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12 Nov 2007

Confessions of a Football Junkie: Patience

by Russell Levine

Patience, a principle too-seldom exercised in the cutthroat world of college football, is proving its worth in this enigmatic season.

A quick glance at the Bowl Championship Series rankings -- which now feature LSU and Oregon in the top positions after Illinois stunned previous No. 1 Ohio State Saturday -- lists several programs that might not be enjoying their current success had they listened to the whims of fans and alumni, and cut the cords on previously struggling coaches.

Sitting at No. 3 in the BCS is the year's most surprising team, Kansas. The Jayhawks -- who could still play their way into the national championship game -- are led by sixth-year coach Mark Mangino. His previous five seasons in Lawrence produced a 25–35 record, including a 1–8 mark against ranked teams and a 4–21 road record. The high-water mark of his tenure before this season was a 7–5 campaign in 2005 -- a year the Jayhawks lost to eventual national champion Texas by a 66–14 count. There was scant little evidence that Mangino could build a football power, or even a Big 12 North contender, at his basketball-mad school.

Perhaps because football plays second-fiddle at Kansas, Mangino was given time to completely rebuild a program that had some success in the mid-1990s under Glen Mason, before slipping badly under the direction of Mangino's predecessor, Terry Allen.

With 14 starters and 53 upper-class letter-winners returning (plus a schedule that skipped Texas and Oklahoma), this appeared to be the year that Mangino could get to eight or nine wins. But nobody expected this: a 10–0 start that includes road wins at Kansas State, Colorado (where Oklahoma suffered its only loss), Texas A&M, and now Oklahoma State.

Assuming the Jayhawks get past 3–8 Iowa State next week, they will face another surprising team, Missouri, to determine the Big 12 North title. The winner is likely to face Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship for the conference's automatic BCS berth. Because both Oklahoma and Missouri are highly rated (nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the BCS) two wins should be enough to lift Kansas into the top two and toward an invitation to the national championship game.

Missouri, too, is being rewarded for sticking with head coach Gary Pinkel, whose first six seasons at Missouri produced a 37–35 record. Even last year, in his best season, Pinkel was under fire for finishing 8–5 after a 6–0 start.

It wasn't Pinkel's only late-season collapse. There were high expectations for his 2004 team, coming off a bowl season in 2003. But the Tigers lost at Troy early in the season and later endured a five-game losing streak. The school stuck with Pinkel rather than electing to rebuild with a new coach, and this season is reaping the benefits of that decision. Missouri is 9–1, and saw its largest average home attendance since 1981. The Tigers' only loss came at Oklahoma in a game Missouri led at the start of the fourth quarter.

His team may not be at the top of the BCS standings, but Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom should likewise get a few votes for coach of the year honors -- and that school should win plaudits for sticking with him after his first three seasons netted just nine wins.

After beating Alabama Saturday, Croom has the Bulldogs bowl-eligible at 6–4. This season, which has also included wins at Auburn and Kentucky, is a remarkable turnaround for a program that won just four conference games the past three seasons. Saturday's win (Croom's second straight over his alma mater) should earn the Bulldogs their first bowl invite since the 2000 season. Croom, who is the first African-American coach in the history of SEC football, was a finalist for the Alabama job in 2003, which went instead to Mike Shula. A year later, he finally got his head-coaching shot -- but it came at Mississippi State, which is the Days Inn compared to Alabama's Four Seasons.

Such restraint with coaching decisions is not always the norm. Notre Dame famously fired Tyrone Willingham after three seasons because athletic director Kevin White wasn't happy with the direction of the program. His decision was validated by the immediate success of Charlie Weis, who took the Irish to BCS games his first two seasons. The 19 wins were nice -- but they covered up that Weis's teams were almost always outclassed by top competition.

Still, Weis is a recruiting machine, and he landed the top prep player in the nation, quarterback Jimmy Clausen, to soften the blow of 13 lost starters this season. Given the roster turnover and a much tougher schedule, few observers felt Notre Dame could approach the success of the last two seasons. But no one expected an unmitigated disaster of a campaign that currently stands at 1–9 and sets new records weekly for futility.

The irony is that Notre Dame's early exuberance with Weis -- he was given a 10-year contract extension after nearly upsetting top-ranked USC in his sixth game -- means the school has no choice but to be patient with him. Weis has eight years and $25 million remaining on his contract following this season. That figure is more than triple the largest buyout ever paid in college coaching history -- $7 million to former Louisville basketball coach Denny Crum -- according to CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell.

So even Notre Dame, which has no shortage of wealthy boosters, will stick with its head man, and perhaps it will be a blessing. Weis continues to land highly regarded recruiting classes, and as Kansas, Missouri, and Mississippi State have shown this season, patience can be a virtue -- even at the highest levels of college football.

John L. Smith Trophy

I've been waiting for years to have the opportunity to award the JLS Trophy to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, and for a fleeting moment on Saturday, I finally had my chance. He had called a timeout while Illinois was in punt formation with just under seven minutes to play and the Buckeyes trailing by seven points. During the stoppage, Illinois coach Ron Zook was talked into going for the first down on fourth-and-inches. The Illini made the conversion and went on bleed the rest of the clock on an epic, game-killing drive.

But alas, Tressel called time because Illinois had rushed the punt team onto the field and he was worried about getting caught with too many men and handing the Illini a first down on the penalty. So the Senator from Ohio skates this week -- despite his defense seemingly being unaware that Illinois intended to run the ball every play on that drive. Hopefully Tressel will give me a reason next week.

Speaking of next week, another coach who won't win the award is Michigan's Lloyd Carr. With his Wolverines trailing Wisconsin by 16 points early in the fourth quarter, Michigan scored a touchdown to cut the deficit to 10, yet Carr elected to kick the extra point to cut it to nine, rather than go for two and make it a one-possession game.

In his column about the game, ESPN.com's Pat Forde suggested that Carr was all but throwing the game. Now, I'm typically a fan of Forde's work, but he could not be more wrong here. There were several factors that pointed to it being the correct decision by Carr. First, there was plenty of time left in the game (13:31) for two more possessions. In fact, Michigan would get the ball five more times. Second, Michigan's defense was getting shredded, and the likelihood of giving up another score seemed high. Miss a two-pointer and give up a touchdown, and now you're down three scores. Kick the extra point and give up a touchdown and it's still a two possession game at 16 points. Third, Michigan couldn't run the ball without Mike Hart (who missed the game with an ankle injury) and backup quarterback Ryan Mallett is a highly erratic passer -- he finished 11-of-26, but for 245 yards. Both would suggest that a two-point try would be a far-more difficult proposition than normal for the Wolverines.

Instead, the JLS Trophy goes meekly this week to Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy. He's a man. He's 40. He can take it.

I did not like the way Gundy handled his first possession as a home underdog against Kansas. Having forced a three-and-out following the opening kickoff, the Cowboys got the ball at their own 44-yard line, then promptly gained nine yards on first down. Yet Gundy opted to throw on second down, and the pass was incomplete. On third down, he had his quarterback run the option, which was stuffed for a loss of one. I don't mind the option, but only for teams that actually run it as a regular part of their offense, which Oklahoma State does not. On fourth-and-2 from the Kansas 48, Gundy called for a fake punt that fooled nobody. The play gained one yard and Kansas took possession on downs.

To me, that series sent a message from Gundy to his team: He did not believe they could win the game without resorting to trickery. Fake punts and surprise play calls have their place in football, just not here. Gundy immediately surrendered the momentum to the visitors, who went on to score first (although not on their next possession) and win the game.

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

Dropped Out: Auburn (No. 15), Alabama (No. 17), Arkansas (No. 24), Wake Forest (No. 25).

Rankings that may require further explanation: I'm still trying to rank on the entire body of work, with things skewed towards most recent results. Thus I have no problem putting Georgia, which lost handily at Tennessee, well above the Vols because Georgia is playing as well as anyone in the country right now.

I still like Oregon and LSU at the top, but Kansas has every opportunity to play its way into the top two spots. Oklahoma, likewise, can move it up if it crushes Kansas or Missouri in the Big 12 title game. No conference has improved its rep more than the Big 12 this season.

