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26 Nov 2007

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Aloha

by Russell Levine

Of all the upsets this season has produced -- from Appalachian State over Michigan on September 1 to Arkansas over LSU on Friday -- the greatest surprise of all may be that we are just two games away from a relatively controversy-free Bowl Championship Series.

Should the newly minted numbers 1 and 2 teams -- Missouri and West Virginia, respectively -- win their final games, they will meet for the national title in New Orleans on January 7. The only real dissent would come from Ohio State, as the Buckeyes would have been denied a spot despite having the same record as the Mountaineers and Tigers. But while Ohio State lost its penultimate game, Missouri and West Virginia would each enter on seven-game winning streaks.

Of course, both Missouri and West Virginia could lose next week, sending the BCS into complete chaos, as a team that didn't win its conference would likely be matched against Ohio State for the championship.

In yet another bit of controversy-avoidance, it looks like the BCS bowls will be forced to include the nation's only undefeated team, Hawaii, provided the Warriors can knock off Washington at home next week. Hawaii's win over Boise State Friday night, in what was billed as the biggest game in Western Athletic Conference history, was enough to move the Warriors to number 12 in the latest BCS standings -- the spot at which a BCS at-large invite is guaranteed.

It's a good thing for Hawaii that the guarantee exists, otherwise there's little chance the Warriors would be included. Beyond creating a championship game between the top two teams every year, the BCS was created by the major conferences to help them fashion attractive bowl matchups -- for both ticket sales and TV ratings -- as well as keep most of the lucrative BCS bowl money in the hands of those leagues. Only twice has a school from outside the six BCS conferences been included: Utah in 2004 and Boise State last year. That both brought plenty of fans to the games (in both cases, the Fiesta Bowl) and both won does little to boost Hawaii's appeal.

With the Sugar Bowl their most likely destination, game officials in New Orleans can't be too thrilled at the prospect of selling tickets to Hawaii fans who would face roughly a 4,500-mile trip to the game. While Boise State was able to bring plenty of fans south to Glendale, Ariz., for the Fiesta Bowl last season, the prospect of inviting Hawaii to New Orleans is like a dinner check that nobody wants to pick up.

Yet WAC commissioner Karl Benson is confident that Hawaii could represent itself just fine.

"Hawaii has historically had great fan following when they play on the mainland," Benson said. "This year when they played UNLV in Las Vegas, they had 12,000 to 15,000 fans there, and maybe only 2,000 made the trip from the state of Hawaii."

There's another reason for Hawaii's appeal, Benson said, and it has to do with the "cult of Colt," as in Brennan, the Warriors' record-setting quarterback.

"Colt Brennan is cult figure," Benson said. "It would be easy for fans to adopt Hawaii for the day. Put on an Aloha shirt and go to the Superdome and root for the underdog."

Benson has been down this road before, sweating out Boise State's BCS rank last season, although the Broncos removed much of the drama by reaching number 12 by mid-November and moving steadily upward.

Whether or not the Warriors can complete their undefeated season and reach the BCS, the program's turnaround over the past nine years under coach June Jones is remarkable. When Fred von Appen was fired following an 0-12 campaign in 1998, the possibility of the school dropping football altogether was not out of the question. Enter Jones, a former Hawaii quarterback and NFL head coach. His run-and-shoot offense propelled Hawaii to a 9-4 record in 1999, the single-biggest one-season turnaround in NCAA history.

Though Jones has largely maintained that level of success (just two losing seasons in nine years), the economics of Hawaii football remain a challenge. Finances have threatened the program before; the school dropped the sport in 1961, only to revive it a year later.

The NCAA tries to help ease the burden by granting a "Hawaii exemption" -- teams traveling to the islands are allowed to schedule and extra game to help defray the cost, likewise giving Hawaii an extra gate opportunity. Yet even that doesn't always help. Athletic director Herm Frazier struggled to finalized this year's 12-game schedule (one less than the permissible maximum) until earlier this year. He ended up having to grant home dates to a pair of Division I-AA opponents after other schools backed out of commitments. ESPN even tried to broker a game with Michigan in Ann Arbor, but in a bit of irony, the Wolverines opted for a game with Appalachian State.

The resulting soft slate, which ranks near the bottom of NCAA's strength-of-schedule metrics, is the prime evidence cited by those who feel Hawaii doesn't merit BCS inclusion even at 12-0. According to BCS expert Jerry Palm, it no longer matters. On his Web site Sunday, Palm said Hawaii is a virtual certainty for the BCS if it wins next week.

That will come as welcome news to Benson, who has taken the high road even as the BCS announced a tweak last week that seemed directly aimed at keeping Hawaii out. Asked how he would react if undefeated and BCS-eligible Hawaii was denied an invite, he opted for an approach rarely employed by the team's ultra-aggressive coach: He punted. "You'll have to ask me about that on December 2," he said, indicating the date BCS bids are handed out.

John L. Smith Trophy

There were some questionable decisions in a few big games over the weekend. Neither Kentucky nor LSU managed the clock particularly well in games they would eventually lose in triple-OT.

Clock follies are nothing new for LSU's Les Miles, of course.

(As an aside: Gee, shaky decision-making; losing a couple of games to teams you should beat; an offense that is predictable by formation and personnel ... why does that all sound so familiar? While Miles would fit right in at Michigan with that M.O., maybe I should be happy that the Wolverines are rumored to be looking in another direction -- although, just for the record, I'm not.)

Seeing as both Miles and Kentucky's Rich Brooks have been honored in this space before (and speaking of people who won't be the next Michigan coach), I'm going a different direction this week. The JLS Trophy goes to Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, for re-inserting a concussed Tavita Pritchard back into the Cardinal's game against Notre Dame.

Pritchard was obviously woozy after taking a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit, but when his replacement, T.J. Ostrander, was also injured, Harbaugh allowed Pritchard to return to the game less than 10 minutes of game clock after his injury. ABC sideline reporter Jack Arute pointed out that the Stanford medical staff had not diagnosed (emphasis mine) Pritchard with a concussion, but that he had been woozy and unable to stand following the hit, and that the trainers had taken his helmet away.

That Pritchard hadn't officially been diagnosed or that he only remained in the game a few snaps matters not. Given what is known today about head injuries, risking the health of a player for a few snaps in a game between bottom-feeder teams is outrageous. Actually, it would be just as outrageous if the same scenario were to occur in the national-title game.

Harbaugh, who hasn't been shy about getting on his high horse regarding student-athletes, should be ashamed of himself.

BlogPoll Ballot

This season, I'm again be voting in the BlogPoll, hosted by mgoblog. I'll post my ballot in Junkie each week. Feel free to comment, and I may adjust may rankings based on your suggestions.

Rank Team Delta
1 Missouri 2
2 West Virginia 2
3 Georgia 3
4 Southern Cal 3
5 Kansas 3
6 LSU 5
7 Ohio State 1
8 Virginia Tech 1
9 Florida 1
10 Oklahoma 2
11 Arizona State 6
12 Tennessee 1
13 Boston College 3
14 Illinois --
15 Wisconsin --
16 Clemson 1
17 Hawaii 5
18 Oregon 7
19 Cincinnati 1
20 Auburn 6
21 South Florida 3
22 Brigham Young 3
23 Boise State 2
24 Virginia 4
25 Texas 6

Dropped Out: Connecticut (No. 23).

