Clemson to cover the spread rather easily in this one.

Sun Bowl
Missouri (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-4) El Paso, TX

December 29, CBS, 2:00 p.m.

This is a game between two teams heading in opposite directions. Missouri started the season 6-0 only to go 2-4 after that including a loss to dreadful Iowa State. Oregon State started the season 2-3 including an embarrassing blowout loss to Boise State on National Television only to go 7-1 after that including a win over USC. I can’t believe the same team that looked like a JV High School team against Boise State managed to improve so much as to beat the #3 team in the country. I still find that unbelievable. I’ll take Oregon State to take this one since Missouri has been terrible and Oregon State has been quite good as of late.

Liberty Bowl
Houston (10-3) vs. South Carolina (7-5) Memphis, TN

December 29, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.

I wonder which option most big-time college coaches would choose: a) play a bowl game against top-notch competition with the odds of victory hovering around 50% or, b) play a bowl game against a lower division cream puff with the odds of victory somewhere around 85%. I bet opinions would be split pretty close to 50/50 on this one. Personally, I can’t get too excited about seeing my team play a lower-caliber team. That is why I was hoping Michigan didn’t have to play Boise State in its BCS game. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. If Michigan beat Boise State, then nobody would care because Michigan is “supposed” to beat Boise State. If Michigan lost to Boise State, then everybody would laugh at Michigan for losing to Boise State. It’s a no-win situation. However, with such a high likelihood for victory, many coaches might elect to take the win to guarantee a successful end to the season. Bowl wins mean so much in college football. So many things are forgotten if you can just win the bowl game. Steve Spurrier doesn’t have to worry about that though. His job security is about as safe as it gets in college football. On a side note—I can’t believe Kevin Kolb (Houston’s quarterback) is still in college. I remember when he started at Michigan in 2003. That was so long ago that Jim Herrmann had only used up six of his nine lives by that time. Anyhow, South Carolina should take care of business in this one.

Champs Sports Bowl
Purdue (8-5) vs. Maryland (8-4) Orlando, FL

December 29, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

The luckiest two years in Purdue Boilermaker history are about to end. Purdue’s record against Michigan and Ohio State over the last two years is a nifty 0-0. I expect one of those columns to change drastically over the next few years and I don’t think it’s going to be the first one. Maryland’s eight victories were by an average margin of 5.5 points and that includes wins against William & Mary, Middle Tennessee, Florida International, Virginia and NC State. Maryland beat one good team all year and that was a one-point win over Clemson. Even though Maryland hasn’t been impressive in its victories this season, it did manage to beat both Florida State and Miami (FL) both of which have vastly superior rosters. I like Maryland in this one but that’s just because I’m not sold on Purdue.

Insight Bowl
Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) Phoenix, AZ

December 29, NFL Network, 8:00 p.m.

Minnesota deserves a lot of credit for starting 2-5 and still making a bowl game. Although, that would have never happened if Minnesota didn’t barely squeak by D1-AA North Dakota State, 10-9. This game intrigues me quite a bit. I don’t particularly care for either of these teams. I’m not interested in seeing any players in particular. I’m just looking forward to seeing the contrasting styles. Texas Tech’s aerial attack versus Minnesota’s potent ground game. Minnesota thrives on long scoring drives while Texas Tech goes for the quick strike. I’m going with Texas Tech in this one but it’s pretty close to 50/50.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Boston College (9-3) vs. Navy (9-3) Charlotte, NC

December 30, ESPN2, 1:00 p.m.

This game should be given the most confidence on everybody’s Bowl Pick’em. Navy has no chance of winning this game. Navy played Rutgers and Notre Dame this year which happen to be teams of similar caliber to Boston College. The Midshipmen lost both games by a combined score of 72-14. Even more telling is the fact that Navy hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record from a BCS Conference since 1996. Although, I do have to give Navy kudos for putting together a better resume this season. Last year, Navy had eight wins against teams with a combined record of 13-63 (17%!!!). This season, Navy’s opponents had a more respectable won/loss record of 17-67 (20%!!!). I mentioned this one year ago right in this same spot:

“Navy has rebuilt its image entirely on scheduling the worst possible opponents. I thought this was a brilliant plan by Navy coach Paul Johnson. It was so brilliant, in fact, that Bobby Ross pulled Army out of Conference USA so he could do the same thing. Why play in a conference when you can schedule the worst teams from multiple conferences? I’m not being facetious here; Navy is no longer considered a joke. They’ve made three straight bowl games and have regained some national prominence.”

I could have just re-written the same thing this season and played it off as an original thought. Should we make a date to use the exact same passage next December, too?

There is something that has been on my mind over the last week that I just can’t figure out. Why would anyone leave a sweet coaching gig at Boston College to coach NC State? I know O’Brien went to NC State and all but I don’t think you’ll see Lloyd Carr leaving Michigan to coach his alma mater (Northern Michigan). Clearly NC State is a better job than Northern Michigan but Boston College it is not. I wish him luck. Something tells me that in four years, he’ll be hoping to land a job as cushy as the Boston College gig.

Alamo Bowl
Texas (9-3) vs. Iowa (6-6) San Antonio, TX

December 30, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.

No conference consistently has more ridiculous Bowl games than the Big Ten. Every year, the Big Ten’s middle-tier teams get matched up with other conference’s powerhouses. Amazingly, this hardly ever results in embarrassment for the league with the exception of any game involving Northwestern. I still remember Purdue’s shocking victory over 11-1 Kansas State in the ’99 Alamo Bowl. Other match-ups that appeared to be huge mismatches against the Big Ten in recent history include; ’04 Capital One Bowl between Purdue-Georgia (Georgia jumped out to a 24-0 lead before Purdue stormed back to make it close), ’01 Sun Bowl between Purdue-Washington State (Purdue at 6-5 was a huge underdog to 9-2 Washington State but managed to keep things close before losing by six), ’06 Capital One Bowl between Wisconsin-Auburn (Auburn was a huge favorite but Wisconsin pulled off a convincing win), and ’05 Outback Bowl between Wisconsin-Georgia (Georgia was an even bigger favorite than Auburn was in ’06 but Wiscy managed to keep things close ultimately losing by three). Those are just some of the mismatches the Big Ten has been faced with recently. I can’t remember the last time a Big Ten team embarrassed itself in a game that the Big Ten team was the obvious underdog (’02 Citrus Bowl or '02 Sugar Bowl?). All bets are off with Northwestern though. They are 0-5 in Bowl games since 1949. They are always the underdog and they always get smoked. This game is along those same lines, though. Most people think Texas is going to crush Iowa. It certainly looks that way to me. However, judging from how competitive the Big Ten has been against any and all competition over the last 10 years, I would be surprised if Iowa got blown out of the building. I’ll take Texas in a fairly close game.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. Georgia (8-4) Atlanta, GA

December 30, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

If you liked the Georgia-Georgia Tech game that featured 27 total points, then you’ll love this game. The over/under on points in this game is currently at 38. I think that is a little high. Neither team has an offense capable of putting up points on the other team’s defense. Va. Tech’s defense is better than Ga. Tech’s so Georgia won’t be scoring any points. Georgia’s defense only allowed more than 24 points in a game once this season so Va. Tech won’t be scoring any points. I’m actually looking forward to watching this one. This will probably be Georgia’s worst team for the foreseeable future. I doubt they’ll be this beatable for a long time. I think Va. Tech continues its impressive run with a close victory.

