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10 Jan 2012

One Foot Inbounds: Bama Beatdown

by Robert Weintraub

At the conclusion of LSU’s November 5 overtime victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Tigers head coach Les Miles was interviewed on the field. He was asked by CBS field reporter Tracy Wolfson if he would be interested in a rematch with Alabama down the road. "It would be an honor to play that team again," was The Lester’s reply.

If he had it do again, I think he’d say "Oklahoma State is the best team in the nation, and we look forward to the challenge of playing them."

Alabama’s defense used the endless time between the Iron Bowl and this game to foster a game plan that totally stuffed the Tigers. LSU’s offense couldn’t handle Alabama’s SEC speed, I guess. The Tide defense and special teams out LSU-ed LSU, hammering the boys from Baton Rouge 21-0, the first shutout in BCS championship history, to win its second BCS title in three years. Nick Saban becomes the first head coach to win three BCS titles -- one of those, of course, came while he was in Baton Rouge.

Coincidentally, I watched the game from the same hotel in upstate New York that I did in 2009 when Bama beat Texas. Silly me, I went out and purchased a bag of Tostitos to enjoy with the BCS Championship game between LSU and Alabama last night. Then I remembered that this year’s game was title-sponsored by Allstate.

Jordan Jefferson, LSU’s quarterback, needed casualty insurance after being folded and spindled by Bama’s defense all night. There isn’t much to analyze, other than exactly why Miles didn’t turn to Jarrett Lee, even if it likely would have been change for change’s sake. Jefferson and his offensive line were jumpy and out of sorts from the first series, flubbing snaps and committing a couple of pre-snap penalties. LSU’s offense is based around running between the tackles, and Kirby Smart’s defense simply didn’t permit any of it, holding the Tigers’ multi-back attack to 1.4 yards per carry. LSU managed just 92 total yards, five first downs, and zero impact plays.

Jefferson’s worst sequence came midway through the third quarter. On the initial play, and not for the first or last time, Jefferson ran an option that didn’t pull in the edge defender. The Bama linebacker, Jerrell Harris, forced JJ to pitch, but was far enough from the quarterback that he was able to peel off and stuff the pitchman too. That’s option football 101 -- the quarterback has to make the defender commit to one or the other before pitching. Quarterbacks who don’t do that either can’t handle the speed of the game or are afraid of getting hit. Jefferson fell into both categories.

On the next play, Jefferson stepped up in the pocket under a rush, apparently about to run it. Safety valve Spencer Ware certainly thought so, as he turned to block. Unfortunately, Jefferson flipped it to the spot he'd just vacated, and the result was an easy pick for C.J. Mosley. Though Bama’s embattled kicker, Jeremy Shelley, missed a field goal off the turnover, he made up for the flub by making five others in a resounding redemption for his misses in Tuscaloosa.

Jefferson’s opposite number, A.J. McCarron, had the game placed on his shoulders by Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. He responded well, showing poise, touch, and a pocket presence he didn’t have the first time these teams met. The tight ends, as expected, were his main targets. First Brad Smelley, whose catches in the flat brought LSU up, then Chris Underwood, who got behind and over Tyrann Mathieu for a couple of long gainers.

LSU’s run defense actually played superbly in context, holding Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy in check until finally collapsing under the weight of their offense’s ineptitude. Bama was just too good -- efficient, smart, jacked up beyond belief to outhit LSU. The Tide didn’t commit a turnover, were penalty-free until three minutes remained in the game, and didn’t miss an assignment in coverage or stray from a lane on kick returns. The offensive line completely outplayed LSU’s unit.

And the defense put on a performance that was a combination of the Tide’s destruction of Miami in the 1992 Sugar Bowl and the 1985 Bears hammering Danny White’s Cowboys. All the usual suspects -- Dont’a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw -- were fantastic. Defensive lineman Nick Gentry, a senior from venerable state power Prattville High, anticipated snap counts and got his pads low enough to knife past blockers all night. LSU crossed midfield just once, midway through the fourth quarter -- and were promptly repelled backwards, with Gentry recovering a fumble that set up the game’s lone six-pointer (my sincere sympathies to all who bet on a touchdown-free game at 20:1). The Tide turned the Bayou Bengals’ offense into a high school-esque grab bag, and deserve to be mentioned with the sport’s all-time great units.

So congrats to Alabama and Roll Tide Nation, even the nut who poisoned Auburn’s trees in Toomer’s Corner. The Yellowhammer State has now won three consecutive BCS titles, and, of course, the SEC has six straight. Will they make it lucky seven next year? A small tear is rolling down my cheek at the realization that college football is going away for nine long months.

But Bama visits LSU on November 3, 2012. Something tells me that one will be big too, and the Tigers will be out for revenge. Hopefully, they will get some better quarterback play, perhaps from star recruit Gunner Kiel. More importantly, hopefully the folks meeting in New Orleans to discuss the future of the BCS this week alter the system enough to make the end of the college season as great as the rest of it.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 10 Jan 2012

97 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2012, 5:16pm by Authentic Sellout


by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:20am

Congratulations. After 8 periods of football, one of these two teams managed to score a TD. Then missed the XP.

If only either had the balls to play OK State or Boise, we might actually know who the best team in the country was. But all we learned last night is that LSU and Alabama split their season series, and neither can generate offense against the other. Granted, we knew LSU could go an entire half without converting a first down against Georgia, and that Alabama can give up 300 yards rushing to an FCS school.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:27pm

I think there needs to be a few more BCS rules. No BCS championship game between two schools who have played during the year. Teams in BCS championship game must win their own conference. Only one game per year against non-BCS level teams. I didn't watch last night's game. Didn't think it was worth my time. Turned out, I was right.

by AnonymousBoob (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:51pm

Okie State lost to Iowa State. Iowa effing State. You think Alabama or LSU would lose at Iowa State? Neither do I.

