Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wednesday 01/02 A.M. Quickie:
UGA, Colt, Carr, USC, Bowlin', NHL, More!

Today's Names to Know: Georgia, Colt Brennan, Plus-One, Lloyd Carr, Chad Henne, Tim Tebow, Joe McKnight, Tony Temple, Fiesta Bowl, Sidney Crosby, Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian, Varsity Letters and More!

Georgia waxes Hawaii: If nothing else, this 41-10 domination affirmed that last year's Cinderella win by Boise State over Oklahoma in a BCS bowl game was an exception, not a paradigm shift (sort of like George Mason making the Final Four in hoops two years ago, followed up by last season's fairly conventional results).

Here's where things get interesting: If you thought that Hawaii was overrated all along, then this blowout was nothing more than confirmation -- even if you had Georgia ranked higher than its current No. 4. The best you can do is rank Georgia No. 2 at the end of the year, leapfrogging the Ohio State-LSU loser and Oklahoma (even if OU beats West Virginia tonight... after all, even Hawaii didn't lose at home to lowly Pitt in its biggest game in school history).

However, if you thought (or suspected or even secretly hoped) that Hawaii was actually a legit team -- you were dazzled by the unbeaten record or by Colt Brennan's stats or by June Jones constantly telling you they were -- then you have to take the drubbing Georgia gave them and seriously consider giving the Bulldogs half the national title (the AP half), particularly if you had UGA ranked No. 1 at the end of the regular season (as I did).

Dud: Colt Brennan, who was brutalized. He threw 3 INTs, who was sacked 8 times and who lost 2 fumbles. Oh, and he threw for ZERO touchdowns, threw for less than half of his yards-per-game average and even suffered a TKO.

The upshot? Again: Either Georgia's defense is spectacular or Hawaii's offense was overrated. Even if you didn't buy that Hawaii was a national-title contender, you probably respected their pin-ball offensive proficiency; in that case, more points to Georgia, whose defense was even more spectacular than the offense.)

The other (fictitious) upshot: "Playoff" implications. After yesterday, everyone will be talking about what a game it would have been between Georgia and USC. I see it differently:

Yesterday's results repudiate the "Plus-One" idea: Please explain how you would pick two "Plus-One" teams from Georgia, USC and the OSU-LSU winner? That doesn't even factor in Oklahoma if OU destroys West Virginia. (You can't explain how: The Plus-One doesn't work.)

Even a 4-team playoff now looks problematic: If you had picked a PRE-bowls Top 4 for a playoff and you left out either Georgia or USC (which you would have to to accommodate Ohio State, LSU and then-3rd-ranked Oklahoma), you would have been laughably mistaken.

More Bowl Hangover:

Michigan beats Florida in Lloyd Carr's finale: This was my initial reaction to Michigan's emotional, draining victory over Florida. I'll stick with that.

As a college football fan, I feel good for Lloyd Carr and I feel good for Michigan fans; both needed this win really badly. So congrats on that, sincerely.

As a Gators fan, I'm obviously frustrated by a soft defense and an otherwise-explosive offense that turned timid on two game-deciding drives late in the 4th. (But credit a fierce Michigan D with making Tim Tebow's day a tough one.)

Dominance of the Day: USC over Illinois, 49-17. USC set a Rose Bowl record with 633 yards (and tied a record for points scored). It also served as a national coming-out moment for spectacular USC freshman Joe McKnight, who had 170 of those yards.

USC should be a consensus Top 3 team next season (but with a huge early-season game against consensus Top 3 Ohio State). Illinois returns almost everyone, plus a great recruiting class; if Mendenhall returns, they are a Top 15 team in '08.

What a new year for USC: Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian are reportedly engaged (says OK! Magazine via Page Six). I expect Yahoo Sports to be providing the most comprehensive coverage of the nuptials.

Stud of the Day: Tony Temple. The Missouri RB had a Cotton Bowl record 281 yards rushing to go with 4 TDs in a Tigers win over Arkansas. He did the near-impossible: He eclipsed Darren McFadden (105 yds, 1 TD).

Comeback of the Day: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders scored 17 points in the 4th quarter to beat Virginia, a team that had lived (and now fizzled) by the close games all season long.

Satisfaction of the Day: Tennessee Vols fans, whose team took care of the ball and took care of a tough bowl opponent in Wisconsin (meanwhile, they got a nice bit of schadenfreude watching the Gators lose to Michigan).

Bowls Tonight: Fiesta! Oklahoma vs. West Virginia. OU could have been playing for a share of the national title if they had been matched up with, say, USC or Georgia or even Hawaii (not that the Sooners would want a piece of a non-BCS team in a BCS bowl game again).

Instead they draw West Virginia, a 2-loss national non-factor -- a team without a coach (but still with a hell of a lot of talent on offense). Given the way that Rich Rodriguez ended his WVU career – an ignominious loss at home to Pitt to lose out on a shot at playing for the national title – WVU might be better off without him.

Oklahoma is motivated by a return to their field of ignominy from a year ago. Pick: Oklahoma.

NHL Winter Classic: Very cool (and cold!) The TV ratings still have to be counted, but the game set an all-time attendance record of 71,217, which is astonishing (if not surprising, given the novelty of the game and the passion of the fans in the Buffalo area). The ending was as dramatic as the NHL could have asked for: Sidney Crosby in the final shot of a shootout.

I tuned in from time to time: All in all, a huge success for the NHL. They learn a valuable lesson: When you are a "niche" sport, relevancy comes in one-game or one-day or one-moment bursts, not over the course of a sustained season.

