Monday, October 18, 2010

If you are sick of anti-BCS or ESPN opinions, you are hereby forewarned of today’s topics

I know I pick on ESPN a lot and I know people get sick of hearing me complain about the BCS. If you fall into either of those camps this is a warning: Don’t read any further today. Come on back another day when I’m not quite so cranky.

I turned on the BCS poll show—or whatever ESPN calls it—Sunday night for only one reason: I was scheduled to call TCU Coach Gary Patterson to talk to him for my Washington Post column as soon as he finished talking to ESPN after the first poll was breathlessly released. So, I had to watch to know when Patterson was finished since ESPN is never on time.

The first thing I heard Rece Davis say was, “welcome to the most exciting regular season in sports.”

Oh please. Look, Davis seems like a perfectly pleasant guy and he’s fine at what he does. In fact, anyone who can sit next to Lou Holtz all fall and not completely lose his mind must be reasonably intelligent. (on Thursday Holtz declared West Virginia, ‘a great team,’ at halftime of the Mountaineers game against his son’s South Florida team. WVU was up 17-3 at that point only because USF’s quarterback made a boneheaded throw in the last minute of the half. Next thing you know Holtz will be campaigning for Notre Dame to play in a BCS game because it beat Pittsburgh).

So Davis begins the show by pimping for college football’s regular season which, last I looked, is the only one where OPINIONS not RESULTS decide the outcome. While I’m on that topic I have a question for my friends at USA Today: How can you continue to participate in the coaches’ poll when they have again decided to keep their final ballots secret? If ESPN wants to be compromised that way fine, but you guys are better than that.

Okay, so we’ve established the tone of the show: The BCS is great and grand and we’re here to talk about how great and grand it is. Fine. ESPN has a lot of money invested in the thing. I remember when I was still doing Sports Reporters a few years back and the BCS was on Fox, John Saunders used to rip it almost as regularly as I did. Being honest, I don’t ever see the show these days, not because I boycott it or anything (I’m still friends with the people connected to the show itself) but because I’m almost always swimming on Sunday mornings. That said, I wonder if John has been told to muzzle his BCS comments now that ESPN owns the rights. Maybe someone can let me know the answer to that question.

Now, while we’re ‘waiting,’ for the poll—can’t ESPN ever do ANYTHING without stalling? (see, James, LeBron—is Stuart Scott STILL screeching?)—Craig James and Robert Smith weigh in, acting as if they don’t actually know what the poll is going to show.

James goes on at length about how the losses suffered by Alabama and Ohio State the last two weeks really prove how tough these ‘AQ,” (that’s Automatic Qualifier) conferences are? Really Craig? Have you watched an ACC game or a Big East game recently? Not only should The Mountain West get an automatic bid before the ACC or The Big East, so should the WAC. For that matter so should the CAA, which if you are really paying attention, is the best-balanced and most fun conference to watch in the country at any level.

Once James finished his paean to the “AQ’s,” Smith weighed in, thoughtfully, ‘wondering,’ how Nevada’s loss to Hawaii and Air Force’s loss to San Diego State (a game in which the Falcons lost their best running back and their best receiver) might affect the status of Boise State and TCU in the minds of the voters.

So, let’s be sure I have this straight: if the No. 1 team in The Big Ten or The SEC loses, it’s a sign of how strong those conferences must be. If the No. 2 team in the WAC or the No. 3 team in the Mountain West lose to opponents IN the conference it must be a sign that the No. 1 teams aren’t that good.


In other words, if Wright State loses a game in conference play this basketball season, that should affect how people feel about Butler since they’re both in The Horizon League.

Look, I’m not trying to say the WAC or The Mountain West are as strong top-to-bottom as The SEC. They probably aren’t as strong as The Big 12 or The Pac-10 or (maybe) The Big Ten. That misses the point. Again, use The Butler analogy: Was the Horizon League as strong or as deep as the ACC last season? No. But was Butler good enough to beat anyone in the ACC—or any other conference in the country? Yes. That’s why it missed winning the national title by two inches.

Oh, there’s one other reason Butler almost won the national title: it had the chance to PLAY for the national title. TCU and Boise State may both go undefeated in the regular season—Boise for a third straight season; TCU for a second straight season. Neither team has lost to anyone except one another since 2008. And yet, you can bet that James and Smith and Davis and all the other ESPN big conference apologists will carefully explain to us why they just haven’t done enough to merit a shot at the national title.

