Survive and Advance – Ohio State Wins Ugly

BrutusI don’t think any Ohio State fans can say that we are thrilled with the way the team is playing. The defending national champs dodged another bullet against Indiana this past weekend when a 4th-down pass was knocked away in the end zone in the final seconds. It’s not what anyone expected from this team, but they are 5-0, and after the carnage that took place in the Top 10 over the weekend, I think any Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Georgia or UCLA fan would trade places with OSU right now.

So, a win is a win and the Buckeyes are undefeated.

But this weekend did provide me with one extra thought about the apparent unpredictability of college football. It would appear that no one knows anything, but i truth, why should we expect anyone to? We base predictions, and in some cases bet quite a lot of money, on a bunch of 18-20 year old kids. How predictable were you at that age? How consistently did you live up to your potential at that age? How many times did you waltz through an exam or other responsibility?

Yeah, exactly. Maybe we shouldn’t take too much stock in relying on young kids to be their best and always stay focused each and every week of the season.

Todd Gurley Falls Victim to Random NFL Rule

9898602293_c42e30e1ce_bLast season, Todd Gurley of Georgia was probably the best running back in college football. But, he was only a sophomore.

According to the NFL, in cooperation with the NCAA, he wasn’t eligible to declare for the draft, he had to return to Georgia and continue playing, for no money beyond tuition, room and board.

He decided to try and make a little money off of his fame, taking $3,000 in exchange for autographing a bunch of memorabilia. For this, he was suspended by the NCAA for 4 games. (Never mind how much the university was making off of him and his jersey.)

In his first game back from suspension, he continued to show why many thought he was the best running back in the college football, until the 4th quarter, when he tore his ACL.

Now, he will probably still get drafted if he decided to come out of college this season, but probably not as highly as he would have last year, costing him a few million, I’m sure. Money he could have had, if the NFL and NCAA didn’t block players who aren’t 3 years removed from High School from declaring for the draft. It’s mind-boggling that the league is allowed to have a rule that, in effect, blocks adults from making money in their chosen profession, and blocks individual teams from paying them for it.

If a kid wants to come out, and a team wants to draft him, why does the league get to interfere with that commerce?

The Inexplicable SEC

SEC logo photo

We’ve been told that the SEC West is the most amazing collection of great football teams ever. I’ve been skeptical of this claim for a while now, and this week provided more fodder. Here’s why:

 

  • Missouri beat Texas A&M to maintain their lead in the division.
    • Victories by other SEC West teams over A&M have been considered quality wins, but they currently stand 7-4 and do not seem like a good team
    • Missouri is 8-2, with a blowout lass to Georgia, and a home loss to Indiana. (INDIANA?????)
  • Georgia blows out Auburn
    • Yes, the same Georgia team that has inexplicable losses to South Carolina and Florida beat one of the “quality” West teams, badly.
  • LSU gets shut out by Arkansas
    • LSU, also one of those “quality” West teams, gets shutout by a team that had lost 17 straight SEC games and whose signature win this year is against 3-7 Texas Tech.

What to make of this? Perhaps, this is more evidence that Auburn, A&M and LSU really aren’t very good football teams.

Is that’s true, what does that say about Alabama, Mississippi State and Ole Miss?

State gained their #1 ranking in large part by beating LSU, A&M and Auburn is consecutive weeks. They got a lot of credit for a stretch against teams with a combined 21-11 record before finally losing at Alabama.

Ole Miss beat Alabama, which they deserve credit for, but losing to LSU and Auburn? Ugh.

Alabama seems to be the best team of the bunch, but it’s a fairly mediocre bunch, in my mind.

To be fair, however, every other conference in America is just as mediocre, and is being led by teams that don’t seem very good. This includes Florida State, who somehow has won a bunch of games they had no business winning. So I’m willing to admit the SEC is maybe the better collection of teams when compared to other conferences right now, but I think college football, in general, is pretty mediocre right now, full of wildly inconsistent teams. Maybe that’s the reality of kids leaving early and having to play at a younger age, or perhaps their all just point-shaving? 😉

 

Photo by Roger Smith

It Might Be Bias But It’s Also a Problem with Preseason Polls

Southeastern Conference photo

By now, most of you have probably seen the Rolling Stone article in which they claim to show the bias of ESPN toward the SEC.

