Monday, December 04, 2006

Strange days

Let me start off by saying that I'm OK with the result. We'll play USC in the Rose Bowl (always awesome, even under these circumstances) and Florida's getting a shot at the national title. That's fine, even if Michigan is a better team than Florida.

And it is: We paved fools and lost by three in the depths of Columbus. Florida kept a lot of its opponents in games until the end, except for a close loss to Cotton Bowl-bound Auburn. Michigan is demonstrably, if not decisively better, and yet not playing for the national title because it would look awkward to the rest of the country.

(It helps keep my bile in check that I like Florida and its fanbase, at least one member of which I know personally. If, say, Tennessee were the beneficary of this bullshit, I might not be so charitable.)

All of those nice things having been said ... it's pretty clear that Michigan got screwed. I mean, if the only change in Saturday's results was that USC won, would Florida have jumped Michigan for the No. 3 spot? It seems remote.

So you can be sure that some voters, at least, were attempting to avoid an awkward, potentially controversy-brewing rematch between Ohio State and Michigan. Which I can understand. I would have mixed feelings about a rematch. Half the time my brain would be saying "Wooo! Natty C!" And the other half would be thinking "Um, I know we just played them, but I guess they didn't win by enough so ... yeah, OK."

What irritates me is the fundamental silliness of the BCS, which these circumstances have served to highlight rather nicely Clearly, the voters in the Harris and Coaches polls don't take their duties as part of the BCS seriously. The purpose of the BCS is to match the two best teams, right? This is how it was sold when it was first conceived as the love child of the Bowl Alliance and the Polish Sejm.

There is nothing in there about preventing rematches. There is nothing in there about having to win one's conference. There is no clause allowing the nation's third-best team to be selected if the matchup between the two best teams is not aesthetically pleasing.

And yet, these _ and not Florida's OMG dominance and super-hard schedule _ are the reasons that this matchup has been selected. It's up to the Gators and (greatly relieved) Buckeyes to take what they can from their good fortune. This is making shit up as you go along. This is half-assing it. I think college football deserves people who take their duty as voters seriously, at least in rankings that determine a champion. No one can seriously argue that this is the case _ take a look at some of those Harris Poll votes. The coaches, who usually farm the task out to a beleagured flack, aren't exactly a disinterested groupd _ one of them couldn't even bring himself to vote! Dude.

Like Orson said, it's squirrels on waterskis.

But so be it. There are greater injustices in the world. If I could, I would accept an eternity of BCS bloody-mindedness in exchange for the repal of the Military Commissions Act or universal health care, or anything like that.

Michigan got hosed, and I'm upset at the unfairness of it all. But the result of that unfairness is still a matchup against USC in the Promised Land of Pasadena. Sure, it'll be the AAARGH Bowl for both teams, but it's still brimming with awesomeness. Or it would be if we had arrived at this in a sane way. so I could be all Hoot! and Woo Football! and spending my morning reading up on Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua instead of writing screeds about moronic voters and fundamental serious.

31 comments:

Crunk Raconteur said...

Wait a second, reading this I was waiting for the insinuation of which coach it was that didn't vote. I was sure you'd be filled with bile about it, but it seems as though you don't know the identity of the coach who didn't cast a ballot.

That would be Jim Tressel, of course.

I would have figured you'd be all over that.

(Disclaimer: For the record, I am not in favor of Tressel's decision to abstain, although I understand his reasons. So any arguments that come my way about how he should have voted, I already agree with.)

Flop said...

No, I knew who it was. It just would have been a distraction if I mentioned him.

I thought it was weak not to vote, although I understand his reasons, too. Still if you're going to go all "may this cup pass me by" over something like that, then maybe being a voter isn't for you.

No bile, though. It's just a drop in the bucket.

22280 said...

As I told Flop yesterday, it's one step above boxing.

That said, I'm not sure I see this mountain of evidence he cites of Michigan's superiority over Florida.

