Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A plea to AP voters – vote Boise State No. 1; Kudos to Bobby Cremins and Roy Williams

Okay, here we go again.

A year ago at this time I publicly pleaded with my brethren who vote in the AP football poll to pick Utah No. 1 on their final ballots for two reasons: First, you could make a case the Utes were as deserving as Florida after they blasted Alabama in The Sugar Bowl and second, to send a message to the BCS bullies that a lot of people are sick and tired of their system and aren’t going to take it anymore.

Not surprisingly, I was largely ignored. So much for independent thinking among members of the fourth estate.

Well, if nothing else, I don’t give up easily. I come before everyone today to ask those with AP ballots to please—PLEASE—vote Boise State No. 1 in their final poll. My reasoning is the same as last year: The Broncos went 14-0 and whipped Pac-10 champion Oregon, the one BCS school that had the guts to schedule them. They beat a TCU team in The Fiesta Bowl that had gone unbeaten in The Mountain West Conference which, if you check, did not lose a bowl game until the Horned Frogs crossed paths with Boise State.

TCU won on the road at Clemson and hammered Virginia—the only BCS schools willing to play THEM.

Now, you BCS apologists will talk about the depth of the SEC and the fact that Boise would finish no better than third in that league. That might be true. But there’s no proof is there? Until and unless the power teams are willing to schedule Boise instead of Chattanooga and Charleston Southern we can’t know what would happen if Boise played Alabama or Florida or, for that matter, Texas.

That’s the entire point of deciding championships on the field: there’s no arguing, you just go out and play. The BCS folks are so arrogant and so gutless they wouldn’t even give TCU and Boise the chance to play their schools in bowl games—matchups that would have been far more compelling than Georgia Tech-Iowa or, for that matter, Florida-Cincinnati.

Why didn’t the BCS want TCU and Boise matching up with their conference champions? Simple: Utah-Alabama; Boise State-Oklahoma; Utah-Pittsburgh. Can’t have that. Can’t have people saying things like, “Florida had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat Alabama and Utah dominated Alabama so…”

And please don’t give me the, “Alabama wasn’t motivated with no national title to play for,” excuse. How’d Florida look the other night bashing Cincinnati (a BCS school for those scoring at home) with no national title to play for? What’s more when was the last time you saw a Nick Saban team fail to show up to play—in a major bowl game no less? No. Utah just whipped Alabama. Given a chance Boise and TCU might have done the same thing, which is why they weren’t given the chance.

That’s why the AP voters should Just Say No to the BCS, which isn’t a pox the way drugs are a pox but is pretty damn sickening. They should vote Boise No. 1 and the winner of Alabama-Texas No. 2. The Alabama-Texas winner will still get a trophy and all the BCS hype as national champions and that’s fine. I can’t tell you for sure that Boise would beat either of those teams anymore than anyone can tell me those teams would beat Boise. And we’ll never know because the BCS bullies won’t allow us to find out.

Here’s the problem: For all of our vaunted claims of being independent thinkers, most of us in the media aren’t. Earlier this season I wrote to a friend who had not voted Navy in his top 25 but had five—FIVE—teams from the lousy ACC in his top 25. He wrote me back and said, “I know Navy beat Notre Dame but it did lose to Temple.” I pointed out two things in response: Temple might finish in the top four in the ACC and Navy had played the Owls without their starting quarterback, without their best slotback and had lost in the last minute. He wrote back, “Oh, didn’t know that.”

A week later he STILL didn’t have Navy in the top 25.

What’s more, there are guys voting in the poll who shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Guys who work for ESPN? Are you kidding? ESPN and the BCS are business partners. That’s like letting me vote for the best books of 2009. Let’s see, “Change-Up,” looks pretty good at No. 1, followed by “Are You Kidding Me?” and at No. 3 I’ve got the paperback version of, “Living on the Black.”