It's tough to know what to make of Ohio State, but tenth seems about right. Illinois gets a nod above Wisconsin and Michigan for having the biggest win of the three.

Got a gripe? Post it in the comments, please.

Games I watched at least part of: Louisville-West Virginia, Rutgers-Army (attended), Michigan-Wisconsin, Illinois-Ohio State, Kansas-Oklahoma State, USC-Cal, Fresno State-Hawaii.

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

Posted by: Russell Levine on 12 Nov 2007

98 comments, Last at 15 Nov 2007, 10:05pm by DoubleB

Comments

1
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:30pm

I hate that the Big 12 gets to improve it's image by having a schedule where the top 3 teams in it have managed to survive most of the season without playing each other.

Say the Pac 10 had Oregon playing USC this week, then ASU next week (I'll still have them close against Oregon State), and we'll have ASU play USC in two weeks (they actually moved this game to Thanksgiving weekend this year, so we'll just move it a week later). If they hadn't played each other yet, ASU could still be undefeated now, Oregon and USC would still only have 1 loss. That would put them in the same position that the Big 12 has, but only because they teams haven't played yet, where in the Big 12 they get to not even play the other team possibly.

I really think when the NCAA added the 12th game, they needed to mandate how it was used. The Pac 10 makes everyone play everyone now, so no longer can I look forward to years that Oregon State won't play USC. The SEC just let everyone play another Louisiana Tech, or other cream puff, as did the Big 12 and Big Ten. The commentary that the Big 12 has proven to be so much better, when the top 3 teams have only played each other once so far (and some of them will totally skip Texas, the #4 team in the league) doesn't really prove as much to me.

2
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:50pm

Also, for anyone who needed proof that the Pac 10 has the worst refs in the game, watch the video linked under my name. A totally horrible call since:

- His knee hit at the 3
- The ball broke the plain of the endzone before it came out

Just awful.

3
by db (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 7:51pm

It would appear that there is wisdom in scheduling cupcakes. Early in the season you get no respect because you have beaten no good teams. As the season goes on and those in front of you fall your unbeaten record attracts the votes and suddenly you are a BCS darling. This type of success will kill interconference games between top tier schools. Most SEC schools already play 8 home games because 5 out of the 6 computers don't factor in home and away games in the strength of schedule so why bother to pack a bag? This beauty contest reduces NCAA football to a joke at its highest level.

4
by Russell Levine :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:00pm

re: 3

I don't disagree that the current state of affairs discourages tough non-conference scheduling, but would you really say this season has been a joke? I think it's been one of the most entertaining on record.

5
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:08pm

I can't tell if this has been an entertaining season or just a bunch of overranked teams (UConn, Rutgers, etc.) who aren't that good losing games to teams that are equally not as good. But the cupcake thing is definitely an issue, especially since I thought that was exactly what the BCS was supposed to fix. I think most people would prefer an LSU-Oregon title game, so as long as that happens, I'll be happy.

If nothing else, I was happy to see Michigan lose and eliminate themselves from contention. No team that was beaten as badly as they were beaten (I think Oregon put up 600-plus yards on them?) deserves to be in the bowl discussion. I just about went insane when I saw that some people were projecting an Oregon-UM Rose Bowl.

(For the record, I am not an Oregon fan, although I do live in Pac-10 land.)

5
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:08pm

I can't tell if this has been an entertaining season or just a bunch of overranked teams (UConn, Rutgers, etc.) who aren't that good losing games to teams that are equally not as good. But the cupcake thing is definitely an issue, especially since I thought that was exactly what the BCS was supposed to fix. I think most people would prefer an LSU-Oregon title game, so as long as that happens, I'll be happy.

If nothing else, I was happy to see Michigan lose and eliminate themselves from contention. No team that was beaten as badly as they were beaten (I think Oregon put up 600-plus yards on them?) deserves to be in the bowl discussion. I just about went insane when I saw that some people were projecting an Oregon-UM Rose Bowl.

(For the record, I am not an Oregon fan, although I do live in Pac-10 land.)

7
by citizen jason (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:11pm

Sorry--I had a mouse moment and hit the button twice.

But as long as I'm going for three in a row, I haven't seen Kansas play. Are they any good at all? I look at their schedule, and I see wins against Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo, and Florida International. At this point, it looks like their best win (one of only 2 against teams over 500) is 6-5 Texas A&M, who was blown out by Miami. (Which says a lot, these days.)

From what I see, it looks like Kansas has destroyed terrible teams, and played close against decent teams. Could they hang in with LSU or Oregon?

8
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:28pm

Why does Penn State, which crushed Wisconsin less than a month ago and lost narrowly at Michigan and at Illinois, not end up in the cluster with all the other Big Ten teams with three losses in the BlogPoll Ballot? Penn State does have the most points for and fewest points against of any of those teams.

9
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:29pm

5: Michigan is in the same place in the bowl discussion as they were last week. Win against Ohio State and go to the Rose Bowl. Lose, and say hello to a non-BCS bowl. It was going to be that way regardless of the Wisconsin result.

10
by Mitch (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 8:51pm

Kansas will have to be very good to beat either Mizzou or Oklahoma on neutral fields. They are both really good teams.

I agree we don't know much about Kansas yet. But we'll find out in time.

11
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:17pm

For all the unpredictability this season has had it seems it'll end in the most predictable manner possible--with the BCS screwing over a one-loss Pac 10 team yet again in favor of a one-loss Big 12 team. (Let's be honest, there's no way KU is beating both Mizzou *and* the Sooners.)

And isn't the world just waiting to see the Oregon-Michigan Rose Bowl rematch?

12
by MarkV (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:33pm

RE1:
I am curious... what does each conference require for interconference play/how is it scheduled.

I know:
Pac 10 is play all
Big 12 is play all division and half other division rotating on 2 year schedule.

the others I do not.

13
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:34pm

I guess I am the only one hoping for West Virginia-Missouri in the National Championship.

Kansas is solid, hey a lot of good teams are wishing they are 10-0 right now as well. I do think they end up losing to Missouri (and Iowa State is going to put up a fight, they have been playing a lot better).

and 3 different places have announced Lloyd Carr is going to retire after the Ohio State game...I will believe it when I see it..

14
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:37pm

SEC is play 5 from each division. Have one standing intradivision rival (Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia, Florida LSU, Vandy-Ole Miss, South Carolina-Arkansas, and Kentucky-Miss State-not sure about the last 2).

then it rotates the teams left over home and home. This year Alabama-Georgia started their home and home and Alabama ended their home and home with Vandy. 2008 Alabama goes to Georgia and replaces Vandy with Kentucky.

15
by oljb (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 9:42pm

Big East is a complete round-robin.

16
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:04pm

The Pac-10 is the only large conference that requires a round-robin schedule, and honestly, they're the largest conference that could even consider it. The Big East and Sun Belt play seven-game conference schedules because they have eight teams; all others aside from the Pac-10 play eight games.

The divisional conferences play as Mark indicated: everyone in your division, three teams in the other division, swap out teams every two years, keep certain games intact.

The Big Ten does the same thing without respect to divisions: swap out two opponents every two years, always preserving certain rivalries.

17
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:06pm

If nothing else, I was happy to see Michigan lose and eliminate themselves from contention. No team that was beaten as badly as they were beaten (I think Oregon put up 600-plus yards on them?) deserves to be in the bowl discussion. I just about went insane when I saw that some people were projecting an Oregon-UM Rose Bowl.

Wow. Ya know, I thought it was a lot less than that, but you're right. 624 yards. Most of which came in the first half before the Ducks called off the dogs. 331 yards rushing.

Sad thing is that the Ducks could still play Michigan in the Rose if Kansas wins out and Michigan beats OSU.

I don't know whether the voters would pick a 1-loss Oklahoma team over a 1-loss Oregon team, but I suspect they would. I don't think a 1-loss Kansas or Mizzou team would make it over Oregon though. Really, Oregon needs to do what they've done all year: obliterate mediocre competition. If they win their next games by 20+ points each, they should go the the title game barring Kansas running the table.