Boise and Okie State had their chances but blew it. Alabama and LSU, on the other hand, dominated everyone they played but each other. I don't know what more you can say. until there is a playoff, this is what one should expect.

by Lance :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:10pm

Right-- I can't ever imagine a team getting into the BCS championship game while losing to an unranked team in the regular season. Totally!!!. NOT EVER. Oh... wait. Unless you're the EFFING 2007 LSU TIGERS. And then you can lose AT HOME to an unranked Arkansas team-- Arkan-effing-sas. And they still got in.

So, yes, I can imagine LSU or Alabama stumbling. But yes, this is what we can expect because there's not a play-off.

I still advocate that we just screw the whole season and just have the Preseason #1 and #2 play once and call it a day.

by AnonymousBoob (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:26pm

Dude, stop the SEC-hating. The 2007 LSU Tigers have nothing to do with the 2011 version. Neither of these teams were challenged. What makes you think Okie State (who lost at Iowa State, should have lost the bowl game, and nearly lost to Texas A&M) was more deserving? Because they didn't play in the SEC?

by Kal :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 9:17pm

It's not a matter about who deserves it.

It's a matter of what is or isn't more enjoyable to watch. Alabama had their chance to win it all, at home, and blew it. That alone means they don't deserve it. They also didn't win their conference, didn't win their division, and didn't have nearly as hard a schedule as OKST or LSU.

Yes, Alabama was by far the better team last night after 45 days off. Don't make the mistake of assuming that because they won that means they were the most deserving.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:39pm

So the BCS championship is about what is more enjoyable to watch?

by Kal :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:23pm

That's certainly part of it. That's what bowl games are about at the end of the day, or quite a bit of it. It's why West Virginia got invited over Boise State, or Michigan got invited over Houston.

And given how close it was that Alabama got in over OKST, it absolutely was a popularity contest. Why pretend otherwise? Why not just go for the two teams that will make the best result for the BCS. Why even fool ourselves that there's some way a bunch of random coaches and Harris participants like Sandusky (before this year at least) can accurately choose who is more deserving?

The BCS championship is only about getting the #1 and #2 teams in the nation together as it's written right now. It does an okay job of that; the problem is figuring out who is #1 and who is #2, which is a fairly stupid process. That being said, there's no reason to think that Alabama was the #2 team in the nation based on the results on the field and the opponents they faced; the only truly great opponent they faced and beat they actually had to play twice, the second time after 45 days of prep work. To me, all that proved was that if you give Saban 45 days and even more anger to fuel his infernal rage he'll outcoach Les Miles.

Not that surprising, when you put it that way.

But as far as 'deserving' goes - come on. Is a team more deserving who didn't win their conference or their division? Meh.

Alabama clearly was one of the best teams in the nation. I don't think that's up for debate. At the same time plenty of very good arguments could have been made for anyone in the top 4 and even other teams than that to be the #2 team.

by lionsbob :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 12:22am

West Virginia got in because they won the Big East and they have an automatic bid. Houston did not get in because they didn't deserve to. Kansas State instead of Virginia Tech or Michigan makes sense.

The only argument to be made for the #2 team besides Alabama was Oklahoma State, I had no problem with Oklahoma State being put into the BCS game. I don't think the system is perfect, but I don't think that is Alabama's fault that they played the system and played well (and again I think Alabama was better than LSU the first game as well)

by Kal :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:15am

Sorry, meant VTech. Not WV. Still, same difference; they got invited because of ratings and traveling fans. It's not because they were somehow more deserving.

And it might not be Alabama's fault that they played the system well, but it just points out how horrible a system it is for producing a game that is both fun and fair. If you had the system in place prior to the BCS, you would have had LSU play Oklahoma State and Alabama play some at-large (probably someone like Stanford). If LSU lost and Alabama had won, they'd be the #1 team then too - the difference being that we would have had a lot more entertaining games going on. In this year, at least, the most entertaining matchup was not played.

And ultimately that's what is going to kill the BCS deader than anything. Not being unfair, not being incorrect, not leaving teams out. No, it's going to be that you get putrid displays of games you've already seen once after an absurdly long layoff; the unfairness is just a way to justify you seeing crap and saying how bad it is. Whenever they get it right - like USC/Texas - that validates the BCS a little bit. The more they get it wrong, the more likely it is that we'll see change.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 1:44am

Yes, a commercial athletic/entertainment event is mostly about what is most enjoyable to watch. That's why they sell the rights to televise it for a lot of money.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:13pm

Alabama will gladly play either Boise State or Oklahoma State. And beat the hell out of them.

Alabama gave up 300 yards rushing to a FCS team that runs an offense that nobody they plays runs, in a game they didn't prep for, with most of their starting DL out for. If it was a game they were concerned about (lets say Iowa State), it might be a little different story. But yes Alabama is lacking the balls to play either Boise State or Oklahoma State....

by Lance :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:04pm

Who said anything about anyone "lacking the balls" to play anyone else?

The point is nuanced and hard to get across on internet forums-- and in the end it comes down to personal preference-- but here it is:

The national champion is determined in a one-game playoff in which the participants are decided based entirely on the opinions of some voters who see only a fraction of the total number of games played on any given week, and who are almost certainly influenced by the opinions they see and read. This creates a sort of poll feedback loop, that continues on through the season. Thus, when a highly-ranked team that's supposed to be good loses unexpectedly, they drop just a few spots (after all, I saw on ESPN how good they are! So this loss is just a blip), but when a highly-ranked team that doesn't get national media love loses unexpectedly, they drop like a rock (they probably had no business being there, anyhow, because I haven't heard them mentioned...).