Most of the voters—the ESPN guys aside—cover BCS teams. Like my friend, they not only don’t see Boise State live (perhaps TCU since it played two ACC teams) but they don’t even see the Broncos on TV because they’re covering games every Saturday. Maybe they saw the Oregon game but I bet a lot of them said, “well, that was way back in September.” Who would you bet on today in a rematch?

You see, this problem’s not going away because the BCS schools will just continue not to schedule power schools from the non-power conferences. Can San Jose State get a game with a BCS power? You bet. Boise State? Not so much. Karl Benson, the commissioner of the WAC, who is one of the more honest guys I’ve encountered in athletic administration through the years, said earlier this season Boise had contacted TEN BCS schools about playing them the next couple of years ON THE ROAD and all ten had said no thanks.

So, here’s my final plea: spread this around. Go online and get the list of AP voters—it’s there every week, which is more than I can say for the ridiculous coaches' poll—and write to anyone you can and say VOTE FOR BOISE STATE. It doesn’t even take a lot of guts to do it. It isn’t like saying, ‘I’m voting for Villanova because it won the highest level tournament there is in college football.’ This is a team that met every challenge it was asked to meet. It is now 2-0 when given a shot at a BCS game and is willing to play anyone, anytime.

By the way, don’t be surprised when the final poll comes out if Florida finishes ahead of Boise State too. That’s how little faith I have in my colleagues. I would love for them to prove me wrong and vote Boise No. 1. But it isn’t going to happen. The irony is it would be a great STORY. Sadly, a lot of these guys don’t know a great story when they trip and fall over it. And if that upsets some of them—fine—prove me wrong and I’ll gladly shut up.


A number of people wrote me yesterday to ask why Norman Chad continues to annually take a gratuitous cheap shot at me in his Washington Post column. There are two answers: I really don’t know because I’ve never exchanged an angry word with him and didn’t when we worked a few desks away from one another at The Post years ago, and, answer number two, I’m pretty sure I do know.

My guess—and that’s all it is but others who know Chad think I’m right—is that Chad was supposed to go to Hollywood and become a big star writing screenplays because he’s so smart and so talented. I happen to think he is smart and talented but the screenwriting thing never happened for him and now he makes a living commenting on poker and writing the same, tired column he’s been writing for about 20 years, once a week. Twenty years ago he was funny. Now he’s just bitter. The column says the same thing every week: I watch a lot of TV, I’ve been divorced twice, I like bowling, I drink Rolling Rock and I’ll prove how smart I am by calling other people dumb. He’s even turned on Tony Kornheiser in his bitterness because Tony, well, is very, very successful.

So, about once a year comes the shot that I’m a no-talent and to be honest I think it makes Chad (and the paper) look kind of silly and I doubt if it changes anyone’s feelings about my work one way or the other. All I can say is if I ever end up doing commentary on poker please—PLEASE—ask no questions, just have me dragged away and put inside a small room someplace where I can’t hurt anyone.


And finally: Kudos today to Bobby Cremins for The College of Charleston’s stunning upset of North Carolina last night. There is no one—I mean NO ONE—in college basketball who doesn’t enjoy Cremins. He’s been one of the game’s true characters for a long time.

The line that best summed Bobby up came from an ACC referee who I asked about all the league’s coaches when I was working on, “A March to Madness.” Of Cremins he said, “if Bobby Cremins says you missed a call, you missed the call.”

Bobby almost never argues with officials. One reason for that is that he often can’t remember their names. When I was working on the book, I often sat next to the Georgia Tech bench. Almost without fail, Bobby would walk over to me a couple of minutes before tipoff and say, “John, do me a favor and tell me which official is which.”

It reminded me of Al McGuire who would often come over before doing a telecast and say, “give me one kid on each team I can talk about.”

The funny thing is, for all the wackiness, they were both so damn good at what they did. Apparently Bobby still is damn good at what he does.

Kudos also to Roy Williams for playing the game AT Charleston because of his long-standing friendship with Cremins. There are very few big-time coaches who will schedule a reasonably good mid-major on the road. Roy does it. He lost a game but my guess is his team will be fine and his career is still in pretty good shape. That may not sound like much but if I told you the number of coaches who have told me through the years, “NO WAY,” will they play a mid-major of quality on the road it would blow your mind.