If two “AQ,” teams finished undefeated, there’s no way either team gets a shot. Last year it was considered a given that Alabama and Texas were better unbeatens than TCU and Boise State were. Maybe. But how did Alabama do the year before in The Sugar Bowl against Utah? Are you SURE that Texas would have beaten either TCU or Boise State on a neutral site?

I’m not and you shouldn’t be either. Let them play and prove they’re better. That way we don’t have to roll our eyes when the ESPN boys shamelessly promote the big money conferences. Why do they do that?—because they are business partners with all of them. And, even if Gary Patterson at TCU and Chris Petersen at Boise State sit and roll their eyes every time they hear all the talk about resumes and strength of schedule (even though almost none of the power teams will play either school. The caveat to that is that Patterson says he can occasionally get a power team to come to Fort Worth because Texas is such a recruiting-rich state. The same can’t be said for Boise) when ESPN calls, they have to come running because they can’t turn down that kind of exposure.

The four letter boys do wield a lot of power, which is important when (I repeat myself) opinions are deciding championships instead of results.

Again, please don’t misunderstand me those of you who love The SEC or The Big 12 or fans in Oklahoma and Oregon. I’m not claiming that TCU or Boise State would beat your schools. I’m saying they deserve the chance to try.


Anonymous said...

How is Craig James still covering college football after he interfered with the coaching situation at Texas Tech?

Anonymous said...

I think our only hope of a playoff is for school Presidents to need the money more than now, and bring the football postseason into the NCAA. Currently, there is no financial benefit to the NCAA, and subsequently the programs, other than small money and fundraising talking points. Heck, if they bring the football playoff in-house, maybe they will quit threatening to expand the NCAA basketball tournament in the hopes of generating more revenue.

Also, have you read the 'Death to the BCS' book by the Yahoo! guys? Worth the read?

Max said...

You need to stop bringing up that Alabama lost to Utah two years ago. Alabama was coming off an emotional loss to Florida in the SEC Championship which ended their National Championship hopes. The Tide seniors could have cared less, they just went for the party to South Florida.

It would be like basing the results of the third place game in the Final Four if they still played that game as an indicator. Those teams just came off an emotional loss and could care less about being No. 3. That is why they stopped playing that game.

Tim said...

Max - you are good at excuse making. Congrats! Fact is, you can make an excuse at every loss any time a game is played but the fact is they lined up and played, and Boise State beat them. It's 100% relevant in today's system to determine the champion, unfortunately, and the fact that Boise State lined up and played on the 2nd biggest stage in college football and won vs. Alabama is a counter argument that they don't belong. If the players weren't ready to play for the stakes at hand, then blame Saban.

And you can bet all the money in the world that if college basketball was determined by voters, then every coach in America would get his team ready to play in a game that does help shape voters and computers minds for the next year. And while you ask how it helps next years computers? Yes, one of them (I believe Billingsly) does use the previous years finish to determine the starting point for the current year. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Go the site!

Anonymous said...

Why can't they take the top 8 teams at the end of the regular season and match them in a playoff and have them play in the regular bowl games that are played now. 4 teams play 1 game, 4 play 2 games and the last 2 teams play 3 games. They could be moved around the country to include some of the smaller bowls that are played in december and we would know who the national champion is on the field of play. Every other year we have a disputed national champion. I think the NCAA doesn't want to do it because they are afraid of the Boise States and TCU's and the other unknown teams that will come to the forefront in the future.

Max said...


When did Boise State beat Alabama???? Do some research before you start to rip me. All I said was that I would not put much stock in bowl games. This year I do believe Boise State could play with anybody in the country and if two teams from the Big XII, Pac-10, Big 10, or SEC do not go undefeated, they belong in the BCS Title Game.

Anonymous said...