18
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:32pm

My Meaningless Top 25, revised:

1. LSU
2. Oregon
3. Oklahoma
4. Kansas
5. West Virginia
6. Missouri
7. Ohio State
8. Arizona State
9. Georgia
10. Southern Cal
11. Florida
12. Clemson
13. Texas
14. Boston College
15. Illinois
16. Virginia Tech
17. Michigan
18. Virginia
19. Penn State
20. Cincinnati
21. Wisconsin
22. Tennessee
23. South Florida
24. Kentucky
25. UConn

Internet rumor has it that Lloyd Carr will be announcing his retirement this week.

19
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:32pm

#2

I was at that game, There was an earlier play in the first half where they had ruled a fumble on Bernard when he was clearly down, and Riley had to burn a time out to coax the officials into reviewing it. In addition, the refs let the game get way out of control, by allowing events such as Bernard getting his helmet ripped off and punched in the throat without so much as a penalty flag until Jeremy Perry pulled the tackle off of Bernard.

20
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:36pm

#19: I only watched part of the game on replay (it started way too late on the east coast, but it was in HD for once), but they did a horrible job overall. I worry that the Pac 10 is going to suspend some of our guys this week, and I wish they would suspend them for the Oregon game, which I don't think we can win anyway.

21
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:53pm

#20

I haven't heard anything though the grapevine about suspensions, I don't think the PAC 10 is going to try and call attention to this game because the officiating was so bad.

22
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 10:59pm

If Kansas wins out (which means beating Missouri and Oklahoma), they are rightfully in. However, if they lose and, say, Oklahoma goes over Oregon, we may see still another repeat of the Big 12 curse. Here's the history, updated from a letter I wrote to King Kaufmann in 2005:

Here's how to fix the BCS: If there is any controversy about which
teams should be in the championship game, keep the Big 12 team out.

Season of 2006: No Big 12 team.

2005: Texas, legitimate national championship aspirant from Big 12, wins a great game.

2004: USC crushes Oklahoma, after controversy over whether Sooners belonged. It looked like Auburn
would have given USC a better game. Heck, it looked like Utah would have
given USC a better game!

2003: Oklahoma looked bad in losing the Big 12 championship game,
but stumbled into the BCS championship game anyway and looked bad against
LSU. They got a couple of turnovers late and managed to make a sort of
showing, but anyone who watched the game and doesn't reside between Norman
and Tulsa knows that LSU was the superior team; and anyone who watched the
Rose Bowl knows that USC-LSU would have been a better game.

2002: no Big 12 team was involved, and the Miami-Ohio State game went to double overtime.

2001: three teams were aspirants for the BCS championship game.
Nebraska had been exposed by Colorado in the Big 12 championship, but was
chosen to play Miami anyway. They were even more exposed by Miami. Oregon
would have given Miami a better game simply by showing up.

2000: another exception that proves the rule: the Big 12 team, Oklahoma,
was legitimately in the championship game, although there was a controversy
about who should play them. The sooners beat Florida State and were
appropriately selected number 1.

So, for this century at least, the BCS has had five chances to put a big
12 team in the championship game. When that possibility was self-evident,
the Big 12 team has come through. When there was some question about
whether the Big 12 team should have been there, the Big 12 team has come up
small. Past results like this are not really predictive, but they do cast some doubt on whether a 1-loss Big 12 team should automatically be assumed to be the best candidate for the BCS.

23
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:22pm

#22: Nice work... I hadn't realized that. Another pretty simple way of stating that rule could be don't pick teams for the BCS Championship game that didn't win their conference. It not only signals that the team might not be the best, but also (in the case of conferences with a championship game) that the team peaked too early, and isn't playing their best at the end of the season.

That rule is pretty much moot for this year, though, since the only chance of both OU and UO is to WIN their conference.

24
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:29pm

Another meaningless top 25:

1 Oregon
2 LSU
3 Kansas
4 Oklahoma
5 Ohio State
6 West Virginia
7 Florida
8 Arizona State
9 Southern California
10 Missouri
11 Clemson
12 Cincinnati
13 Georgia
14 Virginia Tech
15 South Florida
16 Texas
17 Kentucky
18 Connecticut
19 Penn State
20 Auburn
21 Boise State
22 Michigan
23 Illinois
24 Tennessee
25 California

That's 2 ACC, 4 Big 12, 4 Big East, 4 Big Ten, 4 Pac 10, 6 SEC and 1 WAC.

25
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:50pm

Russ, and #24:

1. Do you really think there are fewer than 25 teams that would be favored to beat Boise State or Hawaii on a neutral field (hate that cliche, but still...)

2. Are there really fewer than 25 teams that have resumes more impressive than Boise State or Hawaii?

I stop ranking teams at 25, but if I had to keep going I'd have Boise in the mid-high 30's (decent OOC schedule but a loss to Washington) and Hawaii in the low30's to mid-40's (played close vs bad teams, no impressive wins, awful OOC schedule).

26
by Russell Levine :: Mon, 11/12/2007 - 11:59pm

Re: 25

Hard to say. I think Hawaii could beat some decent teams if they got them out in the islands.

I'm kind of hoping they get in because I'd like to see what happens were they to play a top team. Probably, they'd get blown out but you never know. People forget that Boise may have won the Fiesta Bowl on some miraculous trick plays, but they really took it to Oklahoma and outplayed the Sooners for 3 1/2 quarters.

To be perfectly honest, I don't think there's a huge split between say #11 and #40 ... at least not as big a split as in past years.

27
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:18am

I’m kind of hoping they get in because I’d like to see what happens were they to play a top team. Probably, they’d get blown out but you never know.

That's exactly how I felt about Boise State last year. I didn't have any personal stake in the OU vs BSU game last year, so I was just hoping it would be a watchable game.

Uh...it was one of the five best college football games I've ever seen. Just awesome, bell to bell.

Having said that, BSU lost to Washington and Hawaii's NC sked is an insult. Neither teams deserves in, and if Hawaii gets into the Sugar I hope they get steamrolled.

28
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:26am

24,25,26, plus 18: I think Russell has gotten the comment right here, although I don't necessarily agree with his rankings. In a year when Appalachian State beat Michigan, Stanford beat USC, etc. etc., I really think you could throw a blanket over the teams from about 11 on each of your lists to at least 25, maybe even 30 or 40, reach underneath, pull out a pair of teams, and they'd be equally likely to win or lose a match up. All of you have teams ranked higher than other teams that they've beaten, with whom they have roughly similar records, and I can't say that you're wrong. Boise State could beat South Florida, lose to Tennessee, beat Texas, and lose to Wofford and I wouldn't be all that surprised. Or they could run the table, or lose and look bad in all four games. It's a tough year if you love the dominance of the historically powerful schools or conferences, it's extremely tough to generate and back up a ranking that couldn't be agreed to by one person and ridiculed by the next, but it's a great year if you just want to watch enjoyable and entertaining football games.

29
by Yinka Double Dare (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:42am

22: For 2001, it's actually even worse. Nebraska was pounded by Colorado in the last regular season game and didn't even qualify for the Big 12 Championship. So they didn't even win their division of their conference yet somehow got invited to the championship over Oregon.

30
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:02am

29- That's defensable.

I always ask this- why is getting beaten by a conference opponent so less forgivable than a non-conf opponent?

Nebraska was flying high at 11 - 0 before the Colorado loss. Colorado lost twice: once to Fresno (!!) and when Texas beat them 41 - 7. Oregon lost to 5 -7 Wisconsin in a weak-at-the-time Pac 10.

It was close, but Nebraska was the best #2.

31
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:45am

Re 30: Nebraska was "flying high at 11-0 before the Colorado loss, but those 11 wins include victories over powerhouses like TCU, Troy, Rice, and a 5-6 Notre Dame, plus conference weak sisters like Missouri (4-7), Baylor (3-8), and Kansas (3-8)." Nebraska had 8 home games that year, which might have skewed just how high they seemed to be flying. Plus, as I remember it, Colorado totally humiliated the Cornhuskers, who scored 36 points...and still lost by 26! In the BCS game, they managed to lose by 23. As Yinka points out, they didn't even win their division of their conference, not to mention their conference championship. If that's your "best number 2," you're welcome to them.