Now, let's turn back to the opinion of voters and media personalities for this season: it became clear somewhere before the first LSU-Alabama game that LSU was the best team in the country. Indeed, by the end of the regular season, there was talk that this LSU squad was an all-time great team. Indeed, an article appeared right here on FO suggesting that there was no need for a play-off because we already knew who the best team was-- LSU-- and the rest didn't matter. So we could just match-up LSU against whomever, and LSU would win, and ergo we don't need a playoff. Just YESTERDAY, on ESPN radio, you could hear someone plug how an LSU victory would make this squad-- given its accomplishments-- the best college football team ever.

Unfortunately, this mentality-- that LSU was the greatest team ever-- ran into reality: the "Any Given Sunday" reality. Amazingly, talk of LSU being the greatest team ever stopped. What I wish it would do is force us to accept that "greatest" monickers are impossible to demonstrate in a tangible on-the-field way. The New England Patriots can lose. Phi Slamma Jamma can lose. And yes, the LSU Tigers can lose.

Let's go back to our set-up, then. We've already accepted that simply voting a team #1 is not satisfactory; even though we think that a team is the best team of a given year, it's more satisfying to see that team match up against others. If this is correct, then how many steps backwards to we want to go before we switch from letting the capricious nature of polling and voting chose our number one to letting the result be determined through competition?

NCAA basketball has taken a broad approach, allowing some 69 of its 350 or so teams into a tournament. That's about 20%-- and not just the top 20%, but some mix of ca. the top 10% plus others that are admitted by virtue of other accomplishment (namely, winning a conference title). We can agree that 20% of the ca. 120 NCAA football teams into a tournament is unwieldy and unfeasible, and probably-- given the nature of the system-- not needed. But for me, the opposite direction-- picking just two out of ca. 120 teams is too small.

Again, you can say "well, Alabama and LSU were obviously the two best" but we have a ridiculously small sample size to work with. Teams play only ca. 12 games a year, and they play mostly against a small group of other teams-- and when they go outside of that group, it's usually in the very early part of the year, when, we can imagine, teams probably are still working out the kinks.

Experts (i.e. media personalities) may be happy in touting that they know for sure who the top two teams are, but then again, they make money by being called an expert-- they likely wouldn't have a job if they labored to explain that any number of 5 or 6 teams could or could not be the best. But anyone who thinks that most of the voices on ESPN or Fox Sports Radio really know what they're talking about isn't paying attention.

So for me, I don't feel comfortable with just two teams. Though unwieldy, I am more comfortable with a 12 team play-off. Since I admit that it's unwieldy, I'd take an eight or six team play-off, too. (In some years, four might be enough, but since we can't tweak such things year by year, eight or six might be better.)

Would Oklahoma State, Boise State, or Oregon win against LSU or Alabama? I don't know (yes, Oregon already lost to LSU-- but then again, so did Alabama...). But I would get much more satisfaction out of watching a playoff system than the current arrangement. I would also feel better from a historical perspective looking at playoff brackets. Seeing that in the 2011 season, Arkansas played in the Cotton Bowl gives little meaning; was the season a big success or not?

by Viliphied (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:18pm

Um, the post he was replying to...?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:24pm

Just in terms of a television event that has to be shoehorned in between NFL games, and Friday night not being ideal for maximum ratings, you likely do not want more than four playoff games on a Saturday. Eight teams seems right, 12 would be ok, with the top four seeds getting byes, but it adds another weekend. You could start the season on the last Saturday in August, give everyone a week off during the season, and still get the four remaining teams determined by the 2nd Saturday in December, but I'd still prefer an eight team format. The 12 team format really boosts revenue, however, so if they ever do go to a playoff, the larger format likely eventually prevails.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:29pm

Just not a fan of the larger format for college football. Plus one is probably my choice.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:39pm

When it gets to the point where we are now, where a team which finished 2nd in their DIVISION gets promptly voted into the title game, after the regular season, the current system has trvilialized the conference races beyond all recognition. A plus one would be an improvement I'd guess, but I think it still has the potential of giving a 2nd place finisher just as easy a path to the title game as teams that won their conferences, and I really, really, really, dislike that. Winning a conference should be extremely important to winning the title. I'd prefer making it a prerequisite, but we'll never get that.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:57pm

I don't think it has trivialized conference races beyond all recognition...of course I am also not a fan of a playoff system that would only recognize conference champions either.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:19pm

Why was there any point in publishing the standings in the SEC West this year, to say nothing of the SEC? Did the outcome of the overtime period in November have any relevance, not just in terms of who played in the title game, but in what they had to do to get there? That strikes me as the very nature of being trivial.

by AnonymousBoob (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:31pm

I just don't get this argument. Who gives a shit if the best two teams in the nation are in the same division?

Can anyone make a rational argument against Alabama being in the national championship game that doesn't involve the fact they are in the same division as LSU? I'll hang up and listen.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:37pm

Because it makes the winner of an overtime game in November have some relevance. I didn't watch the November game for the same reason I don't watch a UConn/Syracuse basketball game in January. I know it doesn't matter who wins, in all likelihood.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:26pm

In fact, it is worse that being trivial. Winning that overtime meant having to play Georgia, and risk one's BCS standing (nothing is ever certain, even the possibility of a Mark Richt team winning a title game decisively), whereas losing the overtime meant being sble to get a bye. One can hardly conceive of a worse system than what exists now. You'd do better by drawing lots to the title game from the top 4 seeds.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:36pm

The pre-BCS system was a lot more terrible.