Flop said...

Well, most of it I base on the fact that Michigan plowed its opponents this year, controlling games almost from the outset, while Florida scrambled to hang on in most of its games. The one common opponent, Vanderbilt, put up a nice fight against Michigan but eventually lost by three scores. The Commodores then outgained Florida in a one-score loss.

That said, let's pretend they're almost so close as to be indistinguishable.

Now what? Well, did voters all just watch the SEC championship game and say: "You know what? That was totally impressive. Clearly, Michigan could do no better." If so, I have yet to see it. I'm sure that those voters exist, but if they do, I haven't heard from too many. (The guy who voted Florida No. 1 ahead of Ohio State after saying he would never vote a one-loss team ahead of an undefeated one is an exception, but hardly evidence of sanity.)

What I have seen are voters claiming such factors extraneous to the BCS process as "Michigan didn't win it's conferencne" "Michigan had its chance." "no one wanted to see a rematch" and Florida played an extra game (WOO WESTERN CAROLINA). Those reasons have nothing to do with the BCS, whose sole purpose is to match up the best team in the country with the second best. Even if Florida is, in fact, the second best team in the country, many people who voted them second will not have done so because they believed the Gators were better than Michigan.

CrimeNotes said...

They're both excellent teams and it's very easy to make a case for or against either's inclusion.

Crunk Raconteur said...

I do enjoy how my alma mater (Go Commodores!) has become part of the debate over who gets to get slaughtered by my favorite team.

Also, I noticed one thing in Flop's last comment, which he also pointed out in an email exchange when I was pointing out various comparisons between Michigan and Florida. I listed the records of the two teams, 11-1 and 12-1, and Flop harangued me for arguing that Florida gets points for having played an additional game. In point of fact, I was merely saying that neither team earns points based on record, because it's the losses that matter. In fact, I have not seen or heard anyone, anywhere, arguing that the fact that Florida won 12 games while Michigan only won 11 is a reason for picking Florida ahead of Michigan.

I think Flop's doing an able job of wrestling that particular straw man to the ground, though.

CrimeNotes said...

I think you're both doing an able job of fighting about a topic that has no clear answer.

double entendre said...

It is because the topic has no clear answer that people enjoy debating it. It would be pretty lame to debate which team is better: Florida or Mississippi St. I'm just saying.

Additionally, just because one implies a topic isn't worth debating doesn't make it so.

CrimeNotes said...

de(In)ed. But rather than spar over a definitive correct result, let's luxuriate in the ambiguity.

double entendre said...

Or, let people debate what they choose rather than attempting to dictate what should be discussed. If the topic is deemed not worthy of debtae by the commentor, simply abstain.

CrimeNotes said...

Stop trying to censor me.

double entendre said...

Hello CrimeNotes, this is the kettle. You're black.

Flop said...

Straw:

1. “For me, it was the fact that they played a 13th game.” _ Ron Zook.

2. "It just appeared they're 12-1, the other team is 11-1, I guess that's about it.” _ Steve Spurrier.

3. "[Florida's schedule] was more difficult, with an extra game." _ Bob Stoops.

CrimeNotes said...

If people don't stop trying to censor me, I'm going to delete all of the comments on this post.

double entendre said...

Bite me.

beast of burden said...

NO FREE SPEECH FOR FASCISTS!

CrimeNotes said...

Look.

aybe readers and "friends" are too close to the situation to recognize this. As I cope with the great sadness and sense of loss from the final BCS standings, I've decided that the only answer is that there is no answer. Those who search or an answer only compound their own suffering.

There is no No. 2 or No. 3.

There is no right or wrong.

There is no God.

tommy o said...

There is no absolute... absolutely.

Why isn't anyone debating for/against Boise State? They have zero losses and pretty much controlled the WAC including a very good Rainbow Warrior football squadron.

voidoid said...