32
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:49am

As Yinka points out, they didn’t even win their division of their conference

Known. I addressed that in my post.

33
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:29am

I think 2001 was one of those years when everyone not related to the players and staff of the #2 team thought they were going to get blown off the field... and hoo-boy, they were right. Miami was clearly on a whole different level.

(That was a very frustrating season for Florida - UF lost two games by a total of five points, not only knocking them out of the national race but out of the SEC... and then we had to see Eric Crouch - Eric Crouch! - get the 'career achievement' Heisman over the sophomore Sexy Rexy, who actually had a better year statistically than Wuerfful in '96. Very vexing.)

34
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:19am

#33

Go to Heismanpundit.com, read the unwritten rules of the heisman voters and you'll understand why Crouch won. It wasn't Career Achievment, He had more highlight reel plays than Rex, played for a traditional heisman power, was going to a national championship game, had a better record than Grossman, and Danny's Heisman win actually hurt Grossman's chances, because it made him look like Dave Klingler to Danny's Andre Ware.

35
by Gary (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:30am

Re: 30

Oregon lost to Stanford that year (back when they were good enough to convince ND to hire Ty Willingham away) by 7 during a game when Stanford blocked two punts and returned them for touchdowns. I'm pretty sure the PAC-10 had 5-6 top 25 capable teams that year, but I can't find a good reference.

36
by Gary (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:48am

The Big 12 this year remind me of the Big Ten last year. Three highly ranked teams that managed to mostly miss each other during conference play beating up on a conference on a down swing while hanging there hats on a couple nonconference wins against "good but not great" teams and "not as good as we thought back then" teams.

Last year it was Ohio State over Texas and Michigan over ND. This year it's Missouri over Illinois and Oklahoma over Miami (remember how that was considered their big win a month ago?) and also somewhat removed, Texas over TCU and Nebraska over Wake Forest.

Oklahoma is probably as legit as Ohio State was last year, which is to say it's not a stretch for them to be in a BCS bowl as long as it's not the NC game. Missouri and Kansas are Wisconsin and Michigan. They deserve good bowls, but they're probably not BCS good.

37
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:54am

#35
In the December 9th poll in 2001, Oregon was ranked 2nd, Stanford 11th, WSU 13th, and UW 21st. In the November 11th poll, roughly where we are in this season, those 4 teams were ranked UO 7th, WSU 9th, Stanford 13th, UW 16th, and UCLA 20th.

38
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 3:57am

#35
2001 Pac-10

Arizona was 5-6, Mackovic first season
Arizona State was 4-7, Koetter's first season
Cal was 1-10 (Holmoe's last season)
Oregon State was 5-6 (year before 11-1)
USC was 6-6 (Carroll's first season)
Stanford was 9-3 (Ty's last season)
UCLA was 7-4
Washington was 8-4 (whatever happened to them..)
Washington State was 10-2

Oregon did not play Washington that year. Played Wisconsin (at Oregon), Utah (at Oregon), and Utah State (at Utah State).

39
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:07am

re #34; The Heismandments are interesting... and underline why the award has ever so slowly become a joke; more years than not it should be called the 'highest profile offensive skill player on a team playing for a national title' award.

Grossman's 2001 line : 259/395 (.656) for 3896 yds (9.9 ypa), 34 TD, 12 INT, 170.8 eff; 5 TDs rushing; 10 300 yd passing games, two games with 5 passing TDs; UF never ranked below #6, six victories over teams ranked at the time of the game; avg score of games 44.8-14.8... and most importantly, he was a sophomore.

40
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:29am

#39
But Crouch was more important to his team in 2001. Florida was loaded, with three other consensus all americans, and one other who garnered first team recognition. Nebraska had one consensus All American, and one other player who made a first team. And Grossman was still seen as a system quarterback, given the success of the passing offense under spurrier. Remember, Kilgler had better numbers than Ware, but Ware won the heisman, and that win damned Klingler's chances. Florida also had a loss to an unranked Auburn team dangling over their heads. While Nebraska lost to Colorado, Colorado was ranked 14th at the time, and was in the top ten at the end of the season. Those are the primary factors that doomed Grossman's Heisman campaign.

41
by Gary (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:01am

Wow, DragonFireKai and lionsbob... I guess my google skills need work.

FWIW, when I think of 2001, I don't think of Oregon getting jobbed by the BCS system. I do believe they should have played for the NC, but ultimately I look back and say "they should have beat Stanford" instead of "they should have got in to the NC game over Nebraska".

Heck it may have even been for the better. Maybe Oregon would have been similarly pounded in the NC game instead of blowing out Colorado in the Fiesta bowl... a win that lead to a strong recruiting class the following couple years which is now leading to their current success.

42
by cat rodriguez (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:10am

Mallett was even more scattershot than you recall - try 11-for-36, with several passes nowhere near the intended target.

43
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:13am

#41

I just happen to own the ESPN college football encyclopedia, which lays out every week of AP voting each year. Such a good book. Not intending to be spammish, but it was seriously a good investment.

44
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:17am

#22: Best. Post. Ever. I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who sees this disturbing pattern. For this college season to end just like all those others would be a total travesty.

#26: Again, I'm glad I'm not the only one who recognized that. If anything, Boise was the one who had OU beat and choked in the 4th, they're lucky, but not in the way people think. They just happened to have *just* enough time to recover from their attempt at giving the game away. I think they were ahead 28-10 at one point.

Forget what happened in the Nebraska-Miami title game, the way Oregon clobbered Colorado in their bowl was the most convincing indicator to me that they got royally screwed. The way I see it, that incident in the Oregon-OU game last year was just karmic justice for all the times a Pac 10 team got jobbed out of the title game/a BCS bowl in favor of a Big 12 team. What people don't realize is that up until last season, Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg was actually in charge of the BCS. I kid you not. Explains a lot, doesn't it?

45
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:30am

#41

click on my name for a good website for team's year to year results.

46
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:41am

#45: That site RULES~! I've known about it and had it bookmarked for years. I figured that might be the site you were talking about before I even clicked on the link.

47
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:09am

#39 - you make it sound as if Crouch were a fairly obvious winner, because of the structure of the voting if nothing else. But that was one of the closest votes ever, and there was real suspense right up to the end. All of the following quotes were culled from articles published between the Colorado game and the induction ceremony, and found at HuskersHQ.

'"Are you going to give the award based on a career? Absolutely give it to Eric," Harrington said. "If it's on numbers this year, you give it to Rex. Early in the season, people were saying Crouch gets the award because he's the best player on the best team. If that's still the case, you give it to Ken."'

'Crouch, Florida's Rex Grossman, Joey Harrington of Oregon and Miami's Ken Dorsey were the finalists and nobody was quite sure of the front-runner.'

'Best athlete? Best career? Best stats? Best team? The Heisman Trophy means many things to many voters, and that's why this year's race has been one of the more unpredictable in the 67-year history of the award.'

' College football's awards circuit kicks off in earnest tonight with Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch figuring to be a top contender for several major honors to be announced during the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The program, which will be broadcast from 8-10 p.m. on ESPN, could provide some clues as to who might win college football's ultimate individual prize -- the Heisman Trophy -- on Saturday.'

' In this weirdest of all Heisman Trophy races, it's starting to look like the winner will be an old reliable. Citing his consistency and all-around excellence, the panel of the Scripps Howard News Service Heisman Trophy poll has anointed University of Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch its 2001 winner.'
(38-33 over Grossman)

'If you sample opinions from the national media last week, it would appear that Crouch is no longer a factor when it comes to deciding college football's top individual prize.'
and from the same article;
'Although there's a few voices of reason out there, it would appear that the general consensus is that Crouch, with no more remaining games to win back votes before Friday's deadline for returning ballots, is done, toast, finished.'
ditto;
'Crouch's regular season and national title hopes may be over, but the Heisman Trophy shouldn't be.'

