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A conference split in two

One year ago I wrote a post comparing the MAC to the Big Ten. Using the Sagarin rankings we were able to tell the MAC had some teams that were able to slug it out if they were in the Big Ten. Time to breakdown the rankings to see if the MAC gained any more ground in 2012.

2012 Sagarin rankings MAC vs. Big Ten.

2012 Sagarin rankings MAC vs. Big Ten.

I found it disappointing to locate Northern Illinois at No. 39 being a BCS team. However the weak schedule the Huskies played watered down their ranking. The only top 30 team at the end of the year NIU played was Florida State. Kent State fared worse finishing the year No. 60. The Flashes were knocked again for not playing a single top 30 team.

Ball State comes in at No. 67, ahead of five Big Ten teams. Toledo, Bowling Green, and Ohio follow giving the MAC six teams in the top 75 of the nation. By MAC standards that is striking oil.

That means half the conference is capable of being decent in every conference in the country with two exceptions being the SEC and the Big 12. Seven out of the 10 Big 12 teams finished ahead of Northern Illinois in the Sagarin rankings. Still, having six teams in the top 75 is a big achievement for the MAC. The problem is the bottom half. In 2012 there were 124 schools in FBS so having teams outside the top 124 means they were passed by FCS schools like Indiana State.

Five MAC schools are guilty as charged in No. 125 Miami University, No. 131 Buffalo, No. 146 Eastern Michigan, No. 169 Akron and No. 178 Massachusetts. Their poor rankings are why the top of the MAC was dragged down. Northern Illinois played the bottom four MAC teams, FCS UT Martin, and Army. Those six cupcakes gave Northern Illinois a No. 121 strength of schedule ranking.

The most successful MAC team with a challenging schedule were your 9-4 Ball State Cardinals. Ball State had the second toughest strength of schedule at No. 73 and was deprived of the opportunity to play Akron and UMass. Eastern Michigan was the victim of the MAC’s toughest schedule at No. 71. Losing to FCS Illinois State made going 2-10 even more painful.

While the top teams in the MAC are cruising, other teams are sinking and holding the MAC back.

While the top teams in the MAC are cruising, other teams are sinking and holding the MAC back.

So what does all this mean? If another MAC team is going to make a run at the BCS or the future playoffs a few things will need to happen. One option will be the bottom half of the conference stepping up. Akron and UMass did damage to the BCS rankings of Northern Illinois and Kent State this past season. This could be fixed through those cupcake schools finding wins in non-conference play.

The other option would be the top of the conference gaining more quality wins. In 2012 the only win the MAC scored on a top 30 team in the Sagarin rankings was Ohio’s upset at No. 30 Penn State. The MAC had other wins against BCS conferences but most of those wins came against the basement dwellers of those conferences.

Northern’s run to the Orange Bowl was huge for the conference showing a MAC team can get on the big stage. Now the MAC needs to find a way to sustain it and improve the bottom half. While we are still far away from a MAC school competing for a national title, it is no longer idiotic to suggest it can be done. Never thought we could say that.

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The MAC’s one shining moment

Who would have thought that on a weekend the where Ball State gets a bowl bid the bigger story would be our bronze stalk rival Northern Illinois.Yes, your Ball State Cardinals are less than three weeks away from winning, cough, I mean playing in a bowl game against Central Florida. For those who were able to stomach the disinteresting Conference USA championship, you saw how UCF is not exactly strong. If the Cards can heal up they should take this one.

Losing to NIU in October actually scored Ball State a big pay check. Nice loss Cards!

Losing to NIU in October actually scored Ball State a big pay check. Nice loss Cards!

Plenty of other news overshadowed the bowl bid. Specifically, the Northern Illinois Huskies flipping the bird at the BCS. Kent State would have done the same had it had been on the other side of an epic MAC Championship Friday.

Northern jumped from 21 to 15 in the BCS standings thanks to teams like Texas, Nebraska, and UCLA losing.

During the week leading up to the MAC Championship game, ESPN did everything to promote the game talking how the winner could bust the BCS. Once that fantasy became a reality the worldwide leader in talking heads took a different tune.