Boise State's SOS is rated by Sagarin at 99. Other than an early season victory over Oregon State they didn't play anyone of note. There's no way to play for the title with an SOS that awful.

It will be interesting to see, now that an undefeated non-BCS conference team is likely to make a BCS bowl game, whether or not these mid-major schools beef up their OOC schedules to attempt to make a title push. Boise State opened with Cal State Sacramento who isn't even a heavyweight in the Big Sky Conference (I am trying not to disrespect the proud tradition of Hornets football). Fresno State is one of the only mid-major schools with an aggressive schedule - they played Oregon and at LSU this year, and if Washington wasn't so horrendous their SOS would likely be higher that 63.

Crunk Raconteur said...

I stand corrected on the 13th game issue...but I would still say it isn't really part of the debate. After all, the guys who said that 1) coach in leagues that have chapionship games and, as such, it benefits them directly in the future if that is given extra weight, or 2) are Ron Zook.

Rainbow Warriors! As I said to Flop, we should concentrate on the real issues out there, the things that unite us, like shock and amazement that there are two Division I-A quarterbacks out there named "Colt"...

tommy o said...

Some things Michigan fans to consider when dismissing Florida's SOS.

Lifted without permission (explicit or implied) from ESPN.com:
1. Florida beat nine teams that are projected to play in bowl games. Michigan beat six.

2. Michigan beat five teams that finished the season with losing records. Florida beat two teams with sub-.500 records.

3. Florida's 12 Division I-A opponents had a combined record of 89-57. Michigan's 12 opponents had a combined record of 84-61.

4. Michigan's best win is considered a 27-13 victory over Wisconsin on Sept. 23. The Badgers are 11-1 and have climbed to No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll, despite having played only one ranked opponent -- the Wolverines -- the entire season.

5. The 12 teams Florida defeated finished the season with 11 combined wins against opponents which were ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at the time the game was played. The opponents Michigan defeated claim just three wins against ranked teams (Notre Dame beat Penn State. Indiana beat Iowa. Vanderbilt beat Georgia. The Nittany Lions, Hawkeyes and Bulldogs, it should be noted, haven't been ranked in seven weeks).

6. The Gators went 3-1 against ranked opponents, beating then-No. 13 Tennessee, No. 9 LSU and No. 8 Arkansas and losing at No. 11 Auburn. The Wolverines went 1-1 against ranked opponents, beating a highly overrated No. 2 Notre Dame team (that lost to Michigan and USC by a combined total of 46 points) and losing at No. 1 Ohio State 42-39 on Nov. 18.

7. The Gators' average margin of victory against Division I-A teams was 13.5 points. They won seven games by 14 points or fewer, six by less than 10. The Wolverines' average margin of victory was 17.3 points. They won six games by 14 points or fewer, two by less than 10.

8. The Gators played Western Carolina, a Division I-AA team, and won by 62 points. The Wolverines played Ball State, which should be a I-AA team, and won by eight.

9. Since the Wolverines last played and lost at Ohio State, the Gators won at Florida State (The Seminoles are 6-6, but rivalry games are tough to win. Just ask USC coach Pete Carroll) and then beat the No. 8 Razorbacks, who defeated then-No. 2 Auburn and No. 13 Tennessee by 17 points each.

10. Michigan didn't win the Big Ten; Florida won the SEC. Winning your conference should be a prerequisite for playing in the national championship.

22280 said...

Boise State played and beat both Oregon State and Hawaii. That might not be as impressive as, say, sweeping the service academies, but it's important to realize that Oregon State and Hawaii are both top 30 teams - whether you go by the AP poll or the Sagarin ratings.

Oregon State is about as good as Virginia Tech. Hawaii is about as good as Georgia. Pretend Boise State is 12-0 and beat both Virginia Tech and Georgia ...