48
by DragonFireKai (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:15am

#47
The year before, Chris Weinke won the Heisman by 76 points, not appreciably more than the 62 points that separated Crouch and Grossman, Andre Ware won by 70 points, Bo Jackson by 45, Billy Sims by 77. There have been some lopsided wins in Heisman history, but winning by less than 100 points is hardly unheard of. Crouch had the advantage over Grossman on many layers, as I've laid out before, He led a less talented team to a better record, had flashier plays, had a shot at the national title, was not percieved as a system QB, didn't have a loss to an unranked team hanging over his head, and was playing for a traditional heisman power. If you look at those circumstances, and take into account Grossman's achievements, then it's fairly easy to see how Crouch won, It was close, but that was due to Ken Dorsey and Phil Knight drawing votes away. If Miami was dominating in spite of their QB, then the Dorsey vote would have shifted about 60-40 between Crouch and Grossman. And if Harrington hadn't had his ugly mug splattered over times square, he wouldn't have been in the voting and those Votes would have followed a similar distribution, and this would have caused the voting numbers to produce a wider margin between crouch and grossman, despite the proportional voting still being close.

49
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:47am

I just have one question: Who the hell cares about Tim Crouch and why? What does a joke of a Heisman winner from 6 years ago have to do with anything? No offense to those of you expressing your sudden and mysterious fascination with the man, but holy guacamole...can't we discuss something a tad more relevant?

50
by Dan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:24am

RE 12:
According to Wikipedia (Big Ten Conference):

Furthermore, the Big Ten football schedule is set up with each team having two permanent rivalries within the conference, with the other eight teams in the conference rotating out of the schedule in pairs for two-year stints. Permanent rivalries are as follows:

Illinois: Northwestern, Indiana
Indiana: Illinois, Purdue
Iowa: Minnesota, Wisconsin
Michigan: Michigan State, Ohio State
Michigan State: Michigan, Penn State
Minnesota: Iowa, Wisconsin
Northwestern: Illinois, Purdue
Ohio State: Michigan, Penn State
Penn State: Michigan State, Ohio State
Purdue: Indiana, Northwestern
Wisconsin: Iowa, Minnesota

It essentially amounts to a Wisconsin-Iowa-Minnesota triangle, a Northwestern-Illinois-Indiana-Purdue "square" and a Michigan-Michigan State-Ohio State-Penn State "square" where in the two "squares", you automatically face your two neighbors each year.

One comment about Nebraska in 2001, since I live there, the game against Colorado was the highest points they had allowed in a game ever up to that point (giving up 76 to Kansas was science fiction at that point). I also think the Heisman voters were impressed by the trick play in the Oklahoma game where Crouch caught a touchdown pass.

51
by Dan (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:29am

Oops! I messed up in the last post, with Michigan and Michigan State in the wrong order. Michigan does always play Ohio State each year

52
by JDog (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:23am

RE: 44. By all means, let's punish this year's Big 12 winner for the BCS putting Nebraska into the title game 6 years ago. It doesn't matter that the kids on (KU, OU, UM) weren't even in college then, didn't end up going to that school, and certainly didn't have a vote in the polls in 2001. It is still their fault that the Huskers got beat in a football game half a decade ago.

However, for all of us BCS haters, there is no greater gift than for there to be more than 2 "deserving" teams at the end of the regular season.

53
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:59am

re:49

Ho-ho, my delphinic friend, but the '01 Heisman is relevant; this year's race has been unusually volatile, could take a tight cluster of candidates down to the wire, and features a sophomore QB from UF putting up ungodly numbers (in a system designed to put up ungodly numbers in the right hands.) Sounds awfully familiar...

54
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:55pm

re 52: alternatively, lets punish the kids on the Oregon team for going to a college that plays in the Pacific time zone and doesn't get much television exposure, and which doesn't have the historical reputation of the mighty Big 12 teams, despite the fact that some of that reputation (I discussed in 22) is fraudulent. The BCS has tended to skew toward the Big 12, and sometimes it has seemed unjustifiable and resulted in a national championship game blow out. If it skews the other way this year, I agree that that's too bad for the players on Oklahoma, Kansas, or Missouri, but how do you justify (1) punishing Oregon players in order to salve the delicate feelings of the players on Big 12 teams and (2) continuing a prejudice in favor of Big 12 teams that hasn't panned out?

55
by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:57pm

Russell - how about a little on the atmosphere at Army? I see Army made the top 10 "places to tailgate" on some ESPN road warrior" list - as did the Grove (which ranked higher).

As an alum, I've always felt a football Saturday at West Point was something special, at least while the autumn Hudson Valley foliage was still on the trees. But a gray November day, not so much (and all too often, the football is a greay November day).

56
by Brooklyn Buckeye (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:02pm

Not exactly a terrible day in Buckeye country, but not exactly a good day, either. All year that Illinois game gave me pause, but after the Illini lost to Iowa, I thoguht that OSU would have more room to breathe...ah, well. There's still only ONE GAME THAT MATTERS. Can't wait for this weekend!

Russell, you may lick your chops at the thought of a Jim Tressell coaching gaffe all you want, but you're going to be waiting a while, methinks. Still, I'm very impressed at your restraint in gloating over a Buckeye loss.

One last thing....noe that you say "There was scant little evidence" in the third paragraph. Scant = little, so this is redundant. Not sure if that was just a typo that wasn't caught by your editor or a misusage.

57
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:09pm

Since we're all yapping on 2001...
I thought Florida was the second best team that year. Unfortunately, they had 2 losses, by 3 to Auburn and then the late game against Tennessee (reschedule because of 9/11, I believe), at home, so they were effectively eliminated. Pity, as I thought that, when healthy, they were the only team that might have been a really good Miami team. One thing those 2 losses had in common was that starting RB Earnest Graham was out; in fact, I believe their top 3 RBs missed the Auburn game. Without Graham, they couldn't run the ball as effectively, and Rexxy couldn't win the game on his own. In the Tennessee game, they also lost because they couldn't stop Travis Stephens, which made him my hugely idiosyncratic choice for the Heisman that year.

58
by JDog (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:22pm

re:54 So how many points are you saying we should add to Oregon's BCS rating to adjust for the vast Big 12 conspiracy?

(I think I just threw up in my mouth a little for trying to defend anything about the BCS.)

59
by Chris Heinonen (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:25pm

#21: The Pac-10 reprimanded the officials and admitted they were wrong on the replay, though they didn't say what the punishment was. They didn't add any additional punishments for the players that were ejected, but NCAA rules say they have to sit for the first half of their next game, which is going to hurt our secondary pretty badly (CB and Safety out).

60
by Mitch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 1:41pm

re:54.

I think the point is basing any decision on what happened in 2001 is incredibly illogical.

I expect at least 40% of the voters to do exactly that.

61
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 2:18pm

re 54: I know you're joking (and maybe I'm supposed to say "ha-ha, made ya throw up"), but seriously, given the Big 12's record when there's been a question about their selection (in 01, 03, and 04), I'd add enough to get a 1 loss team from somewhere else, just in hopes of avoiding another dog of a game. Please note that, when the Big 12 team is a clear cut selection (00 and 05), they give us a good game. If Kansas goes undefeated by beating Missouri and Oklahoma, they've won their conference championship and are undefeated. They would be a fully justifiable choice. But if there are a bunch of 1 loss teams and KU or OU is selected primarily because of the purported strength of their conference, well, we've been down that road before and had TV sets all over America turning off the national championship game in the third quarter as a result.

62
by gerry (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:15pm

#22 I absolutely agree. I have always thought that the Big 12 is vastly overrated. I scratch my head each year they throw in a Big 12 school to get it's #ss handed to them on national TV.

63
by Ben V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 4:56pm

Can someone explain to me why West Virgina gets no respect, especially compared to the Oklahomas and Missouris of the world? Who have the Big XII teams beaten?

Oklahoma out of conference includes a win over a Miami team that is terrible. That's it. Missouri beat an inconsistent Illinois team. Good for them. West Virginia beat Mississippi State and Maryland (in Maryland), who have both beaten ranked teams this year. They also beat both handily. In fact the Mountaineers have only had two games they haven't won by at least 17, the USF loss when White got hurt and the Louisville win last week.

