Monday, December 5, 2011

weekend review, bowling edition

Caution - Less of a standard weekend review and more of a bowl weekend manifesto.

In most years I'd be silently gnashing my teeth and stewing over VT's selection to the Sugar Bowl.  Of course I am not doing this.  I am serene and happy.  Obviously this is because we're going Peach Bowling on New Year's Eve because of it, and now I can look at the bright side of everything.  The ACC gets extra BCS moolah, VT will probably get killed on the field and already got killed in the realm of public opinion, and on the chance they win (heaven forbid because that's my other team they're playing) the ACC will probably have two BCS wins under its belt.  Which would be a step or two closer to restoring the ACC's football rep.

Speaking of the BCS, it is Hate the BCS Day in blog circles, and if you don't say something criticizing it, the blog police come and take your license.  So here's my criticism: it is too bad the BCS didn't nut up a couple years ago and kick the Big East out.  Since that's totally irrelevant to this year's lineup, here's another one.  It is a conspiracy theory, so get your tinfoil hats ready.  The problem, as I see it through Zapruder's movie camera, is that having the SEC in the title game has become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  How so?  Pollsters think, "The SEC is the best conference."  The next logical step is to look at whichever SEC team has beaten all the other ones, and think, "Since they have beaten all these SEC teams, they have the best resume," and rank accordingly.  Lo and behold, the SEC shows up at the top.  Evidence for this?  The fact that people think teams like Arkansas are really, really good.  Objective, records-and-rankings-based lineups of their resume against, say, Big Ten teams like Michigan, don't hold up.  They just don't.  Take Arkansas - they squeaked past 6-6 Texas A&M, beat 2-10 Ole Miss by five, beat Troy by 10....and so on.  But their only losses are LSU and Alabama, so pollsters think that makes them really good.

The obvious and highly destructive counterargument to my conspiracy theory is that the SEC keeps beating other teams in the championship game.  Until they start losing consistently in it, people won't care that the middle of the conference is little better than the Big Ten's.  We will see how Kansas State and Nebraska and Michigan State fare against their SEC counterparts.

Surprisingly, though, the SEC-rematch championship game bothers me less than it bothers some people.  Wait - no.  It bothers me differently.  Even though I just spent a whole bunch time railing against the SEC-opoly, honest assessment compels me to say that I actually do think LSU and Alabama have the two best resumes in the country.  I haven't updated my blogpoll ballot with the full system to see if the Okla-stomping changes that, but it's at best 50/50.  Oklahoma State was below Oklahoma before that, though, so it's iffy.  As much as I wanted to punch Nick Saban's smug, classless face on TV yesterday, he's right - Alabama has more or less proven itself.

What bothers me is that the SEC hype machine spent all of 2006's final weekend screaming that there should be no title game rematch between Michigan and Ohio State.  Remember this?  #1 vs #2, Michigan lost, and "they had their chance.  They lost.  It's someone else's turn."  They lost by three (on the road instead of at home), which sounds familiar.  Now you have the SEC hype machine telling us that "this is the system, and it worked.  It gave us the two best teams."  Bah.  I wanted Oklahoma State because I like when a middle-class team gets a shot, but the slobbershow yesterday was nauseating.


Anyway, enough bitching.  People are saying that the BCS produced some terrible matchups this year and the bowl season in general looks flat.  I say, they're fucking crazy.  What is there to bitch about in these matchups beyond anything you might want to say about OkSt vs. Alabama?  Oregon-Wisconsin?  That's a great matchup!  Stanford-Oklahoma State?  That's a fantastic matchup!  Michigan-Virginia Tech?  That's a great matchup!  People who want Kansas State are completely splitting hairs.  Is K-State the better team?  Yes.  Kind of.  By a lot?  No.  Before this weekend I had VT nine spots higher on my ballot anyway. Don't even get me started on Boise State - they beat Georgia, which 15+ other teams in the country can do, and their conference schedule includes Colorado State, UNLV, and New Mexico.  When the third-best team in your conference is Wyoming, you do not have a strength of schedule argument.  The only semi-dud is Clemson-West Virginia, which admittedly looks more like a Gator Bowl kind of matchup than anything, but shit, they're bowl-eligible - they gotta play somewhere.

By the way, on Boise State, if anyone tells you the Mountain West is an underrated conference and Boise and TCU are deserving of consideration based on past results, ask 'em why the conference can't get any bowl affiliation better than the Las Vegas Bowl against a weak, middling Pac-12 team?  These bowl affiilations were not negotiated that long ago, and if the MWC was a really attractive deal, you'd think its champion - usually TCU, possibly Utah back when the affiliations were set - would be in high demand.

Oh, and anyone who says Michigan should be removed in favor of someone - even someone ineligible because of conference restrictions, if you like - should try me.  Gimme a someone and I'll tell you why you're wrong.

Lot of other really interesting matchups, too.  That's what bowl season does.  My own favorites:

- The aforementioned SEC games: MSU-Georgia, Nebraska-South Carolina, KSU-Arkansas.  Do you know, I think there's a real chance the SEC could lose all of them - not to mention the possibility that Ohio State will beat Florida and UVA will beat Auburn.  All those SEC teams - except for Auburn, admittedly - are matched up against comparable-level teams from other conferences.  Time to see what the SEC is made of - I say it is less dominant than believed, and that will play out.