And I love the "they should improve their schedule" bit. That's a line floated out there time and time again by fans of major-conference schools, many of whom wouldn't give Boise State the time of day if the Broncos called and asked for a game. Games like that are way too risky for top teams - so Boise State has to take whatever games it can get. The Broncos can't just "improve their schedule" - takes two teams to set up a game.

CrimeNotes said...

I hope this argument keeps going, because I'm not able to post in the near future, and I want you all to be amused.

Proposed: Lloyd Carr is the shit and SEC is for Republican pussies.

Fight over that one for awhile.

voidoid said...

"Oregon State is about as good as Virginia Tech. Hawaii is about as good as Georgia." Weak. Virginia Tech is 10-2, with losses to Georgia Tech and at BC, and they destroyed Clemson and Wake Forest. Oregon State is 9-4, including a loss to Washington State. Yes, they beat USC, but the Trojans played like ass and still almost tied it at the end. Georgia, granted, is having a down year, but going 8-4 in the SEC is, at worst, a wash with going 10-3 in the WAC. Saying that Hawaii is "about as good as Georgia" is pretty bold. So I won't pretend the Broncos beat Virginia Tech, and I could maybe be persuaded that they beat Georgia and not Hawaii.

And why the stab at the service academies? They play with a lot of heart.

Regarding scheduling OOC games, I think it comes down to money way more than risk. But how does Fresno State always end up with a brutal OOC schedule and other WAC teams don't? At least playing on the smurf turf has kitsch value, Fresno is simply a shithole.

Flop said...

tommyo: Did you even read the post? Or any of the comments that came after it? It sure seems like you didn't.

If USC had won, would Florida be No. 3 and Michigan No. 4 right now? If you believe that it would, then we'll just have to agree to disagree. (And good luck with your African river recognition.)

tommy o said...

flop: i read the post and the comments. I don't know if Michigan or Florida would be number 3, but, then again, neither do you. You (and I) highly doubt it, but it could have happened.

Anyway, the point is MOO and everyone needs to stop hating on the MAC.

22280 said...

voidoid: I was using the same sagarin ratings you used to trash Boise State's schedule. Oregon State #17, Virginia Tech #18.

Also, despite your claim that Fresno State schedules the way all mid-majors should, let's not kid each other. Would an unbeaten Fresno State be playing for the national title right now? I think not. The nation was pretty torn on what to do with unbeaten Rutgers, which had a better schedule than Fresno State, so I assume if Fresno were undefeated, it would end up in the same boat as Boise State, Utah and all the other top mid-majors. It's just not possible for those schools to get a fair chance at the national title under the current system.

Do I really think Boise State is one of the top two teams in the country? No. But there's a principle involved: If you win every game you play, you should be in contention for the championship of whatever organization/league/division you're in until somebody beats you.

If there's a reason that SHOULDN'T be the case, I'm all ears ...

CrimeNotes said...

Do you see what you've just done as an argumentative technique? You've offered an invented reasoning as a definitive one -- any undefeated team must automatically be allowed to contend for a title -- and then tried to put the burden on someone else to explain why your reasoning is wrong, rather than offer an explanation of why your reasoning is right. As a technique, it's no different than if I said, "Any team whose only loss is to the Number One ranked team in the country is automatically entitled to a championship berth. Disprove me." You're not offering an opinion, you're stating an arbitrary standard and then asking someone else to disprove you. Instead of the conclusory standard than an undefeated mid-major is automatically entitled to be in a championship game, maybe you should go to the trouble to explain why, and then ask someone to evaluate the strenths of both your reasoning and your conclusions.

22280 said...

You're right - I was stating my reasoning as fact and placing the burden on others to disprove it, mostly because I assumed most sports fans would view my reasoning as self-evident. Every major sport in the world except college football subscribes to my reasoning (that you have to lose at least once before being "eliminated") so I don't think it's that arbitrary.

But here goes: I believe championships should be awarded in the most fair way possible, and by that I mean objectively - based on who wins and who loses. Teams that win every game they play should not be eliminated from contention because of the so-called experts' subjective opinion of their worth.

