Tuesday, April 1, 2008

random thoughts

Sorry for no post today -- been working at my real job most of the day. As penance, here are some random, mostly college-football-related questions swirling around in my cranium.

-- Why wouldn't the schools in the state of Florida look at my revolutionary proposal to form their own conference? They could call it the Sunshine League, or the Peninsular Conference or whatever. Here's what you'd have, if such a league existed:
1. Florida
2. Florida State
3. Miami
4. South Florida
5. Central Florida
6. Fla. International
7. Florida Atlantic
You could even add FAMU if you wanted, just so everyone could have a competitor each year in the band competition. How awesome would this league be? Further, not only have you reduced travel, the league would be the perfect size -- so Florida, for example, could continue playing its "Cocktail Party" with Georgia and everyone could still play some out-of-conference action. And every game would have national implications, too -- you're telling me the BCS wouldn't eat this thing up?
More importantly, the natural rivalries are almost all pre-existing. In those seven universities, virtually every major Floridian city is represented. So a South Florida-Central Florida game is, in reality, a battle of Orlando against Tampa. And so forth.
I really have no idea why this wouldn't work.

-- Perhaps you read yesterday's link about Mississippi State's sad spring game, which ended in a 0-0 regulation tie and actually had to go to overtime to be decided.
It's stuff like this that makes everyone reluctant to think of State as a legit contender in the SEC. In both of the Bullies' big wins last year -- at Auburn and home against 'Bama -- the opposing quarterbacks (Brandon Cox and JPW) played poorly enough that the singular blame for the losses falls squarely on them. As I wrote in November after 'Bama's loss at Starkville, even a D+ from the quarterback position, and Alabama wins the game comfortably. Instead, John Parker turned in an F--------.
But that's basically been Sly's strategy since he got to State -- get a break or two early, play tough D and protect a lead late. Basically, it's the Gene Stallings theory of winning -- it's boring, but it's effective.
Unfortunately, the league (and college football in general) is moving in a direction where that won't win consistently anymore. You might pull an upset or two, maybe even make a bowl game, but the offenses in this league are too good on a night-in, night-out basis. At some point, if you're going to win a championship, your offense has to do more than just sit on the ball for the entire fourth quarter.
(Of course, I can hear Sly now reading stuff like this and saying, "Just keep underestimating us, stupid."

-- If you were UAB, wouldn't you go out of your way to try and schedule all your home games for days other than Saturday? Tuesdays, Thursdays ... even Fridays would be better than playing on Saturdays, wouldn't they? You're never going to win head-to-head with Auburn and Alabama -- why even bother trying? And you might even get a few extra TV dates if you agreed to play during the week, right?

-- Kudos to everyone in the SEC for adding quality non-conference opponents starting this season ('Bama-Clemson, Auburn-West Virginia, Georgia-Arizona St., and so forth). Here's a suggestion: why don't we explore the option of adding an extra conference game?
Think about it: one of the chief complaints about the divisional format -- playing one permanent inter-division opponent and two rotating inter-division games -- is that it's dissolved some of the old rivalries -- Ole Miss-Georgia, Auburn-Tennessee and the like. So why not play TWO permanents inter-division, plus two more rotating games? Not only would you beef up everybody's schedule strength and bring back some of those lost rivalries -- you'd be decreasing the amount of time between games in the rotating dates, as well.
Again, I don't see why this couldn't work.

-- Finally, with the Final 4 looming, it seems only natural for me to think what it would be like if college football were to adopt some form of tournament for its postseason. Allow me, for a moment, to elaborate.
  • Once the NCAA Tournament starts, conference affiliation doesn't matter anymore. One of the chief knocks on Georgia's candidacy for the BCS Title Game last fall by nearly everyone (including me) was that the Bulldogs "didn't even win their division. But ... really, who cares? Are they the most deserving team or aren't they? When Syracuse won the basketball title in 2003, did anyone care that they didn't win their conference? Of course not. So give that a rest.
  • One reason the BCS and the bowl system are alive and well: the NCAA doesn't get a dime of that money. That may be the chief argument against a playoff system: more money to give to a bloated fat-cat monopoly that's already carrying on like Henry VIII, as evidenced by the Gridiron Bash fiasco.
  • The best thing about the selection process in basketball? The concept of the "blind resume." Basically, you take two teams, take away their names and compare their individual bodies of work. So if Team A and Team B have similar records, but Team B has more quality wins and a slightly better schedule ... Team B gets in, period. Only later do you find out you selected San Diego State over Indiana. If we're going to stick with the BCS, this is something that should follow -- take away the names, don't think about who makes more money for you or who's got the more loyal fan base. Which teams are the most deserving? They get in, period.
Oh well. I'll have more on this when I can think clearly again.


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