Rankings that may require further explanation: I think Missouri has a pretty compelling case, and another chance to prove itself this week. West Virginia, Georgia, and Southern Cal are all playing better right now than at any point during the season. Tough to know where to put Kansas, given that Missouri was far and away the best team they've played. I've chosen to keep them relatively high.

As usual, tons of guess work beyond the top five. Got a gripe? Post it in the comments, please.

Games I watched at least part of: Southern Cal-Arizona State, Arkansas-LSU, Texas-Texas A&M, Boise State-Hawaii, Virginia Tech-Virginia, Tennessee-Kentucky, Connecticut-West Virginia, Florida State-Florida, Missouri-Kansas.

Portions of this article appeared in Monday's New York Sun.

Posted by: Russell Levine on 26 Nov 2007

81 comments, Last at 29 Nov 2007, 3:20pm by witless chum

Comments

1
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:30pm

I assume if Oklahoma wins, they'll jump up into the Georgia-USC realm. It won't matter unless WVa loses, of course.

I heard some clown on the radio this morning saying that if Ohio St has to play a two-loss team, it would probably be LSU. Huh? Who the, what the? Why so much love for the Tigers? I'd much rather play them than Georgia and probably Oklahoma or USC as well. I know their losses are as close as you can get, but so were some of their wins. They seem to have both the SEC and the 'talented' pixie dust. Too bad they keep screwing around on the field, I guess.

2
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:32pm

How did the BCS tweak its formula to try and keep Hawaii out - are you referring to lowering the minimum standards for BCS conference teams? If so, I don't think that was aimed at keeping Hawaii out. I think that tweak was intended to avoid the embarrassing scenario of not having enough technically eligible teams, including the Hawaii/Boise winner.

If there was a different tweak made during the season, targeted more or less explicitly at Hawaii's situation, that's BS, even though the BCS wasn't created to be fair (a fact many pundits don't know, it seems)...

3
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:34pm

For the sake of pointless comparison, my rankings:
1 West Virginia (+3)
2 Ohio State (+1)
3 Florida (+4)
4 Kansas (-3)
5 Oklahoma (+3)
6 Missouri (+3)
7 LSU (-5)
8 Southern Cal (+2)
9 Oregon (-4)
10 Virginia Tech (+1)
11 Georgia (+3)
12 Arizona State (-6)
13 South Florida (-1)
14 Cincinnati (-1)
15 Clemson
16 Arkansas (+12)
17 Illinois (+6)
18 Auburn (+2)
19 Boston College (-2)
20 Kentucky (-1)
21 Tennessee (+8)
22 BYU (+5)
23 Texas Tech (+1)
24 Texas (-8)
25 Boise State (-7)

4
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:34pm

Gailey out at Georgia Tech, Bowers at Southern Miss, Roof out at Duke, Nutt should be out at Arkansas, Sherman in at Texas A&M.

The Nutt and Bowers firing were bad decisions.

5
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:34pm

I wonder if I should root for a major controversy: Mizzou (barely) loses to Oklahoma, WVa loses to Pitt... could Georgia (not SEC Champion) go to the BCS Championship? (especially if LSU loses or does not win convincingly)

I know a lot of people who believe that the Championship (or potential playoff) should exclude teams that are not the division champ. Personally, I think the best team should go. Of course, I also would like to see the matchup decided AFTER the normal bowl games are played.

Is it just me or is Tebow and his play not getting much air time for Heisman? I suspect the media has an interest in it being an exciting decision (everyone agrees that a player wins is not a very interesting article). Hence, we are seeing more about McFadden and Chase Daniel, who are both very outstanding players and are also not underclassmen. Even if McFadden does not win I expect him to be a good, early pick for the NFL.

Tebow did have a good season without a lot of flaws and a couple of his best plays (throw to outside shoulder, hitting a receiver in stride on longer passes; dodging and running through or over players) came recently. Will Tebow's injuries play in his favor?

6
by PHn (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 7:46pm

Russell,

Most rankings seemingly strive to strike a balance between a team's body of work to date (W-L record, with an eye to perceived strength of schedule) and a best guess as to who would beat whom on a neutral field. Is that a balance you try to find as well? If so, what are your thoughts on the process?

Never-Gonna-Happen Bowl Games I'd Like to See:

* Air Bowl: Hawaii v. Texas Tech
* Grudge Bowl: LSU v. USC
* Heismann QB Bowl: Florida v. BC
* The Other Ohio School Bowl: Michigan v. Cincinnati
* Bovine Bowl: Texas v. USF
* Got It Together in Late Season Bowl: Georgia v. OK

7
by strannix (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 8:17pm

* Heismann QB Bowl: Florida v. BC

Wouldn't Florida likely destroy BC? That doesn't sound like a very attractive matchup at all - more like Florida's Orange Bowl win against upstart Maryland in 2001.

Got It Together in Late Season Bowl: Georgia v. OK

Not to nitpick, but Oklahoma's had it together all year long - when they play at home. And their loss at Texas Tech was just last weekend.

8
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 8:51pm

Do you mean no BCS controversy other than having at least one team that plays in a bad conference and hasn't beaten anyone? And yes, I'm looking at you, West Virginia. Have they beaten anyone? Apologies in advance if I'm missing something, but it seems that the entire reputatin of Big East football rests on South Florida beating Auburn. As far as I can tell, that's the only ranked out of conference team any Big East team has played, let alone beat. And I don't buy the "look how many teams the Big East has ranked!" since the rankings are apparently only based on them beating each other, and none of them (except S. Florida) has beaten a decent team from a BCS conference. (I think the same argument applies, possibly to a lesser extent, to the Big 12 this year ...)

I'm not saying WV is bad--I think they're a top 10 team--but there are quite a few teams I'd put above them at this point in the season, regardless of ranking ...

9
by PHn (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 8:58pm

7:

Frankly, I thought the Gators would destroy just about everyone this year, yet here they sit with a conference record of 5-3. Florida's offense has been great, but the defense has been just average. Ryan was good-but-not-great against a top-notch Hokie defense a month ago (25-52, 2 TD, 2 INT), and I think he'd have a good day against UF.

I completely spaced the Tech loss. What was I thinking? Still, I think Georgia-Oklahoma would be a great game.

10
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 8:59pm

West Virginia did smack around Mississippi State who beat Kentucky who beat LSU or something.

I think West Virginia is that good and the same argument made about the Big East can be applied to the team at number 3 as well even more so.

11
by peachy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 9:29pm

re: 9

Ryan's Heisman campaign came a cropper against the FSU defence - 26/53 for 415yds, 2 TDs & 3 INT. The whole losing thing hurt too (his numbers were actually worse against VaTech, but the dramatic comeback seemed to outweigh that for many people.)

Three weeks later that same FSU defence was run right off the field by Florida, to the tune of seven scoring drives out of nine. (The Gator defence also out-performed BC's by 15pts and 165yds, for whatever that's worth.)

Does that mean UF would necessarily destroy BC? By no means. But they would probably be a solid favourite, assuming Tebow was able to play.

