Washington State Edition – 9/27/09

I think that one of the misguided criticisms of the BCS is that which focuses exclusively on the “computer rankings”.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I consider it unforgivable that a computer formula is involved at any level, even as “1/3 of the recipe”, as it is now.  But the human polls represent just as eggregious an element as the other parts of this despicable system.  And one needs no further proof of this than the fact that the “human experts” who get to randomly provide 2/3 of the determination in the subjective BCS methodology have thus far seen 2/3 of their “top 10” teams lose to unranked teams.  Florida and Texas are undefeated, but have played absolutely nobody.  Alabama and USC are the only teams in the top 10 to have any quality win whatsoever, and yet USC lost to a disatrous Washington team, and Alabama’s other wins were against patsies.  This last weekend was a particular bloodbath for the experts, but was only a story for some “fans”, because this sport, and this sport alone, has been brainwashed to care about “rankings”.  The Jets are #1 after three weeks in the NFL because they are 3-0.  They are not #1 in the whole league, because the “#1” team is determined the way every single sport on the planet does it at every single level, besides Division 1-A college football – on the field, at the end of the season.  Some fans counter my point with their own random arguments about who “should” be #1.  They miss the point.  I am not arguing that human polls should rank teams better; I am arguing that they ought not be doing it at all.  It is beyond excuse if any rational being thinks through it.  Would the Chicago Bulls have been ranked differently in 1996 if they had lost to the Clippers in the third week of the season?  Do the New England Patriots have “rankings concerns” after their week 2 loss?  Of course not.  Teams can have a “record concern”; meaning, they can play their way out of making it into the playoffs.  But human polls are no way for a mature society to determine a college football champion. 

So, yes, I do think it is funny that Ole Miss, Penn State, Miami, Cal, etc. all lost this week.  But no, I do not think it is funny because I think these teams were overrated, and the other teams underrated, or whatever. Subjective determinations are not just silly; they are wholly unnecessary.  We can play through the season, and allow the records to dictate a bracketology that creates a playoff.  And then a champion gets declared by winning games.  And as I say year after year after year, there is no argument one could possibly make in defense of the BCS, or in opposition to a college football playoff, that would not also be valid for every single other sport, at every level, on the planet.

Around the country:

– Florida State is a joke, and until Bowden throws in the towel and lets a real staff come in and a new regime begin re-building, they have no chance of being competitive.  It is heartbreaking to see such a once-fine program disintegrate into such a joke.  Narcissism or nostalgia – take your pick – it is still without excuse.

– The refs truly did stick it to the Hoosiers, and Michigan is looking more and more suspect.  The whole Big-10 is just atrocious, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ferentz’s Iowa win the conference this year.

– I think Virginia Tech’s win over Miami bodes well for Alabama, as it is the first thing to indicate that there is some legitimacy to Alabama’s win (the North Texas City College game didn’t do it for me, and obviously neither did Arkansas).  Miami is good – not great – and Va Tech whooped them.  Bama got Va Tech good.  I think they are the team to beat in the SEC, and I am including Florida in that list.

– It is hard to understand how the entire quality of the SEC could come down so systemically, so quickly.  Everyone of them plays cupcake non-conference schedules, and Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and LSU are fractions of their former selves.  South Carolina’s win the other night was a highlight, but the whole conference has deteriorated to where the Pac-10 is: There is one team, then everybody else. The question is whether or not that one team will lose a game to a lesser opponent like USC did.  Alabama really was untested all year last season, and then a better Florida team dismantled them, and then a mid-conference team decimated them in the Bowl Game.  Florida was among the best teams in the country last year (not the best), and even they lost to a lesser team.  This year, it is a Bama-Florida showdown in the SEC, as I just don’t see any of these mediocre teams giving them a run.  We shall see. 

– I don’t even know what to say about the whooping Oregon put on Cal.  I certainly can’t say that I called it, because I didn’t.  And past precedent tells me that Cal generally falls apart after a disappointing loss; let alone a major blowout to a struggling team.  I am not saying they can not beat USC, because they can, but I think their confidence has to be shaken at this point – badly.

– USC doesn’t have a QB controversy.  And the sky is still blue.

– I expect Carroll to get this team ready, but it is hard to be overly optimistic.  This team is not playing with the discipline level I am used to seeing from Trojan squads under Carroll.  Four out of our next five games are on the road, including away games against Cal, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Arizona State.  The single home game is Oregon State, last year’s conqueror.  5-0 in this stretch would take the best coaching performance of Carroll’s career, but it is not impossible.  3-2 would be very disappointing.  2-3 would be heartbreaking.  For now, all we care about, and all we should care about, is Cal.  Beat the Bears.

– USC’s starting defense has given up two touchdowns in four entire games, and one of those was a broken play.

– Our new punter increased our “per punt average” by 10 yards.  And our punt returner seemed to add 10-20 yards per return Saturday night as well.

– The main highlight of Saturday night was Matt Barkley’s arm.  David Denholm of ESPN predicted today that Carroll’s pitch will be, if they can somehow run the table from here, “we are undefeated with our starting QB”.  Personally, I know Carroll well enough to know that he doesn’t care one bit about “making a pitch”.  The BCS is the least of his concerns.  Just win, one week at a time.  Win your conference.  That is all you can control.

– I wish I understood what CJ Gable did to get in the doghouse.  He is certainly in the doghouse, and I hope he gets another chance to show his stuff at USC.  He is that good.

– We can not run the table if the offense stutters and sputters all season.  The defense is championship caliber, now.  The offense has the right QB (albeit a true freshman QB), and it has extraordinary skill position players.  But it has to get production out of the other receivers until RoJo can play, and something is not working in building sustained drives (the running game is not being established).  I have seen this set-up several times at USC in the midst of this dynasty, and it has always been worked out.  Let’s pray history repeats itself.

– I love Tim Tebow – love him – and I do wish him the very best in recovering and getting back on the field (they have a bye week this weekend, so I think he will be fine).  But pundits criticizing Urban Meyer for having him in the game at that stage (5 minutes left in the third quarter) are idiots, and others calling the hit “dirty” do not understand football.  It was a clean, albeit monstrous, hit.  Football is a violent sport.  Tebow is as tough as they come.

– I will be in New York for an annual client week this coming Saturday, the same city I was in for the Oregon State debacle last season.  Prior year trips have included USC’s wins over Nebraska, Stanford, and Arizona.  I will be on duty for my weekly musings by 8:00 in the morning pacific time (which happens to be the exact second that ESPN Zone opens), and based on the 5:00 pm pacific time start for the USC/Cal game, I anticipate being on duty that night until past midnight eastern time.  I can not wait.  13 consecutive hours of college football.  If only I did not have to take breaks to use the facilities …  (though they even have TV’s throughout the restrooms at this God-created venue).

Big big week ahead for my Trojans.  I wouldn’t be caught dead up there, ever again, as I have written in the past.  If you have dear friends or parents who are in their 70’s, and you are thinking about taking them to the game, and you are under the assumption that Berkeley’s enlightened few would not throw glass beer bottles directly at senior citizens, think again.  I’ll leave it at that.

Fight on.  The season is in full stride.  Can’t wait for MMQB tomorrow.  Can’t wait to get to the greatest city in the world for a week of business and dining, and a day of uninterrupted college football.  I have a charmed life.  And being the biggest college football lover of all time just adds to the whole thing.  =)