MPC Computers Bowl
Nevada (8-4) vs. Miami (6-6) Boise, ID

December 30, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Miami’s impassioned bowl-clinching regular season finale win over Boston College earned them a bowl game against Nevada. This might be the worst Miami (FL) football season of all-time. Sure, there have been worse seasons record-wise but consider that Miami a) started the season in the top ten only to finish 6-6, b) fired its coach, c) had a bench clearing brawl against Florida A&M, d) had a player shot and killed, and e) didn’t score more than 20 points in a game after October 28. I think the “U” did the right thing by naming Randy Shannon its coach. His primary goal should be to find an offensive mind to bring back the scoring in Miami so he can focus on killing (figuratively speaking) fools with his defense. Nevada is probably in for the most physical game that it has ever played. That doesn’t mean Miami will score a lot of points. That just means Nevada won’t. Miami will pull this one out.

Cotton Bowl
Nebraska (9-4) vs. Auburn (10-2) Dallas, TX

January 1, Fox, 11:30 a.m.

Despite going 10-2 this season and having the best two-win combination of any team in college football (Florida and LSU), Auburn was a bit of a disappointment. The defense was rock solid as usual only allowing more than 20 points in a game twice. The offense just wasn’t as potent as it was last season. However, with a win over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl, Auburn will finish 11-2 which will go down in the history books as a fantastic season. Nebraska lost to some pretty good teams this season (USC, Texas, and Oklahoma). It took another step towards reclaiming its national prominence. Win or lose, Nebraska has brighter days ahead. Auburn “should” win this game but I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on it.

Outback Bowl
Penn State (8-4) vs. Tennessee (9-3) Tampa, FL

January 1, ESPN, 11:00 a.m.

This game has ’02 Citrus Bowl written all over it. The only difference is that this Tennessee team isn’t as consistent as the ’02 team. Penn State only beat one team that finished above .500 this season and that was Purdue. Penn State’s four losses all came to teams ranked in the top 11. That probably qualifies Penn State as having the most top heavy schedule of any team in college football. That doesn’t mean, however, that Penn State has a chance in this game. Penn State lost those four games by a combined score of 99-36. When healthy, Tennessee is better than Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Tennessee is healthy.

Capital One Bowl
Arkansas (10-3) vs. Wisconsin (11-1) Orlando, FL

January 1, ABC, 1:00 p.m.

Nobody has tougher bowl games than Wisconsin. Including this year, Wisconsin’s last four bowl games have been against Auburn, Georgia, Auburn, and Arkansas. I don’t think Wisconsin will win this game. They will fall behind early and keep it close. That is the template for Wisconsin games when they are the underdog. They never get blown out but their deficiency in talent usually keeps them from springing the upset. I just don’t see Arkansas keeping up with Arkansas’ offense. If the Big Ten has any chance of finishing above .500 in their bowl games this season, it will need a win from either Wisconsin or Penn State. I don’t see the latter happening so it pretty much comes down to Wiscy.

Gator Bowl
Georgia Tech (9-4) vs. West Virginia (10-2) Jacksonville, FL

January 1, CBS, 1:00 p.m.

If this game were played in September or October, there is no doubt in my mind that West Virginia would have blown out Georgia Tech. I think the Louisville loss caused irreparable damage to the team’s psyche. The Mountaineers didn’t seem all too interested in the rest of its games dropping a shocker to South Florida and barely squeaking by Rutgers in triple overtime. If both teams play the way they should, West Virginia should crush Georgia Tech. Considering West Virginia’s lackadaisical play to end the season, I don’t see them winning big. They should pull out a close win to set up for a National Title run next season. The Big East is going to likely have two top five teams in the 2007 pre-season polls with Rutgers a possible top 15 team. West Virginia and Louisville will both be better next season. If I had to put money on one conference putting a team in the National Championship game next season, I would put it on the Big East.

Here are the 2007 schedules for Louisville and West Virginia with projected wins in bold:


at Connecticut
at South Florida
at West Virginia
at Cincinnati
Middle Tennessee
at NC State
at Kentucky

West Virginia:

at Rutgers
at South Florida
at Syracuse
at Cincinnati
East Carolina
at Maryland
Ball State
at Marshall
Mississippi State

Rose Bowl
Michigan (11-1) vs. USC (10-2) Pasadena, CA

January 1, ABC, 5:00 p.m.

I have to admit that I’m surprised that USC is favored in this game. There was so much public sentiment that Michigan was actually the second best team even when USC was in the #2 spot in the BCS. I guess Michigan’s past shortcomings in bowl games and USC’s recent dominance in bowl games swayed opinions somewhat. Regardless of the outcome of this game, Michigan has already had a monumental season. This season marks only the second time in the Lloyd Carr era that Michigan finished with at least 11 wins. This season also marks only the second time in the Lloyd Carr era that Michigan finished with two losses or less. A win over USC would cement the 2006 season as Carr’s second best effort and would result in a #2 ranking in the final polls. I don’t see how Michigan can not be the pre-season number one team headed into next year with Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Adrian Arrington, and Jake Long coming back. It really doesn’t make a difference though. It is all going to come down to beating Ohio State on November 17. If that doesn’t happen, it hardly matters where Michigan starts the season in the rankings. Although, it would be nice to see Michigan ranked number one again. That hasn’t happened in 10 years. I’m almost certain that the winner of this game will be ranked number one to start the 2007 season. Oh by the way, I’ll take Michigan in this game 31-28.

Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Boise State (12-0) Glendale, AZ

January 1, Fox, 8:00 p.m.

After it became apparent that Boise State was going to be in a BCS game, there were a few fan-bases holding their collective breaths. Unfortunately for Oklahoma fans, they drew the short end of the stick. Boise State is hardly the team you want your team to play. A victory over Boise State means little and a loss to Boise State is just embarrassing. This brings up the whole scenario I brought up under the S. Carolina-Houston preview. Do you think Bob Stoops prefers to play in a BCS game against a pushover like Boise State where the odds of victory probably hover around 85% or do you think Stoops would prefer to play in a more challenging game where victory is only a 50/50 proposition at best? In this instance, I’m guessing Stoops would choose playing Boise State since that means an 11-2 record and a final ranking in or around the top 5. Speaking of Stoops, he did a superb job this season. His Sooners were three miserable calls in a one-minute span against Oregon from being 11-1. Considering he accomplished that feat with Paul Thompson at quarterback, that is quite an impressive achievement. I remember how poorly Thompson was at quarterback last season before being moved to wide receiver. I also have to commend Thompson on making such a remarkable turnaround from last season. Oklahoma should roll in this game since Boise isn’t playing on the blue stuff this year.

Orange Bowl
Wake Forest (11-2) vs. Louisville (11-1) Miami, FL

January 2, Fox, 8:00 p.m.

This is another game of contrasting styles (ala Minnesota-Texas Tech). Louisville is a huge favorite. I don’t have a problem with that although I caution people not to be overly confident in this game. Remember, Louisville’s only loss was to a carbon copy of Wake Forest (Rutgers). I actually think Wake will cover the spread. Although, the Orange Bowl has featured some of the bigger mismatches of the bowl season in recent years including USC-Iowa, USC-Oklahoma, and Florida-Maryland. I’d actually like to rescind my prediction that Wake will cover the spread and simply say that it would not surprise me if Wake did cover.

Sugar Bowl
Notre Dame (10-2) vs. LSU (10-2) New Orleans, LA

January 3, Fox, 8:00 p.m.

This is a good match-up for Notre Dame in the sense that LSU isn’t an offensive juggernaut and LSU isn’t Ohio State, Michigan, or USC. This is a bad match-up for Notre Dame in the sense that LSU very well could be the most talented team in the SEC and this game is being played in Louisiana. If the good things add up to a plus five, then the bad things add up to a minus 20. Notre Dame clearly has an uphill battle. They will likely lose their 10th bowl game in a row.

International Bowl

Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Cincinnati (7-5) Toronto, Canada

January 6, ESPN, 12:00 p.m.