12
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 9:45pm

West Virginia non-conference:
v Western Michigan (5-7), 62-24
@ Marshall (3-9), 48-23
@ Maryland (6-6), 31-14
v East Carolina (7-5), 48-7
v Mississippi State (7-5), 38-13

Western Michigan beat Iowa in Iowa City, Maryland beat BC, ECU doesn't have a signature win but did beat UNC and played VaTech close (17-7, with a Hokie pick-6), and Mississippi State beat Kentucky in Lexington the week after WVU destroyed them. Marshall's the only total cupcake non-conference, and they're a WV school. I don't think it's right to blame the Mountaineers for none of their conference opponents having standout seasons.

If you want to play that game, let's look at LSU. They managed to avoid the 2 teams that finished atop the SEC East, but a lot of their reputation seems to rest on beating a VaTech team that the week before had struggled badly with ECU and the next week was tied with Ohio halfway through the 3rd quarter. Their second best win is, oh, Florida, a team that itself has 2 wins against teams with fewer than 5 losses-Troy and Tennessee.

Of course, LSU's loss probably eliminates them, so the likely title game opponent will be Mizzou if they win. Mizzou's nonconference slate was:
n. Illinois (9-3), 40-34
@ Ole Miss (3-9), 38-25
v. Western Michigan (5-7), 52-24
v. Illinois State (IAA 4-7), 38-17
One legit win, one BCS road game, but three lousy teams. They did beat Kansas, but Kansas hasn't beaten a single team with fewer than 5 losses, so we're really not sure exactly where Kansas should be. Aside from Kansas and Illinois, they beat, uh, Texas Tech (best win OU -Actual QB, Mike Leach co-founder of Snyder-Mason-Leach-Mangino School of Soft Nonconference Scheduling).

I could go on, but the exercise becomes a little tiresome. Pretty much every team ends up with a schedule that'll seem soft, especially if you massage it. Heck, I thought USC had a tough non-conference schedule, with a single patsy (v Idaho) and road games at Nebraska and South Bend, yet Big Red had its worst season in half a century(?) and the Irish had perhaps their worst year ever (I love typing that). As I see it, the inquiry boils down to:
1. Who did they schedule non-conference?
2. Did they get screwed somehow in their non-conference scheduling (pretty rare)?
3. Did they get lucky w/r/t what conference opponents they missed?
Grade teams' schedules on that curve, not "in my ideal world of football competitiveness, who'd they beat?"

13
by strannix (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 9:45pm

Frankly, I thought the Gators would destroy just about everyone this year, yet here they sit with a conference record of 5-3.

Good point.

At this point, though, the Gators look like the classic young team experiencing occasional growing pains. But after their defense bottomed out against Georgia, they've looked better each time out, and seem to be improving rapidly.

I'm a homer, obviously, but I can't see BC hanging with them. They don't have the defense to keep the Tebow show off the field like Auburn or The Defense Formerly Known As LSU, and their offense isn't prone to long, clock-killing drives, either. If they remind me of anyone the Gators played, it's Kentucky, who Florida handled relatively easily despite the close final score (Woodson threw a meaningless TD as time expired to bring the final margin to 8).

I agree, UGA v OU would be a good matchup, provided OU decided to show up away from home. Not a lot of precedent for that this year, although I guess they beat Texas in Dallas.

14
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 10:01pm

#10: Cincy also demolished Oregon St., and they're an mid-level PAC-10 team. It's hard to say "the Big East doesn't have any serious wins... except for Auburn, that doesn't count." Most conferences only have one or two games, period, with the upper-tier teams vs. other upper-tier teams, so it's not that surprising.

What conference does have multiple wins over Top 25 out-of-conference teams?

15
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 10:20pm

#14

PAC-10 does with UCLA over BYU and Cal over Tennessee, Washington over Boise State

The best OOC wins by current rankings:
SEC: LSU over Virginia Tech
PAC-10: Cal over Tennessee, UCLA over BYU, Washington over Boise State
Big 12: Missouri over Illinois
Conference USA: Tulsa over BYU
MWC: Wyoming over Virginia
Big East: South Florida over Auburn

Big Ten: no one even receiving a vote....remember this when Ohio State is playing for a national championship.

16
by thok (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 10:21pm

Re 10:

The Pac-10 has wins over Tennessee (Cal) and Michigan (Oregon) and Boise St (Washington) and Brigham Young (UCLA).

This list may actually prove your point.

17
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 10:43pm

#9: What made you so sure of the Gators' greatness this year when they lost virtually their entire starting D?

Almost everyone knew they'd struggle on defense this year and lose a game or two. The Georgia loss was inexcusable since it basically handed the Vols the SEC East but people had to figure they'd lose at least one conference game this year and possibly two.

18
by Irish Boy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 11:24pm

Unless something epic happens and Illinois ends up in the Rose Bowl (which would require just about everyone above them losing convincingly), Florida and Illinois are probably playing in Orlando in the 1st ever Zook bowl.

19
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 11:39pm

14, 15:

The Pac-10 also plays a true 9 game round robin schedule with the added 12th game (which is home/away). Just about every other BCS conference team added a "cheap" home game when the NCAA allowed the 12th game.

15:

As someone who lives in Big Ten country that stat says just about everything you need to know about the quality of that conference this year.

20
by mlc0808 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/26/2007 - 11:49pm

While the Pac-10 does have the best out-of-conference wins of any BCS conference they also live with the shame of going 1-2 against a very poor Notre Dame team.

21
by thok (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:32am

The Pac-10's curse this year has been a massive instability in the QB positions. If Oregon or USC had had their QB's healthy all year they'd be in the national title game. If UCLA had a healthy QB all year, they'd be something like 9-2 or 8-3. And I'm not convinced that Longshore's recovered from his injury in the Oregon game (although Cal's defense is also a reason for their collapse.)

For what it's worth, Stanford's also had QB issues, but well, they're also Stanford.

22
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:33am

re: 18

I'm not so sure about that. There are currently fourteen teams ahead of Illinois, who are thus one spot from eligibility. But between automatic spots, effective non-eligibility due to conference restrictions, and potential losses in remaining games, Illinois could actually end up the only team available for the tenth spot.

- West Virginia and Ohio State are in.

- Mizzou or Oklahoma will take an automatic with the loser almost certainly out, and Kansas is very likely for an at-large.

- Georgia at #4 is virtually guaranteed an at-large, and LSU or Tennessee will take an automatic, with the loser and Florida knocked out.

- USC will probably take an automatic, with ASU a possible for an at-large (although at #13 they cannot afford to lose to Arizona.)

- VaTech or Boston College will take an automatic, but only VaTech would stay high enough to remain eligible after losing.

- Hawaii is in line for a guaranteed at-large, but still has to beat Washington; a loss will sink them for sure.

By my count, nine of the fourteen are not competing for spots with Illinois. Of the remainder, at least three have to win to stay in the top 14, and any slippage from 11 down (including Tennessee) will move Illinois past the magic mark. My guess is that only one spot will really be up for grabs after next week, with ASU and Illinois the contestants. Actually, it's the upsets that would hurt their chances the most, particularly UCLA over USC and BC over VaTech.

23
by Irish Boy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:40am

Good points peachy.