Next thing I knew people I have been watching on College Gameday my whole life began ripping the Huskies a new one. Instead of talking about how monumental this was for a small schools everywhere it was all NIU does not belong and never will belong.

Does NIU belong in the BCS? If Louisville and Wisconsin belong then they absolutely do. Heck, we were close Saturday night to a 6-6 Georgia Tech Tech team knocking off Florida State in the ACC championship. Had the Yellow Jackets won would Jesse Palmer tell them to go away too?

Instead all ESPN could talk about was how Kansas was the only good win NIU had all year and how it lost to Iowa. The Iowa game was at the start of the year when the Huskies were breaking in a new quarterback. Why did no one on ESPN mention that?

As Jordan Lynch adjusted, NIU became even better than they were a year ago.

No one could admit that the MAC is simply better than the Big East and has gotten to the point where winning in conference matters. Northern beat Ball State, Kent State, and Toledo. All are good teams who would have finished high in the Big East conference this year. Kent State won at Rutgers. Toledo beat Cincinnati, Western Michigan beat Connecticut, and Ball State beat South Florida involving what might have been the most memorable touchdown grab in Muncie.

Don’t forget Ohio’s win over Penn State. Penn State actually finished 8-4 which inflated the MAC’s rankings with the computers. Even Central Michigan got in on the act topping Iowa on the road. And of course, Ball State beat the school from Bloomington with the ugly logo.

Bottom line, the MAC killed it in non conference action this year and had a whopping seven bowl eligible teams this year. The best part all seven got in.

That is a good conference. More worthy than the geography challenged Big East of having an automatic bid.

You might not like it ESPN, but as Dr. Phil would say in a dumb car commercial, “Tough tinsel.”

As for the game Ball State and the MAC has a lot on the line with this year’s Orange Bowl. If Northern is blown out then we have some credibility issues going forward. From observing the Big Ten the last few years, having a lack of credibility from bad bowl defeats can cripple a conference for future postseasons.

On the other side if Northern does well then I would not be surprised if another conference makes a play for the Huskies. As desperate as the Big East and Conference USA have been the last few weeks, an invitation is probably already in the mail. Tulane and East Carolina? Really Big East?

Maybe ESPN was intentionally bashing NIU Sunday night in their bowl selection show to drum up interest for the game. Think about it. If Oklahoma was playing Florida State it would just be another BCS bowl with no implications on the national championship. Instead the Orange bowl is now highly intriguing. It is similar to the Fiesta bowl with Boise State and Oklahoma a few years ago. How many other Fiesta Bowl games can you recall? That game and ….

In short, it’s a big game. Especially with the money being pumped in. Maybe Ball State can stop charging student fees? HAHA!

Rick Majerus

The other big news for Ball State this weekend was the passing of a former coaching great. When Rick Majerus coached Ball State to the sweet sixteen I was in diapers. Instead I only know him as a rotund man coaching Utah against my Kentucky Wildcats in big games.

Whenever Majerus would come in conversations I had with Muncie natives their eyes would light up. That pretty much says it all. Majerus did for the basketball program what Brady Hoke did for the football program. If anyone has any Majerus stories please share them in the comments.

Well Central Florida I guess we are no longer friends for the next few weeks. May the best team win. Oh wait, that’s us.

Can a MAC team play in a BCS bowl game?

The 2011 season was good year for the MAC, but 2012 has been incredible.

Friday night, two MAC teams will battle it out ranked in the top 21 of the BCS standings. Ironically, they are the two MAC schools that squeaked by Ball State this season.

Ball State may be playing NIU here, but that MAC logo on the field is kicking some serious keister.

For the conference it is a huge moment. If Kent State wins there is a chance the Flashes could move up high enough in the rankings to score a BCS bid.

Just think how both Kent State and Northern Illinois should be undefeated.

All NIU had to do was take down Iowa on a neutral field. The same Iowa team that lost at home to the 4th best MAC West team in Central Michigan. The Huskies could not get it done.

All Kent State had to do was beat a 2-10 Kentucky team.  Granted, Kentucky was healthy in that game before the injury mafia moved in on every good player they had including their quarterback. Yeah I’m not bitter about that or anything.