My system (outlined previously) would give all 119 Division I-A teams a chance to win the national championship. Everyone would know exactly what they had to do to stay in contention - win. The polls would be almost completely insignificant. So would the posturing and grandstanding by coaches. Every single team would know going into the season that all it has to do is keep winning and if it does that, it will eventually be playing for the championship.

The current system is a subjective one, it changes every year, and half the teams know going into the season they are not allowed to win the national championship even if they go undefeated. That goes against my entire concept of fairness.

Also, note that I wasn't saying Boise State should be in the national championship game - just eligible to keep pursuing the championship until somebody knocks them off. I'm using Boise State's plight as perhaps the best reason why there should be a larger system in place for determining a national champion than just narrowing it down to two teams.

I can't really "prove" my point any better than that. It comes down to opinions and feelings about what's fair and what's not. So if people think I'm wrong about my definition of fairness, then like I said, I'm all ears ...

CrimeNotes said...

Here's the critical difference. College football involves a huge number of IA teams that play no more than 13 games in a season. There is inevitably a disparity in the quality of the teams that they play. If there were a per se rule that said any undefeated team automatically is guaranteed a shot at the title in (let's say) an eight-game playoff, that gives an incentive for 1.) major conference programs to go further in scheduling weak non-conference opponents, 2.) encourages unafffiliated programs to schedule extremely weak opposition (hypothetical: you have a truly grant Notre Dame team; under this system they could schedule absolutely no one but 2-10 mid-majors and skate to a hypothetical playoff with fewer injuries), 3.) could hypothetically encourage good programs to become unaffiliated in order to schedule patsies (that may not be so crazy in light of the ACC/Big East realignment, though less of a risk with Big 10/SEC teams) and 4.) could exclude 11-1 Michigan, two-loss USC, two-loss LSU, two-loss Oklahoma, etc. etc. in favor of an undefeated Utah, an undefeated Boise State, undefeated Fresno State, etc. etc. I understand what you're saying, but i think that fairness is measured in all kinds of ways. An undefeated NFL team or a baseball team with a .700 winning percentage is guaranteed to have faced opposition equal to or in rough parity with its peers. Due to the existence of conferences, regional rivalries, and a limited number of games, that is simply not possible in college football. So you ask yourself: Is there more virtue in the incentives and consequences of your bright-line rule, or in a system that relies more on human judgment, with the understanding that the built-in flexibility may, on occasion, lead to a result that some find unpalateable?

22280 said...

I wasn't saying there should be a per se rule on behalf of undefeated teams. In the system I outlined two weeks or so ago, the champions of each conference would be thrown into a national playoff and nobody else would get in. Notre Dame would be in if it finishes in the top 12 of the computer rankings or whatever the rule is now.

I only brought up the plight of certain undefeated teams because that's the most prominent of the many injustices brought about by the current system. Teams shouldn't be knocked out of the national championship race without actually losing, and this is one reason why it's nonsensical to narrow the field from 119 teams to 2 in one stage. Maybe 40% of the time, two teams clearly rise above the rest. The other 60% of the time, you end up choosing the national championship matchup based on a giant guessing game.

I actually think my plan would do the opposite of what you say. There would be more blockbuster nonconference games because nonconference losses wouldn't hurt as much as they do now.

But really, I'd just like to see an objective system in place for determining a national champion, instead of a subjective one. Where you see flexibility I see politics and bias involved where there is no place for it.

The obvious downside to my system is that you'd have a few seemingly undeserving teams in the national playoffs - such as Troy, which won the Sun Belt Conference with a 7-5 record this year. That's a small price to pay.

I take a "better 10 guilty go free than 1 innocent be imprisoned" approach to this. Better to let a few questionable teams in every year than risk shutting out a legitimate national championship contender like Auburn two years ago.