Eh, I think some years you are going to have weird results. I think this year Alabama and LSU were simply 2 of the better teams in the country and the first game had no clear-cut "winner" (yes I know LSU won the game...) and people decided that Oklahoma State's one loss was by far worse than Alabama's one loss.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:40pm

I don't remember a pre BCS game where a top rated team would have improved their odds of winning the title by deliberately losing a game in November. That's what the BCS has given us.

by Eddo :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:46pm

I'm with you in general, Will, but this is not a true statement. Alabama's odds were hurt by losing to LSU in November; it's just that Stanford and Oklahoma State and Boise State all went on to lose also.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:53pm

Yes, if we assume the other teams went undefeated, which they did not. In the scenario that prevailed, the team that won the overtime had their odds of getting to the title game reduced by the time the SEC title game was played. On that Saturday, Alabama was in a safer position, because their field goal kicker sucked. If Saban had an operating crystal ball, snapping the ball over the holder's head would have been smart, to remove all risk of winning the game.

by Eddo :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:58pm

Sure, but you can't look at it that way when it comes to odds. The moment after the game ended, Alabama was in worse shape to finish #1 or #2 than if they had won.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 7:05pm

Sure you can. You can say we should avoid devising a system where, on the day the conference championship was played, we can see in retrospect say that losing an interdivisional game improved a team's chances of getting to the title game.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 7:02pm

Which was of course Alabama's goal. Lose the game on purpose to get rid of the risk of playing in the SEC title game and then hope that everybody else loses. Again it was an odd year, one in which 2 of the best teams in the country where in the same division.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 7:12pm

What is this, the 14th year? If 1 out of 14 is odd, then you have a much more broad definition of that term than I do. Look, we disagree. You think it is acceptable to have system for naming a champion, wherein not only is winning a division an unecessary step, but losing one can make the path easier. I differ.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 8:29am

Like the NFL, you mean?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 9:18am

Not at all. The NFL only uses divisions for intra-playoff seeding. D-1 has no subsequent direct elimination bracket.

You'll notice there's little controversy about D-1A, D-II, or D-III, other than which teams end up with home games.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 9:37am

Two division winners avoid a playoff game, and the others avoid a road playoff game.

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 1:25pm

But all that needs to be true for my point to hold is for it to sometimes be preferable to be seeded #5 than #3. Suppose the #2 ranked team and #6 ranked team are notably strong, and the #1 ranked team and #4 ranked team notably weak.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 1:49pm

I'm not clear how you are employing the meaning of the term "notably weak" in regards to the #1 seed. In any case the situation you describe still does not mirror what we faced this year in the BCS, where a team avoided a potential elimination game on a neutral field that actually favored the opponent, and avoided the inherent injury risk that attends any football game, by losing their division, while still being reserved a spot in the title game. It would be as if we made the Packers play the Steelers in Cleveland, exposing Aaron Rodgers and others to injury, and told them that if they lost decisively, they could miss the playoffs, while giving the Lions a bye week, safe in the knowledge that they were in the tournament, for finishing second in the NFC North. That's a really bad design

by The Voice (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:39am

Roll Tide! That was an amazing performance. Beating a team like LSU, which rolled over every team they played other than Alabama, was quite satisfying. I certainly understand those who think the game wasn't exciting, it wasn't. But congrats to my Tide for bring home another championship!

by Lance :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:48am

I'm so confused. I thought LSU was the Greatestest Team Ever in the Universe, Ever. I thought that this status made even playing some sort of "game" on the field against non-Greatestest teams (which, it's clear, was everyone else) was a giant waste of time.

Also curious is how now that this game has been played-- with it's VERY vexing result-- everyone has conceded that Alabama is the champion. In an earlier article on the BCS posted here at FO, most people nodded in agreement that LSU was the Greatestest Team Ever in the Universe, Ever and that having a play-off was moot, since it was clear that LSU was great, and everyone else was stuck at 3rd best (indeed, even forcing LSU to play in a single bowl game appeared to have been an insult). They objected to a play-off because there was no point: LSU was great, and other teams were lame, and having some sort of tournament only stood to get in the way of LSU's greatnessness.

But here we are, having watched this game, and all we're getting is "Wow, Alabama is really good. They're the national champions!" It makes me wonder: maybe a play-off wouldn't have been the giant disaster that everyone seemed to think. Perhaps people would watch and take interest and keep interest regardless of the result-- regardless of whether or not one team in the play-off is so great that they couldn't possibly lose. Because you never know: they just might.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:25am

Just for the hell of it, imagine if, on the second Saturday in December, Houston had travelled to LSU, TCU to OK State, Alabama to Oregon, and Stanford to Wisconsin. I think that would have been a lot of fun to watch, and I bet the t.v. rights to those four games would have been auctioned at a pretty damned high price. Imagine BCS chalk prevails (it probably would not, of course, which would have been entertaining), so on January 1st we see LSU against Stanford and OK State against Alabama. More fun still, and higher revenues still. Then, assuming BCS chalk again, THEN we get the rematch, after we have seen the Alabama defense prevail against the completely different styles, of the OK State offense and Oregon offense. If we did not see chalk prevail, it just is another example of why football is so much fun; the particular match-ups between teams, regardless of a generalized question of which team is "better" matters quite a bit.

To top it off, there is no way such a tournament, marketed by a t.v. veteran with a clue, would not draw in a lot more revenue than the BCS system currently does.

by Muldrake :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 1:33am

I am incapable of imagining a system where the SEC (or Pac-12) agrees to a system where they might have to play a December game in Madison or anywhere else in the north.