For Ball State fans it is humbling that the year where the Cards go 9-3, (6-2 MAC) a conference championship is out of reach. I don’t think of it that way. Instead I see how good the conference has become and finishing third carries weight now.

Remember when the MAC only had three teams in the bowls? Many fans of the BSC conferences felt three was too much.

Now the MAC is going for SIX bowl teams in 2012. Double what people use to think was outrageous.

Kent State even beat Rutgers in New Jersey. Rutgers is currently slated as the Big East champion that will play in the BCS. And Kent State is clearly better than them.

News came down this month that the Big East will lose their automatic BCS berth in the 2014 season. Instead the MAC, Sun Belt, Big East, Mountain West, and Conference USA will battle it out for a spot.

That may not sound like big news but I think this opens the door a crack wider for a MAC team to get into the country club of whatever the BCS turns into. Currently, it is a four-team playoff with four additional bowls adding up to 12 teams with a piece of the postseason pie.

The four-team playoff is out of reach but the other bowls may be closer than ever.

In 2008, Ball State was undefeated and did not have much of a chance at getting into a BCS game. Would that change in the new system? Perhaps, but there are some key differences.

  1. 1. The Big East loses it’s edge in recruiting. For Ball State this means the Louisville Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bearcats no longer have an advantage in gobbling up local talent. Since I hate those two teams I can’t think of anything better than to say EAT IT!
  2. 2. With Boise State in another conference it may be tougher for the Broncos to go undefeated. Who other than the Broncos scare you in those five conferences we previously mentioned? East Carolina? Troy State? Louisiana Tech? Any random school with a question mark?
  3. 3. The MAC is the most stable out of the five conferences. The Big East and Conference USA is why geography teachers think no one pays attention in their classes. The Mountain West is going through a lot of changes and the Sun Belt is still the Sun Belt. The MAC has plenty of rivalries developed and the league is great fit for all the schools with the exception of UMass. Why are the Minutemen here again?
  4. 4. Television matters. I think I was able to find every Ball State game on the internet this year or on some obscure cable channel. The argument that small schools can’t get exposure does not work anymore. The MAC may not be making much in terms of TV revenue, but the bigger goal is to get their name out. The MAC is succeeding in that. Hell even Eastern Michigan is on TV so we can laugh at their fan base. Before I only had rumors of EMU fans. Thanks to the ESPN 3, I know that at least 20 of them exist.

A MAC team may still not be able to compete for a national championship but they may closer to relevancy among the football world than ever before. Especially if a school emerges as a team that can take that automatic bid. Perhaps Ball State in say 2014.

So kick back Friday night and enjoy the MAC championship. Don’t be bitter that Ball State is not there are a lot of positives in play. Then watch a Big East game for laughs. Those guys are hilarious. Sounds like a good weekend.

Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

Horactio Banks with the carry. When a MAC team can run on Big East boys it might be time to give us an automatic bid.

You cannot make this stuff up.

A Ball State team that muffed the opening kickoff a year ago against South Florida came back around and won in stunning fashion Saturday.

Is it a top five victory in school history? Top three?

Ball State has defeated a BCS school not named Indiana, and who would have thought it would be a team that defeated Notre Dame a year earlier. Not a team named Duke or Vanderbilt.

Fact: Two Florida players on Ball State’s roster won the game. Receiver Willie Snead was too short at 5’11” to be a Bull I guess. So was Corner Eric Patterson at 5’10” even though he clinched the game with his interception.  Whoops.

Fact: Keith Wenning was a one star recruit because he developed too late in high school. All the BCS schools passed him by except for … Stan Parrish. Yes we need to give a little credit here. At least something good came out of his two seasons. Meanwhile BCS teams all over the country are struggling at quarterback. Whoops.

Fact: The quickest guy on the field was receiver Jamill Smith, a Muncie native who was too small for a scholarship just about anywhere.  He racked up 162 all-purpose-yards against a BCS team that should have been loaded with freak athletes. Whoops.

