Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Sunday, December 05, 2004

90 minutes of blogging which i don't intend to lose, so as such, saved to notepad before a failed attempt at posting:

Just wanted to recap the current status of the national title game, determined by the BCS Standings. As it stands at the completion of the regular season and conference championships, there're three unbeaten teams who have a realistic chance play in
the Orange Bowl this year, the designated national championship game:
12-0 USC
12-0 Oklahoma
12-0 Auburn

In the game of football, one team plays against another team. Three-team games just don't happen, and as such, one of these teams, likely Auburn, will play in another game, without the possibility of being crowned the 'mythical national champion.' That'd mark the first time an undefeated SEC champion would not win the national title, or at least make the title game.

Controversy isn't new to the BCS, which has run up against four different problems in the past five years:
2000 - 11-1 Florida State is chosen to play 12-0 Oklahoma over 10-1 Miami, who defeated Florida State during the regular season, and 10-1 Washington, which handed Miami its sole defeat. Oklahoma alleviates the matter by posting a strong 13-2 victory over the Seminoles, while Miami's victory over Florida leaves the question of 'what if?'
The BCS makes changes to minimize the impact of blowout victories which encouraged title contenders to 'run up the score' and embarrass weaker opponents, dropping two computer ratings in favor of others, and adding a 'quality win component,' awarding points to teams that defeat other top 15 teams
2001 - After Colorado's 62-36 thrashing of Nebraska on Thanksgiving day, it appeared that the huskers would slip from the #1 spot, with Miami rising to #1 and Oklahoma to #2, giving the fans the Canes/Sooners matchup, albeit a year later than some would have liked. This was not to be, as OU fell to intrastate rival Oklahoma State the next day, giving a dynamic Florida team the boost to the top two. Then Florida played Tennessee in a game postponed by the events of 9-11-01. Night game, in the Swamp, and the Vols walked out on top.

Next up in the revolving door of title contenders: Texas. A victory over Colorado in the Big XII title game would push the Longhorns into the Rose Bowl, but a late rally directed by Major Applewhite failed to efface the deficit created by four turnovers before a Chris Simms injury forced a quarterback change that fans (with the exception of Scott Gerace, among others) were clamoring for.

Who's next? How about Tennessee, who, with a victory over LSU would claim their spot. Problem is, they didn't beat LSU. So the revolving door of title contenders stops with one-loss Nebraska, who had avoided the potential of losing a conference championship game by failing to qualify for such a game, skipping over one-loss Oregon and two-loss Colorado. This upset people, many of whom felt that a Colorado team that hadn't lost since a midseason defeat avenged in the Big XII title game deserved the spot over the Nebraska team that they had soundly defeated in late november. I was not among those, instead championing the case of Mike Bellotti, Joey Harrington, and the rest of the Oregon Ducks, who had been jumped in line, as I saw it (along with ESPN's Brad Edwards.

So the big two games were the Fiesta and Rose bowls.
Final scores:
Oregon 38
Colorado 16

Miami 37
Nebraska 14

Go away Big XII pretenders, you have no case. No dispute that Miami was the number one and the best, the only unbeaten in the land. But why couldn't the Ducks, ranked second in the polls going into the bowls, get a chance to play #1 Miami?

Changes were made, some which would pertained to the title game, and others which did not (ie - at-large requirements of 9-3 & top 12 rankings):
Here's what happened:
margin of victory was eliminated and the quality win component was limited to top ten opponents.

No controversy this year, as the BCS matched two unbeatens, 12-0 Ohio State and 12-0 Miami. The game was a studly 37-34 double overtime battle in the Arizona desert which wouldn't have taken place under previous set-ups obligating the Buckeyes to come to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, so the BCS could be considered a success. For 2002, that is.

No changes were made to the BCS formula going into the season, and going into the final week of the season it appeared that an unbeaten Oklahoma team which had dominated the competition would play either one-loss USC or one-loss LSU for the MNC. Then Kansas State shows up in Arrowhead Stadium and embarrases Oklahoma, going up 35-0 on the Sooners. In the meaning, USC locks down on UCLA and LSU crushes Georgia, leaving two one-loss teams who looked especially impressive since early losses and one who looked great all year, but terrible in their final game.