#15: One other point: I know not many people were watching the Mizzou/Illinois game on Week one, but Illinois should have won that game. They were driving down by six and moved the ball to the Mizzou 30 with plenty of time left with Juice Williams knocked out of the game. McGee threw a floating duck interception to end the drive. I know that close doesn't count, but Illinois was a hairs-breadth away on a neutral field from defeating the now-#1 team in the country.

24
by hooper (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:29am

I seem to diverge from most opinions on college bowls and playoffs. From the perspective of the games themselves, I think the whole argument is rather moot. In both cases, the rankings of teams play a big factor. In a playoff system, the rankings would determine the order in which teams play each other as they progress. The only advantage that a playoff system would have, from a ranking perspective, is that the debate of who belongs and who doesn't gets pushed back from the #2/#3 line to perhaps the #8/#9 line or the #16/#17 line. The argument is still there, just not as magnified.

However, a playoff system defies the entire purpose it is set out to accomplish - the crowning of a "true" national champion. Just like in college basketball, what you would get is the crowning of a "tournament" national champion. Say, for example, that everybody's favorite SEC darling, Tennessee, happened to win a national championship this year (yes, the darling bit was a joke). Who in their right mind would consider them the "best" team in the nation? Nobody. They'd simply be the one who won the tournament. That kind of scenario wouldn't happen every year, but it'd happen enough to dilute the meaning of winning the tournament from "best in the nation" to "best in the tournament".

The one thing a tournament would undeniably offer is more games played between the top teams. With the bowl system, we get one game played by each top team. In a tourney, half the teams would play two or more.

The counterpoint to that argument is the inevitable extension of the season. There's no way they'll run a tournament throughout the Christmas break - the holiday is just too big for the NCAA to tie those kids up for that many weeks. So, they'd have to run a tourney after the break, which would extend the college football season into late January or February. Ignoring the competition between that and the Super Bowl (it's really not worth discussing; trust me, I've been there), that's a quarter of the spring semester - the time most football players try to bolster their GPAs to minimize the possibility of academic probation. (Yeah, I know that most players are not in jeopardy, but most of them do try to use the spring semester to get those grades higher - or at least high enough - to play the next season.) A tournament would make the academic career of the players even more difficult; when you consider that the vast majority of players won't make the NFL, it's an unfair price to pay.

At risk of sounding biased, I'll merely gloss the faults of the bowl system. Since we actually use the bowl system, the faults are well-understood by experience and don't need to waste your reading time. The games are played by money, the tie-ins prevent many interesting matchups (Florida-VTech would be a lot of fun to me), nobody is ever satisfied with the all-important rankings, and the BCS system sucks by any standard.

So, in short, neither system is ideal. This is a fault of the game itself - since players can only realistically play one game a week due to injury and recovery concerns, the timetable is too long for playoffs. The bowl system is a carryover from a previous era, and is in many ways anachronistic. I can accept that neither is ideal.

Given all that, I'll keep the bowl system. I like having a greater importance placed on conference championships, and I love the frenetic stressballs we become with every close game our teams play each week. (Come on, we all would have loved to be a neutral observer in a room full of LSU and Arkansas fans during the overtimes of that game.) I can accept that the bowl system is a weak format for championships, so long as the regular season games are as exciting as they usually are. That's my personal opinion, and I won't attempt to diminish the differences of opinion that exist on the matter, but there it is.

Until then, it's going to be a fun weekend. Starting with Army-Navy (yes, I do care about that one, thank you very much!), it's going to be a day-long stressfest. I can't wait.

25
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:32am

Why not let Hawaii play Ohio State if both Mizzou and UWV lose? While it would be controversial, it also pairs off the two best records left. Casual fans like me would love it. Plus, OSU might actually lose. After all, few thought Boise would beat Oklahoma last year.

26
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:56am

Florida's offense was unreal this year. I was running the numbers for Pythagorean Projections in the SEC based on the eight conference games -- I can post them if anyone wants -- but long story short the Gators scored more points this year than any SEC team since 2001.

So much for all of that BS about how the spread option wouldn't work in the SEC, eh?

The defense, though, was really quite bad. And honestly it was a lot worse than most expected. That was their Achilles Heel.

27
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:57am

25, it'd be an embarrasment. The Mid Majors don't have anyone who can complete this year. Losing Zabransky and Hall killed Boise State, who went from dismembering a 10 win pac 10 team last season to losing by two TDs to a 4 win Pac 10 team this season. And Hawaii has played nobody, and struggled immensely while doing so.

28
by The Flying V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:10am

Re: 24

So how does that football playoff system work for the other divisions?

I never got the argument that the bowl system makes the regular season "the playoffs". College Football lost me as a kid when I couldn't understand why Penn State, despite being undefeated, did not win the championship, and Nebraska did. They didn't play each other, it was just decided Nebraska won (never mind the fact that Penn State was ranked #1 during the season, they weren't #1 anymore).

I'd rather have 200 seasons where the so-called 'best' team doesn't win because they lost than 1 season where a team just wins because they were more popular, or it was decided they would win.

29
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:11am

I know I may get stoned by some for saying this, but... I hope Washington creams Hawai'i. The last thing I want to see is Hawai'i in a BCS game, that will just give some lucky team a guaranteed BCS victory.

And I have nothing against non-BCS teams, mind you. I loved the idea of Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl last year. They beat most everyone at their level convincingly, and then annihilated a 10-win Oregon State team that beat USC, among others. To me, their resume was just what I was looking for in a BCS team.

Hawai'i, on the other hand, is lucky as hell to be undefeated after squeaker wins against Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, and others. And their lone decent game will come against Washington, a 4-8 Pac-10 team. And the other half-way decent opponent, Boise State, was actually knocked around and lost in a not-so close game to that same 4-8 Washington team.

Again, I loved Boise State last year, but I think it will be a travesty if Hawai'i makes it this year. Moreover, if they get annihilated, it will only make it tougher for legitimate non-BCS teams -- like Boise last year -- to make BCS games.

I pray Washington beats them.

30
by The Flying V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:17am

Re: 25

(Hate to double-post, but it came up as I typed mine)

The BCS would never want Hawaii vs. OSU, it would have nothing to gain. If Hawaii beat the #3 seed, it would just destroy what little credibility it had left. Why wouldn't Hawaii be able to play for the national championship if they beat the #3 and were undefeated? Especially after seeing Boise State beat OU...

Granted, it wouldn't happen. And what would the BCS gain by letting OSU blow out an inferior opponent? I mean, now that Notre Dame has a record much worse than normal...

31
by kibbles (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:51am

Re #9: Frankly, I thought the Gators would destroy just about everyone this year, yet here they sit with a conference record of 5-3. Florida’s offense has been great, but the defense has been just average. Ryan was good-but-not-great against a top-notch Hokie defense a month ago (25-52, 2 TD, 2 INT), and I think he’d have a good day against UF.

The defense hasn't been average. It hasn't been even close to average. It's been positively putrid. According to FEI, Florida's defense ranks 91st in the nation (out of... what, 117 teams?). Really bad. Of course, Florida's offense is #1 by such a significant margin that they're still the #6 team in the nation.