Fact: Offensive lineman Kitt O’Brien, Dan Manick, and Cameron Lowry were also one star recruits. Yet they were the ones pushing around South Florida like a boss. There were some holding calls but who cares? The running backs had holes all day and Wenning was never in danger. The highly recruited South Florida boys gave up 6.1 yards per carry to running back Jahwan Edwards. Another Cardinal who did not have any scholarship offers from other FBS schools.  Whoops.

A blocked extra point against Ball State. Whoops

Fact: South Florida is coached by Lou Holtz’s son but was thoroughly outcoached by some guy who at FCS Elon two years ago. Whoops.

Fact: Four out of the five MAC West teams took it to a BCS school Saturday (EMU is disowned untill its first win). All of them dwarf the MAC in terms of resources, boosters, budgets, facilities, and television exposure but they all lost to what should have been inferior opponents. Whoops.

This is my favorite part of college sports. Seeing underdogs prove that they we never underdogs at all.

Ball State was the underdog, but it proved that it should have been the favorite at home.

I asked a friend how this was happening. He said to “Just enjoy it. Don’t think about it.”

He was right. For those of us who watch ESPN at will we fool ourselves into believing schools with prestigious conference affiliations are superior. It does not matter if you are BCS or MAC. All that mattered Saturday is your Cardinals are 3-1 with a bowl invitation about to be mailed from the UPS Store.

Even if Ball State gets a bowl or wins the MAC championship, it might not top the feeling of the South Florida win.

This was Ball State winning beating a big name team in Scheumann Stadium. On a night where over 16,000 fans actually showed up.

The north end zone: where amazing happens

Willie Snead’s touchdown catch is something we will be talking about for a long time. It was Ball State football’s version of Jimmy Chitwood knocking down a jumper to win State.

Despite the cold temperatures, fans were sticking around out on the field. I witness two kids no more than 10 each trying to recreate Snead’s catch in the left corner of the north end zone. When was the last time kids in Muncie wanted to recreate a Ball State football play? When was the last time kids in Muncie cared about Ball State football? 2008? Never?

It’s going to be a long drive back to Tampa. The Bulls will be okay. It’s not like they will be playing Florida State next week. Wait…

Something special is brewing in Muncie with this team and program. Instead of analyzing it, it might be time to just sit back and enjoy it.

No BCS team can just waltz into the cornfields of East Central Indiana and expect a win.

It is pretty enjoyable to say that.

Nathan Pace is a 2012 Ball State graduate and writes for the New Castle Courier-Times.

Expecting to Win vs. Hoping to Win

This is our street now! Just need Purdue and Notre Dame before we can start charging a boatload for rent.

We are there now.

For the first time in four years I expected Ball State University to win a football game and it came through.

The last time I expected Ball State to win a game was in 2008 prior to the MAC championship against Buffalo. I will spare you the details of that one. Since then I had been merely hoping our Cardinals could pull out a victory.

I hoped for a victory against the MAC’s worst in the Stan Parrish era. I hoped for a victory against FCS New Hampshire and Liberty. I hoped Ball State would at least score 3 points at Oklahoma and Iowa.

Saturday night, as Indiana made a shocking comeback, I still expected Ball State to kick a field goal for the win.

And it freaking happened.

We all knew Ball State needed this one to have a shot at seven wins and bowl game as the journey will be tougher from here on out. Myself, Alan, and pretty much the diehard fans, those who read this blog, knew Ball State was the superior team. The last time I felt that way about Ball State, Nate Davis was under center.

Yes, IU was down to their third quarterback. Yes, Ball State did everything they could to blow their season in the fourth quarter. Yes, Pete Lembo acted up on the sideline making even Kevin Wilson seem rational.

But I could care less now.

For Ball State to beat their bigger in-state rival with a fraction of their budget and resources speaks for how far the program has come. Ball State may never be a BCS team and that is okay. Being able to compete and respected by those BCS teams is the key. You must not be like Eastern Michigan. More on that later.

I expect big things from this football team for the first time in four years and I bet the rest of the fan base does too. Speaking of which…

Will the fans show up?

Ball State: Special Teams Redefined.