OK, who was the ad wizard that came up with this idea? Is a Western Michigan-Cincinnati match-up really what people want to see two days before the National Championship game? Can’t the NCAA use the time they wasted on creating this ridiculous game on coming up with the playoff that is slowly becoming an inevitability? I feel bad for Western Michigan and Cincinnati. Everybody is pissed off that this game exists but it isn’t their fault. Anyhow, Cincinnati “should” win this game but it’s hard to predict how much of an impact the departure of its head coach will have. Although, Cincy’s new coach (Brian Kelly) is arguably an upgrade over the departed Mark Dantonio. Speaking of that, would you rather have Dantonio or Brian Kelly as the head coach of your team? I think Dantonio will do well in E. Lansing but I would have picked Kelly. That brings me to another thing. Why was it viewed as such a disappointment when Kelly didn’t get the Iowa State job? There were people on talk radio consoling Kelly and saying things like, “keep your head up” and “your opportunity will come soon enough”. What young, self respecting, rising coach would even want the Iowa State job? Seriously, if I were Kelly, I would chill out in Mt. Pleasant coaching Central Michigan to bowl games every year until an opportunity worth pursuing came along. Iowa State has been to five bowl games in 26 years. The best thing that ever happened to Brian Kelly was not being hired by Iowa State. Not that the Cincinnati job is much better. At least he’ll get to play against the Big East instead of the big boys in the Big XII. Anyhow, I’m going with Cincy in this one.

Southern Mississippi (vs. Ohio (9-4) Mobile, AL

January 7, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.

OK, I’m imagining a conversation between the big wigs at the NCAA. It goes something like this:

Big Wig #1: There is a five-day lull in between the Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship game. We owe it to the fans to entertain them during that down time. What can we do?

Big Wig #2: Well, I’ve got a buddy that lives in Toronto. He says the view from the CN Tower is fantastic.

Big Wig #1: No, we can’t have two bowl games in Toronto.

Big Wig #2: I heard people in Alabama like football.

Big Wig #1: Excellent. We’ve got the location down. Now we just need to match up two teams.

Big Wig #2: Well, we only have three MAC teams in bowl games this year.

Big Wig #1: That does sound a little low. How about we take a fourth MAC team and pit it against Southern Mississippi?

Big Wig #2: You stole the words from my mouth.

Again, I can’t be mad at Ohio or Southern Mississippi. They’re just two teams psyched about playing in a bowl game. Southern Mississippi should win but I’m expecting this one to be close.

BCS Championship Game
Ohio State (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1) Glendale, AZ

January 8, Fox, 8:00 p.m.

I’d like to use this space to dispel the myth that Florida played an absolutely brutal schedule this season. There is no question that the schedule didn’t end up being nearly as difficult as it appeared before the season started. Florida beat one elite team (LSU) and two good teams (Tennessee and Arkansas) this season. The rest of their victories were against Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama, S. Carolina, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Southern Mississippi, UCF, and Western Carolina. For those college football fans that aren’t aware what year it is, it is not 2005. Georgia, Florida State, and Alabama were not good this year. Only Georgia finished better than .500 and it lost to Kentucky and Vanderbilt. I would love to make a bet with all of the people out there (Mark May comes to mind) that can’t stop talking about how difficult Florida’s schedule was. If Florida finishes within three points of Ohio State or actually wins the game, then I will post how brutal Florida’s schedule was this year. If Florida doesn’t finish within three points, then everyone has to shut up forever about how cruel Florida’s schedule was this season. If people say things enough times, they often begin to believe them even when they are clearly not true. Mark May is obviously a subscriber to that theory. I read someone’s pre-season top 10 for next season and Ohio State was in the top five. If Ginn leaves (as expected) and Pittman leaves (50/50), then I don’t see how Ohio State can even be a top ten team. I know people thought the same about this year’s team after losing so many players on defense but this year’s team was clearly offensive minded. The defense played well at times but don’t forget it gave up 39 points to Michigan. Troy Smith is the reason why OSU is the best team in the country this year. In all honesty, I don’t think OSU beats Michigan if Smith and Chad Henne switched teams. That’s no knock on Henne, either. Smith is just a brilliant quarterback.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Last Resort

Each time the Detroit Lions play a home game there are 65,000 people that make the trek down to Ford Field to support the organization. I don’t know any of these people personally. But I would like to address them for a moment. I can’t imagine there is anyone out there that is willing to defend Matt Millen or the Fords for the way the team has been run for the last 40 years. Yet, that is exactly what those 65,000 fans are doing whether they know it or not. Throw in the thousands of fans around the state that proudly don their Honolulu Blue and Silver in the form of hats and jerseys and you have plenty of reasons for the Fords to keep doing what they’re doing.

It could be argued that since the Fords march to the beat of their own drum a revolt by the fan-base won’t carry much weight anyway. The fan-base has practiced one form of revolt or another for the last 10 years. Nothing has changed yet. It can also be argued that the players need the support of the fans regardless of what the fans feel about the direction of the team. I am 100% behind that stance. The players have nothing to do with the sad state of the franchise. Despite being on perennial losing teams with a gross lack of talent the players go out and play hard every week. The players should be supported. However, that doesn’t mean that fans need to spend their hard earned money on the Lions.

If I were in charge of Lions Nation I would implement an immediate boycott of all things Lions. I would demand zero attendance for home football games. I would demand an immediate stoppage of the purchasing of all Lions merchandise. This can’t be hard, can it? Who even wants to attend a Lions game? I wouldn’t go for free and that’s the truth. I wouldn’t attend a Lions game if they paid me $500. Who would actually feel good about going into a sporting goods store and purchasing the ultimate sign of incompetence?

Lions fans and local media have been crying foul to no avail for countless years now. Because those “cries” have resulted in virtually no loss financially for the organization, they have fallen on deaf ears. I’m sure the Fords can handle an onslaught of verbal insults as long as there is a “pot of gold” at the end. Just think about all of the embarrassing moments and the resulting negative press that the Lions have garnered over the last few years alone. The Lions are 23-71 over the last six years. That isn’t only the worst record of any NFL team over that time span but it is also the worst six-year stretch by any team in NFL history. They have three top ten draft picks in the last four years that either aren’t in the organization anymore or won’t be after this season. The Lions went three full seasons without a road win which shattered an NFL record. The Front Office has embarrassed the organization on countless occasions most notably when; a fan was tackled for holding up a “Fire Millen” sign, the Lions blasted “Piano Man” over the loud speaker in an attempt to embarrass Joey Harrington, Millen called former Lion Johnny Morton a “faggot”, and the refusal to even play Charles Rogers and Mike Williams in the pre-season preferring to willingly accept a zero return on two pivotal investments. Those are just the Matt Millen gaffes. The biggest Lions gaffe of my lifetime has nothing to do with Millen. Before Millen was even a household name in Detroit, the Fords ruined the career of the most electrifying player in NFL history. They indirectly forced the retirement of Barry Sanders who quit because of how hopeless the organization was.

Throughout all of the embarrassments, the Fords received loads of criticism from every conceivable source. Never once did any of the criticism result in a hit to their pocketbook with the exception of the fines levied by the NFL for some of the stupider acts. Sticks and stones, right? The Fords are big boys. They can handle the barrage of criticism as long as they can do it with wads of money in their pockets. Eight games a year of 65,000 people surely qualifies as a “pot of gold”.

The Fords have heard the same old tired complaints from Average Joe fan. They know Detroit fans (and any fan-base, really) are all bark and no bite. I mean, what are the fans going to do? Become the first fan-base to uniformly boycott a franchise? Well, yes! That sounds pretty good to me. Clearly the Fords have no fears of that happening or they would have fired Matt Millen after his second rebuilding effort failed.