The Associated Press Poll:
1. USC
2. LSU
3. Oklahoma

The Coaches' Poll:
1. USC
2. LSU
3. Oklahoma

The BCS Title Game:
LSU v. Oklahoma

#1 USC would play #4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl, not the title game. This caused much uproar, as the team which both polls agreed was #1 was not even in the title game.

In the end, we had a split title. LSU beat OU and took home the title in the coaches' poll, while USC's commanding victory over Michigan kept it in the top spot of the Associated Press poll, where the writers had the liberty to do so.

Chaos? Or more changes?
No more strength of schedule, no more quality win component, no more consideration of overall record. Now, 1/3 of the formula is dedicated to each poll, and based on total points/votes, while the final 1/3 is left to the BCS computers.
Retroactive Implications: 2001 would've been Miami/Oregon, and 2003 USC/LSU
Present-day Implications: just win, baby, as some have put it.
So the BCS has avoided a repeat of last year's quandary, where the #1 team didn't make the title game, and managed to create a 1-2 game that wouldn't have been played in the past, provided the top players in the standings remain the same when released tomorrow. I also give them props for recognizing a strong Utah team, and getting them into a major bowl, likely the Fiesta. Would this have happened in the past? IMO, doubtful.

The only big problem is this: USC and OU started the season #1 and #2, and finished the season unbeaten. But so did Auburn, who started much lower in the polls, but went unbeaten in the SEC, with several commanding victories over top teams. The question is whether the revamped BCS gives the Tigers a fair shake at overcoming the preseason biases of the voters, who're typically resistant to dropping a top team in the polls without a loss. I'm not sure what the old systems would have indicated, but it's an interesting question, an interesting question that I shouldn't consider at the moment, given the proximity of my Pentateuch final.


  • At 9:06 PM, Blogger Tyler said…

    Wow, thanks for the thorough treatment of the joke that is the BCS. Ugh. Just thinking about Urban Meyer's $2 million a year contract with Florida makes me sick. Do they pay any of their professors that much? I know the football program generates a ton of revenue, but I thought universities existed to educate students and that sports were extra-curricular activities. I know that's naive - I simply mourn how our institutions of higher education are so business-like.

  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger work said…

    Not quite sure when I lost my naivete, but it was probably gone by high school. Wasn't till I was leaving college that i started thinking about its purpose, largely compelled by frustration trying to teach high school spanish amidst budget cuts which revealed priorities, specifically as it relates to the importance of supposedly crucial disciplines which are the first to be declared luxuries when cuts are made. (Damn. There's a lot of writing to do concerning the topic on this end, and a lot of rage coming back as i relive, so pardon the abrupt-pace change).

    Back to football, i saw both the plusses and minuses of football as business while working in Clemson's equipment room. On the plus side, it opened doors for guys who would not have gotten a college education/degree without athletics, and full scholarships are pretty amazing. But there's the downside in that while good opportunities were created, new problems also existed, and there's a certain amount of priority-skewing that goes on around major college football which, from the outside, looks absurd, but on the inside, is perfectly normal (see "The Program," specifically the Bobby Collins hearing, for a pretty apt summary of the atmosphere; if i rewatch it soon, i'll post up).

    As I recall, the Tiger Town Observer published a list of faculty and staff salaries on a yearly basis, and while Bowden was over a million, professors hovered between 80-150k, for the most part (there may have been some higher than that, in fact, there most likely were, given that my main interest was in the departments i studied in, ed/spanish/speech/religion, none of which were high-priority fields at a school known for agriculture and engineering.)

    Okay, there's no coherent thread in this post; just thoughts on three points that popped up in Tyler's comment.

  • At 5:14 PM, Blogger work said…

    Hey Tyler,
    Remembered this post after seeing today's Greenville News. Clemson released the salaries of its assistant coaches, and as it stands, the new offensive and defensive coordinators make $175k in base salary, slightly more than university president Jim Barker ($172,500, although he does receive compensation beyond that), and are the 12th/13th highest paid employees at the school.

    Will link the article once I get to a computer that allows me to paste.


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