This is a HUGE week for the whole attendance problem at Scheumann Stadium. A quality team in South Florida is actually coming to Muncie. There is NO EXCUSE for fans to not come out to this one.

  1. Ball State is coming off a thrilling victory over their in-state rival.
  2. A team like South Florida only comes to Muncie about once every 10 years and that might be pushing it.
  3. It is a Saturday afternoon start so students will have time to sleep in. Alumni will have time to travel from outside areas.
  4. As a September game the weather should be nice.
  5. South Florida will hopefully bring up south Florida women.

Make no jokes, if less than 15,000 fans show then Lembo should walk out and take the first job that comes his way after the game. Over 20,000 fans should be the goal.

The diehards will have to push the casual folks hard this week. Maybe a Facebook event or a Twitter hashtag could help. I am thinking #BSU20K or #FilltheScheu, but just make an added effort this week.

In other MAC news

This is why it is important to be respected by BCS teams. A radio man and former Miami Hurricane player, Dan Sileo, made an epic rant on his struggling team this past week and took a shot at Eastern Michigan in the process. Given the Eagles first three games this season their defense is pretty weak to this. Just a reason why it is important to be respected by the BCS snobs. Starting with a flimsy Indiana team is a start, but for some in the MAC a start is out of reach.

You better respect Ball State on Saturday South Florida. I expect them to do so.

Is the MAC Gaining Ground on the Big Ten?

Writer’s note: This is the third installment of the statistical breakdown series. Here are links to the first Keith Wenning vs. Nate Davis and second, BSU Defense Tackles Misleading Stats, installments.

Fans of MAC teams have known for a while that the Big Ten has been backpedaling and Big Ten fans are finally coming around to admitting it. But many Big Ten fans still see their conference as vastly superior to the MAC.

Time to see how the conferences truly stack up.

If the MAC played Monopoly with the Big Ten. Your move Penn State. Post $50 bail or roll for doubles.

Head to Head Games

The Big Ten crushed the MAC going 11-1 in head to head games. Ball State’s win over Indiana was the only exception. The MAC can claim several moral victories.

Western Michigan lost to Illinois on the road by three and Purdue in a bowl game by five. Temple lost to Penn State 14-10 at home. Toledo failed to score a last minute touchdown from the red zone in their 27-22 loss at Ohio State. Miami University dropped a 29-23 decision at Minnesota. That means five of the 11 Big Ten wins, almost half, were decided by a six points or less.

There were lopsided affairs too. Akron, Eastern Michigan, and Central Michigan all played at least one Big Ten school each in 2011 and the results were worse than the acting talent in a “Twilight” movie.

The most disappointing loss came from the MAC Champion Northern Illinois.  Northern was pounded 49-7 at Big Ten Champion Wisconsin. The gap between the best team in the Big Ten and the best in the MAC is still as large as it ever has been. The Huskies were not going to win that game but they needed to make it more respectable than that.

The MAC did find success against BCS schools outside the Big Ten. Temple knocked out Maryland 38-7 on the road. Western Michigan went into Connecticut and won 38-31. Toledo was robbed at Syracuse with a blown call on an extra point and went on to lose 33-30 in overtime (cut to Toledo fans shaking their heads).

Bowl Games

The MAC went 4-1 in bowl games this season which is a testament to how deep the conference was in 2011. The Big Ten went 4-6. To be fair, this stat is not a good measuring stick as the Big Ten played SEC schools while the MAC faced Mountain West and Sun Belt teams.  Even though this stat favors the MAC we have to throw it out when comparing the MAC to the Big Ten.

Vs. FCS Schools

The MAC went 12-0 against FCS schools while Minnesota was upset at home for a 9-1 record for the Big Ten. The MAC appears to fumble a game or two to a FCS school every year and your Ball State Cardinals were one of the repeat offenders in previous seasons.

Even 1-11 Akron won their only game against FCS Virginia Military Institute. Say that again. Even Akron won a game against a FCS school. Anything is possible.

Still, this measurement is flawed too as not every FCS school is created equally. This stat only proves that the MAC did their homework in scheduling the right cupcake.