Instead, the Fords keep cashing paychecks from one of the most profitable organizations the world has ever known—the NFL. If a team can be neglected as poorly as the Lions have been for as long as they have been and still rake in the money, that should give an indication of how much money the NFL brings in. The only recourse the fans have in an organizational atmosphere like this is to make the organization look bad. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to the Fords if nobody showed up to Lions home games. That would surely prompt change in the way they run the organization, if not encourage them to get rid of the franchise all together. It is my dream that some day soon, the Fords will sell the Lions or move them to LA. The NFL would then award Detroit with a new franchise ala the Cleveland Browns and we could start over from scratch.

I know that the next logical step is to fire Matt Millen. That phrase has gotten so much use that it’s not even cool to say anymore. Let’s say that the Fords do fire Millen. Then what? We’re dealing with an ownership that hasn’t made a good personnel decision in my lifetime. What makes anybody think that they’ll get it right on the 30th try? I don’t even hope Millen gets fired anymore. That won’t mean anything. The Lions are like a weed. To kill a weed, you have to pull out the root. Millen is not the root. He is the stem. Wayne Fontes was the stem. Scott Mitchell was the stem. Andre Ware was the stem. Bobby Ross was the stem. Joey Harrington was the stem. Marty Mornhinweg was the stem. Every Lions quarterback and coach over the last forty years has been the stem. The Fords are the root. Unfortunately, there is nobody around to pull out the root since the root owns the team. The only way the root can be pulled is if Lions fans ban together and do the job themselves. Stop spending hard earned money on an organization that doesn’t appreciate it. If you hold out long enough, the Fords will get the message. If they never get the message, then at least you won’t be spending your hard earned dollar on someone who doesn’t give a damn what you think.

I know there’s going to be a lot of people out there that say it’ll never work for various reasons. I’m sure that the NFL revenue sharing system is set up in such a way that the Lions would make money even with zero attendance. However, if the Lions brought in zero dollars in ticket sales and concessions, then the rest of the league would notice quickly. Humans can only live so long without water. Professional sports franchises can only live so long without money. Cut off the money flow and things will happen. Even if you are convinced that nothing would come of it, the benefit of not wasting money is well worth it.

I understand that loyalty means a lot to people. The fans that continue to go to Lions games probably come from the school of thought that says you support your team through thick and thin no matter what. While I respect that viewpoint, there surely is a point at which that ceases to be reasonable. Loyalty is a two-way concept. In any instance where loyalty exists, it exists because of a mutual payoff. Americans are loyal to America because there is a sense of pride and unity that results from being loyal to one's country. Friends and family are loyal to each other because they know that their loyalty will most likely be reciprocated. If America morphed into a dictatorship and citizen rights were quelled, you would see an across the board elimination of loyalty. Sure, loyalty to the old guard would still be in play. That should be the case regardless. There is every reason to celebrate the great players and championship teams in Lions history. Unfortunately, those things are not a representation of what the Lions are today. Be loyal to the players. Appreciate the effort. Just do it in a way that doesn’t reward the Fords for taking our beloved Lions franchise and making it the laughing stock in sports.

This is an excerpt from the Wikipedia write-up on Matt Millen:

“On December 6, 2005, Detroit sports talk radio station WDFN announced the "Angry Fan March" (also known as the "Millen Man March") in protest of Millen's contract extension.

In protest of Millen's poor record, some Detroit fans have turned to actually rooting against their team at homes games, desperately hoping that increased losses will hasten his firing. On December 9, 2005, one group of Lions fans, known as "The Lions Fanatics," organized an "orange out" event, which encouraged Lions fans to show up at Detroit's Ford Field clad in orange , the color of their opponent that week, the Cincinnati Bengals.

On December 24, 2006 another group of fans plans a walkout protest towards the end of the first half in the game against Chicago, to express their disgust with the current management.”

Shockingly, every one of those forms of protest involves continuing to give money to the Fords. Stop giving them money! Whether you spend $50 on a ticket wearing a Lions jersey or spend $50 on a ticket wearing a Bengals jersey, you’re still giving the Fords the same amount of money. That form of protest has virtually no impact. The same goes for the half-time walkout. The Fords still get the money. The only message that would ever resonate loud and clear to the Fords would be to stop going to the games all together.

I’m not going to pick up a sign and picket at Ford Field. I’m not going to call sports talk radio to air my grievances. I am going to do something that, when done by every other Lions fan, is considerably more powerful than any of the other stuff could ever be. I’m going to ignore the Lions all together. Fans have so much power but simply do not know how to use it. If any of the crying, belly-aching, sports talk radio bashing, “Orange Outs”, and front page opinion-pieces about the Lions actually worked, the Fords would not have given Matt Millen a five year contract extension in 2005 in the face of public outrage after Millen had amassed a 16-48 record in four seasons.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Top 50 lists

Over the next month or so, I'll be posting the top 50 players in each of the four major sports according to me. I'm going to start things off with basketball. If there was such a thing as a "master list" that factually listed the fifty best players of all-time, it would certainly not be the same as the list you are about to see because personal perspective and opinions have contributed immensely to my rankings. I initially thought about releasing five players a week every week until I was finished or something like that but I thought that would just annoy all four of my readers. So, I scrapped that idea and decided to just throw the whole list out there at once. Each player's first and last names are linked. The first name is linked to the player's Wikipedia page while the last name is linked to the player's career statistics. That should provide an easy avenue for player comparisons. As is the case for all of my lists, I am not claiming that my lists are right and all other lists are wrong. This just represents one person's perspective.

Enjoy! (or not)

Top 50 Basketball Players of All-Time

***Click here for UPDATED "Top 100" version***

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Don't count Michigan out yet

Believe it or not, Michigan’s National Championship aspirations did not disappear as a result of being left out of the BCS Championship game. Granted, the odds of all the right things falling into place are minute at best. But, Michigan can still pull a Nebraska ’97 by dismantling USC in the Rose Bowl and then whining like babies in the post-game trophy ceremony. Hey, it worked for Scott Frost. I see no reason why it can’t work for Chad Henne too. Unless, of course, Henne just isn’t a natural born whiner. Since the AP decided to divorce its poll from inclusion in the BCS calculations, the AP hands out its own National Championship regardless of who wins the BCS Championship game.

An AP National Championship for Michigan is only a possibility because Michigan is only three points behind Florida for second place in the AP Poll. The first thing that needs to happen for this to even be a possibility is for Florida to upset Ohio State. Florida has to win a close game or it may look obvious that they are indeed the best team in the country. Second, Michigan needs to beat USC by at least two touchdowns. It would help if Louisville crushed Wake Forest since that might encourage a voter or two to vote Louisville number one instead of Florida. I highly doubt that any voter who had Michigan number two in the AP Poll would jump Florida over Michigan if Florida beats Ohio State by a razor thin margin and Michigan pummels USC. But, I do think that it is possible for a voter who had Florida #2 to put Louisville ahead of Florida if Florida beats Ohio State in an ugly game (not at all likely but possible). The people who think Michigan is better than Florida will probably think that regardless of the outcome of the BCS Championship game. The AP has been Michigan’s biggest supporter all season. When Michigan lost to Ohio State, the AP is the only poll that didn’t drop Michigan out of the #2 spot. There is no question that the possibility of Michigan jumping Florida exists.

Now, there is one thing that cannot be quantified that may propel Michigan into a split National Championship if Florida does manage to beat Ohio State. That thing is the irrational momentum created within a certain group of people for seemingly no reason at all. Remember, two weeks ago after Michigan lost to Ohio State, the consensus was that there was no way that Florida would ever jump Michigan. The consensus changed, not because of anything Florida did (remember, most people thought Florida was going to beat Arkansas since most people had Florida ranked ahead of Arkansas), but because people began to think about policy. People started to think about the ramifications of a rematch. People began to think about personal enjoyment of an Ohio State/Michigan Championship game. People began to listen to Urban Meyer whine about his team being left out. All of the factors that cannot be predicted are the factors that ended up moving Florida ahead of Michigan. Those are the exact same factors that would have to exist for Michigan to move ahead of Florida in the AP Poll. It would be foolhardy to think that those factors will not be present.

