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Catching Up is Hard to do – Musings on recent college football news

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It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted, and I apologize for that.  I wanted to take some time to write a few thoughts on some of the events in college football since I last posted.

BCS blows it again

No, I’m not gong to complain about who’s playing in the national championship.  Yeah, a playoff would be neat, but I don’t think you can make a case for Cincinnati, TCU or Boise State over Texas and Alabama.  I think it’ll be a great game and I’m totally looking forward to that one.

And maybe only to that one.

It’s not a shock, given the projections we’ve seen for weeks, but I think the matchups this year are horrible.  I can’t complain too much about Oregon and Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.  We knew that one was coming, and I think it’ll be an okay game.  One team’s great offense against another’s great defense, and another almost inevitable loss for the Big 10 in a BCS Bowl.  Why they keep giving them two BCS Bowls a year escapes me.

The Sugar Bowl is the one that I think has me most furious.  Cincinnati and Florida.  I desperately wanted to see TCU play the second place team from the SEC.  I think TCU has earned the right to play in a game like that and prove themselves against talent like that.  To say nothing of the fact that I think it would just be a great game.  TCU and Florida are really good on both sides of the ball.  I think it’d be a great matchup.  Instead we have Florida against a team that’s all offense and just lost its head coach.  This one’s a stinker.

The Fiest Bowl.  Oh, what were they thinking?  They could have taken Iowa, freeing up TCU to play in the Sugar Bowl like I wanted them to, but instead they took TCU and Boise State.  Now we have a BCS Bowl between two teams who are not from major conferences.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’ll be a good game.  This is the one I’m most looking forward to, aside from the championship  I just think both of them earned the right to prove themselves against major conference opponents, and I wish they could.  But, now you have a scenario where it becomes easy to dismiss the winner because they “only” beat TCU or “only” beat Boise State.  Plus, if I had my wish, I’d have Boise State playing either Cincinnati or Georgia Tech.  Two teams that play a whole lot of offense and not a lot of defense could be a nice selling point to a bowl people otherwise wouldn’t really watch.

And then the Orange Bowl.  The one that just keeps putting up the worst matchups of all.  Last year it was Virginia Tech and Cincinnati in truly one of the worst bowl game displays I’ve ever seen.  That game was pathetic.  Now they pit Iowa, who nosedived at the end of the season, against Georgia Tech, which found ways to eek out wins all season.  Nice manipulation by the BCS, though, pitting the ACC against the Big 10.  The Big 10 has lost six straight BCS Bowls over the last three years, and the ACC won its BCS bowl last year to break an eight game BCS losing streak.  It’s the bowl where one of these loses has to win, and I think it’ll be Iowa, finally breaking the Big 10’s losing record, because…well, look at Georgia Tech’s schedule and that loss to a not very good Georgia team.  You take the ACC teams out of the ACC and they’re just not very good.

Southwest Region wins Ingram the Heisman Trophy

We all know by now that Alabama running back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy this year, making him the first Alabama player ever to win college football’s most prestigious individual award.  As a Texas Longhorns fan, I initially wanted to be hurt on Colt McCoy’s behalf for the region that should have won him tons of votes giving the most votes to Ndomokong Suh.  Despite Suh’s amazing performance this year, we all knew he wasn’t going to win, so the Southwest Region (primarily Big 12 company) decided to make a statement by voting for Suh…well, just because, I guess.  I initially thought that McCoy would have done much better with more votes from that region, but it turns out that it would have made little difference.  The one who really suffered was Toby Gerhart, the Stanford running back who finished just 28 points behind Mark Ingram.  He had his lowest finish in the Southwest (4th) and second-lowest vote total of any region (just behind the 176 he got in the South.  He finished second, but Tim Tebow stole some points there).  So, but for the Southwest Region, Gerhart probably takes home the trophy.

As a side note, there are some strange point discrepancies I’m having a hard time figuring out.  When I looked at the by-region list, I had Ingram finishing with 1,295 points (nine behind his actual finish) and McCoy finishing with 1,134 points (11 behind his actual finish).  The count for Suh was dead on.  I’d attribute this to additional points gained from votes from former Heisman winners, but I calculated Gerhart to have 1,287 from the regional voting, which puts him 11 higher than he actually finished.  I don’t think you can lose votes from the former Heisman winners, so I’m gonna have to do some digging and figure out what happened there.