I would also like to point out that estimates are that a playoff would bring in about $400M extra a year...which sounds like a lot. But you would have to split that money amongst all FBS teams rather than the split between conferences that they currently have, so the major conferences wouldn't receive that much more. They'd get roughly $5M per team, but balance that with increased travel and actual academic concerns and it's not such a great deal financially.

And, honestly, with the ratings for the BCS games trending downward currently, there's no guarantee of that money and the fact that it is extremely easy to get FBS membership and jump on the money train means there isn't any guarantee that the amount the actual schools in the playoff get after the split would actually result in a positive balance.

That's what playoff proponents kind of gloss over...this is a political problem with the BCS conferences holding a lot of power and money with no real reason to part with it. That's why a real playoff is unlikely to happen. There really isn't any incentive for the BCS conferences to share power and money with the mid-majors and without the BCS conferences on board there is no reason for a playoff.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 11:07am

Parties can negotiate any split of the revenues they desire. Who knows how these conferences are going to shake out, but there is no reason why six conferences could not split, say, 80% or even 90% of the revenue, and depending on what is auctioned and how, that $400 million estimate may be entirely low.

Poorly managed cartels very frequently leave a lot of money on the table, and the BCS conferences are doing that now. For instance, giving a big chunk of money to the non-profit con artists who sit on the BCS Bowl Committees is just dumb. Yeah, there are a lot of players who have a vested interest in the status quo, often for entirely corrupt reasons, and it may take legal action to firmly set things in motion. A combination of larger paydays, and legal pressure, could do it, however.

The cost of five to nine extra road trips, balanced against another 400,000 to 700,000 tickets sold (we aren't talking about the Pulon Weedeater Bowl), at playoff game prices, meaning, conservatively, an extra 20 million to 70 million in ticket sale revenue alone, is not a concern, at least for anyone who actually is tring to maximize profit. We already have teams playing on the 2nd Saturday in December, with a bowl game on the horizon, so the academic issues are just disingenuous nonsense (ever see the travel schedule for BCS basketball teams?).

by speedegg :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:26am

The thing about LSU is that they played two very good out of conference teams: Oregon and WVU. Both times the offense put up 40 or more points and the defense held both teams to under 28. Bama stayed within conference and didn't play anyone good outside of the conference. So, LSU was the only team that you can compare across conferences and get a reasonable baseline.

And like someone else said, I would like to see Ok State go up against Bama or LSU. Last night was almost like amateur night at The Improv. Someone didn't come prepared.

by rj1 :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:47pm

"Bama stayed within conference and didn't play anyone good outside of the conference."

They travelled up and beat Penn State in State College 27-11 before the Sandusky crap occurred. Before the allegations came out and Paterno got fired, Penn State looked to at least be in line to be in the Big 10 title game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:22pm

You mean before everyone noticed Penn State didn't have an offense. They beat *Temple* 14-10 on a late TD. This was also before the Sandusky stuff or Big 10 season. Penn State also benefited from a hugely back-loaded schedule, such that their 8-2 start or whatever it was was largely a product of a string of cupcakes.

by rj1 :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 3:44pm

If a road game against Penn State is considered "not playing anyone out-of-conference" with a schedule that was probably made 6 years in advance and considering the typical non-schedule that big schools have out-of-conference, then I'd like to see who is in this mythical group of "anyone out-of-conference", unless you're going to try and argue that people in 2005 thought Stanford and Oklahoma State in 2011 were going to be national title contenders.

by Authentic Sellout (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:53pm

And to think in 2003, the Auburn athletic director must've crapped himself when USC got good all of a sudden and that opening day cupcake game turned out to be a whuppin'.

Hey, wasn't Nick Saban the head coach at Auburn at the time? He wouldn't have a hand in his team's out of conference schedule, would he?

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:10pm

Nick Saban never coached at Auburn. Do some googling next time.

by Authentic Sellout (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:40pm

Aah, you're right, kind sir. I got my coaches crossed between LSU-Bama-Ole Miss-Auburn. SEC coaching seems like an incestuous family tree. After awhile it's all the same.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:36pm

It was a fine scheduling decision. But this wasn't a vintage Penn State team. It turned out to have been more cupcake than beefcake.

by speedegg :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:37pm

Please. Linebacker-U lost it's shine long before the Sandusky thing. I thought their triple OT game against Florida State in the Orange Bowl was garbage, their loss to USC showed a basic lack of defensive game planning, and this season their signature win was against...Northwestern? Penn State represents a lot, but I don't think they've been an elite team lately.

by AnonymousBoob (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 6:33pm

Penn State was certainly better than Iowa State. I'd say they were on par with TCU, no?

Just don't get the arguments here and I am a Nebraska fan. To me, it was clear as day who were the best two teams in the nation. Hell, I'd venture to say that Oregon and Wisconsin were both better than Boise and Oklahoma State.

by speedegg :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 7:40pm

Yes. Penn State is a solid, consistent team that takes a beating when going against elite competition.

The point was that it wasn't a stretch for Alabama to schedule them. You knew what you're going to get with Joe Pa. On the other hand, LSU scheduled Oregon AND West Virginia in the same year. That's like Nebraska scheduling Texas AND LSU in the same year. You're not sure what you're going to get, but it's going be a challenge.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:10am

Penn State was certainly better than Iowa State. I'd say they were on par with TCU, no?

No. In fact, I think TCU was clearly a better team than Penn State, and has been for the last couple of years.