If Florida beats Ohio State, all of the rematch talk and the talk of Michigan already having its chance gets thrown out the window. Now, people will be forced to compare resumes. Michigan’s one loss will still be to Ohio State (which will certainly be ranked in the top four win or lose). Florida’s one loss will be to Auburn. Michigan will still have the better loss. Michigan will have beaten Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and USC who were all top ten teams for the majority of the year. People will start to reevaluate Florida’s schedule and realize that it wasn’t anywhere near as tough as people make it out to be (Western Carolina, UCF, Southern Mississippi, Florida State, Alabama, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and South Carolina are all average or terrible). The AP Poll will also see the opportunity to stick it to the BCS system that they deplore so much. If the AP is in favor of a playoff, the best way to influence policy is to vote another split National Championship. The way voters compared Michigan and Florida’s resumes was skewed so much by the personal distaste for seeing a rematch in the National Championship game that there really was no comparison. Wins by Florida and Michigan will force the voters to actually compare the teams rather than pick one based on whether there should be a rematch or not.

These are all factors that nobody can predict. Because there is no finality in college football (i.e. NFL, MLB), irrationality presides over everything unless one team makes it through the season undefeated. Nobody could predict Florida’s jump over Michigan. It looked irrational three weeks ago and it’s irrational right now. The sad truth of the polls is that voters probably don’t vote for the teams they think are the best. Voters are probably more influenced by the effect that their votes have. Most of the people that voted Florida number two probably think that Michigan is the better team.

As a result of the unquantifiable nature of the factors that would need to be present to give Michigan the AP National Championship, there really isn’t a whole lot to say about the topic. Looking at it now, some four weeks away from the BCS Championship game, it looks about as probable as—I don’t know—Florida jumping Michigan for second place in the BSC Standings.

Here is what needs to happen (at a minimum) for Michigan to earn the AP National Championship:

1). Florida needs to beat Ohio State. Florida cannot dominate Ohio State. It helps if the game is ugly. The voters need to come away thinking that Ohio State, Florida and Michigan are all in the same boat talent-wise.

2). Michigan needs to handle USC. Right now, even though it is only three points behind Florida in the AP Poll, Michigan is on the backburner. Michigan needs to give voters a reason to think about them again.

3). Michigan cannot lay low after beating USC. Nebraska did not lay low in 1997 and they were rewarded with a split National Championship. Michigan needs to force the issue like Nebraska. I would prefer it to not be as whiny as Nebraska but they need to take it to the airwaves. It not only worked for Nebraska but it worked for Urban Meyer and Florida this year.

4). Irrationality along the same lines that caused Florida to jump Michigan in the last BCS Standings. I predict that if the #1 and #2 occur, there is a decent chance that the AP Poll will move Michigan to number one. If Florida beats OSU by a touchdown and Michigan beats USC by a touchdown, then Florida is your consensus National Champion. All this is moot, though, if Florida doesn’t pull a monumental upset by beating Ohio State.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Worst Voters in America

I’ve written almost everything that I’d like to write on the BCS Championship hoopla. There is one thing, however, that I’d be remiss if I didn’t chime in on. It is a subject that has gone grossly underreported by the media. There have been a few articles by local newspapers but nothing substantial from the national media. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of the possibility that voters would try to manipulate the results beyond simply voting for Florida or Michigan #2. It seems almost too obvious looking at it now but I have to admit I didn’t see it coming.

A handful of voters from the Harris Poll tried to dictate the final results of the poll by voting in a way that would have a greater impact than the average voter. Imagine, for a moment, if one voter ranked Michigan #25. That one voter would have single handily put Florida in the BCS Championship game. The media would have identified that voter and he/she would have been vilified. That sounds far-fetched but I don’t think it is as crazy as it sounds. Although no voter went to that extreme, a collection of voters (either working together or individually I’m not exactly sure) had a similar impact. Five voters from the Harris Poll either voted Florida #1 or Michigan #4. Two voters from the Harris Poll voted Florida #5. I tried to get a hold of the individual Harris Poll ballots from every week of the college football season but they were only available for the final December 3 poll. As a result, I don’t know whether these voters changed the way they voted for the final poll in an attempt to disproportionately influence the results or if they had been voting that way all along. If they tried to disproportionately influence the results they should have their voting privileges revoked for being incompetent and/or unprofessional. If they had simply voted the same way all year, they should have their voting privileges revoked for being embarrassingly inept at ranking college football teams.

I’ll let my readers decide for themselves if these guys should have the authority to influence the college football National Championship game:

Ray Melick (Birmingham News)

1). Ohio State
2). Florida
3). Louisville
4). Michigan
6). Wisconsin
10). Notre Dame
11). West Virginia
15). Rutgers

Melick has Louisville ranked ahead of Michigan. Louisville’s one loss was to #15 Rutgers. Michigan’s one loss was to #1 Ohio State. Louisville only beat one team that Melick ranked which was #11 West Virginia. Michigan, however, beat Melick’s #6 and #10 teams. Michigan also played a considerably more difficult schedule. If Wisconsin and Notre Dame are top ten teams in Melick’s mind and West Virginia is not, then it is borderline illogical to rank Louisville ahead of Michigan. Melick’s ballot had the same effect as two voters who voted Michigan and Florida #2 and #3 (regardless of order).

Tim Neverett (Colorado play-by-play announcer)

1). Ohio State
2). Florida
3). USC
4). Michigan
10). Notre Dame
11). Arkansas
13). Wisconsin
20). California
25). Oregon State

I’m 20/80 as to whether Neverett actually handed in the wrong ballot by mistake. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he actually meant to submit the above rankings. It would not surprise me, though, if I came to light that Neverett made a mistake. According to Neverett, the three best teams that USC beat are #10 Notre Dame, #11 Arkansas and #20 California. The two best teams that Michigan beat according to Neverett are #10 Notre Dame and #13 Wisconsin. Based on that information alone, I can see how USC has the edge at this point of the comparison. However, there is the little tidbit called USC losing to Neverett’s #25 team (Oregon State) and a team that Neverett doesn’t have ranked at all (UCLA). Yes, that adds up to two losses. Michigan, on the other hand, had one loss and that was to Neverett’s number one team. Out of all of the Harris voters that sent in ridiculous ballots, I think Neverett is the most likely to have done it to disproportionately influence the results of the poll. His vote, like Melick’s, had the same impact as two voters who voted Michigan and Florida #2 and #3 (regardless of order).

Gene Ponti (Louisiana sports host)

1). Ohio State
2). Florida
3). LSU
4). Michigan
7). Notre Dame
8). Wisconsin
9). Auburn
15). Arkansas
19). Tennessee

Ponti is basically Melick and Neverett redux. All three think Florida is the #2 team and all three think Michigan is the #4 team. Interestingly enough, all three have different teams ranked #3. According to Ponti, Michigan beat the #7 (Notre Dame) and #8 (Wisconsin) teams in the country and lost to the #1 team. Also according to Ponti, LSU beat the #15 team (Arkansas) and #19 team (Tennessee) and lost to the #2 team (Florida) and the #9 team (Auburn). Yes, LSU’s losses add up to two. Ponti’s logic was just as irrational as Neverett’s. If Notre Dame and Wisconsin are top ten teams and Arkansas and Tennessee are not, then it is almost a fact (not quite but pretty darn close) that LSU could not reasonably be ranked higher than Michigan. Even if there are one or two people still unconvinced that LSU being rated higher than Michigan is even remotely acceptable, there is the fact that LSU beat Arkansas and Tennessee by five and six points respectively while Michigan beat Notre Dame and Wisconsin by 26 and 14 points respectively. Throw in the fact that Michigan only lost once to LSU’s two losses, and you have to think that Ponti tried to disproportionately influence the polls. Like Melick and Neverett, Ponti’s ballot had the same impact as two voters who voted Michigan and Florida #2 and #3 (regardless of order).