32
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:22am

The performance of UF's defence this year is exhibit #1 for why the 'Zook is a brilliant recruiter who made the title team' meme is off target. Zook is a brilliant recruiter, but in a very specific way - he's great at getting the superstars. But he couldn't recruit for depth at all.

This year's senior class was his last at Florida; it included some exceptional players, at least on defence, who (of course) almost all jumped to the pros after the OSU massacre. Which left guys like Tony Joiner and Kyle Jackson as the experienced core for this defence; and while they are both class acts by all accounts, neither is really starter-quality. (Joiner was probably no better than the ninth-best defensive starter last year; any reasonably competent SS would have looked good in the same backfield with Reggie Nelson and Ryan Smith.)

The next couple of years will show whether Zook has improved on that aspect of his recruiting; acquiring quality depth will be the difference between Illinois as occasional spoiler and Illinois as consistent contender.

33
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 5:23am

#32,

Is it really a situation of Zook being unable to recruit depth, or was a lot of it just a bunch of Florida players declaring early, and that mass exodus put a lot of people playing a year before they were ready? Don't get me wrong, I don't proclaim to be an expert on Florida football, but it doesn't seem that any of the Florida defensive players are bad players, but merely a bunch of young guys who need a lot more time to be ready to play SEC caliber football. Had a few of those key early departures returned, I imagine they would have had a pretty good defense. I just don't see how any defense that loses nine starters is going to be particularly good in the immediate aftermath, regardless of how recruiting was.

Moreover, one last thing, how can you say that Zook didn't recruit depth? A team that was entirely of his construction -- sans Tebow and Harvin -- won the national championship, and I have a hard time believing that was possible if that team had no quality depth.

34
by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 11:11am

RE: 27, 29, 30 - I don't see any of your points. The BCS teams rarely play anyone of consequence out of conference, and instead play teams like Appalachian State. (Oops. That didn't work out so well, did it?) The BCS is already a joke to most casual fans and it's been one for years. Maybe if one of the schedule requirements was that all BCS schools must play one non-conference BCS school annually instead of three or four Cupcake U's, we might get a sampling of which conferences were better. While schools would be lining up to play Northwestern and Vanderbilt, there would be a database of over 30 interconference games to get a better idea whether the Big 10, SEC, Pac-10, Big 12, Big East, or ACC was better. (Pardon me if I missed anyone, but I'm a casual fan.) Did Kansas really play a significantly tougher schedule than Hawaii before last weekend? Their non-conference schedule included Central Michigan, Toledo, SE LA, and Fla Intl, plus they get to play Baylor most years. If UWash actually beats Hawaii, none of this matters. But if Hawaii beats UWash, and Mizzou and UWV both lose, why not let them play OSU for the national title? Seems to me all you BCS defenders are afraid Hawaii just might win and all your big school bragging will be shown to be bogus.

35
by Brooklyn Buckeye (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 12:54pm

Predictions:

Washington walks all over Hawai'i
West Virginia slams Pitt
Mizzou edges Oklahoma

Everybody still complains ;)

36
by Brooklyn Buckeye (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 1:00pm

For the life of me, I can't figure out why teams would want to back out of games against Hawai'i...or why a team like Michigan would opt for Appalachian State over the Warriors. Even pre-season, Hawai'i seemed like they would be an easy win for any decent team. However, because they play a soft schedule in the WAC, they would be likely to make some noise, noise that would only be amplified by the Cult of Colt. I can't imagine why coaches weren't lining up to play this Hawai'i team?

37
by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 1:36pm

I’d rather have 200 seasons where the so-called ‘best’ team doesn’t win because they lost than 1 season where a team just wins because they were more popular, or it was decided they would win.

Exactly. The point of a playoff isn't to determine the best team, it's to crown an undisputed champion. The Steelers sure weren't the best team in the NFL a couple of years ago, but they were the champions.

The best team doesn't always win - that's why you play the games.

38
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:52pm

If you want to emphasize the conference races, the best way to do it is to have a playoff reserved for conference champs only. In deference to people who are irritated by the prospect of a weak non-BCS conference champ making a playoff, I'd be fine with the six BCS conference champs being guaranteed seeds 1-6 (first playoff round being played at seeds 1-4's home fields), and spots seven and eight going to the top two (by polls and computer rankings) non-BCS conference champs. Maybe after a non-BCS school won the tournament, it would bee seen fit to give them a crack at a first round home game in future years. Make the seeding dependent on quality wins outside the conference, with zero credit given to beating a out of conference cupcake, and huge demerits for losing to a cupcake out of conference, and you'd see teams really trying to schedule good out of conference opponents.

39
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 2:55pm

If we can't actually say that the best team is the champion then why is crowning an "undisputed" champion so important?

Nebraska was the "undisputed" champion in 1994 (chosen #1 in both of the polls that decide who the unofficial champion is), but it is still disputed because people don't agree with it. Of course, what people are disputing is not that Nebraska was the champion, but whether they "deserve" to be champion. They are disputing whether Nebraska was actually better than Penn State. Which, as the previous post mentioned, isn't something a tournament or even a head to head match up can really prove anyway.

There have been cases where college football hasn't crowned an undisputed champion. I'm not really sure why that is such a bad thing though.

40
by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:11pm

I never got the argument that the bowl system makes the regular season “the playoffs�. College Football lost me as a kid when I couldn’t understand why Penn State, despite being undefeated, did not win the championship, and Nebraska did. They didn’t play each other, it was just decided Nebraska won (never mind the fact that Penn State was ranked #1 during the season, they weren’t #1 anymore).

Nebraska was a superior team that season. Even if you disagree with that, please please don't continue to bring up the fact that Penn State dropped in rank that year after a victory. That happens all the time. In fact, it happened to Nebraska that same year. Twice.

41
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:12pm

#34

No Hawaii played no one compared to even Kansas, who had a weak slate as well. Kansas played Colorado, Hawaii played Northern Colorado.

Practically every BCS team plays another OOC BCS team.
Out of the SEC the only team not to do it was Arkansas (11 out of 12),
All ACC teams played at least one OOC BCS team (Florida State played 3-Colorado, Florida, and Alabama)
8 out of 12 Big 12 teams-Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor did not.
All 8 Big East teams did
9 of 11 Big Ten teams did it: Indiana and Minnesota did not
9 out of 10 Pac-10 teams did it: Arizona did not.

42
by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:24pm

What a load of crap from the WAC Commissioner. Everyone knows that people in Hawaii go to Las Vegas when they go on vacation. The number of Hawaii fans in Las Vegas is not indicative of the number of Hawaii fans willing to travel to New Orleans.

43
by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:34pm

If we can’t actually say that the best team is the champion then why is crowning an “undisputed� champion so important?

It's also about the fairness providing an equal opportunity for everyone to win a championship - undisputed or disputed. In the current system, half the teams enter the season with zero chance of winning the championship because they aren't in a BCS conference. It doesn't matter if Hawaii or Boise State or Utah win all their games, even if they beat a big name top 10 team in a bowl game, they can never win the national championship. How is that fair?

There have been cases where college football hasn’t crowned an undisputed champion. I’m not really sure why that is such a bad thing though.