It's also worth pointing out that Boise beat the hell out of a Georgia team that was even with MSU and which gave LSU fits for three quarters. I don't see that Wisconsin would have done any better against OK State than Stanford did. Wisconsin and Stanford were remarkably similar teams this year.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:48am

Alabama's defense is obviously great, but really, more than a tiny number of defenses would have looked really good against an offense which had a qb that was making that many mental errors, absent an offensive line that simply gashed a defense's interior. Unless you want to make the argument that Alabama's defense is the only one in the country which could prevent LSU from being extremely successful between the tackles, LSU just didn't get enough production from qb last night to make scoring more than about nine points a possibility against any good defense. With that qb play, for instance, I don't think LSU scores much against Michigan State.

None of this is meant to detract from Alabama. With a competent field goal kicker, they are likely an undefeated team, fairly comfortably, from the strongest conference, which is a tremendous accomplishment. It strikes me as odd that they have not recruited more and better options to kick field goals. Hell, find some soccer player somewhere on the planet who'd like a four year vacation to Tuscaloosa.

by Overrated (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:06am

I'm pretty sure four years in Tuscaloosa is punishment, not a vacation.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:27am

Compared to some other places in the world? I've never been to Tuscaloosa.

by rj1 :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:45pm

Tuscaloosa's a nice city provided you can put up with the non-stop Roll Tide worship, although a tornado has torn up the city quite a bit.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:12am

I am a VERY casual observer of college football, but it has always struck me as strange that college teams seem to pay so little attention to their kicker. Is it due to the talent discrepency between the top few teams in each conference and the rest of the teams they play that they rarely "need" kickers? It seems like every time I watch a college game a team is leaving points on the field because they don't trust their kicker to make a FG from more than 40 yards, or missing a mid-range FG.

As you said Will Allen, there has to be some high school student with a great leg, the ability to learn, and an interest possibly having a 20 year career in the NFL.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:31pm

The crazy thing is that many colleges--and we're talking top-25 schools, not the also-rans--don't even offer scholarships to kickers. They purely rely on walk-ons. If the kid turns out to be pretty good, they'll maybe give him a scholarship then, but they don't commit to anything upfront.

But the lure of the NFL for a kicker is an incredible longshot. Even with quarterbacks, there is the option of being a backup, but most teams only carry one kicker and the position doesn't tend to turnover as quickly as other positions.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:20pm

That settles it. If I ever have a child I'm teaching them to throw a change-up left-handed and how to kick field goals.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 2:40pm

Lefty knuckle. It may take them into their 30s to break into the MLB, but they'll be able to throw that 65-mph bastard until they're 50.

by SFC B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 3:11pm

I totally intended to include a knuckler in their learning. I figure the knuckler was a part of pitchers' arsenals until the 60s-70s, there is no reason, other than the status quo, that pitchers don't include it as a pitch nowadays. Some marginal prospect is going to add a knuckleball and wind up winning 17+ games because batters won't be able to sit on their change-up since they won't know if the 70 mph pitch they're seeing is going to stay its course or is going to drop 5 inches.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:52pm

You're Todd Marinovich's dad, aren't you?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:41pm

To be entirely serious, the actual enforcement of the no-spitballs rule made throwing an effective knuckler *much* harder.

As a more practical matter, knucklers are discriminated against in the minors and when drafting, because scouts hate their measurables and coaches can't teach the knuckle.

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:16pm

Cade Foster, the kicker who sucks for Alabama, is a scholarship player. In fact the past couple of kickers Alabama has given scholarships to out of school have been god awful. Walk-ons like Jamie Christensen, Leigh Tiffin, and Jeremy Shelley have been better.

by The Voice (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:19am

Alabama is lucky like Nolan Ryan was lucky that every game he pitched, the other team didn't get any hits. What you saw was a great defense making a good offense look really bad. Credit the poor offense if you like, but considering that Bama has done similar to pretty much everyone, I'm going with that trend :)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:34am

Somehow, you have determined that the word "luck" was written or implied. It was not. However, the reality is that a failure execute the center/qb exchange with competence, for example, is not indicative of defensive prowess. Neither is an option qb pitching the ball while the defensive p,ayer is still 6 feet away. If you wish to maintain that there are not at least 30 college qbs who could have executed that play better last night, you go right ahead. Alabama's defense is great. LSU's qb last night stunk the joint out, regardless of the quality of the Alabama's defense.

by The Voice (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:49am

The word luck came from the fact that I did not originate that turn of phrase, not in direct response to your post. The spirit is the same, I do not deny there was some false starts and a few miscues on LSUs part, but to present the results last night as a failure of an offense rather than a triumph of a defense is one way of looking at it.

Take the pitch. There is a pretty good reason why the option went out of style for so long - if you have a big, athletic DL/OLB who plays within a system, he actually can take both the QB and the runningback out of the play, thereby emilinating the advantage of the option. In that play, the defensive player hung back and did not commit too early. In essense, he forced the QB to commit to either the run or the pitch rather than vice versa. Had the QB not committed, other DLs would have arrived quickly. The position of the DL made it unlikely the QB could fake the run and still execute a successful pitch. It was really an incredible display by the defender on how to defend the pitch.

That's what you saw last night - it was far more commong to see that kind of play 30 years ago, but since the option is more of a novelty today than it was then when you see it you assume the QB did something wrong.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:35pm

When more than 10% of your offensive plays involve failure of basic execution prior to the qb securing the ball, that's a helluva lot more than a "few miscues".

Again, we will just have to disagree if it your position that there are not 30 college qbs who could have executed that pitch play more competently. In fact, I'd likely expand it to fifty, if I sat down and reviewed the qbs on a 120 teams.

by Dull Science (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:04am

To take nothing away from Bama, that was a gawd-awful game and a waste of three hours of my life. I don't expect to see an offensive explosive like the Alamo Bowl, but I do expect to see Championship Caliber football. That was not it last night.