Jim Walden (Former Washington State football coach)

1). Florida
2). Ohio State
3). Michigan
10). Auburn
11). LSU
19). Arkansas
20). Tennessee
23). Texas

I would also put Walden in the group of people that likely tried to disproportionately influence the poll results. Walden had Ohio State number one in last week’s Harris Poll but oddly voted Florida number one in the final Harris Poll. Florida’s best win was over the #11 team (LSU) in Walden’s mind. Ohio State’s best win was over the #3 team (Michigan) in Walden’s mind. Ohio State’s best non-conference victory was over Texas which beat Walden’s #4 team (Oklahoma) 28-10. Florida didn’t play a team that finished with a winning record in its non-conference schedule. Then there is the little thing about Florida actually losing a game. In case Walden didn’t follow college football this year—Ohio State didn’t lose!

Paul Zeise (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

1). Ohio State
2). Louisville
3). Florida
4). Michigan
5). Wisconsin
7). LSU
10). West Virginia
12). Arkansas
13). Auburn
14). Rutgers
15). Notre Dame
18). Tennessee
24). S. Florida

I don’t think Zeise tried to disproportionately influence the polls. His voting did not hurt Michigan in favor of Florida any more than if he simply voted them #2 and #3 respectively. I just think he doesn’t know the first thing about college football. First of all, he has Louisville ranked second. According to Zeise, Louisville beat the #10 (West Virginia) and #24 (South Florida) teams in the nation and lost to the #14 team (Rutgers). Michigan beat the #5 team (Wisconsin) and #15 team (Notre Dame) and lost to the #1 team. Florida beat the #7 team (LSU), #12 team (Arkansas), and #18 team (Tennessee) and lost to the #13 team (Auburn). Of the three teams, Louisville has the worst loss, the worst collection of wins, and by far the worst strength of schedule.

Zeise has already proved his incompetence as a voter by his fumbling of the Louisville-Florida-Michigan rankings but his rating of South Florida is the “icing on the cake”. I don’t see how anybody could logically rate South Florida ahead of Cincinnati. As far as I can tell, South Florida has the worst collection of wins of any team in D1-A college football. Among South Florida’s impressive string of victories are McNeese State, Florida International, Central Florida University, Connecticut, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and apparently the only required win for a team to be ranked, West Virginia.

South Florida did beat West Virginia. They are among the dozens of teams that pulled off upsets this season. So let’s see what the South Florida Bulls did that made Zeise rank them over the other teams that pulled off big upsets.

South Florida’s first opponent was a Division 1-AA opponent (McNeese State). I’m throwing that win out all together. South Florida’s remaining six wins were against teams with a combined record of 21-51. A college football Athletic Director could not put together a worse group of opponents if it tried to do so intentionally. Among South Florida’s opponents was one of only two winless Division 1-A teams in Florida International. South Florida performed marvelously against Florida International winning by one point at home. There are a number of teams that deserve to be ranked in South Florida’s place. I chose Cincinnati as an obvious choice simply because they both play in the same conference and the comparison isn’t even close. Cincinnati lost to Zeise’s #1, #2, #10, and #16 teams while South Florida lost to Zeise’s #2, #14, Kansas (a terrible team) and Cincinnati. It is laughable for anyone to rank South Florida ahead of Cincinnati.

Larry Keech (retired sportswriter from Greensboro, NC)

1). Ohio State
2). Boise State
3). Michigan
4). Wisconsin
5). Florida
8). Notre Dame
9). LSU
11). Auburn
18). Arkansas
19). Tennessee

Keech may have also tried to disproportionately influence the polls but I’m not 100% convinced since he has Boise State number two. It may just be that Keech doesn’t have a good handle on college football. Wisconsin hasn’t beaten a ranked team all year according to Keech. Florida, on the other hand, has beaten the #9, #18, and #19 teams. Iowa should secede from the Big Ten and join the WAC. At least they’ll know that Keech would vote them no lower than #2 every year.

Robert Lawless (Former Texas Tech President)

1). Ohio State
2). Michigan
3). Wisconsin
4). Louisville
5). Florida
7). LSU
10). West Virginia
11). Rutgers
13). Notre Dame
15). Auburn
22). Arkansas
23). Tennessee

Lawless is Keech with a few adjustments. I would not be surprised to find out that both were graduates of the University of Wisconsin. Of the seven voters that I’ve written about in this post, Lawless actually had the biggest affect of them all. His ballot had the same impact as three voters who voted Michigan and Florida #2 and #3 (regardless of order).

The story here isn’t that Michigan or Florida got screwed by the voters. Thankfully, these voters didn't end up affecting the final order. There were malcontents on both sides that kind of offset each other. The story probably has more to do with the fate of college football’s National Championship being in the hands of people that can influence the results by strategically arranging their ballots. What if Michigan and Florida finished within three points of each other? Melick, Neverett, Ponti, and Walden would have essentially chosen the second team in the BCS Championship game. How is Jim Tressel’s decision to not vote any worse than the decision of four people to disproportionately influence the final poll? At least Tressel didn’t influence the poll at all. He let the rest of the voters make the decision. Melick, Neverett, Ponti and Walden tried to make the decision for the other voters.

I can’t see how someone could vote as neglectfully as the above voters did and keep their position as a voter in the Harris Poll. If two voters had voted Michigan #2 and Florida #25, and all else remained the same, Michigan would be going to the BCS Championship game and vice versa. Judging from the ballots that these voters turned in, that might not be so far-fetched. What is keeping a voter from going to that extreme? These seven voters turned in terribly misguided ballots and nobody has said a thing. What good is a poll if there is nothing in place to keep individual voters from manipulating the results?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another unplayed playoff

Now that the BCS hasn’t worked for the fifth time in the last seven years, let’s take a look at what could have been if Division 1-A college football wasn’t the only sport in the world that doesn’t have a playoff to decide its champion. There are countless playoff systems that could be used but I’ll go with one that I find intriguing. I’ll go with 10 teams.


All six conference champions make the playoffs.
Four at-large teams are selected by a committee of non-idiots.
Notre Dame has no special considerations.
The ten teams are seeded in order by a committee of non-idiots.
Play-in games and first round games are played at the higher seed’s stadium.
If a team goes undefeated, in any conference, it must be selected.

Based on the above rules, here is how the playoff would have looked this year:

The 10 teams seeded in order:

1). Ohio State
2). Michigan
3). Florida
4). LSU
5) USC
6) Louisville
7) Oklahoma
8) Wake Forest
9) Wisconsin
10) Boise State

Play in games: (Projected winners in bold)

10 Boise State vs. 7 Oklahoma @ Norman, OK
9 Wisconsin vs. 8 Wake Forest @ Wake Forest, NC

Final Eight

9 Wisconsin vs. 1 Ohio State @ Columbus, OH
5 USC vs. 4 LSU @ Baton Rouge, LA

7 Oklahoma vs. 2 Michigan @ Ann Arbor, MI
6 Louisville vs. 3 Florida @ Gainesville FL

Final Four

5 USC vs. 1 Ohio State
3 Florida vs. 2 Michigan

National Championship game

2 Michigan vs. 1 Ohio State

Any team that can win three games in a row against competition like that deserves to be the National Champion. The NCAA college basketball tournament has so many teams and so many chances for upsets that the best teams often don’t even make it to the end. A ten-team college football playoff would guarantee that every match-up features two elite teams. In this scenario, Ohio State would have to beat Wisconsin, USC and Michigan to win the National Championship. Michigan would have to beat Oklahoma, Florida, and Ohio State in three consecutive weeks. Florida would have to beat Louisville, Michigan, and Ohio State. USC would have to beat LSU, Ohio State and Michigan. Any team that can win all three games in a row like that would clearly be the best team in the country. Instead, we get to see Florida get pasted by Ohio State.