Division I-A has never crowned an undisputed champion. Sure, there has often been a consensus opionion of which team was the best, but that doesn't mean that opinion was correct. It is pretty much impossible to definitively determine which team is the best.

44
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:37pm

29: What's the travesty in letting the only Bowl Subdivision team that hasn't lost in the BCS? They aren't playing for a national title. And why does everybody point to one game (Washington-Boise State) as an indication that the WAC sucks? We don't indict the entire Big Ten over the Appalachian State game; Minnesota losing to Bowling Green, Florida Atlantic, and North Dakota State; Iowa losing to Iowa State and Western Michigan; and Northwestern losing to Duke (5 of these 7 games occurred at the home of the Big Ten). We certainly don't indict the SEC for UL-Monroe's victory over Alabama.

Is the WAC competing for conference supremacy with the BCS squads? Of course not. But it's not the Southern Conference either.

36: Well for one reason Hawai'i is better than you are giving them credit for. It's an offense teams don't see very often (if at all) led by very talented skill guys. Why schedule Hawai'i when you schedule Akron?

38: Dead on correct.

45
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 3:56pm

re: 33

Several of this year's seniors jumped to the pros early, but most washed out first one way or another leaving UF the youngest team in the country to start this season. (Per Phil Steele.)

And Meyer's players were much more significant last year than one might think; just on the defence, he brought in starters Nelson, Smith and Harvey. That doesn't even count players like Moss or Caldwell who were recruited by Zook but retained by Meyer (Joiner might belong to that category too.)

This isn't my personal analysis, by the way - it's a pretty common assessment of the recent past at Florida, both from fans and long-time professional commentators. I wish Zook the best at Illinois, truly, and perhaps he's learned from his mistakes (in recruiting, in game strategy, in general program management); I just wish he hadn't learned at our expense.

46
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:01pm

Absolutely nobody wants to play Hawaii, certainly not in a home and away arrangement because it's just too hard to go there and win. They could have a tougher schedule than they do, but not by a whole lot because just like everybody else the lion's share of their schedule is in conference.

They looked extremely good against a solid Fresno State team and that's enough for me. Assuming they beat Washington, they should be in a BCS bowl. Not the national title game, but certainly a BCS bowl. I challenge anybody to come up with a more interesting match-up--they'd be unbeaten, they're fun to watch and run a style hardly anybody is accustomed to defending, and there'd be a lot of curiosity about how they'd do against a bigger-name team.

47
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:15pm

I guess I am somewhat biased, I saw Hawaii's offense last season go to an average Alabama and put up 10 points.

48
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:18pm

And why does everybody point to one game (Washington-Boise State) as an indication that the WAC sucks? We certainly don’t indict the SEC for UL-Monroe’s victory over Alabama.

Everyone points to that one game because it is essentially the only time that either Boise State or Hawai'i -- the undisputed powerhouses of WAC football -- have played even a terrible BCS conference team. Had those guys played several decent -- or hell even poor -- BCS conference teams, no one should put so much emphasis on that one game.

And no we don't indict the SEC because of the single loss by Alabama to Louisiana-Monroe. To begin with, unlike Hawai'i and Boise State, my beloved Tide is far from the undisputed powerhouse of the SEC, and in reality is only the eighth or ninth best team in the entire conference. Moreover, we don't say anything because the SEC has so many other quality wins over decent or better opponents. Georgia hammered Oklahoma State, Auburn beat Kansas State, Kentucky beat Louisville, Florida hammered Florida State, Georgia easily beat Georgia Tech, LSU annihilated top-ten Virginia Tech, etc.

If Alabama were the undisputed powerhouse of the SEC, and if Louisiana-Monroe was the only even semi-decent BCS opponent they played all year, that would be a valid argument. That is, however, far from the case.

49
by Brad (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:31pm

Peachy: if this is truly Zook's last class this year and several of them did jump early then I don't see how it's possible to pin depth problems on him. There are typically 10-15 defensive players per class max. If only 3 jumped early (I think it's more but I'm not sure) that's 7-12 left. That's barely enough to put a defense on the field if all of them panned out, and let's face it, many players do not pan out. It could be a misevaluation of talent, poor coaching, poor work ethic or simply circumstances out of control. Regardless of why, that's a fairly common occurrence.

Meyer has had three years to supplement Zook's leftovers. Florida's defense this year was so bad that I would be inclined to say that he failed in that regard. But sure, go ahead and blame Zook again because his last class wasn't enough to provide a quality defense on its own.

50
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:31pm

Why don't more BCS teams schedule Hawai'i?

Easy, Hawai'i is a terrible team to put on the schedule.

My beloved Tide played them three times, and I hated it. Hawai'i has a very rare offensive attack -- it's not the Run and Shoot plus or minus whatever in the hell Jones wants to do -- and it so unorthodox teams struggle to prepare for it in the short-term. Moreover, Hawai'i wants you to play on the island, and that's a big pain in the ass. It's a massive trip and the players go in with a vacation mindset. Moreover, even if you beat them, so what? They are Hawai'i, you aren't getting credit for it.

That's the main reason why people don't schedule the Warriors, it's far too much of a pain in the ass and there is just no real reward for getting the win.

51
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:50pm

Coaching Update

Houston Nutt has officially been hired at Ole Miss. It's all done now, and basically everyone is reporting it. I think they are going to have the official introduction soon.

Moreover, KPTM Fox 42 out of Omaha is reporting that a player's meeting has been called in Lincoln for 4:00 today to announce the new head coach of the Cornhuskers. The new head coach will not be introduced, but he will be announced at that time. According to that TV station, the expected announcement will name LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini as head coach of the Big Red. Click name for link.

If true, it will be interesting to see how it will affect LSU in the SEC Championship Game. If he leaves for Nebraska immediately and misses the title game, that's obviously a concern for the Bayou Bengals. He may stay until after the SEC title game, though.

52
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:51pm

http://www.kptm.com/Global/story.asp?S=7408243&nav=menu606_25_4_1

Sorry, forgot to add the link to my previous post. Here is the Omaha TV station's report.

53
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:52pm

Click name for link.

54
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:58pm

48:

I see you didn't even touch the Big Ten there.

55
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 4:59pm

Great, I was hoping for Nutt to be out of the SEC.

Pelini should have been the hire after Solich was forced out. LSU fans probably do not care if Pelini leaves before the SEC championship it seems like.

56
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 5:45pm

With Nutt going to Ole Miss, that only makes the SEC that much tougher. I doubt he sets the world on fire there, or wins any championships for that matter. Ole Miss hasn't won the SEC since the week after JFK was assassinated, and has never even been to Atlanta to play in the SEC Championship Game. For Nutt to win the SEC, or even the SEC West, would take an incredible effort on his part.

That said, Nutt is definitely an upgrade. Cutcliffe was a good coach and terrible recruiter, and Orgeron was a good recruiter and a terrible coach. Neither was going to consistently produce winning teams in the future. Nutt, on the other hand, is a decent-to-good recruiter and a decent-to-good coach. Combined with the talent that Ole Miss already has on the roster thanks to Orgeron's recruiting abilities, I could very well see him running of a string of 6+ win seasons.