So good for Bobby. And good for Roy too.


Tommy said...

Its crazy...now some football folks (writers) are starting to say Boise is poised for a Champ run NEXT year. So, in order to play in the BCS title game they have to win, what, 24-25 in a row (14-0 this year, 12/13-0 next)? Do they not know how unrealistic that is, how difficult it is to win that many in a row? Ask the Colts, they are scared to even make the effort to do it.

The whole system is flawed.

Gunnar said...

The system is ridiculous. I do like Boise State, especially Kellen and Kirby Moore. However, their schedule was very weak (not entirely their fault) and I just don't think they are as good as Florida, Alabama or Texas. Unfortunately, we will never actually know the answer.

Chad isn't funny or original.

charles pierce said...

The great Ben Jobe once told me a story about visiting the Cremins family in NYC. Bobby's Dad kept pouring a glass of the cra'tur, as the Irish say, for Ben, who is a teetotaller. Ben kept pouring it into a potted plant near the sofa. Seeing his glass empty, Cremins pere would pour him another. "I often wonder," Ben told me, "how that plant's doing these days."

Bummers said...

I agree with Gunnar; while I am neither a fan of the Boise nor a fan of Florida and if I had a vote in the AP poll I would most likely vote Fla. over Boise (not taking into account the Tex vs. Ala game). Reason: If they played at a neutral site, and the betting line is even, where would you put your money? No question - Fla.

John, I found your blog a couple of months ago and it has become a must read every morning. Having read most of your books (I can only think of two that I have not read; Hard Courts and A Civil War) your blog gives me a glimpse into your world. I find your blog smart and thought provoking, keep it up and we’ll keep reading.

Anonymous said...

What a great thing UNC did last night in going to play at CoC. Too bad it took long-standing relationships to get it done. I wish it wasn't so frowned upon, and I wish the big-boys werent so scared to go on the road against solid 'mid-majors'.

In reality, is a loss at Charleston really worse than losing to UVA at home?

Anonymous said...

John: Great calls on Norman Chad being a rectum and for Coach Williams daring to play in Charleston. Plus, they don't make them any better than Cremins. Love your work here. Sammy

Grizz said...

John, Any words on the remarkable 10-game winning streak by William & Mary that ended Monday night on a tip-in loss at home to UNC Wilmington? Rich Radford wrote a great article on it in the Virginian-Pilot. I'm neither a longtime Tribe fan nor a native of Hampton Roads, but their success combined with Old Dominion's annual prowess is getting me excited for local basketball in Hampton Roads this season.

Ed Tracey said...

John, it occurs to me that when you read about people such as Bobby Cremins, Al McGuire, Abe Lemons and the like .... you cross-over from the 'good people' into the characters.

And how? When you speak of a 'good person', you may recall an anecdote, or an achievement. But when you speak of a character ... well, people tell stories about him-her.

Such as, "Did I tell you about the time Character X pulled-off Y?" and the like.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the coming season when Virginia Tech plays Boise State. Two of my favorites and two teams that may both be ranked in the top 5 (or top 10) when they meet.

Shaun E in PC said...

WWBHS - What would Bill Hancock say to BSU after finishing the year 14-0?

A simple "congratulations on the season"? Another example of a flawed system.

Would UT or Bama have to win 26 straight to even be considered for the Championship Game?

qtlaw24 said...

Mr. Feinstein, keep beating the drum against the clowns who gave us TCU-BSU, Fla-Cinn, Iowa-GT instead of the alternatives. We need those with a voice to use them.

My goodness, people who know the BCS system stinks still cannot help themselves with the "Fla would likely beat BSU" mantra, ignoring the BSU-OU and Utah-Ala outcomes. Don't reinforce that type of thinking.

Dbl A said...

KUDOS, John!! Good writing.
To make it easier... just post a list of AP writers here. I'll see if I can take a look, but at this time, I think the votes are in.