Bowl Bliss

I would like to take a minute to look back at week seven of the college football season because that had some of the worst match-ups of any week in memory. Here are some of the monumental battles from that day.....

Rice vs. Troy
San Jose State vs. New Mexico
South Florida vs. East Carolina
Utah vs. Tulsa
Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee State
N. Illinois vs. TCU

Oh wait, my bad. Those aren't games from week seven, those are BOWL GAMES! Now I can see why the NCAA doesn't want to mess with the bowl system. With marquee games like that, who would even want to watch a playoff? 99% of college football fans (yes, people that actually like and follow college football) could not name a single player from any of those teams if I didn't allow anyone to say Garrett Wolfe. I can't wait for the bowl feast to begin!

If the above games leave you craving for more, don't worry, you have the following games to curb your hunger:

Rutgers vs. Kansas St.
Clemson vs. Kentucky
Oregon St. vs. Missouri
Houston vs. South Carolina
Miami (FL) vs. Nevada
Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati
Ohio vs. Southern Mississippi

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rematch 201

Wow. I didn’t see that coming. I give all the credit in the world to UCLA for sticking it to the Trojans. I don’t necessarily think that there are any worthy contenders for Ohio State in the BCS Championship game but I am glad UCLA won because the hype-train that came out of nowhere for USC was ridiculous. Remember, after Michigan lost by only three points at Ohio State, Michigan did not drop in the BCS standings. Michigan was still second in the AP poll and a very close third just behind USC in both the Harris and Coach’s poll. It wasn’t until USC went out and beat an overrated Notre Dame team (Michigan had already beaten ND by 26 points on the road) that all the “love” for USC came to the forefront. USC was ranked ahead of ND in the polls. USC was playing at home. What did everyone think was going to happen in that game? Obviously everyone already thought that USC would beat Notre Dame at home or the Trojans wouldn’t have been ranked higher than the Irish to begin with. Michigan had already killed Notre Dame so seeing USC beat Notre Dame shouldn’t have provided any additional information that people didn’t already know. Yet, USC became the “it” team simply because it did what it was supposed to do. Now, it is possible that USC would have stayed ahead of Michigan even if nobody in either poll switched their vote because of the computers. I’m not sure how that would have turned out. Thanks to UCLA, we don’t have to talk about the Trojans anymore.

One thing I can’t stand in all of the BCS talk is when analysts try to use selective reasoning to make their case for one team over another. For instance, ESPN’s Lou Holtz and Mark May pick between the accomplishments of two teams without knowing the identity of either team. The information they choose to scrutinize these teams on generally includes strength of schedule and record. Never mind how the teams performed in each game or who the teams lost to. They treat every win the same and every loss the same. That would make sense if each team played more than 11% of the teams in college football. When the schedule only features a small percentage of the teams in the country, victory margin plays a vital role in the ability to adequately judge a team’s resume.

That brings me to something that Gary Danielson did during the SEC Championship game. He ranked the wins in order of perceived value for both Michigan and Florida. I actually liked the concept but at no point did Danielson include the scores for any of the games. Apparently Florida’s one-point win over South Carolina that featured three blocked SC kicks is as impressive as Michigan’s domination of Minnesota. Likewise, Florida’s ten point loss to Auburn is as impressive as Michigan’s three point loss at Ohio State. At least that’s how Danielson made it appear.

Here is what Danielson showed on CBS (or a similar version):


Losses:----1)@ Ohio State --------------1)@Auburn

Wins:------1) @ Notre Dame------------1)LSU
------------2) ----Wisconsin--------------2)Arkansas
------------3)-@ Penn State--------------3)@ Tennessee
------------4) -----Iowa-------------------4) @ Georgia
------------5)@ Minnesota---------------5) Kentucky
------------6) Michigan State------------6) Alabama
------------7)----Vanderbilt--------------7) Florida State
------------8)----Central Michigan------8) S. Carolina
------------9)@ Indiana-------------------9) Southern Mississippi
-----------10)---Northwestern------------10) UCF
-----------11)---Ball St.---------------------11) Western Carolina


Losses:-----1) @ Ohio State-----------39-42-------1)@Auburn-------------------17-27

Wins:-----1) @ Notre Dame-----------47-21-------1)LSU-----------------------23-10
------------2) ----Wisconsin-------------27-13------2)Arkansas------------------38-28
------------3)-@ Penn State-------------17-10------3)@ Tennessee--------------21-20
------------4) -----Iowa-------------------20-6------4) @ Georgia----------------21-14
------------5)@ Minnesota--------------28-14------5) Kentucky------------------26-7
------------6) Michigan State--------31-13--------- 6) Alabama------------------28-13
------------7)----Vanderbilt-------------27-7--------7) @ Florida State--------------21-14
------------8)----Central Michigan—--41-17--------8) S. Carolina---------------17-16
------------9)@ Indiana-----------------34-3--------9) @ Vanderbilt----------------25-19
-----------10)---Northwestern----------17-3--------10)Southern Mississippi-----34-7
-----------11)---Ball St.-----------------34-26-------11) UCF------------------------42-0
----------------------------------------------------------12) Western Carolina---------62-0

A side by side comparison of the scores of each game reveals a lot more than simply looking at wins and losses. Since the schedules are ranked based on perceived value, I think it’s at least somewhat informative to compare the results of each of the values. Michigan, by an overwhelming margin, took care of its schedule more impressively than Florida did. Florida beat Tennessee and South Carolina by one point. It beat Vanderbilt by six points. It beat Florida State and Georgia by seven points. Michigan had no victories by less than seven points. South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Florida State, and Georgia had a combined record of 25-22. Florida won those four games by a total of 21 points. Florida struggled mightily against the average teams on its schedule. This is not meant to be an attempt to further Michigan’s case for the BCS Championship game. The main objective of this is to put a halt to the pro-Florida bandwagon that is surely going to flare up as powerful as the USC bandwagon that came out of nowhere last week. Florida was anything but impressive in its victories this season. A 12-1 record is a fine accomplishment. But, I don’t want to hear how Florida’s schedule was so much harder than Michigan’s. That is simply not true. What is true, though, is that Florida was far less impressive than Michigan.

Debunking Florida’s Supposed Advantages

I know it’s cliché to say that the SEC is the toughest conference in America. In many years, that is true. This year, it is not true. Florida, LSU, Arkansas, and Auburn are all very good teams. Tennessee was OK. Alabama, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Mississippi, and Georgia are not even close to good teams. Georgia lost to Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

The whole argument that a team that doesn’t win its conference championship should not be eligible for the BCS Championship is only an argument you would hear in D-1A college football. I guess the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals should be presented with championship rings for the 1997, 2002, 2003 and 2004 World Series respectively because they lost in the Series to teams that didn’t even win their own division. Similarly, I suppose the New York Giants should be awarded de facto Super Bowl rings for their loss to the non-division winning Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV. All of the “Michigan didn’t even win its conference” talk is just a poorly designed ploy by people who don’t want to see a rematch for personal enjoyment. Is it not possible for the two best teams in college football to come from the same conference? I don’t think there is anyone who would actually argue that it’s not possible. Isn’t it also true that the BCS is designed to pit the two best teams against each other? I don’t think there is anyone who would argue against that either. So, all of the “Michigan didn’t win its own conference” arguments should either be prefaced with a “you are about to hear unsound reasoning” disclaimer, or thrown out all together.