Sagarin Ratings

Now we are talking. The Sagarin ratings are ultimate rating system for college football nerds everywhere. Namely me.

Unlike most polls, the Sagarin ratings compare every FBS and FCS team into one giant list. The Sagarin ratings are somewhat similar to RPI in college basketball.

Here are the rankings for all the Big Ten and MAC schools. The MAC schools are bolded.

First, discard Indiana and Akron. Those two schools are outliers as they were so bad they were virtually disowned by their conferences in 2011.

The theory behind the Sagarin ratings is the closer two schools are in terms of points the closer the game would be if they played on the field. For example, Western Michigan is five points away from Illinois and only three points away from Purdue. The Broncos did lose to those teams but came very close to winning. Western is 19 points away from Michigan and was trashed accordingly 34-10.

From the data we can infer the five MAC bowl teams could do damage in the Big Ten if they played their conference schedule in 2011. Toledo, Temple, and Northern Illinois would have a realistic shot at beating eight of the 12 Big Ten schools (please change the name of the conference). Penn State is only three points away from Toledo and four away from Temple and Northern Illinois. Thus, the top three MAC schools can compete with two-thirds of the BCS conference.

In theory, Ohio and Western Michigan are capable of defeating Illinois on down and maybe Ohio State and Iowa.

That makes five MAC schools the Big Ten does not want to tangle with. Especially when they are paying the MAC schools a truck load of cash to come to their house.

The Big Ten still has an advantage with their four top teams being bulletproof against a MAC school.

The Big Ten had a down year with Ohio State and Penn State ending up on CNN more than ESPN for scandals. Nebraska was making the transition to the conference and will settle in soon. Ohio State with Urban Meyer will be back at the top of the conference in no time. Penn State is a volatile situation and therefore tough to predict.

For the MAC, 2011 was a break out year. If the top teams in the MAC can stay in the top 50 in the Sagarin ratings then more upsets against BCS conference foes will come in 2012. That said the back half of the conference has to improve in order for the national perception to progress.

If the rear of the conference can make some strides in the next few years then maybe a 6-6 MAC team, your Ball State Cardinals, can earn a bowl invite (cue angry Ball State fans writing e-mails to the Akron athletic director).

Big Ten schools beware in 2012. Buying an easy win against a MAC school is getting harder and harder.

Conference Champs and the Last Weekend of 09

Bittersweet. That’s how I would characterize this past weekend in college football around OTP Manor. To have great games on, beginning with Thursday’s Civil War is a fantastic way to spend a few days. To realize on Saturday as you’re soldiering through a Wisconsin-Hawaii blowout that after that there are only 35 FBS games left this season is a bit of a buzzkill. At least conference championship weekend brought the thunder and gave 2009 more of what it had all season long: upsets, upsets gone awry, and controversy.

More after the jump…

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Week One… with a Little Help from the Fab Four

Club_ID_by_BeatlesFanClubWith week one in the books, the football machine is now fully operational.  But if you haven’t noticed, this week is a landmark occasion in the music world.  The Beatles are set to release all their albums today, finally remastered on CD, as well as The Beatles: Rock Band video game.  I have had a chance to hear about half of the remastered albums (we rockers get early access to everything, or we find someone who does), and the results are nothing short of incredible.

But as I listened this weekend, a lot of the songs played as great soundtracks to the weekend of college football.  And once again, I did the work for you.  Here are some timeless Beatles songs and their connection to week one.

Here, There and Everywhere
Notre Dame was all over the field Saturday.  And for once, they weren’t being led around it.  They came out fast, and they stayed that way the entire game.  If they keep this up, maybe Crazy Lou was right.

Let It Be
Air Force did anything but let it be.  Demolishing Nicholls State 72-0 should show the rest of the Mountain West that Air Force should probably not be taken too lightly in 2009.

I’m Looking Through You
Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly almost seemed inside Rutgers’ head coach Greg Schiano’s head the entire game.  Taking a 47-15 beating from a fellow conference team is not a pretty way to start the season.

A Day in the Life
Leave it to Ohio State to make a close game out of a sure blowout.  Just another day in the life for Buckeye fans.