Oklahoma beating Texas isn't all it's cracked up to be; Texas has beaten no one except mid majors and Big XII teams. (And struggled against the decent mid majors, see UCF) Missouri can't even claim to have played a decent Big XII team outside of Oklahoma.

Seriously, what's the difference between the teams West Virginia have beaten and the teams the Big XII teams have beaten outside of the names on the jersey?

64
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:03pm

Russell, you may lick your chops at the thought of a Jim Tressell coaching gaffe all you want, but you’re going to be waiting a while, methinks.

The only reason that Tressel didn't win the JLS Trophy previously is that there isn't one handed out after the National Championship game.

That entire game was a Jim Tressel coaching gaffe.

65
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 5:17pm

#63

West Virginia is a victim of their own conference cannibalism. The Big 12 has 4 good teams this year, it helps their wins look a lot better.

I do think West Virginia is a lot better then people think. I do think they would have won against USF if Pat White was healthy.

But Missouri beating Illinois is the big win for the Big 12 schools. I said it last week, but I think if there is a surprise 1 loss team in the Championship it will be Missouri.

66
by Dave in St. Louis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:11pm

#63 I don't understand why you think WVU gets no love compared to Mizzou. They are ahead of Mizzou in the human polls despite the fact that WVU lost to a team that has fallen out of the Top 25 while Mizzou lost to an Oklahoma team that was and is ranked ahead of them on Oklahoma's home field while Mizzou was missing it's #1 running back. They beat a surprising Illinois team (that since knocked off #1 tOSU) on neutral ground and every other victory was convincingly accomplished (two scores or more).

If anything, Mizzou gets no respect.

67
by Mitch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:16pm

#63

I admire your ability to easily dismiss Mizzou's win over Illini because they are inconsistent, and then in the very next sentence trump up wins over Mississippi St. and Maryland "who have both beaten ranked teams this year".

That's a good one.

68
by Ben V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 6:58pm

My complaint is more with Oklahoma, but Mizzou is an issue too. My point bringing up Maryland and Mississippi State was to show that wins over those teams can be taken in the same light as a win over Illinois. Is Illinois better than Mississippi State? I don't know. I think Illinois is better than Maryland, but Maryland did just go trash BC. Regardless, that's still two wins over BCS league teams, both of whom will likely be bowling, one on the road and neither game was close.

West Virginia is getting punished for beating on the Big East, while Oklahoma (and to a lesser extent Missouri) are being rewarded for playing in a conference which has historically been good, but down the last few years. Can anyone truthfully argue the Big XII is better than the Big East this year?

69
by Mitch (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:17pm

Well your complaint should be ONLY with Oklahoma considering West Virginia is actually ranked higher than Mizzou and this getting more "respect".

70
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:17pm

Last time Mississippi State played a team with a spread offense and a QB that can run....well you know the result. State takes advantage of turnovers and plays ball-control offense....I think Illinois would beat them 8 times out of 10. And I am an Alabama fan, some teams do not match-up well against other teams.

The Big 12 I think has 3 really really good teams. The Big East has one. But I would take the Big East's above-average teams over the Big 12's (i.e. Rutgers over A&M, USF over Texas Tech..)

71
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:21pm

67: Don't you think it's possible that the point is that two (Miss St and Maryland) are better than one (Illinois)?

I agree that Mizzou is probably getting less respect than it deserves. I know that Oklahoma beat them, but at the same time, Oklahoma's loss is way worse than Mizzou's loss. Honestly, I'm not certain how Oklahoma remained so high after their loss in the first place.

I'm still holding out hope for a WVU national title berth (assuming they can beat Cincy, who are, IMO, substantially underrated). That will probably require LSU and Oregon to lose, or some clusterfuck result in the Big 12 where no team gets out unscathed (I'm not sure what scenario that would be).

But that chance, slim as it may be, is contingent on the Mountaineers getting out unscathed against two 2-loss teams in the next couple of weeks, which is by not exactly a cake schedule. On the other hand, those games, if won, should help improve the computer rankings, for whatever that's worth.

72
by Dave in St. Louis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:31pm

#68 Just who in the Big East, other than WVU, do you actually think is equal to Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri or Texas?

73
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:37pm

72: If I had to guess, I would say that Louisville, USF, Cincy and Rutgers could give any of those teams a run for their money (although certainly not an assured victory). But if you are comparing records, obviously the Big 12 teams are superior this year, as the Big East teams were last year. I honestly don't think there's that much disparity in talent between any of the BCS conferences. We are all very happy to latch on to whatever data point makes our favored conference look good, and then ignore any other data points that are equally as useful or valid. Who knows? It's too bad more BCS teams won't schedule each other more frequently.

74
by Ben V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 7:39pm

69- WVU is behind Missouri in the BCS. So in the end, they'll finish behind them. But you're right, this wouldn't be an issue if WVU was ranked ahead of the Sooners right now, which they definitely should be.

70- That's fine, but that shouldn't be a knock against West Virginia. They exploited a weakness. The fact is Mississippi State is a solid football team and the Mountaineers crushed them.

Kansas could be deserving of a title game if they win out. But until they do, let's hold off calling them a great team. Their schedule is the easiest any BCS team in ANY conference has played this year.

71-Oklahoma is ranked high for three reasons:
1. They're Oklahoma
2. They beat Texas, who is Texas
3. They beat a team that was undefeated in the Big XII

I hope WVU runs the table, and if White is healthy I think they will. Unfortunately, Cinci and UConn won't improve their computer ranks all that much because of who they are and where they are ranked. (Admittedly, UConn is lucky to be where they are) So unless both LSU and Oregon lose, they're probably just going to the Orange Bowl to beat up on whatever sacrificial lamb the ACC provides, just like Louisville did last year.

75
by Dave in St. Louis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:18pm

#73 I'm sorry, I don't agree with your premise. I wondered who was their equal. Giving them "a run for their money" merely means they are equal to a fired up Iowa State or aTm. And we all agree that's not all that good.

#74 If the issue is "respect" (as you said in post #63), then only humans can give respect and WVU is ahead of Mizzou in the human polls. Mizzou is ahead of WVU in the BCS rankings only because of their advantage in the computer polls.

76
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:21pm

It’s too bad more BCS teams won’t schedule each other more frequently.

You mean, other than ~8 or more games per year?

What you really want is some sort of dynamic scheduling - some system which, in the middle of the season, picked out the best teams in the sport and pitted them against each other. That way you could figure out who really was the best directly, rather than trying to figure it out through second-order links through MWC teams.

If only there were some mystical way of pitting the best teams against each other at the end of the season, when you finally had a handle on who was good and who wasn't...

77
by Pete (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 8:48pm

The BCS previously gave points for strength of schedule. This helped to discourage playing a bunch of cupcakes, although it was somewhat out of that team's control to know that Notre Dame would be a 1-win team rather than a tough opponent.

The BCS also previously allowed margin of victory to be considered for computer rankings. Sagarin could offer up his predictor (or rankings, which combines ELO_CHESS with predictor), which gave diminishing returns after a certain point (17-20 points, which means at least 3 scores). I think there was no real advantage for winning by 5 points rather than 4 points, but I am not positive about that. Another aspect this allowed was to recognize Home Field Advantage.

Personally, I favor allowing the scores to be carefully allowed in the right computer algorithm and the BCS-ranking has been tweaked too far in favor of the Polls. (The AP Poll apparently agrees) I believe the College Poll still does not release its results (generally worried about retaliatory voting rather than open and honest disclosure). The Polls might better reflect (potentially) handling teams that regain players lost to injuries and suspensions. With score being included as a factor a strong team should need to do more than barely beat a 1AA team.

It seems obvious to me that the Bowl + 1 is not far off. When is the soonest that this could be implemented? The game is already a week or so after the other games. The PAC-10 and Big 10 could still have their classic Rose Bowl, which would allow Oregon to prove it belongs by beating Ohio State (or beating Michigan, again)... well, maybe that would not be THAT tough.

78
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:30pm

75: OK, if you don't like my phrasing, let me say it this way. I think that if we had each of the Big 12 teams you mentioned play against each of the Big East teams I mentioned, the Big East teams would win slightly more than 50% of the games.

