Friday, November 7, 2008

President Obama, Stay Out of My Business!

One the eve of the presidential election, when asked what's the one thing he'd like to change in sports, Barack Obama fired this stunning rejoinder:

"I think it's about time that we have playoffs in college football. ... Get the top eight teams ... get a playoff, decide on a national champion."

Are you crazy? The Guru thought. What about me? How am I gonna put food on my table for me and my family? What am I gonna do in my spare time? Is this the "socialism" that Rush and Hannity were talking about?

I should've voted for John McCain on that alone!

But now that he's won the election, I'd make this urgent plea to our president-elect: Leave it be. You've got better things to do, like dealing with Ahmadinejad, Kim, Chavez ... not to mention the Republicans, than worrying about the toy department. Just leave us be.

Besides, with a playoff, how on earth would Lubbock - yes, freakin' Lubbock, Texas - become the center of the college football universe - two weeks running?

Yes, the BCS, as flawed as it is, makes every week in college football a playoff week. One loss you might be done. Just ask Pete Carroll and USC. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Trojans are going to chew on what might have been - for eternity - if not for a slipup on a moonless night in Corvallis in September.

It's so cruel, yet so delicious.

In the NFL, nothing really ever happens until December. You might have a few "statement" games, but no loss is ever fatal until it gets really cold. In pro football, regular-season games are no more than debates where people pontificate. In college football, every week could be Hamilton-vs.-Burr.

Which brings us to this week's duel: Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders may be No. 2 in the BCS standings, but few expects them to stay there for very long. After last week's dramatic last-second victory over former No. 1 Texas, the question is no longer if they're for real, but if they can avoid a hangover against a terrific but underrated Oklahoma State team this week.

Oklahoma State, ranked No. 9, might be the most under-appreciated one-loss team. Yet, the Cowboys will have a lot of say on who wins the Big 12 South. Besides the narrow loss at Texas and Saturday night's game in Lubbock, OSU also will host Oklahoma in the Bedlam game on Nov. 29. The Big 12 South title may well come down to that game.

If you're an Oklahoma fan, you want the Red Raiders to win this game so they will be undefeated and perhaps top-ranked when they come to Norman on Nov. 22. If you're a Texas fan, you want OSU to win this game so you'll have the most favorable situation in the case of a three-way tie. And if you're a fan of Penn State or any other one-loss team, you'd pull for the Cowboys, too.

Besides the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, 8 p.m. ET game, there are a few other BCS Biggies this week:

No. 1 Alabama at No. 16 LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET - This game was once thought to be a showdown to determine the SEC West winner. While that's no longer the case, and with LSU reduced to an also-ran after surrendering over 100 points in losses to Florida and Georgia, this game is still huge because of BCS implications. Florida needs the Tide to win and stay No. 1 when they face each other in the SEC title game - thus greatly enhance the Gators' chances to get into the BCS championship game. On the other hand, the Big 12 and USC are rooting for an Alabama loss - anytime, but the best chance is here - before the SEC championship game to take the edge off the Gators. But the Tide already got a break as this game will not be played at night, when Tiger Stadium is at its most intimidating.

No. 3 Penn State at Iowa, 3:30 p.m. ET - The Nittany Lions will have just two home games left after this one, so some consider this to be the last hope of knocking them out of the BCS title game. There is a glimmer of hope here - but just a glimmer: The Hawkeyes are 4-1 at home this year, losing to Northwestern. But these two have not played at Kinnick Stadium since 2003, with Iowa winning, 26-14.

No. 21 California at No. 7 USC, 8 p.m. ET - At the very least, the Pac-10 title could be on the line here (though Oregon State still has something to say about that). Bigger picture: The Trojans still have a slim chance of getting into the BCS title game, but an impressive win over Cal is a must - USC does not play another ranked team the rest of the season and needs all sorts of help being at the seventh spot. For the Golden Bears, this is simply the 2008 version of the BGISH: If they win out, the Bears will be in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1959 game.

Purdue at No. 18 Michigan State, Noon ET - Huh? You say. The deal is this: If Michigan State wins this game, the Spartans will go to Happy Valley on Nov. 22 to play for the Rose Bowl bid. Yep, you heard it right. With an MSU victory here, that game will decide the Big Ten representative in Pasadena (unless PSU goes to the BCS title game, of course). Sparty owns the tiebreaker in the event of a three-way tie involving Penn State and Ohio State - MSU played fewer games (zero) against Division I-AA teams than either PSU or OSU (one each).