Brian Kelly makes a selfish, but completely understandable, decision

There has been no shortage of news coverage detailing Cincinnati head coach Brian Kelly’s move to Notre Dame.  There has also been no shortage of news coverage the ire of Kelly’s former players over his decision to leave them high and dry going into the biggest game that Cincy has ever played.  And I can’t blame them.  Kelly did leave them high and dry, and it stinks.  I was impressed when I saw him on Pardon The Interruption and Mike and Mike in the Morning at just how much class he showed in addressing his former players.  I think he has handled this with as much grace and diplomacy as you can in a situation like this.  Nevertheless, he did screw the guys that got him the Notre Dame job.

That said, I totally understand why he did it.  I think in this situation, all you can do is jump ship and try to handle things diplomatically in the press.  This is an important recruiting period, and it’s hard to tell Notre Dame, “Put recruiting on hold for a month while I go play in a bowl game for a school I already said I’d leave.”

Even if it wasn’t an important recruiting period, I understand the move.  Cincy is probably going to get annihilated in their bowl game.  I just saw an ESPN poll asking who will win the Sugar Bowl, and 76 percent of the country says it’ll be Florida.  West Virginia was the only state that had the Bearcats winning.  Even their home state of Ohio had Florida winning (by a narrow margin, but still).  If they hire him and he coaches his team to a blowout, think of the blowback from fans, the media and boosters.  In Chicken Little fashion, they will start screaming that they are doomed already.  Or, if he waits until after the bowl game to talk to them and he gets crushed, maybe they’re not so interested anymore.  At the very least, people would not be having their current reaction that it was such an astute hire.

I want to be on record as saying that I do think this is an astute hire.  Notre Dame has been looking in all the wrong places, looking at coaches who had extremely limited experience in the capacity of head coach.  That’s important at a place like Notre Dame.  I’m with Lou Holtz in saying that you have to demonstrate the ability to win repeatedly as a head coach to thrive at Notre Dame, and Kelly has done that.  At all three of his head coaching stops, he has led his teams to unprecedented success.  I think the Irish finally got it right.

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Written by Austin Swafford

December 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I think your assessment of the BCS match-ups is pretty good. But like I said before, the only thing the BCS is designed to do is get the #1 and #2 teams playing… all the other games are this weird free-for-all money grab which have no vested interest in good football. The only thing that really makes me happy about the teams selected this year is that it is all the teams that finished 1-10 in the BCS standings. I like that.

    I think Gerhart deserved to win the Heisman. I’m always disappointed that there isn’t a less vague voting standard for that award. It’s starting to feel a lot more like the “who of the star players on the best of the top ten teams had the best game on the last weekend” trophy. I like to look at the candidates this way… “How would each of them have fared the whole season if they’d been playing the same position for the teams of the other candidates?” That’s why I would have voted Gerhart, McCoy, Suh.

    I can understand Kelly leaving too. Cincinnati needs to do some serious out-of-the-box thinking to figure out how to expand their football program (like, move the stadium out of the middle of campus, or something equally drastic). That is, if they want to be a legitimate BCS contender instead of a spoiler. Kelly will be a good fit at Notre Dame, I think as well. Both sides seem to be making about the best of a crappy situation as they can.

    zeekgeek

    December 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    • I know it’s not. I’m not like Michael Wilbon thinking it’s some sort of conspiracy. But, even as a money grab, I don’t understand the decisions. It was not in the financial best interest for the Fiesta Bowl to have two smaller schools that don’t travel well and don’t grab much of a t.v. audience playing in their bowl. There’s a lot of ways in which these matchups just don’t really make sense.

      And I agree with you on Gerhart. I wanted McCoy to win, but only because I thought he got hosed last year. But, as a non-UT fan, I know how upset I’d be about a “makeup call,” so to speak. I’ve also been annoyed this year with people talking about teams losing and whether or not a player deserves the Heisman because of the team’s record. That’s not what it’s supposed to be about. Curiously, it’s definitely not what it was about when Tim Tebow won. So, I guess the lesson is that you have to be the best player on the best team in the country, or just the best player for Florida. Something like that.

      Austin Swafford

      December 18, 2009 at 3:39 pm


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