Again, he won't set the world on fire, but he will make Ole Miss into a decent program that wins a little above half of its games, and it will remove them from the status of "sure win" for a lot of fellow SEC schools. In the past four years, the Rebels have a combined record of 14-32. Nutt should move them to slightly above .500 football, and Johnny Reb will pull some upsets in conference play.

57
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 5:52pm

#46 - check out Hawaii's non-conference schedule next year, it's pretty good. They are capable of putting together a non-conference schedule that doesn't involve two 1AA teams.

#43 - Just because you don't like the procedure for crowning the champion doesn't make it any less undisputed. I think a single elimination playoff is the worst possible way to crown a champion in any sport. That doesn't mean the Colts are no longer undisputed champions.

Unless some very strict scheduling rules are put in place, you aren't going to have fairness in a 100+ team league that only plays 13 regular season games. Just about any college football playoff system is going to be set up such that the non-BCS teams have essentially the same shot at a national title as they have now (which isn't quite zero but isn't very high either).

58
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 5:56pm

#41 So you're giving Purdue credit for playing Notre Dame? But are they technically a BCS team? They aren't in a BCS conference...

I think your point remains; I'm just nit-picking because I'm a Purdue fan and this year's team is terrible. :)

59
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 5:57pm

The thing about Nutt at Ole Miss-he has to deal with Miss State in his own state compared to no one at Arkansas to recruit against. As well as LSU and Alabama ability to grab talent from the state. Plus Mississippi's deplorable education system that usually only qualifies half of the top talent. Nutt I think will be able to coach-up the talent more then Coach O or Cutliffe.

60
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:16pm

#55: "Just about any college football playoff system is going to be set up such that the non-BCS teams have essentially the same shot at a national title as they have now (which isn’t quite zero but isn’t very high either)."

The smallest playoff anybody talks about would be the top 8 teams, meaning if Hawaii, Boise, et al could finish in their they'd have as good a shot at winning the title as anyone. (And if the field was larger than 8 teams there'd be an even better shot at getting in.) That's a far better chance than they have in the current system.

61
by Giantandre (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:28pm

#55

Awful easy to put them on your sced. when you know you wont have to face Brennan (and I would guess WR's Bess, Grice-Mullen, and Rivers)

Michigan State also canceled a game on the island this year as well as a MAC team (cant find right now) ...reportedly USC turned down a 750K guarantee to play them as well

When it comes to OOC all you can do is TRY to make a worthy slate (as someone pointed out in the case of USC) Hawai'i tried and I really don't think it should be held against them, if you really want to blame someone for their inclusion in the BCS blame the state of Michigan.
Also dosen't everyone want to seem them play, they're a fun team to watch, try it sometime.

PS - point of full disclosure , both my parents are UofH alumni so I have a soft spot for them

62
by PaulH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:35pm

The thing about Nutt at Ole Miss-he has to deal with Miss State in his own state compared to no one at Arkansas to recruit against. As well as LSU and Alabama ability to grab talent from the state. Plus Mississippi’s deplorable education system that usually only qualifies half of the top talent. Nutt I think will be able to coach-up the talent more then Coach O or Cutliffe.

I don't know how much of that I agree with.

Yes, the state of Mississippi has more competition from other schools for the talent, but they also have a lot more talent than the state of Arkansas has. Moreover, Arkansas has the same problem that Louisiana has had, top players leaving the state. Look at Kodi Burns and Lee Ziemba heading to Auburn this past year. Moreover, I know Mississippi often has players with academic problems, but the last I checked the state of Arkansas was far from the bastion of quality education.

In terms of recruiting talent, Ole Miss has a lot going for it. The state of Mississippi, on a per capita basis, has as much talent as any state in the union, and they also have great access to all of the Memphis area talent.

The major problems with Ole Miss have nothing to do with the recruiting base. The problem is that they are a school with relatively poor academics -- a lot of academic quality surveys put it at the bottom of the SEC -- they have a very small athletic budget, a small stadium and overall relatively poor facilities. Moreover, a lot of people are turned off by the elitist aura that the university projects, particularly with the Greek system (though that is true of a lot of schools), and you also have to realize that Oxford is essentially a one-horse town.

The talent base is definitely there. The question is whether or not you can overcome all of the other shortcomings to take full advantage of it.

63
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:42pm

59:

I'll cut some slack to USC. 9 Pac-10 games, Notre Dame, and Nebraska is admirable to say the least (despite the down fortunes at the latter two schools).
The Pac-10 has nothing to be ashamed of with regards to their schedules.

64
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 6:44pm

Maybe there should be a playoff if you get crap like these articles linked on my name. Yeah USC-Ohio State are the best teams.....why because he said so or something. The Big Ten was a joke this year, USC lost to Stanford. Sorry-they had their chances to win and be in this situation and they failed.

65
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 7:02pm

#58 - How often has a non-BCS team finished in the top 8 before the bowls? Hawaii probably would not make it this year. Boise State and Utah both would have made the cut (though neither of the teams they actually played in the bowl game would have). Then, once they finished in the top 8 rather than having to beat a single opponent in a bowl game, they have to win a minimum of 3 games against top 8 opponents to actually win the championship. I don't see any reason to think that the non-BCS team has as good a chance as anyone else at making those things happen. They certainly don't have an equal chance at finishing in the top 8. The more schools you add the more difficult it becomes to actually win the playoff for a non-BCS school.

Saying they'd have the same chance as anyone else is like saying the 16 seed (or the 10 seed) in the basketball tournament has the same shot as anyone else.

66
by DFJinPgh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 7:28pm

re 55, strict scheduling rules.

How's this (linked in name) for strict scheduling rules? The best part about it is that it's not a single elimination tournament, quite. It also keeps conference affiliations and includes non-BCS teams, as well as bowl games and a 12-13 game schedule (all requirements for college football).

(I've linked this before; I am not the author, just a fan.)

67
by Nick (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 7:29pm

59 - We can't really give Hawaii credit for a schedule they didn't play though. Anymore than we should give OSU extra credit for winning the Big 10 since historically the Big 10 has been much better than it was this year. I mean, they didn't know the conference was going to be bad this year and reasonably they probably thought it would be much better than it was.

But I don't think Hawaii's schedule should keep them out of the BCS completely, I just think they shouldn't be considered part of the national title picture (whereas, if they went undefeated next year with that schedule I think you'd have to seriously consider them). If they win against Washington this weekend they'll have earned their BCS bowl bid, IMO.

68
by DFJinPgh (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 7:32pm

64, followup.

For the actual description, skip to the paragraph beginning "In the BCS Buster world ..."

He describes a bit of history before that which may or may not be interesting.

69
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 9:03pm

re: 49

Why, thank you, I shall continue to consider Zook's last class as being part of the problem on defence; it was already abnormally small at the start of last year and it only lost two players to early entry.

Fortunately, we'll know for sure next year - the roster will be almost entirely filled with Meyer's players (a few exceptions due to redshirts), and with the exception of Charlie Strong the coaches are pretty much all Meyer's guys too.

70
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 9:27pm

#46 - check out Hawaii’s non-conference schedule next year, it’s pretty good. They are capable of putting together a non-conference schedule that doesn’t involve two 1AA teams.