Granted, LSU's O-line had a tough time with Bama's D-Line, but QB play and the offensive play calling didn't help. It was like Ohio State gave a clinic on how to prepare for a bowl game. The best tweet about the LSU offense was this: http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/864316/LSUSpinner.png

Really hate to bring it up here, but I would like to see a playoff system for CFB. I can see SEC teams pounding other SEC teams, but if any team had to run the gauntlet of Paul Johnson's triple option, Mike Leach's Airraid, Dana Holgorsen's and Chip Kelly's spread option, and USC/NC State's pro-style in a tournament, they're not getting to the top without a decent offense, a competent defense, and a professional game plan.

Damn, I need more coffee

by The Voice (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:15am

Those two defenses have made a lot of offenses look really bad, including each others. I know in these days of techmobowl, defense is not in style, but given how ahead both of those two units are from every offense they played, it's safe to say you'll see imitators going forward.

I remember quite well, it was only a little while ago, when those who watch the college game said the spread offense (running and passing) was ruining the game, making it little more than a track meet. All that same old, same old was boring. Well, how the worm has turned. The best defenses have not only caught up with that offense, they have surpassed it to the point where they make that offense look really bad (as LSU's did last night). Any and every DC will be making notes on how Bama did that, and will be producing copies of greater or lesser quality. It's not hard to see a few years from now the spread being completely gone from major college football and the kind of power offense you saw from Bama being the most effective against the new defenses.

Of course some other novelty will take its place, and you'll get posters complaining about what they are watching rather than marvelling at how the new innovative offense is making the kind of defense which looked great now look silly, and I'll have to make a similar post again...

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:37am

I love defense. I do like to see the center and qb execute the snap, regardless of the quality of the defense.

by The Voice (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:50am

That kind of miscue happens even in the pros. It was not the cause of what you saw last night over the whole game.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:27pm

LSU ran 44 plays last night. I'd have to review the game in detail, but I'd guess that roughly 6-8 times, or about 30-40% of the time, they failed to execute the snap competently, or committed a penalty prior to the snap. That sucks, in a way that is irrelevant to the defense, and there is no getting around it. When we get to that failure rate beofre the qb has secured the snap, before we even examine the mental errors after the qb has secured the snap, we are looking at a staggeringly incompetent offensive performance by championship caliber team.

by 40oz to Freedom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:49pm

OMG, I'm with you man. That was a high school offense out there. Couldn't execute the speed option, couldn't throw under center or in shotgun, didn't go max protect or throw deep, didn't do a toss play from I-formation after running power, and the QB does a weird speed-option-scramble-shovel-throw that gets intercepted and he yells at the HB for it.

That's crappy offense, even for the SEC.

by Lance :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:52pm

I'm not disagreeing with your sentiment here, but 6-8 of 44 isn't "30-40%", or am I missing something? (A third of 44 is ca. 15.)

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:16pm

I gotta stop sniffing glue in the morning; it makes me double all figures, and then round up. Make that 13% to 18% (I'll round down this time).

by speedegg :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:58am

Wut? Seriously are you high? Or did you miss the FO article on spread offense?

The spread system modified by Rich Rod, Urban Meyer, etc was done out of necessity for smaller schools to compete with the big schools that had NFL caliber recruits. There is a limited amount of talent and the smaller schools have to maximize what talent they do have to be competitive. It isn't going away, it'll be modified as defenses adapt.

The spread stretches the field horizontally with 4 or 5 receivers, forcing the defense to spread out and cover everyone. If they don't, throw a quick screen or slant to keep them honest. The offense already has 4 or 5 receivers out, so the other receivers are already in position to block for a good gain.

If the defense spreads out to cover everyone, the QB will run the ball up the middle. A big guy, like Time Tebow isn't going to be taken down by a CB or safety. You need a bigger linebacker. If the defense puts linebackers on the field to stop the run, the QB will audible to a quick screen on the edges or some kind of HB run. There's movement and misdirection that will use a DT's/linebacker's own speed to take them out of the play. Oregon (I think) runs a different spread from Rich Rod and gets creative with this. Their QB reads the DT versus the DE in other systems.

You'll also notice spread offenses are up tempo. That's not just to run up the score, that's to tire out the defense. Keep running up tempo, those 300 lbs D-linemen will get gassed and can't keep up.

And yeah, LSU's D-Line man handled WVU and Oregon, but give it a couple more years with more recruits and coaches tweak their schemes. Oregon was just in the last BCS Championship, we'll probably see more spread schools in the future.

by Authentic Sellout (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 5:16pm

"Any and every DC will be making notes on how Bama did that, and will be producing copies of greater or lesser quality."

It's easy to play defense when you get pressure with your front 4. Not every defense can copy that. DCs stay up at night on how to get pressure without opening up holes elsewhere.

by IU Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:44pm

If you want to call the LSU offense good, you might want to look at other offenses that had more success than LSU did last night. They include such college power houses as Kent State, North Texas and Vanderbilt. To be fair LSU did outgain Kent St 92-90.

As has been mentioned in other places, if this had been two Big10, Pac10 or Big12 teams it would have been called bad offense. The SEC has created a hype that they have super defenses. Oregon put up 335 yards of offense, but was undone by a kick-off return for a TD and 4 turnovers. West Virginia put up 533 yards of offense, but was undone by similar circumstances.

