Ridiculous Conclusions After the First Saturday of College Football

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It’s been one week. Actually, it hasn’t even been one week since Ohio State and Virginia Tech play tomorrow. But after the first few days of the season, a few things seem pretty clear.

  • BYU had the play of the day, but also lost Taysom Hill to a season ending injury, again. Kid can’t catch a break.
  • Notre Dame may or may not be very good, but it is clear that Texas is not.
  • The SEC took care of business, aside from Vandy. Mostly against over-matched competition, but Bama and A&M both put up good wins against ranked teams, and Auburn beat a pretty decent Louisville team, albeit with a lot of help from Bobby Petrino’s confusing clock management.
  • The PAC-12 and BIG-10 wanted to brag about having caught the SEC coming into the season, but both conferences had a bunch of L’s after week one, some of which were fairly inexcusable. (see Temple, Portland State, Hawaii, and Marshall)
  • Speaking of that Temple win, can Christian Hackenberg sue PSU for ruining his pro draft potential with that offensive line?
  • A lot of other teams played games that told us nothing because of the competition, others because they were sloppy and rusty.
  • Was it just me or were there a lot of true freshman playing QB? A few due to injury, others just because. That will not help the previous point about sloppiness.
  • LSU cancelled their game against McNeese State after lightning storms delayed the start until past midnight. For some reason, the lack of hotel space in Baton Rouge meant the game could not be played Sunday or Monday, despite the fact that the schools are only about a 2 hour drive apart. I don’t get it.
  • Stanford might have been a tad overrated, or Northwestern might be a lot better than we think.
  • K-State’s band < Ohio State’s band. OSU at least kept the vulgarities off the field. 😉

Seriously, it’s been one game for most schools now and as we know all too well from last season, teams get better as the season progresses. Teams that look woeful and sloppy in the first couple of games can go on to dominate at the end, and teams that dominate against lesser competition early in the year, can prove to be pretty average by the time the season ends. I’m not reading much into the results of Saturday’s games, but they all count, so slipping up this early can make for quite a mountain to climb to get back to where you want to go, and the same thing holds true every single week. That’s what makes it so fun to watch!

What caught your eye during the games this week?

The Inexplicable SEC

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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

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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

Greatest Day in Mississippi History?

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Mississippi State 48 Texas A&M 31
Ole Miss 23 Alabama 17

If only Southern Miss could have beaten MTSU, but let’s not get greedy here.

Ok maybe it’s not the greatest day in the state’s history, but in my
lifetime, this is the best day I can think of for the state.

Those games, among many others the week really show the ridiculousness of talking about the four team playoff before we even get to October. I heard the phrase “if they run the table” approximately two billion times in September, and many of the teams I heard that about found themselves on the wrong end of a final score this week, some showing very poorly while doing it. How about ,we let the season play out before we start arguing about who will run the table and what they deserve.

And let’s enjoy watching the SEC West cannibalize the crap out of each other!

Handful of Colleges to Stop Selling Jersey’s with Players Numbers

This is an interesting outcome of the settlement of the EA Sports lawsuit in favor of former players.

Worried about the ramifications of selling the numbers tied to student-athletes, several schools have decided not to sell football jerseys with star players’ digits on them this upcoming season, sources tell ESPN.

Three schools — Texas A&MArizona and Northwestern — will offer more generic jerseys this season.

Granted, three is a small sample size, but it does show that there are some schools starting to become concerned about not only the legal ramifications of selling the individual player jerseys, but also the public appearance of making money off these kids fame.

Of course, the entire financial structure of NCAA football is making money off of the exploits and fame of unpaid student athletes, so I’m not sure why selling the jersey is suddenly the line in the sand that shall not be crossed. We’ll see, however, as jersey sales drop, if the financial hit has them changing their minds or not over the next few years, or whether other schools follow their lead. I would imagine that jersey sales overall will drop dramatically. Fans generally buy a new jersey when there’s a new star player they want to have a jersey for, you’re not going to be buying a 12th man jersey all that often. One is plenty.

On the other hand, how much of the overall revenue pie comes from jersey sales? Probably not that much, but we know big time NCAA football programs don’t like to see any revenue stop coming in. They need that cash!