That's assuming their opponents don't pull out. They've been trying to schedule harder for years, but the logistics involved are severe, and opponents frequently cancel when they start to realize the difficulty (and the fact that they could easily lose).

The pair of IAA teams this year was due to the increased 12-game schedule (Hawaii needs more than a year to schedule someone) and also due to Michigan State pulling out. ESPN tried to help pay for Michigan to play Hawaii, but Michigan went with Appalachian State instead (ha!), and USC also refused to play.

And if Hawaii goes to a BCS bowl, don't think that several of those non-con opponents won't suddenly start thinking "hey, maybe a $250K fee to replace Hawaii with some creampuff isn't so bad."

(To be fair, Hawaii would've almost certainly destroyed Michigan as well.)

71
by Nall (not verified) :: Tue, 11/27/2007 - 11:23pm

It is nice to see people coming around on Zook - Illinois has had a great year (certainly in relation to the expectations prior to the year). I agree, the proof will be in the subsequent years (is this 2001 all over again or does he have staying power)? My vote is for the latter, but only time will tell.

I am pretty sure that the biggest complaining about the BCS selection will be the selection of Illinois. Jerry Palm, BCS guru, currently has Illinois at a 75% chance to make the BCS and states that might even be understating their chances. I believe the odds are closer to 85%. I am just going to assume that a team above Illinois loses and Illinois moves into the top 14 (with the top 4 teams above Illinois playing - with several of them being underdogs - it is EXTREMELY unlikely for Illinois not to be BCS eligible after Saturday is over). If Oklahoma wins (55% chance, according to Vegas), it is likely a lock that the Rose Bowl will pick a Big 10 school to replace Ohio State to go against the Pac 10 champion (likely USC). Even if Missouri were to win, Illinois would be competing against Arizona State for a Fiesta Bowl birth - and do not be surprised if an Illinois team gets picked over a 10-2 local ASU team. After all, the BCS is all about money and Illinois has a lot more to offer (in terms of travelling fans and additional television viewers). There are certainly other scenarios that could enable a victory, but a lot of things would have to go "wrong" for Illinois not to be selected. Among those, Boston College winning on Saturday would certainly not be a good thing for the Illini.

But as I mentioned, I am sure that many people will be up in arms about the selection since they have 3 losses (and it's Illi-freaking-nois!). Meanwhile, they have lost 3 games by a total of 19 points (Mizzou, Michigan and Iowa), including 2 last minute interceptions in the endzone. Normally, I would agree that it would be outrageous that a team with 3 losses (including lowly Iowa) could be selected, but in this crazy year, the Illini really have done nearly as much as anyone else to at be eligible for such a berth.

Let the chips fall where they may. It is definitely going to be a fun Saturday.

72
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 10:02am

LAST~!

73
by Dennis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 12:30pm

#69: I'm an Illinois grad so I admit to being biased. But if it was Michigan, Ohio State or Penn State in this position instead of Illinois, there would be very little concern about a 3-loss team going to the BCS. But since it's Illinois, a team that isn't a traditional power, there are a lot more complaints about it.

As for Zook, the impression I have so far is he's a really good recruiter and a good offensive coordinator. But he doesn't seem to have a good grasp of in-game decisions. The penalties he accepted against Iowa that should've been declined were atrocious. And getting ready to punt on that 4th and an inch against OSU (which Tressel saved him from) was ridiculous. There's no question he's turned the program around - I don't think this year will be an anomaly like the 10-2 season under Turner - but he needs to improve his in-game coaching if he's going to be an elite coach.

74
by witless chum (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 1:54pm

59:
MSU was steamed after their last game out there because (we say) the officiating was insanely one-sided and the Warriors were dirty as hell. Plus the Spartans got whipped, although my main memory of staying up to watch the game was how much garbage was blowing across the field.

John L. (the game was gotten rid of before he was) may also have had other resentments against Hawaii from his WAC days.

75
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 3:05pm

#69

I think that many people see the Big Ten as below average this year and having two teams from the Big Ten in BCS bowls is kind of a joke-especially a 3 loss team. Only reason they get in is because BCS bowls cannot take in 3 teams from a conference-it sucked last year for Wisconsin as well though.

76
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 5:40pm

#72: In what weird world is a 3-point loss "whipped"? And apparently they were so pissed that they... let Hawaii come and play them again next year.

Regarding the officiating: yeah, that's Big Ten blinders for you. WAC officiating isn't biased. It just sucks. Horribly. If you made a drinking game like "take a shot every time a defensive linemen gets tackled," you'd be in the hospital after the game.

And if they really had reservations after that game, they could've cancelled it... oh, I don't know, more than just a few months in advance, don't you think? It was just a jackass thing to do by MSU. You don't cancel scheduled games. Period.

77
by PaulH (not verified) :: Wed, 11/28/2007 - 8:01pm

On the subject of a three loss team making a BCS game...

I don't like that idea, honestly, but you can probably go ahead and get ready for it, it's going to happen fairly soon. I don't know if Illinois will do it this year or not, but with the expanded schedules (by definition at least six BCS teams per year play 13 games) and the expansion of the BCS with a de facto fifth bowl game with the implementation of the national championship game, it's going to happen sooner or later.

I don't really have a problem with it, honestly. A lot of teams probably don't deserve some of the BCS spots they have gotten the past few years. Nothing new here.

78
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Thu, 11/29/2007 - 4:33am

Art Briles to Baylor. Bad move Briles, Baylor is a coach killer.

79
by Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 11/29/2007 - 11:34am

I have to wonder how long until we see the Bowl + 1. The timing seems to be in place and this would allow the PAC-10 and Big-10 their matchup in the Rose Bowl. This would help to ensure at least one competitive non-conference game before the decision is made for who will play in the championship.

I could see some people having a problem with the potential for a Conference non-champion making it into the game. However, I believe I could come up with a scenario where the best team (especially at the end of the year) may have been excluded from the conference (especially the Big 10, where they may not play each other in the regular season AND have no championship game).

80
by Nick (not verified) :: Thu, 11/29/2007 - 11:40am

#68/#74 - Cincinnati added Hawaii to next years schedule during the season this year while Hawaii was undefeated. I highly doubt they are planning on then pulling out all of the sudden. I can't speak for the other BCS teams they are playing (Florida St. and Oregon, if I remember right?). Either way, they clearly can put a team on the schedule in short notice, as long as they are willing to pay enough money to do so (that's the primary motivating factor for UC). However, Hawaii isn't in a position to just be able to throw money at anyone they decide they want to play.

The WAC officiating is really bad. It was another reason UC's AD said he'd never go back to Hawaii to play a game. Put MSU pulling out was definately a jackass thing to do.

81
by witless chum (not verified) :: Thu, 11/29/2007 - 3:20pm

74: Yeah, I remembered that wrong. They shouldn't have lost, anyway.

And yes no argument that MSU screwed Hawaii, although I'm glad we did because playing at Hawaii early this year is probably a loss for the Spartans (our secondary is not C.J. Bacher-ready, much less Colt Brennan) and flipping a non-conference win to a loss means they don't go to a bowl.

Of course, if I'm in a hypothetical MSU world, maybe we win one more of our close Big 10 games and it doesn't matter. Or we hire Urban Meyer in 2003 instead of John L. and live happily ever after.