The “Michigan already had its chance” argument is also devoid of sound reasoning. If people don’t want to see a rematch because they don’t follow the Big Ten and think it would be boring, then that’s a reasonable opinion. But, to say that Michigan somehow lost its chance at a spot in the BCS Championship game by losing a regular season game on the road is ignoring the reality of sports. Name a sport that says a regular season game on the road constitutes a “true National Championship game”. Has there ever been a Super Bowl or BCS Championship game that wasn’t played at a supposed “neutral site”? Of course there hasn’t. There is a reason for that. Home games give an edge to the home team. There isn’t supposed to be an edge in a National Championship game. Name a sport that doesn’t permit rematches in its championship games. The New England Patriots won Super Bowl XXXIV over the St. Louis Rams. According to a number of college football analysts/fans, the Patriots should not have been able to win the Super Bowl that year since they lost to the Rams in the regular season. Only in college football do bogus reasons masquerade as sound reasoning.

Another reason for Florida's inclusion being bantered around is the fact that it had to play a conference championship game. For the longest time, I have not been able to figure out whether it is incredibly stupid, or extremely brave to play a conference championship game. No conference has to play a conference championship. A conference championship makes it increasingly harder to put a team in the BCS Championship. Many conferences have lost representatives in the BCS Championship because of their conference championship game. The tradeoff is a big payday for having a “championship” game of its own. My opinion is that it’s not worth the tradeoff. I know a lot of people complain that every conference should have a conference championship. Most of the people that make those complaints are fans of a team that plays in a conference that has a championship game. The “conference championship” is just a creation by greedy Presidents and AD’s to bring in more money. I don’t know how they parlayed their greed into a knock on other conferences that don’t choose to follow suit. If I were the Big Ten or Pac-10 commissioner, I would be laughing at the other conferences for being stupid enough to handicap their teams’ chances of winning a National Championship. So, I guess I can’t really fault Michigan because the Big Ten neglects to play a championship game when there are no rules mandating it. In fact, the conference championship seems unnecessary since a team plays almost every team in the conference during the regular season anyway. After talking (or typing) this out, I don’t see the fact that the SEC plays a championship game as a compelling argument against Michigan. (An interesting side note--for years and years there was no such thing as a “National Championship game”. In fact, the first true National Championship game didn’t take place until 1995. Yet, the first “Conference Championship game” was the SEC Championship in 1992. The conferences got their act together before the NCAA did. That should shed some light on the obstacles fans have to deal with for a playoff to become a reality. I also find it interesting that many Presidents and AD’s have argued that there doesn’t need to be a playoff because the regular season is the playoff. If that is the case, then why do conferences need a conference championship game to begin with?)

Scott Frost is NOT in the House

Since I am a Michigan fan and I have spent the majority of this post rejecting reasons why Florida should be in the BCS Championship game, it probably seems as though I am pulling a Scott Frost whine-job for Michigan. While it might look that way, my intention is to give an unbiased as possible look at the situation. I am not rejecting Florida’s inclusion in the BCS Championship game, rather I’m rejecting certain reasons that are being used to support Florida’s claim. If people think Florida would beat Michigan head to head, then by all means, vote them in. Most of the arguments for Florida are bunk. Michigan has the edge in almost every comparison. It has the better computer ratings (at least as of now). It is ranked higher in the polls. It has the best loss. It has the most impressive margin of victories. In fact, most analysts/fans openly admit that Michigan would probably beat Florida head to head. I just don’t think there is a compelling reason for Florida other than for variety. Based on the “rules” of the BCS, variety has nothing to do with it so that is certainly not a compelling argument.

Should Florida be able play for the National Championship? Definitely. I feel bad for whichever team gets left out. Unfortunately, there is an arcane system in place that prevents all but two deserving teams from playing for a championship. Since there is only one spot open, I can only compare the resumes of the two teams. Based on what I have seen, I would expect Michigan to beat Florida. I would expect both to lose to Ohio State.

People have simply forgotten how good Michigan was this year

I don’t necessarily take pride in the fact that Michigan could lose to Ohio State twice in the same season. That makes me nauseous just thinking about it. But, Ohio State needs to play somebody. That somebody should be the most qualified team. Had Michigan’s season not ended two weeks ago, this wouldn’t even be an argument. In fact, had Michigan’s season not ended two weeks ago, there might not have even been an argument for USC over Michigan. A lot of opinions have changed over the last two weeks since Michigan last played. Voters obviously forgot how good Michigan was because Michigan never dropped in the polls after wins over Ball St., Indiana and Northwestern. Yet, it dropped after not playing at all. Sure, USC beat Notre Dame but who actually thought Notre Dame would win that game?

The Verdict

The interesting, and often maddening, thing about college football is that public opinion is swayed so much by so little. There is no doubt in my mind that the fact that Florida was playing after USC caused some voters to go with the “win and in” mentality. There is also no doubt in my mind that, like the whole USC situation, the idea of “Michigan already having its chance” will start to creep into the minds of voters who had previously dismissed that notion. It is for that reason that I cannot say for certain how the human polls will turn out. Going into this week, Michigan’s lead over Florida in the polls was fairly substantial. I don’t have the breakdown of all the voters but it looks like the vast majority of pollsters had Michigan ranked ahead of Florida. It would take a sizeable amount of pollsters to change their minds for Florida to move up to #2 in the BCS Standings. If Florida jumps Michigan in even one poll, there is a very good chance that the Gators will be headed to Tempe to play Ohio State. Florida is already ahead of Michigan in two of the computers. Judging from the way USC leaped over Michigan in the computers after beating Notre Dame, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Florida do the same. So, the fate of both Michigan and Florida are in the hands of the voters. If even one poll has Florida second, then Florida will probably go. If neither poll has Florida second, then the rematch is on.

I will be fine with whatever the outcome is. As I said earlier, I am not thrilled with the idea of Michigan losing to Ohio State again. I don’t think there are any teams that are at the same level as Ohio State. My only complaint is with shady arguments. If you want Florida in the BCS Championship game because that game would interest you more, then just admit it. If you simply think Florida would beat Michigan, then that’s fine too. Just avoid any of the faux arguments that I mentioned earlier. May the better team lose to Ohio State.

A couple footnotes:

Does helmet to helmet only exist in the Midwest? Did anyone see USC’s Rey Maualuga pull a Shawn Crable on UCLA’s Patrick Cowan? That was ridiculous. It was the exact same play. You could even hear the helmet to helmet on the replay. The announcers were lauding it as if it were the best hit ever. Meanwhile, Brent Musberger and Bob Davie condemned Crable’s hit as an act of stupidity. It’s amazing how perspective’s change based on whether a ref misses a call or not.

Lou Ferrigno’s son plays for USC. I think the fact that his name is Lou Ferrigno Jr. gave it away.

Did anyone see UCLA’s Bruce Davis rip into Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit after the game? I love it when athletes from underachieving teams rip into people for picking against them. That is a first cousin of the “nobody thought we would win” proclamation. Maybe if UCLA didn’t lose to Washington State and WASHINGTON this year, people would have given the Bruins a chance. I know it was an emotional victory and all but I prefer to see humility whenever possible.

Percy Harvin is awesome.

Why do sideline reporters ask coaches if they are interested in other coaching jobs? I know their job is to ask juicy questions but at least ask something that has better than a 0% chance of being answered. I have never, ever seen a coach answer something other than “I am happy where I’m at” or “Now is not the time to discuss that”. All it does is annoy the coach and the viewer.

Did anyone hear Lloyd Carr’s appearance on Sportscenter late Saturday night in his supposed attempt to sway voters to pick Michigan? ESPN probably had in mind a heated debate between Carr and Urban Meyer but if they knew anything about Carr, they would have known that wasn’t going to happen. If Carr won’t reveal his true feelings when his response may help Michigan’s chances at playing in the BCS Championship game, then you know he won’t be revealing any inside info during his mid-season weekly press conferences anytime soon. It ain’t called The Fort for nothing.

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