Obviously this is all speculation based on my own biased observation of the teams in question, which is all anyone can really offer on this subject.

79
by Ben V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:36pm

#75- You're right in that human pollsters do have WVU ahead of Mizzou. But they're not ahead of Oklahoma. If they were in front of the Sooners they'd likely be ahead of both in the BCS.

I also think a potential Big East/Big XII matchup depends on where the games are played. Cinci at Kansas? Kansas is favored. Kansas at Cinci- Cinci would be favored. Heck, I'd be scared of going up to UConn right now- that team is different at home than on the road.

On a neutral field, I'd favor WVU over Oklahoma. Kansas and Cinci I'd say is a toss up right now. Before I get ripped by KU supporters, name me the team that they've played that is as good as Cinci, or heck Rutgers for that matter. (Don't say KState, the same KState team that got waxed by Rutgers last year in Big XII country)

Basically #76 is right on. If only we had some means of pitting the best teams in each conference against one another at the end of the year, this would not be an issue.

80
by oljb (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 9:45pm

Pat,
I'm in favor of a playoff, certainly. That would be one way to answer the questions. But, barring that, I'm also in favor of limiting BCS-conference OoC games to, say, one or two non-BCS-conference opponents every year. That would give us a better basis for comparison, and better games. Also, ban BCS teams from demanding a two homes and one away series against other BCS teams, like JoePa is fond of doing. This would likewise prevent the SEC from fattening up on 8 home games a year.

For the Big East and Pac-10, for example, I think there are only two inter-conference games this year. Oregon State vs Cincinnati and Washington vs Syracuse. Those two games tell us something, but not a lot. Who wouldn't want to see WV-Oregon or Louisville-USC? Games like that (think Tenn-Cal, even if it less compelling in hindsight) are usually highly anticipated, and get better ratings. Since ratings=money, you'd think there'd be some allure to that.

81
by Dave in St. Louis (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:09pm

#78 & #79 - I've seen seven (excepting only UConn) of those eight teams (Mizzou, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, UConn, USF and Rutgers) play and there is no way you can convince me that the four Big East teams win even 40% of games against those four Big 12 teams - and every poll agrees with me (in that the lowest rank for one of the Big 12 quartet is 13 and the highest rank for one of the Big East quartet is 17 [computer poll composite]).

82
by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 10:11pm

#2:

What a horrible call. College's replay system is simply bizarre. You never know what they're going to review. It will eventually cost somebody in a huge game and they'll look like total fools because they had a replay system in place, but weren't competent enough to use it.

Part of the problem (as noted by a few announcers I've heard) is the refs are starting to rely on replay and letting anything close go. They don't want to risk blowing a live play dead, so they let it go expecting the booth to fix things if they're wrong. But when the guys in the booth don't do their job, you end up with disasters like that.

It wasn't as bad as the Oregon State call, but in the Notre Dame game Air Force had the ball in field goal range with just a few seconds left in the first half when the runner fumbles along the sideline. The refs gave it to ND on the recovery, even though the guy looked to be well out of bounds. They never even bothered to review it, prompting Troy Calhoun to go ballistic as the half ended.

83
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:06pm

#77:

The BCS still gives out points for strength of schedule. That's what a statistical ranking is! If you've got two teams with the same record (and in college football, pretty much all you have are teams with the same record) strength of schedule splits everything about them.

The BCS got rid of the strength of schedule component because it was double-counting.

Personally, I favor allowing the scores to be carefully allowed in the right computer algorithm

There is no 'right computer ranking' that would work. The only way you can evaluate whether a win was "good" or "bad" is by looking at average future performance in similar situations.

Except there is no 'future performances' between teams - at least, the vaaast majority of the time - since teams only play each other once.

When the BCS changed its formula a few years ago, they got a lot of input from statisticians. Most were in favor of striking margin-of-victory. Why? Because while a victory-only system is less predictive, it has the benefit of being fundamentally unbiased. And bias, in a system that's being used to whittle teams down for a championship, is far more of a worry.

and the BCS-ranking has been tweaked too far in favor of the Polls.

The statistical rankings are not nearly as impressive as you're making them out to be.

84
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:15pm

#80: If you're going to do that, just split Division IA entirely. Reducing the number of non-BCS confererence teams will essentially split the division anyway, and then you'll completely fragment off the non-BCS conferences much like Division IAA.

A decent size playoff would easily alleviate any 'iffy team' concerns (and no, I wouldn't autoberth the conference champions) without needing to split the division.

To be honest, I think you probably only ever really need a 4 team playoff to satisfy most people. You basically want to find the size at which, most years, the team quality starts to drop, and I think that's "about 4" most years.

85
by lionsbob (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:18pm

I hate to repost something...but I am just saying for an awesome play-off plus a more "equal" system...this is my totally naive plan:

The only way I would want a playoff-is if it allowed 8 teams is to make 2 more conferences of the non-BCS schools (split into West and East) of 12 teams a piece. The major BCS conferences without 12 teams already add teams to make it 12 and have a conference championship. And have a 8 team playoff from there (with the BCS bowls as the sponsors) Still have bowl games for team that are eligible.

Move everyone else down to 1-AA. Face it teams like Utah State or Arkansas State are not going to be competitive enough nor financially stable enough to make it year in and year out. Every 5 years if you want to you can have a referendum on who stays and goes based on competitiveness, financial stability, attendance, etc. and see if there is any team who can move up from 1-AA in the 2 independent conferences.

So lets say SEC, ACC, and Big 12 stays the same. Big East adds Central Florida, Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), and East Carolina. Big Ten adds Notre Dame (i know it makes sense for them to go to the Big East somewhat, but most of their rivals are in the Big Ten). Pac-10 adds Boise State and BYU.

East independent conference:
Troy, Southern Miss, Navy, Houston, Bowling Green, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Army, and Kent State
I know Army and Navy, but right now I have a hard time moving Army down to 1-AA.

West independent conference
Air Force, Utah, Hawaii, Tulsa, Nevada, Fresno State, TCU, New Mexico, UTEP, Houston, Colorado State, and San Diego State

86
by Ben V (not verified) :: Tue, 11/13/2007 - 11:53pm

#81- No way? How can you judge that? I've watch Oklahoma this year against Iowa State and Colorado and from those performances I could say they'd be in trouble against UConn. I could also have watched USF against West Virginia, Auburn and UCF, the same UCF that had Texas on the ropes and say they could beat anyone. Teams performances fluctuate from game to game, especially those not in the top tier. One of the few relatively consistent teams this year has been WVU- they've killed everyone. We can cherry pick performances to suit our needs.

And forget the pollsters. The pollsters routinely favor name over substance. That's why every SEC team out there gets to be ranked at some point during the year. And also why Texas and Michigan are ranked so highly despite beating absolutely no one.

Finally, I think a more simple 8-10 team playoff would be best. Six automatic conference berths for the BCS conferences and wild card (at large) spots. This would encourage out of conference play to improve your rank, because you would have little to lose. If the key was winning your conference to make the playoff, then why not schedule another BCS school early on? It would make you look good if you win and give you a better shot at an at large spot if you didn't win your conference outright.

87
by Dave in St. Louis (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 1:51am

#86 How do I know? The same way that oljb knows that "the Big East teams would win slightly more than 50% of the games." By observation.

As for forgetting the pollsters, did you notice that I used the computer rankings to boost the placement of the Big East squads? No human bias there.

88
by pm (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 2:30am

Anybody who puts in USF in their top 25 should be embarrsaed. You do realie that they entered last week as the last place team in a very weak conference. USF lost to Rutgers, cincinnati, and UConn within a 4 week span (which is embarrasing).

BenV and other Big East homers,
Its even more ridiculous to think that Uconn is in the class of oklahoma considering UConn lost to UVA.

Louisville lost at home to one of the worst teams in the country (syracuse), no way they should get respect.they already lost 4 games. Why would they be in a playoff scenario facing USC?

Rutgers is another fraud in the Big East. They fattened their schedule with cupcakes like Navy, buffalo, army. They got exposed this year.

