2008 – 11/23/08

This weekend was USC’s first Saturday off since that ugly weekend in late September where we had lost to Oregon State two nights prior …  Like that Saturday, I was away from home this weekend, and nothing cures homesickness more than college football.  Well, that, and eating whatever what you want, wherever you want.  But I digress.  On to college football we go …
 
– Don’t look now, but if college basketball adopted the brilliant BCS system, UCLA’s hoops team would already be disqualified from a national championship pursuit!!  =)
 
– I will say that March Madness and their 64-team tournament set the standard for post-season excellence.  it is the greatest way to determine a champion of any sport at any level on the planet.  Of course, a 64-team playoff in college football could never happen, but 8 teams could, and in fact, an 8-team playoff will happen.  Even if it kills me …
 
– I assumed that my Pellegrino or coffee had been spiked when I saw a number (as in, a ranking) next to LSU’s name on the scoreboard ticker at the bottom of ESPN.  If you ever needed proof of how lazy and incompetent the voters are in national rankings, it is LSU being a top 20 team.  Their QB is in the bottom five out of 120 Division I football programs.  I only say “bottom five” to be nice.  They do not belong in the top 25, let alone the top 20, but sometimes name recognition and conference affiliation helps – especially for those who earn a salary working about 5 hours per week.
 
– The special on ESPN GameDay about the Washington State fan who has had a WSU flag on display on site at College Game Day for 74 weekends in a row was quite fun.  However, I would like the story a lot more if the guy behind it went to all the game locations himself and held it up.  The fact that he merely “coordinates” getting a flag to a local rep takes a bit away from the story.  I, on the other hand, plan to spend my twilight years driving around the country to hold a USC flag up.  (Please do not tell my wife – I haven’t shared this dream with her yet).
 
– We may not know where the bottom in the stock market is, but I am calling a bottom to the state of Michigan football.  Lloyd Carr left a program in shambles, and Rich Rodriguez is going to do fine there.  He is a good coach, and there is nothing wrong with that football tradition that can not be fixed by what is right with it.  Bo lives on, and the Wolverines will be back.  Give them 2-3 years.  It wasn’t too long ago that Alabama was completely out of anyone’s mind in college football, and Saban has them playing for a conference championship in his second year as coach.  In Carroll’s second year as coach at USC they won the Pac-10, and won the Orange Bowl, and had there been a playoff, would have won a national championship.  In his third and fourth year, he did!  =)
 
– Geez.  I try to say something nice about Michigan and Alabama and Rodriguez and Saban, and it STILL leads to talking about USC and Carroll.
 
– Who wants to bet that if Charlie Weis loses to USC next week for the fourth year in a row, he will be fired, and if he beats USC for Notre Dame’s first victory over USC since 2001, he will not be?  I offered Ty Willingham the bet, and he turned me down (Ty was fired after three consecutive 31-point losses to USC).  Crappy teams are allowed at Notre Dame and UCLA, but crappy teams that beat USC every now and then are tolerated (right, Terry Donahue?).  Charlie has had a fun run, but if USC does their job and beats the Fighting Irish in the Coliseum next Saturday, the savviest coach in college football history (if, by savvy, I mean extorting a $30 million contract out of a lame duck Athletic Director on a totally false and undeserved NFL rumor) will be back in the NFL next year watching illegally obtained video tape (or wherever else his severance package and all-you-can-eat post game parties allow him to go).  If he pulls off the upset, he will stay in South Bend for another year, and my Christmas will be ruined.
 
– I don’t really think Notre Dame will beat us, but I take everyone seriously.  Even that basketball school across town.  Too much can happen.  We have a good coach.  We have a veteran team.  It is time to take care of business.  Jimmy Clausen may not want to invite all his local homeys.  I see Cushing breaking him in half.  Ask Brady Quinn how he enjoyed ending his college career in the Coliseum with Brian Cushings helmet in his chest.
 
– Choosing to root for Cal over Stanford today was like picking between eggplant and lima beans – I just can not do it.  But I took the egg plant today, knowing that you can always put so much salt and pepper on it that it doesn’t taste like egg plant.  I have never rooted for Cal once in my life, and today’s mysterious decision does not represent a new precedent.  It just means that no one from Stanford has apologized to me yet for their perverse pre-game show last week, and so they continue on my Hate List until they do.  It was a moot point, because a team that played USC the week prior does not win very often the next week (right, Cal?).  It is hard to win when your bodies have been pulverized by the best defense in college football.  So kudos, Stanford – nice self-respect.  And just think – if you didn’t lose in the last minute to one of the worst teams in the country (UCLA), you actually would be going to a bowl game this year.  Tedford and Cal did what they seem to do every year – finish with enough wins to make a bowl, and not enough wins to be on anyone’s national radar.
 