Max: If Bama players "could care less," as you say, then at least they still had some interest in playing the game. I mean, it's not like the couldn't care less; in which case, I guess you would have a point.
All that aside, it's not the NCAA that decides the champion at all; they are complicit in the madness, but it is actually the BCS that awards the championship. See wikipedia for clarification:
As far as I can tell, there is nothing stopping the NCAA from starting it's own DI-AA style playoff for DI-A rather than farming the process out to the BCS. I guess they just go along with the big money players that run the bowls.
To the commenter that asked about the new book, "Death to the BCS," I have heard nothing but good things and plan to pick it up soon. Basically what it says is: University athletic departments are strapped for cash because all of the organizations that run the bowls eat up a lot of the revenue by lining their own pockets. If AD's, Pres's, etc. would just break away from the idea of bowl traditions, then the potential pot of money would increase substantially under a playoff system. The authors actually did some really good investigative work by looking at tax records and other financial statements to uncover the level of corruption involved. They also use sound logic to beat back every argument that BCS apologists use for their case.
Tim is right about Billingsly; he is a kook. Here is an excerpt from the book deriding the computer rankings used by the BCS:

Anonymous said...

BTW- Max is right in his correction of Tim: Alabama was beaten by Utah, not Boise St. Perhaps Tim was thinking of Boise's victory over Oklahoma 2yrs earlier in the Fiesta Bowl. Max was wrong about the the local of Utah's beat down of Bama; it wasn't in South FL (I'm assuming he was thinking of the Orange Bowl), but was, in fact, in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl. I guess Max and Tim both need to do a better job of researching before commenting.

Tim said...

Yep, I'm an idiot. Somehow slipped Boise in my thinking for Utah...just got fired up reading Max and wrote without thinking. Moral of the story - its stupid that it matters anything other than bragging rights for fan bases and teams. Unfortunately bowls/history matters and helps determine who plays for championships in subsequent years.

PeteWill said...

John, I think you speak for many of us when you comment about ESPN and its self-promotion. I also get a kick out of Dan Patrick when he refers to the "4 letter guys" as the "Mother Ship." The only way to solve the problems you raise and we all recognize is with a play-off. It's not the easiest thing to accomplish unless one is totally unconcerned with the number of season-ending games we ask these players to play and the length of the season. Plus, even if we get 8 teams in a play-off, the arguments will continue. Maybe the old system of relying on the polls with split decisions and all the arguing wasn't so bad!

Anonymous said...

John, your column was spot-on today. We at TCU have been dealing with this condescension for some time now, even though we do what we can, schedule those who have the guts to play us (ahem, Ohio State, Texas...), and win those games. Now that ESPN controls the BCS, they are actively working against us. They are a powerful foe with a mighty voice.

How do we fight them?

TCU is a small school. A private school. We have a rich and storied history complete with National Championships, Heisman Trophy and a national award named after one of our best players. Our accomplishments against schools 10 times larger than ours should be celebrated. David vs. Goliath has always been an American fascination, and our rocks have been unerring in these latter years.

Dutch Meyer, who coached the Frogs in the 50's had a saying, "We'll fight 'em till Hell freezes over, then we'll fight 'em on the ice!" ESPN is a powerful foe. How do we fight them?

Let us know. We are ready.

Michael said...

On the subject of ESPN, what is the deal with all the buses? During NFL training camps, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter both traveled from camp to camp by bus. There is a college football bus. There is a Monday Night Football bus. It seems like some ESPN producer heard about the Madden bus when he was a kid and thought it was the greatest thing ever, so he had to copy it at ESPN.

Anonymous said...

John, great column today. I'd love to see TCU and Boise square off for the national title but I don't thinks the "opinions" would allow this. Think of the lost revenues to the network and the BCS Conferences.

qtlaw24 said...

Keep up the frustration Mr. Feinstein I'm right there with you.

Those "power" conferences get guys like Mallet Heisman votes when you watch him throw horrendous picks that cost his team a win while a guy like Kellen Moore will get zero.

BCS/Polls mirror this small minded thinking.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure a playoff is the answer, though. Ask the players and the College Football purists. A bowl game makes it so much more exciting and brings passion to the game because you should have to go undefeated to go to the national championship. Make every week count. Going to a bowl game and hanging out in a different city for a week is great. The players get to have fun and it gives each school good exposure. In all honesty, I think that is why so many people love this game. Why so many people live for saturdays and are so heartbroken when their team loses. I agree that something should be done to get the TCU's and Boises of the world recognition, but I hope we keep the post season the way it is. With that said, you don't see Gary Patterson complaining. He goes about his business and wins ball games. Same for Chris Petersen.

Great article. Enjoyed the comments, need less emotion from the peanut gallery though. Go Frogs.