The guy who said Maryland is a good win, MD is 5-5 with two of those wins vs. cupcakes like the worst team in DIv 1 (FIU). Maryland lost to UVA at home, UNC, and wake forest. NO way should they compare to a illinois team that beat a top 10 team on the road (which MD hasn't accomplished).

89
by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 3:02am

Anybody who puts in USF in their top 25 should be embarrsaed.

I have USF at #23.

If you really think there are 23 teams so demonstratably better than a USF team that is 7 - 3 with wins over West Virginia and Auburn that I should be "embarrassed", please tell me about it. What 23 teams are obviously better than USF?

90
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 9:19am

After thinking about it I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with a Big 12 team getting into the title game, what I'd have a problem with--and a severe one at that--is a one-loss OU team getting into the title game by jumping Oregon (provided they and LSU both win out) after the Big 12 title game. I hated that movie the first two times I saw it, why would I want a repeat showing?

People will say why penalize this year's Sooners for those other two title game snoozefests, but this is the BCS. Some team always gets screwed and for once, I'd rather that team be OU. If they don't like it, tough. If there's one thing the BCS most emphatically isn't, it's fair.

On the other hand I'd have no problem with a one-loss Mizzou team getting in since they've been through the 5th Down thing, the Nebraska kicked ball TD thing and then there's the basketball team's famous "let Tyus Edney dribble full court through all 5 guys to score the winning basket at the buzzer resulting in UCLA winning the national title" thing. That school deserves a break at some point, why not now?

And yes, I realize I just contradicted everything I said about the BCS not being fair, but this is college football--logic has no place here.

Actually my personal dream scenarioo would be for LSU to lose, Oregon to win out and Mizzou to as well, resulting in an Oregon-Mizzou title game. That would be so aersome for me on so many levels. It would be worth watching just to see the ESPN commentators' heads explode at the fact no "big name" schools are in the title game. Hell, the whole network might shut down if that happened. A man can dream, can't he?

91
by SoonerHQ (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 1:51pm

#22: Interesting theory, but 2004 doesn't really fit in the way you seem to want it to. Your last paragraph questions whether a one-loss Big 12 team should ever be allowed to participate in the title game, but OU, USC, and Auburn were all undefeated in 2004.

OU and USC were ranked #1 or #2 in both polls and in every computer ranking. OU had the superior computer ranking, while USC led in both polls, possibly due to some sympathy votes because they had been "screwed" out of the title game in 2003. Auburn was #3 across the board, probably because of their weak non-conf schedule of UL Monroe, The Citadel, and La Tech.

Nobody except Tuberville and the AU fans were complaining about the OU-USC matchup before the game. Everybody else was looking forward to the matchup between two high-powered offenses and two Heisman winning QBs. It was only after the Sooners laid an egg that people decided Auburn should have been the sacrificial lamb. Of course, nobody can really say that Auburn would have fared any better, although it's hard to imagine they could have done any worse. It's easy to point to that game after the fact, but it wasn't really the controversy you make it out to be.

There was considerable controversy in 2003, because of the Sooners' ugly loss vs. K State in the Big 12 title game. OU stayed #1 in the BCS because the computer rankings don't care when a loss occurs, so OU's loss to KSU was treated no differently than LSU's mid-season loss to Florida or USC's early season loss at Cal. (OU also had a stronger SOS score than USC or LSU.) I would have no problem with a rule prohibiting teams from appearing in the BCS title game if they don't win their conf title game, but only if every conference plays a title game.

However, your depiction of the Sugar Bowl is a little off. You wrote that OU made "a sort of showing" because of late turnovers, but fail to mention that two of LSU's three scores were the direct result of OU turnovers, including an INT return for a TD. Still OU had a chance to tie the game late, with one underthrown pass and one tipped pass into the endzone. BTW, OU QB Jason White's late-season elbow injury was so bad that many Sooner fans maintain to this day that OU should have benched their Heisman winner in favor of untested backup Paul Thompson.

In summary, 2004 doesn't help your theory because there was little or no controversy, and 2003 doesn't because the game was, in fact, competitive. Nice try, though....

In any event, the whole point of the BCS was to have an agreed-upon formula for choosing between three or more deserving teams. People can complain about the details of the formula all they want, but it is far better than the pre-BCS system where the top four teams might be playing in four different bowl games.

92
by Brooklyn Bengal (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:21pm

RE: "The only reason that Tressel didn’t win the JLS Trophy previously is that there isn’t one handed out after the National Championship game."

I disagree that the entire game was a coaching gaffe. Yes, the Buckeyes were surprisingly unprepared. And yes, the Buckeyes were outcoached...it is impossible to ignore the way Florida's defense manhandled OSU's offensive line.

But I will always argue that the Ginn injury is the biggest factor in the loss, or at least in the way the Buckeyes lost. I think the Ginnjury (too cute?) took the Buckeyes out of their game plan...and since the Buckeyes of '06 uncharacteristically relied on offensive speed and athleticism as opposed to defense, with Ginn out of the game, no coaching adjustments could compensate.

Florida probably would have upset OSU no matter what, but I think the game would have played out much differently had Ginn played the entire game.

Whatever, I'll shut up now as nobody else on this site actually cares about OSU...or should I continue giving you guys fodder?

93
by Fourth (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:03pm

Russ, you got the Coulter/Krugman Award the week of the Ohio State game! Tell me, what is going through your mind right now?

/holly

94
by sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 6:42pm

85: I don't really buy how your plan would be any fairer, but whatever floats your boat. It strikes me as the equivalent of moving every single piece of furniture in your house in order to get the recliner 3 inches closer to the television--even if it somehow works, it isn't worth the effort.

95
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 7:09pm

re 91: Although I disagree with some of your characterizations (as you disagreed with some of mine), I appreciate that you gave my post a careful reading and a thoughtful and invective-free response. As you probably have guessed, I was overstating my case a little for the sake of simplicity and entertainment ("Just keep the Big 12 out if there is controversy"), although I maintain that there is more than a grain of truth in my formulation. And FYI I don't have a bone to pick with Oklahoma--if they are playing Texas or Nebraska (especially way back in those great early 70's games), I'm even rooting for them. We certainly agree, however, that if you are not your conference champion, you shouldn't be the national champion.

96
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 11/14/2007 - 10:46pm

Wait, I don't get it:

I disagree that the entire game was a coaching gaffe.

followed by...

Yes, the Buckeyes were surprisingly unprepared. And yes, the Buckeyes were outcoached…it is impossible to ignore the way Florida’s defense manhandled OSU’s offensive line.

So how, again, is that game not a total coaching gaffe? Regardless of whether or not Florida would've won, Tressel made the game a total joke - and not just due to lack of preparation. Future football scholars will constantly wonder why OSU seemingly refused to run the ball in the first few drives when it was clear the line couldn't pass protect and the receivers couldn't get open.

Ridiculous stat from that game: every single first down series in the first half that contained an Antonio Pittman run gained a new set of downs. Every single one.

I really don't get the "Florida would still probably win" either. Florida had an easy, easy game: they were frequently in great field position, and got handed a TD and FG on very short fields.

Good coaches compensate for offensive line struggles. Tressel didn't. At all. In fact, he made them worse.

97
by Sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 3:18am

"Future football scholars will constantly wonder why OSU seemingly refused to run the ball in the first few drives when it was clear the line couldn’t pass protect and the receivers couldn’t get open."

Because future football scholars will have nothing better to do than rehash games where somebody lost by 4 touchdowns?

98
by DoubleB (not verified) :: Thu, 11/15/2007 - 10:05pm

91:

I think the point being made are that Big XII teams have consistently gotten the nod over playing in the national title game over other conference teams with similar profiles (2001, 2003, and 2004) particularly the Pac-10 and that it will probably happen again this year even if Kansas doesn't win out.

96:

Antonio Pittman ran five times in the first half. The first two carries were on the same set of downs. The fourth was a TD and the fifth was a meaningless carry with 2 seconds left in the half. By my count, Pittman's first down carries resulted in an extra set of meaningful downs twice. I wouldn't call that the most ridiculous stat of that game. I would say it was Ohio State only running 37 offensive snaps in the entire game (even with the 2006 clock rules).