P.S. Finishing the thought on Obama - without the BCS, would a Thursday night game between Utah and Texas Christian, televised on CBS College Sports, ever mean anything? As it is, the Utes are just two wins away from their second BCS bowl berth in five years. The BCS is at least as mind-blowingly addictive and satisfying as the Electoral College. Obama should be the first to appreciate that!


Clark said...

"The BCS, as flawed as it is, makes every week in college football a playoff week."

When I think of "playoff week" I assume that means that if you lose, you're done. Or at least that you've lost the chance at a championship. This is what I venture to say that most people think of. When an NFL or NCAA basketball team looses a playoff game, they no longer have a chance at a championship. In light of that definition . . .

Let's ask Ball State if each week is a playoff week for them this year. The odds of them going to the BCS Championship game by going 0-12: 0%. The odds of them going to the BCS Championship game by going 12-0: 0%.

How about Boise State? How many of their games this year have been playoff games, wherein if they win, they still have a shot a the BCS Championship game?

Let's ask Ohio State if their game vs Illinois last year was a playoff game.

Let's ask LSU if their game against Kentucky in 2007 was a playoff game. Or their game against Arkansas. Was that a playoff game?

Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and USC all lost games this year. Were those playoff games? Have they been knocked out of the championship picture?

I'm ok if people defend the BCS. They can talk about conferences, schedules, good losses, bad losses, injuries, polls and computers. But there is simply no way that the current system is "every week is a playoff". For some teams it is, for some teams there never was a playoff game, and for others, some weeks are a playoff game, but one or two of them might not be.

dethwing said...

I totally agree with Clark on this one. The regular season is NOT a playoff. If it was, when did Hawaii get eliminated last year? Or Boise State the year before?

It's fine to say the regular season is exciting, which it is. It's not fine to say it's a playoff. Of course, there are ways to make it one. A swiss round robin would make the regular season extremely fascinating as the number of unbeatens would be cut in half each week. But that would require people to give up things like conferences and rivals, and no one would like that.

Ute Fan said...

If I had know Obama said this, I would have voted for him!

You can tweak the BCS system forever and it will never be fair.

If it's bowl money at issue, incorporate the bowls into the playoff system. Those big money BCS bowls near the top, less exiting ones in the bottom or a consolation bracket.

Hopefully Barak can fix the economy, kill Osama, get out of Iraq, get the socialist health care plan in place, save the world, and implement "change" quickly so he can get around to eliminating the BCS too.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Sam, I know you know the current system is ridiculous and assume that you are being facetious.

Xeifrank said...

I agree, an eight team playoff.

Mars said...

You must be the only person in the world who actually likes the BCS. And you're biased!

Jim said...

BCS Guru.... Did you notice that Obama's comment was made in your "back yard" Jax, FL?

Anonymous said...

The problem with the BCS is it makes the conferences irrelevant and it leaves half of Division 1 out in the cold. It further concentrates wealth and power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many. In short it is totalerian. If we would have had a playoff in 2004 Utah may actually have earned a National title, not been given one like BYU in 1984.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think that LSU has been reduced to "an also ran"? They've only lost to 3 of the best teams in the nation. All 3 teams were ranked in the top 10. It's not like they've lost to Fresno St. or some lowly ranked nobody. LSU is still loaded with talent and can beat anybody in the nation. But not with the QB they have right now. An also ran is someone like Ole Miss or Syracuse. LSU is far from that level of inadequecy.

Sir, yYou owe LSU and apology.

Tom said...

Seems to me that with a legitimate 16- or 8-team playoff, that Utah-TCU regular season game carries with it the shot of a seed in the tournament. Duh. And an *actual* shot at a championship, as opposed to an "at-large" bid to the Fiesta Bowl. Double-Duh.

Steve said...

The BCS is flawed, as many people have said... we need the playoff, although I prefer 16 teams, so you can put in all 11 FBS conference champions. I'd even settle for 12 teams with the top 4 ranked teams getting a bye in the first round. Just get all of the conference champions in there. Since they play in their conferences to determine who wins, all of the debates are dead. We can decide it all on the field, like sports should be. Plus, you still get the "every week is a playoff" for the within-conference play. You have to earn your seed. Out of conference games would be important for any wildcard seeds.

And the "that's too many football games for college students" argument that I hear is weak as well. Some high school leagues play 14-16 games. Besides, it's only "a lot of football" for the 2 teams.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous LSU Fan,

"LSU is still loaded with talent and can beat anybody in the nation."

Apparently there are 3 teams in the nation they couldn't beat.

Florida, Georgia, and Alabama

CC: Texas Tech