I’m not here to agree or disagree with the premise. There is definitely some cheer-leading going on with certain ESPN talking heads, but I don’t know that there’s an institutional bias. I think you can absolutely make the case that ESPN being an investor in the SEC network is a conflict of interest, but if there’s one thing we know about ESPN, apparent conflict of interests have never stopped them before. (They are the broadcast partners of many of the leagues they claim to “cover” from a news perspective after all!)

The one thing that the article really pointed out to me is the way that preseason polls create a real problem when it comes to ranking the teams properly.

Case in point, South Carolina was ranked #9, on the basis, I guess, of being a decent SEC team last year. When they got beat by Texas A&M in the first week of the season, the Aggies were credited with a victory over a top 10 team and rode that, and a few ridiculous non-conference wins, all the way into the top 10 themselves. As A&M lost to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama in consecutive weeks, they were all, as the article pointed out, credited with beating a “juggernaut” in A&M. But here’s the thing, A&M’s reputation this season was based on beating a South Carolina team that, in fact, stinks. They stand 4-5 after losing to Tennessee this week. (The Vols FIRST conference win by the way)

So in reality, A&M really isn’t a good college football team, nor is South Carolina. The Gamecocks, in turn, beat Georgia, who’s other loss was the embarrassment against Florida on Saturday, another team that isn’t really any good.

Now as it stands, right now, there are some teams from the SEC who are probably overated. I don’t think it is a huge problem for the final four playoff teams as of right now, but moving forward, these 4 teams are going to change, and there’s a good chance that there will be those who argue for a two-loss SEC team, because, “SEC”, when they might not be all that good, due to the teams they’ve beaten being ranked too highly at the start of the season.

As of now, Mississippi State and Florida State are undefeated, and I think if they stay that way, they deserve to be in the playoff. Going undefeated is an accomplishment in any of the Power 5 conferences. I also don’t have much of a problem with Alabama and Auburn because of a couple of impressive non-conference wins. (Bama over WVU, Auburn over K-State) But, TCU, Oregon, Baylor, Kansas State and Michigan State are right behind them. I don’t think, if everything remains the same, either one can afford a loss.

For the record, just to show that I’m not biased, the Preseason Polls also had these rankings that were ridiculous and as these teams started losing, the teams beating them were given too much credit:

#5 Ohio State (ranking was pre-injury to Braxton Miller, clearly not the reality of that team early in the season)

#7 UCLA

#9 South Carolina

#11 Stanford

#15 USC

#23 North Carolina

#24 (Coaches Poll) Texas

Let’s ditch the preseason poll, and let the teams actually show us something before we start ranking them and giving teams extra credit for quality wins that aren’t.

Photo by Diamondduste

Why the SEC Should Embrace My Playoff Plan

Jordan Hare StadiumI first introduced it last season, but as I watch the SEC devour itself this season, I can’t help but wonder if SEC fans would maybe, just maybe, like to think about the benefits of a playoff where the conference winners advanced to the playoffs regardless of record. strength of schedule and so on.

Mississippi State and Ole Miss may look like the darlings of the SEC West right now, but remember, not only do they still play each other, but State also has a date with Alabama coming, and Ole Miss has dates with Auburn and at LSU too. This race ain’t over, although frankly, there’s also a really good chance Auburn or Bama is going to get hung with a second loss too, before they play each other.  In the end, it’s not a real stretch to imagine that the winner of the West could end up a two loss team. And then we have to assume they actually win the championship game, which may be against another 2 or even 3 loss team from the East. Wouldn’t it be something if the SEC wound up with an upset champion, like Georgia, and had to go out and try to claim a spot in the final four with undefeated Florida State sitting out there, and undefeated Baylor, and one-loss Oregon, Michigan State and Notre Dame out there as well? Now, that’s probably not going to be the case, but wouldn’t you feel better knowing that whoever wins the SEC, they’ll advanced to the 10 team playoff, against the other conference champs? Suddenly the regular season clashes that are tremendously exciting already take on so much more meaning, and we can stop worrying about how the preseason polls got it all wrong, but made it easier for some teams to stay ranked highly, and so on.

SEC fans could watch the carnage taking place thanks to the wins being piled up by the state of Mississippi, without the fear that neither of those teams is going to make it out of the regular season with a record impressive enough for the final four. Like I said, I feel like that is probably how they are watching it now, but not evey season is going to be this season. Eventually, some conference is going to consume itself and wind up outside the final four. Let’s fix that now before it happens!