- Penn State-Houston.  This is fascinating.  Penn State is probably the best defense Houston will see all season, so that's exciting; on the other side of the ball, Houston has got no defense whatsoever which matches up great with Penn State's useless offense.  The TicketScalper Bowl lucked into a good one.

P.S. - the party line is that Penn State fell so far because the Sandusky scandal made them poisonous.  I don't buy it.  Not that there aren't some grains of truth to that, but the fact is, and always was, that Michigan, Nebraska, and both B1GCG participants were going to be ahead of Penn State in the pecking order.  All it took to know that was to watch Penn State ugly their way through the conference schedule.  The logical landing spot would've been the Gator Bowl, but the Gator Bowl was never gonna pass on Florida, and that's who PSU played last year.  It's not at all illogical they wouldn't want to rematch 'em.  So they took Ohio State.  It's even possible Iowa wasn't available for the Gator, since they and the ex-Copper share a 4/5 pick.  At most, Penn State fell one slot below where you'd expect - I don't think their placement is entirely a side effect of Sandusky.  At any rate, it should be a very good game.

- I'm also diggin' on BYU-Tulsa, two teams which quietly put together winning seasons.

- And hey, how about the Hunger Bowl.  Illinois and UCLA bring a pair of interim coaches to the game because both of them choked away games like it was their job.

- And finally, the CS Bowl had their eye on this matchup for a long time and you knew they weren't gonna let it go: FSU/Notre Dame.  FSU is a very talented and underachieving team (uh-oh Jimbo?) and ND has got a lot of talent of its own.  That's a great pairing.

I'll leave the bowl stuff behind with this final thought: It's easy to tell that the media types only want to bitch and moan, and have no interest whatsoever in when things actually turn out right.  They profess to want things to "turn out right," but never care when they actually do.  You might even say it's an anti-BCS agenda, although I wouldn't go that far because when they get what they want and a playoff is eventually instituted, they will continue writing stories about who got screwed and why the system is bullshit.  How is it "easy to tell?"  Because once VT was placed in the Sugar, even if that was "wrong," the absolute correct team was placed in the Peach, and nobody gives a flying fuck.  On pure merit, who-beat-who, Virginia is the right team for the Peach, period, exclamation point.  And the closest thing I've seen to a comment on it from the ESPN-types is Heather Dinich sniveling that "this is sort of like being the boss for a day because the boss is sick."  Well, guess what: Nick thinks he can do everything from the golf course, Liz is too busy rocking out to Pandora, Mayor Dennis spends all his time at the water cooler, and Matt ignores the boss whenever he's speaking.  Maybe we're only in charge because the boss is out today, but guess who's getting the promotion come eval time.  There's still something to be said for outperforming one's peers.


I said I'd try and get to the last remnants of the high school season, and so I will:

- Max Valles is a state champion on one of the most dominating teams that state has ever seen.  They outscored opponents 474-19 and haven't allowed a touchdown in seven games.  The final score of their state final: 51-0.

- Andre Miles-Redmond and Hermitage suffered what I'd call a slight upset loss to Centreville in the state semis.  Not an earthshaking result, but a little bit surprising.

- C.J. Moore and Buford slipped, but didn't fall, and will play for the state title in Georgia next week.

And speaking of recruiting, I wonder when the last time was that I updated the recruiting board.  I'm guessing October.  London and co. got 2012 done in a hurry, so there hasn't been much to speak of.  But it's time to create a little movement:

- Removed FB Nathan Staub from blue, who committed to UNC.

- Removed LB Quanzell Lambert from red; by now I'm sure he and UVA have gone their separate ways, probably quite some time ago.

- Moved RB Wes Brown from red to yellow.

- Moved OT Kyle Fuller, ATH Cyrus Jones, and S Mike Tyson from green to yellow.

- Moved WR Stefon Diggs from yellow to green.  I'm not sure the chances of us landing him are really at green levels, but at this stage of the recruiting game I use the colors more as "who you should watch" anyway.

Tune in tomorrow as it will be part two of required football blogging: I present this year's version of my playoff proposal.


MoonPie said...

Even though I agree with you that the 'right' ACC team got to the Peach based on head-to-head matchups, I don't think that's the reason they got there. "Who deserves it most?" doesn't appear to be a question asked by any bowl committee at any time.

It just seems that there were no other teams that were economically attractive and available. GT certainly wouldn't have filled hotel rooms, FSU was clearly headed to the ND matchup in the Champs, Miami was staying home this year, thus leaving the few Tobacco Rd teams that were eligible, and aside from the great NCSU recovery, who among then was interesting this year?

GT justifiably argues that there was a chance to rekindle an old GT-AU rivalry, but I don't think that rivalries pay off any better for the Bowl's monied interests (this is a derivative failure of the above argument about 'who deserves it').

The Peach's pick seems obvious: the excitement of the UVA fanbase (relative to the the last few seasons) might actually translate into rarely-traveling Wahoos opening their wallets, Swofford probably likes helping the Mike London story get some more national attention; and the football matchup might be interesting enough for favorable ratings. And in the meantime there might even be a decent football game lurking in there somewhere.

I'd like to think that their decision is about who deserves it, because I've been a Wahoo fan since I was a kid and Dick Bestwick was pretending to coach, and I've gone all-in on this team for the first time since Welsh was around.

But I really think there wasn't much of a choice at all.

Anonymous said...

True, UVA was most deserving, and it's something for bowl honchs to say, just. The BCS and conference realignment have cemented the truth that dollars carry the day. Fortunately merit and money coincide this year.