Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blogpoll roundtable 4.4

The latest Blogpoll Roundtable is over at Barking Carnival, where it is a big week on account of them being a Texas Longhorn blog and it being Texas-OU week. I can never get over the yearly timing of this game. It always surprises me when it comes because mid-October is the time for churning through the conference schedule, not Big Rivalry Week. And by the way, Hook ‘em Horns, because Mom’s a UT grad, and I was brought up, if not exactly a Texas fan, at least to appreciate The Eyes of Texas, which is a likably ominous sort of song. And told that I could go to any college I wanted to, but not a dime of my folks’ money would follow me to Arkansas, OU, or A&M. Especially Arkansas. She hates Arkansas. So when it doesn't conflict with other, stronger loyalties, I like to see Texas win. But enough sucking up to the hosts, and straight to the answers….

Please observe the latest ESPN Heisman Watch. What gridiron presence draws your suspicion and ire?

Two answers: Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. Look, you can’t have both ends of a QB/WR combo, you just can’t. That’s a great way to say “product of the system”, and it’s Texas Tech, so you knew that already. I’m sure they’re talented guys in their own right, but clearly you can’t compare their numbers to anyone and say, yup, Heisman. If forced to draw suspicion and ire from only one player, I’ll go with Harrell. What’s he got that Kliff Kingsbury didn’t?

In World War I, British troops were famously characterized as “Lions Led By Donkeys.” What Donkey leading a college football team of Lions is leading his troops into the Somme again this Saturday? Who should replace him after the court martial?

As a Virginia fan, other Virginia fans will naturally think the answer is smack in front of my face. Sorry, too easy. And I haven’t quite hopped with both feet onto the Fire Al bandwagon yet. (Fire Mikey, yes. But I suspect head coaches are the point here, so I will not buck the system too much.) We’ll stay in the ACC though and go with Bowden…..Bobby Bowden. Here’s a man whose time to retire came and went and forgot to take him along. Go take a look at some of these recruiting classes chock full of shiny stars that they’ve put together since 2004, and then go see what that’s won them. 2004, 2005, and 2006 saw them 4th, 3rd, and 12th in the national rankings (per Scout.) 2007 should have been a great year – they were 7-6. They’re 4-1 now, thanks more to disgraceful scheduling than anything; if they finish the season with more than 7 wins again I will be surprised.

As for the new hire, I like FSU so much that I suggest they hire that bright young offensive coordinator at UVA, Mikey Groh himself. That should be good for another four or five years of FSU mediocrity. They should at least go outside the program. I don’t think Jimbo Fisher’s gonna work out for them any better than the sunset years of the Bowden era. Like Michigan, they need a shot of fresh blood, and someone who has led their current team to great success and would have to get used to recruiting in a place where guys don’t take any convincing to come to your school. Brady Hoke, say.

It’s conventional wisdom that it is “good for the game” when certain NFL teams - Dallas, Pittsburgh, Green Bay - or certain NBA teams - LA, Boston, New York - are strong. Others would contend that this is the arrogant self-importance of the traditional elite. With the resurgence of historic programs like Alabama and possibly Notre Dame (now believed to be turning-the-corner in 12 of its last 15 seasons) is it good for college football when certain name programs are strong? If not, why not?

Huh. As a Michigan fan and a Virginia fan, I see both sides of this coin very clearly. I lean toward yes, with a caveat. Let me explain. Say the BCS games shook out like this:

Rose: Iowa vs. Arizona
Orange: NC State vs. Pittsburgh
Sugar: South Carolina vs. Oklahoma State
Fiesta: Kansas State vs. Washington State
NCG: Purdue vs. Kentucky

All BCS programs. All old BCS programs. There’s even a traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 matchup in the Rose Bowl. Some of them, like Pitt, even have a modicum of well-known tradition to them, and all certainly consider themselves venerable pieces of the landscape. And it would be awful for TV ratings and interest in general. Boilermaker and Wildcat fans, naturally, would jump up and down like ditzy Price Is Right contestants that just won the jacuzzi. Not many others would care unless Purdue and Kentucky had spent like seven or ten years dominating and finally matched up. I mean, who would we hate? And no matter how epic a game they played, it wouldn’t compare to USC-Texas, Rose Bowl, 2006.

So there has to be some powerhousing going on. In fact, there generally ought to be quite a bit of it. I mean, which Orange Bowl was a more intriguing matchup? Louisville-Wake Forest? Or Michigan-Alabama? Don’t get me wrong. I love upstarts, especially when they are programs like Wake Forest or Mizzou or Kansas that are old-school teams, have been afterthoughts forever, and rise up to challenge the elite. It’s awesome and needs to happen – this is the aforementioned caveat. But when you get to the big intriguing games where college football lore is written, one of the teams has got to be an old powerhouse (USC, Michigan, Florida) or at least traditionally a very good program just a step below the elite (Wisconsin, Auburn, Virginia Tech) otherwise it’s not even half as much fun. Boise State over Oklahoma is a hundred times the story that Boise State over Kansas would have been.

A related question: what team with some record of success could fall off of the face of the earth and CFB wouldn’t miss a beat? Who fancies themselves a name brand, but aren’t?

I think Alabama did this just a couple years ago. What with LSU and Florida running rampant in the SEC, nobody noticed that Alabama stunk. Even now, and I voted them #1 in the Blogpoll, the vibe I get off of them doesn’t really speak of a return to Alabama glory of yesteryear….it feels more like a whole new thing.

Penn State is a close second here. They’re too much of a third wheel in the Big Ten, a conference which has always been Michigan, Ohio State, and eight or nine other guys. And in any year where Michigan/Ohio State decides the conference championship, which is most years, nobody would notice Penn State even if they were just the tiniest notch below.

Texas/OU in Big D. Okie State @ Mizzou. Penn State @ Wiscy. LSU @ Florida. We have Longhorn, Cowboy, Badger, Tiger - which dog is most likely to get it done?

The matchups here where the talent level is even remotely close to even are UT/OU and LSU/UF. I’ll take Texas, because it’s a neutral site and because Tigers and Swamps don’t mix.

What currently unranked team will we be hearing about soon?

Georgia Tech. Four winnable games in a row coming up. That offense is something the ACC hasn’t seen before and doesn’t know what to do with. They could be 8-1 going into Chapel Hill in about a month to face a possibly 7-1 UNC.

What ranked team will finish outside of the Top 25?

Kansas. In the first Roundtable this year I picked them as the team most likely to suffer a precipitous drop. I stand by this, especially after going into Ames, Iowa and nearly getting beat by that conference’s sorriest team. It’s not inconceivable they fail to win a game the rest of the year, but surely at least four losses are theirs in the regular season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the tech/unc game will determine first, second, and third in the coastal division.