– Okay: Penn State has done their job in my Operation Chaos II.  At least one of the top seven teams is guaranteed to end with one loss.  I feel rather confident that Alabama and Florida both will as well.  What we don’t need is some nonsense where Florida loses to Alabama, or Alabama loses to Auburn the week before.  The goal is total and complete illegitimacy, magnified by more extreme illustrations of the idiocy of this barbaric system than even normal years have created for us.  The Big 12 is turning into a miniature Operation Chaos of its own, and I love it.  Technically, I think it would have been better for USC if Texas Tech had beaten Oklahoma, moving Oklahoma out of contention, and then if Missouri beat Tech in the Big-12 final (though even that would have left Texas in the way).  Now, it is a real mess – one that even I, the organizer of Operation Chaos, could not have dreamed of.  These tools in the Big-12 determined that in the event of a 3-way tie, the BCS standings determine who will represent the Big-12 south in the final.  It is as mystifying as it is humorous.  I think Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, and then pollsters and computers will get to subjectively select a conference champion.  Then, that team will presumably beat Mizzou, and go on to play the winner of Florida/Alabama.  Imagine this – Oklahoma and Texas are likely to both end up with one loss each, and Texas beat Oklahoma straight up on a neutral field, and yet the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of Oklahoma going on past Texas.  Again, mystifying, chaotic, and a delightful back-story to Operation Chaos.  The real loser here if my dream happens: seven teams with one loss (Florida, Alabama, USC, Penn State, Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech), not to mention Utah with zero losses – is that whoever wins this sham of a championship will forever have it clouded in mystery, fog, and controversy.  Now, Alabama can win three games in a row and bail the BCS out, but I would say the odds are overwhelmingly against that (based on how well Florida is playing, and the idea that Oklahoma or Texas or USC could get them in the final).  Bama’s clearest road to a championship was lost when Iowa beat Penn State (because Bama’ certainly could handle the Nittany Lions).  Operation Chaos lives on.
 
– Syracuse, Charlie?  Syracuse?
 
– Though my old attorney who I can’t stand went to Penn State, I am glad they won the Big-10.  For one thing, JoePa’s gap over Bobby Bowden in the contest of who can be a bigger egomaniac idiot is widening, and may result in both of them actually retiring before their bicentennial year.  But additionally, a Penn State loss to Michigan State would have given the Big 10 to Ohio State, meaning that if USC ends up in the Rose Bowl, they would be playing Ohio State three times in nine months!  After the 35-3 shredding a couple of months ago, this would have been quite anti-climactic.
 
– Colt McCoy is going to win the Heisman, though Sam Bradford could pop up there if he has impressive games against Oklahoma State and Missouri.  My vote – Tim Tebow – the greatest kid in college football.
 
– Though I have to confess to being a little misty-eyed at this story of the cornerback at Florida State being names a Rhodes Scholar yesterday.  He is now living out my dream: having to pick between grad school at Oxford, or being a first round pick in the NFL.  My friends know what I picked when faced with a similar decision (taking the job at Togo’s Eatery or Payless Shoe Source).  Last week, Florida State suspended five players for starting an on-campus BRAWL (only five this time?).  This week, this kid flew in at halftime after receiving a Rhodes scholarship.  Beautiful story.
 
– By the way, Florida State and their unique combination of on-campus brawlers and Oxford-bound Rhodes scholars should not be counted out against the Gators.  It would be an upset, but much, much stranger things have happened.
 
– Ole Miss and Oregon State are the two most maligned teams in college football, and only because of the way those losses are described for Florida and USC.  The reality is that they are obviously both top 20 teams, or better.  Oregon State is certainly the second best team in the Pac-10, and Ole Miss is certainly the best team in the SEC behind FL and AL.  Lazy pollsters should find new work.  I recommend shelving shoes at Payless Shoe Source …
 
– I am all done.  USC did not play, and I am out of thoughts about yesterday’s action.  Stoops at Arizona should be fired.  Any team that lets Oregon State go 80 yards in the final 50 seconds is a team that is capable of ruining my dinner.  Thank you, Wildcats.  I still think the Beavers may lose to the Ducks, but I suspect USC is spending their New Years in Phoenix or New Orleans or Miami.  I am in.  Just beat the Irish.  Then, UCLA week.
 
If I get the time, I will do my bonus edition “Notre Dame week” issue in a few days.  When you sit down for your turkey, gravy, potatoes, and stuffing, celebrating all we have to be thankful for with your family, keep your family and friends and blessings at the TOP of that “gratitude” list.  But somewhere, somewhere on that list, don’t forget – college football.  The greatest sport ever.
 
Happy Thanksgiving,
The Biggest College Football Lover of All Time