You Can’t Do That
LeGarrette Blount committed one of the worst acts of losing one’s temper that I have ever seen on national television.  Next to Ron Artest.  Needless to say, I fully agree with the year-long suspension, and it should serve as a reminder that as much as you want to lay out an opponent for talking shit, sucker-punches aren’t the answer.

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Coaches Poll Contemplates Doing Exact Opposite of Sensible

Disclaimer… This is not another BCS rant. That lifeboat in the blogosphere, the S.S. Hate, long set sail from this port. OTP is against the “playoff” conversations, because it’s just another half assed attempt to fix an unfixable inherently flawed situation. Ranting about the BCS is ridiculous, a waste of time and keystrokes, and is akin to bitching about the clouds. Complain all you want, it isn’t going anywhere.

However, the components of that BCS are at bare minimum open for discussion, especially given what’s at stake beyond a berth in the national title game. When Texas loses out on an opportunity to play for the Big 12, because computers and polls rank a team with an equal record, who Texas beat, ahead of the Longhorns, someone, somewhere has to look at how those numbers are computed. If staying within the current system is a given, and to me, it is, then the only viable solution is to ensure as much transparency, accountability, and reasonable thought/logic goes into the various components of said less-than-ideal current situation.

What doesn’t even remotely compute within this conversation is the proposed shift in the Coaches Poll. The poll itself has undergone myriad changes over it’s 59 year life span to get to its current spot in the football universe. The identities of those voting is not a secret, their votes are (with the exception of the final regular season ballot), and the participating coaches are required to put the BCS Championship Game winner #1 in their final ballot of the year.

On the table for the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), based upon a recommendation from Gallup, is a total shroud of mystery draped over the entire thing. Identities would be concealed, votes remain secret, and transparency would go from its current “sort of” to a marked “absolutely none”. How can this be good for the sport? The simple answer is that it cannot.

The Coach’s Poll, in and of itself, is a bit ridiculous to me. For one, you are asking a group of professionals who are totally focused only on their own team and their opponents in one week bursts to evaluate the play and performance of 119 others over the course of an entire season. That’s asking a lot, unless you want them to pawn it off to an SID or an intern, which I wouldn’t be surprised to see happen far more often than not.

Second, you’re asking coaches to be non-biased. A great theory, but nearly impossible, given that these polls play into the BCS rankings, and therefore BCS selections, and therefore BCS paydays which are split amongst fellow conference schools. If I’m a head coach who can let my school potentially have another million bucks for voting conference mates ahead of others, you can bet your ass I’ll do it. Anyone would. It’s human nature.

So for the coaches poll to have any “credibility” to begin with, we, as fans, are asked to assume that coaches will be informed, participatory, and non-biased. And the only way to ensure that’s happening is to ensure that the public can see exactly how these non-biased informed voters are voting. More transparency is the answer. More mystery, more cloak and dagger, more smoke and mirrors does nothing. It only serves as yet another way for the major conference powers to be territorial, possessive, and discriminatory while playing in their BCS sandbox.

But perhaps what is most troubling, and this to me is the crux of the argument against these proposed changes, is that this is just another little roadblock thrown up to prevent fans from getting too close. Watch, but not too close. Support, but not too close. Come, but not too close. Because when it all boils down to it, athletics in general, and specifically college football, it’s the haves and the have nots. And this, like most decisions made, show all of us fans exactly where we are and where we’re expected to stay.

On Championships, the SEC, and Surprise Faces

Day 1 of post football aftermath and it already sucks. The morning just seemed a bit off. I’m not looking forward to Saturday like most weeks from August through January. It’s real. It’s gone. Another year down. Sigh…

It’s a common adage that the more things change, the more they ultimately stay the same. And though last night’s BCS Championship didn’t feature Ohio State getting their doors blown off, it did showcase the Southeastern Conference and clearly, indisputably, and totally exhibited what I, along with some others, have thought for a while now … that the SEC is simply head and shoulders above the rest of the college football universe.

