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Sunday, December 2, 2007

I Think I’m Going to be Sick

I’m not a WVU fan. In fact, as a BYU alum, I hate the fact that the Big East gets an automatic BCS bowl bid while the MWC champion gets PAC-10 4/5. The largest stadium in the Big East holds 65,050 – which they borrow from the Steelers - and the mighty Panthers pack 43,000 in there for home games – not exactly big time football – but that’s not the point.

I’m not a WVU fan, but Saturday night’s loss to Pitt made me sick to my stomach. After a disastrous season of freakish upsets – not parity, but freakish upsets – I thought we just might get two one loss teams, with dynamic offenses, in the national championship game. Instead, we get the Buckeye Pansy Killers against a two loss team.

So, to avoid this kind of outcome in the future, I offer the NCAA and college football teams a few free suggestions (but I will accept donations).

1. Go Two Deep at QB

Longshore goes down - Cal loses. Dixon goes down – Oregon loses. Pat White goes down – WVU loses. Bradford goes down – Oklahoma loses. Booty goes down – USC loses. Defensive ends these days are more athletic and hit harder than ever before, and quarterbacks are more vulnerable running the spread offense. They are going to get hurt – and you need to have someone that can step up and play when that happens.

And you need to have someone that can run your offense. Jarrett Brown has his talents, but they are not the same as Pat White’s. Yet WVU kept trying to run the same offense and amassed 190 total yards. They have two running backs that are either former or future Heisman candidates in Slaton and Devine, but Brown keeps it play after play. Theoretically, Leaf also has talents (well-hidden?), but Oregon would have to run a completely different style of offense to exploit them.

So we need to start talking about depth at quarterback and realize that a team’s success over the course of the season will generally rely on its ability to overcome injuries with its second string qb. LSU won and West Virginia lost Saturday because the former has two quarterbacks while the latter has just one.

2. Give Pac-10 Coaches a Clock Management Workshop

If I’m not a WVU fan, then I’m definitely not a Cal fan, but their first of many losses still made me ill. Throw the ball away, get out of bounds, run faster than my grandmother and get the first down – just don’t get tackled in the middle of the field.

But Oregon’s blunder was even worse, because their blunder was premeditated. The game was tied. They've got first down and a chip shot field goal to win. They squatted on the ball to run off some clock and down the ball in the middle of the field. But then they run out the field goal team instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock, miss the rushed field goal, and lose in overtime (because they can’t convert on 4th and 1).

Cal managed a heroic collapse after their time-management disaster against Oregon State, and Oregon completed a three game losing streak by failing to get off a good field goal attempt against their in-state rival, Oregon State. I guess their coaches are so busy dreaming up creative offensive schemes they can't bother to worry about finishing games.

3. Hit a Field Goal

A reliable field goal kicker misses two close range attempts. The team is down by 6 (=3+3) late in the game until a safety ends any hope of a comeback. And national title hopes are lost. If Kansas’ and West Virginia’s kickers go in together, they might be able to afford the services of Blackwater USA long enough to get a chance at redemption next season.

4. Define the National Championship

The wonderful thing about college football is that every game counts. Even week 1 against Appalachian State. Any definition of a national champion that does not preserve this tradition in college football would ruin the sport.

First, this means that we should not have a tournament. If we did have a tournament this year, USC and OU (maybe Georgia) would end up playing for the national championship. USC lost twice, including at home against Stanford, and only won their conference because Dixon was attacked by a turf monster. Oklahoma lost twice on the road to Colorado and Tech. A tournament would discount those losses – and, therefore, make those games unimportant.

Second, I think it is also important to require a national champion win its conference championship. We made the mistake a few years ago of allowing Oklahoma to play for a title after getting a beat down in its conference championship game. The same goes for Georgia this year - and I don't care how well they've played recently. If we must have a tournament, allow only the 8 conference champions from the SEC, Big East, Big 10, Big XII, PAC-10, MWC, WAC, and ACC. This would have the nice externality of forcing Notre Dame to join a conference like everybody else.

A national championship game should include the two teams that have performed the best over the course of the season and also won their conference championships. This year, the natural selection would be LSU – who only lost twice, both times in 3OT and against tough competition – and Ohio State, the only one loss champion. If you lose to a team that is not bowl eligible, or lose by 25+ points, in my book, your disqualified.

5. Recognize that LSU's coaches are very mortal

First, Crowton. He was run out of Provo, and quickly after BYU becomes a power. Last year, they had one of the top 3 offenses in the country by the end of the season (just ask the Ducks). He goes to Oregon and their offense is a disaster (just ask the BYU defense). LSU picks him up - and I can only assume they did it to have a scapegoat in case they didn't win a championship. Oregon has the best offense in the world outside of Massachusetts after he leaves (until Dixon is injured), and LSU's offense is a little above average.
Bo - He had amazing success with the Blackshirts - 15 guys juiced out of their minds. Fine. At LSU, the defense is good, but their are better defenses in the country with less talent. I'm not impressed. If Nebraska fans think he will be their savior, suicide rates could be climbing over the next few years in that fine state.

and Les - Not impressed. Of course, I'm not at all impressed with Michigan and that program, either. Their football team's loss to App. State has been resoundingly outclassed by the basketball team losing to Harvard. It would be a better fit for Les at Michigan - less money, less recent succes, worse future prospects. But instead LSU offers him a raise? Ridiculous - even if he does give the world's second best press conferences (with Gundy at #1).

P.S. Shame on Pitt players and the program for dancing on the midfield logo. If Pitt actually had fans I would hope that they are embarrased for that performance.

P.P.S. The #2 curse lives on

2 comments:

  1. Nice work. I'm very pissed at the results of Saturday's games too. Instead of getting two teams that are relatively new to the elite national spotlight, we get an Ohio State team that has beaten? and an LSU team with two losses (oe of which was to an average at best kentucky team). Did I mention I hate both teams?

    Good points on quarterbacks too. West Virginia looked listless with out White last night (although they didn't look great with him either) and Oregon's fall without Dixon is remarkable.

    Unlike past years, I don't think we will have a champion. There is no 'best' team this year. There are about 5 or 6 good teams, but if OSU beats LSU in the BCS title game, I think you can still make a rational argument for a number of other teams. And if LSU wins the title with 2 losses?! I'm not sure if that has ever happened before.

    One more thing. You alma mater should take some scheduling notes from Hawaii. Play some patsies, go 12-0 and play in a BCS bowl. I'm not gonna say Hawaii doesn't deserve a BCS bid (those are the rules, and none of the 3 ND team deserved their bid). I also have no doubt that BYU is a top-20 team and is just as good if not better team than Hawaii. They were very good last year too (witness their thrashing of Oregon). I hope Mendenhall stays there a while, it seems he has built a ream mid-major power.

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  2. Bronco Mendenhall has a cult following in Provo, and when you throw in the religious aspect, I don't think he'll be jumping ship any time soon. I see your point about scheduling pansies, but BYU has too much pride to go through with it. They'll keep trying to bring in Notre Dame and USC or Arizona and UCLA. For better or worse. I thought of this as a rebuilding year going in and I'm ecstatic with a 10-2 finish and conference championship. Last season was a real lost opportunity.

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