Congrats to Alabama, the National Champ who didn't win their own division or conference.

by 40oz to Freedom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:52pm

And the funny thing is if any other team played LSU last night they probably would've won.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:57pm

Eh, 51% constitutes "probably", so I don't know how useful that is. I think people tend to entirely overestimate how well they can predict outcomes, based upon a 12-13 game season with many dozens of teams, and limited schedule connectivity.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 12:53pm

Well, I want to be fair here to Alabama's team. The primary reason they didn't win their division or conference is because for some reason, even great college coaches make recruiting a placekicker an afterthought. I was EXTREMELY impressed with the poise with which Alabama's qb played, and their offensive line, and of course their defense.

Having said that, the offensive execution by LSU, in a way that is irrelevant to the opponent's defense, was really putrid.

by 40oz to Freedom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:07pm

True, just threw that in there for hyperbole.

That interception off a failed pass/scramble/shovel REALLY irked me and showed their lack of preparation. Even when Peyton Manning (or Andrew Luck) got whipped in his last bowl they didn't break down and do something that bad. I thought JJ would've been pulled at that point.

by sundown (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:18pm

Boy, do I hear you regarding college kickers. And my biggest pet peeve is when they coach as if they have a rock-solid kicker when they don't. The kid will have shaky stats coming in and will even have missed in the game, yet the coach will playcall as if a 40-yard field goal is a given.

by rj1 :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:39pm

"Having said that, the offensive execution by LSU, in a way that is irrelevant to the opponent's defense, was really putrid."

And they were undefeated going in! You look at their schedule, only 2 teams all year held them to less than 35 points: Alabama in the first game (9 points in OT) and this national title game (shutout), and Mississippi State (a game LSU won 19-6). The next best defensive performance against LSU was Kentucky giving up 35 points.

perhaps they got fat and happy and lost their execution in the month-long break but watching that game you're left with "this team's undefeated? really?"

by lionsbob :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:21pm

In every other sport, it doesn't matter that a team doesn't win their own division or conference. We just watched a World Series that had the Wild Card win it all. The defending Super Bowl champions squeaked into the playoffs and won it all. Yes I know that there are playoffs in those sports, and part of the process is through that...but is it really really that crazy that in the world of college football that the 2 best teams might have been in the same division? I do wish there was a plus-one system in college football though...

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 4:55pm

Yes, it would be crazy, for instance, to have the 15-1 Green Bay Packers, and let us imagine a 2nd best record 13-3 Detroit Lions, voted into the Super Bowl. It would be crazy in terms of providing the most entertainment, and it would be crazy in terms of generating the most revenue, and it would be crazy in terms of making winning a division an important accomplishment.

If we are going to allow a 2nd place conference or division finisher a crack at the championship, and thus render winning a conference a non-critical task sometimes, could we at least make the 2nd place finisher win a road game a long ways from home, against a top level team in an elimination game, and then another game against a top level team at a neutral site, before getting to the last game? Why would it have been such a travesty to have Alabama play Oregon on the West Coast on the 2nd Saturday in December, and then OK State in, say, the Fiesta Bowl, before getting to play last night? Would it have been just crazy, to use your term, to have LSU host, I dunno, Houston or some other lesser team, before playing, say, Stanford in the Sugar Bowl, to get to the last game? Would having another 100 million a year or so a year to divvy up be so bad?

by Viliphied (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:41pm

Notably missing from your post: "It would be crazy in terms of ensuring the two best teams that season met on the field for the championship"

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:55pm

"Best" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and people entirely overrate their ability to determine that, even under their own definition. I can measure entertainment value pretty objectively by eyeballs attracted. I can measure ad revenues. I know I like making winning a conference more important than a system which allows a team to be voted into the title game, right after finishing 2nd in their division, without playing an elimination game on the road against a top-tier team.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 5:41pm

When your entire advertising slogan before the season is "Every game matters" and your championship game is a rematch, it's clear that every game doesn't matter.

by Lance :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:57am

YES. Holy crap, I don't know how this hasn't been thrown in the face of every B(C)S apologist who brings this up. Every game matters, as long as it fits into the media-crafted narrative. And if it clashes with that narrative, we'll just ignore that mantra and vote how we want to get the game that we've convinced ourselves is the right game for the championship.

by rj1 :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:03pm

"Jefferson’s worst sequence came midway through the third quarter. On the initial play, and not for the first or last time, Jefferson ran an option that didn’t pull in the edge defender. The Bama linebacker, Jerrell Harris, forced JJ to pitch, but was far enough from the quarterback that he was able to peel off and stuff the pitchman too. That’s option football 101 -- the quarterback has to make the defender commit to one or the other before pitching. Quarterbacks who don’t do that either can’t handle the speed of the game or are afraid of getting hit. Jefferson fell into both categories."

Could easily be describing rugby here.

by geer (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 1:31pm

Give the love to Kevin Norwood for making the catches over Mathieu, not Chris Underwood.

by Kal :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 9:45pm

Robert - you really enjoyed this more than the rest of the season games? You enjoyed watching this game more than (say) Oregon/Wisconsin or Stanford/OKST?

I guess to me this was as much to do with LSU's incompetent playcalling and execution as it was Alabama's staunch defense, but ultimately even if Alabama (or LSU) would have beaten anyone else I would much rather have seen that beatdown.

by Kal :: Tue, 01/10/2012 - 10:06pm

Also - it wasn't just the first shutout in BCS championship history - it was the first shutout of any BCS game in history. It was quite the historic dominance.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:14am

The Sooners in 2000 did shut out the Florida State offense, but the Seminoles scored on a safety. That's the closest it got.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 01/11/2012 - 2:20am

Oklahoma's 13-2 win over FSU in 2000 might have been equally impressive. FSU was likely a better offense, but only scored on an intentional safety by Oklahoma.