It isn’t the fact that SEC has tremendously “better” athletes than every one else. USC, Notre Dame, Oklahoma all are loaded with blue chip talent. Though I would argue that the talent is deepest across the board in the SEC. But most important is that the season in the SEC prepares you to win the big ones like no other conference. Sure, there’s the Red River Shootout. USC-UCLA probably carries some weight on the west coast. I’ll give you that Texas-Texas Tech was exciting. But those are momentary flashes in an otherwise fairly dull season. Oh… let’s get fired up for Baylor! Yahoo!! The SEC has no Baylors. The SEC has no Washingtons. The SEC has no Big East or ACC teams. Whether it be Kentucky, Vandy, Mississippi State, or any other nontraditional football power, SEC teams play big games every week.

The argument of “The SEC is better than everyone you Yankee limpwrist” is not necessarily the argument I’m making. But I am saying that playing week in and week out against the best competition in the country, against arguably the best collection of coaches in the country, against top to bottom the best athletes in the country simply prepares you to be a champion. It steels your will. It allows you to be prepared to lead a team 76-yards down the field for the nail-in-the-coffin TD with under 4 minutes to go. The SEC may not have all the best teams, but it certainly has the best collective group of teams.

As for last night, the Gators walked out of South Beach with two things… a national championship and the freshly fallen StoopsTears of another missed opportunity. BigGameBob is playing awfully small-time when it counts, going 0-5 in his last 5 BCS games. While Stoops is looking for a tissue, hopefully to sob in, he can look toward one man as the reason why, and he can find that man in his bathroom mirror. Stoops made poor decision after poor decision last night, that allowed Florida to even have an opportunity to be close in the second half. Not kicking field goals when he should have, kicking them when he shouldn’t have. It was like watching a trainwreck in super slow motion… everyone knew the outcome and no one could look away. Perhaps most important though was that through his decisions he allowed Tim Tebow the opportunity to do what he does… win.

I won’t beat it to death because of the complete and thorough tongue bath Tim Tebow got last night from the FOX broadcast crew, but the guy is just a gamer of the highest order. 2 Championships, a Heisman, and strapping his team to his back time and time again and getting it done makes him one of, if not the, best college players of our generation. He may make a shitty pro QB or he may not even play substantially in the NFL, but when it comes to college football, there isn’t anyone better.

Some things to note about last night’s game…

  • For anyone reading who makes personnel decisions at FOX Media, please fire Thom Brenneman and Charles Davis. I would rather have the noon SEC Raycom guys than these two. It ruined what should have been an otherwise most excellent showcase of college football. Say what you will about ESPN taking over the rights to the BCS, but having guys like Herbstreit, Desmond, Fowler, Nessler, or Mussberger calling this game would have been infinitely better.
  • Note to all future opponents of Tim Tebow… DO NOT TALK SMACK BEFORE THE GAME. It is universally a poor decision.
  • I thought there were far too many penalties and official involvement last night. Let the kids play.
  • Percy Harvin is fast. Super fast. Like a jackrabbit on coke fast. I am assuming that young Mr. Harvin will declare for the NFL and get his ducketts, yo before every super high tension ligament in his body inevitably evaporates, but he sure was fun to watch.
  • With his win last night, Urban Meyer has won his second title in 4 years at Florida. RV disagrees with me, but Meyer is a beast. It’s a two-horse race for the mythical “Best Coach in America”, but Meyer is certainly giving Carrol a run for his money.
  • Of special note on this fantastic Friday is the fact that I had Florida #1 in our preseason poll. Not USC, not Oklahoma, not Georgia. I mean, not to toot our own horn here at OTP or anything. Of course not all of us here at OTP were pleased with this decision. Our very own RV had this to say about my selecting the Gators as our #1… “Florida 1? That’s horrible dude. It’s like you’ve never watched football before.” Oh sweet merciful success.


Speaking of the site, we’ll be your offseason shelter for the lead up to spring games and the fall out of NFL declarations, coaching staff turnovers, and all the other goodies that happen after a season. RV will be along with some recruiting news and notes, which he is amazingly good at.

08… in the books. Welcome to the offseason.

I had to add this picture. ~RV


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