(By the way, that's partly why I constantly refer to the NBA as now qualifying as a "niche" sport: They have the Christmas Day game, the Finals...maybe, the Draft and the occasional intriguing mid-playoff must-see matchup, but those are few and far between. And that's it, as far as appeal to casual fans goes.)

NFL: Chargers GM AJ Smith gets a 5-year extension. He'll outlast Norv Turner, that's for sure.

Reminder: Shanoff reading in NYC tomorrow night! I'm the opening act for Will Leitch and Dave Zirin. It's at 8 p.m. at Happy Ending (302 Broome) and it's FREE. Here's a link to all the info, including a far-reaching pre-event interview that is one of my favorite of all time.

(By the way, I predict you're going to be hearing a lot about Will's book "God Save the Fan" this month. It comes out on January 22, and it's going to be a huge sensation. It's very very good, which helps. Did you happen to catch the Page Six item about it yesterday?)

-- D.S.

19 comments:

Dave Levy said...

Can we all go back to not acknowledging the WAC? I mean, Boise State was clearly the anomaly and not the standard.

Here's the thing, does the Big East really have anything on the WAC anymore? If WVU gets embarrassed tonight, does the BE have any claim at all to being one of the top six conferences in the country?

John said...

I like the idea of playing an NHL game outside, but that just didn't make for good tv. If ever a game needed that glowing puck from a few years ago, that was the one.

As I was watching the Cotton Bowl I couldn't help at wonder why the NFL network couldn't have hired Pat Summerall instead of Bryant Gumbel. I know he's 120 years old and might not be as sharp as he used to be, but he still has the pipes.

C Gally said...

I love how there is never a mention of the #3 team in the BCS rankings, Virginia Tech. I'll stack our two losses against anyone else's two losses any day.

(Yes, I know we got destroyed by LSU. But if USC gets consideration after losing to Stanford at home and beating a mediocre at best Illinois team, then we should too.)

Randvek said...

Pretty much everything is a niche sport, football aside. It's hard enough to pay attention to our favorite team for 16 games + playoffs (or less in college), so how are we supposed to follow 30? 50? 100+? We're too damn busy anymore.

Matt said...

At what point does OU make your "consensus top 3" for next year? They are brining almost everyone back...

Dr. Zoom said...

I will be thrilled to see bowl season pass, if only because it puts an end to Shanoff's annual yipping mantra of "A playoff doesn't work! A playoff doesn't work!" followed by the obligatory breath-holding, fist-clenching, rolling-around-the-floor-whilst-kicking tantrum.

Jason said...

I don't think USC or Georgia should complain. Everyone likes to bitch about how the regular season is a defacto playoff - well USC lost to Stanford and Georgia didn't win it's division to get into the SEC championship. Maybe a plus one would solve the issue most years, but clearly not this year. Only a playoff would. And since there isn't a strong movement for that (among the NCAA) everyone's stuck with this. The coahes need to push harder on their ADs and comissioners if they don't like it.

Based on Hawaii's season, they deserved to be here. It could be that they didn't match up well against Georgia. Georgia could be really good, but all this game proved is that Georgia was quite a bit better than Hawaii, not that they belong in the national title discussion. If they want that, they should have lost 1 less game. Who's to say OSU, LSU, WV, VT wouldn't beat them? Or Michigan or Florida for that matter?

Dave said...

Dan, no one ever said a playoff would be perfect, especially a 'plus one' style four team mini-playoff run by the BCS (which would have been Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma; they're the top 4 in the BCS ratings, by the grace of some loony voting by coaches and Harris poll voters). The only requirement is that it be less bad than the two-team micro-playoff that is the BCS championship game. And more often than not, it would be. Sure, the system would arguably be leaving the two best teams out this year (Southern Cal and Georgia) as well as a few other major conference teams with records as good or better than the teams in the mini-playoff (Missouri, Kansas, WVU). But that's going to happen with anything short of a 16-team playoff.

Mills said...

I hate to say that I was wrong about Hawaii deserving a shot in the NC game...

So I won't... (even if I was...)

Mills said...

I also thought Summerall was still pretty good. I wonder if he took the last month and did intense prep work so he could remember the players' names by gametime.

regardless, he was salty.

CycleDan said...

Here is why we need a playoff - because people like me who are big college football fans couldn't get into 90% of the games. They are boring and meaningless.

Also after Florida showed what a classless bunch of guys they were at the beginning of the game, I was strongly rooting for Michigan when I was probably rooting for Florida before the game. What are they trying to be, Miami of the 1980's?

Signal to Noise said...

16-team playoff. Take all the bowls out of the hands of the sponsors and parades, and give it to the NCAA selection committee. Four rounds, all rounds except the final game give home field advantage based on ranking and strength of schedule -- so the regular season still matters.

And no noise about UGA being #1 right now when they can't even make their own conference championship. I'm not going to push for USC being #1 due to the Stanford loss and they at least won their conference.

Palmetto Insurance said...

I'm all for a playoff. But signal to noise, you can't take the bowls out of the hands of the sponsors - unless someone else is stepping up with a quite a few million dollars.

But you could "seed" the bowls into rounds - ex. Citrus hosts #2 v #14 or whatever. And let the extra minor bowls still have their day by inviting teams not it playoff (mid majors, other big conference teams not in playoff).

Just a thought - and Colt Brennan just got sacked again.

Bill said...

Dan, I'm curious as to how you feel about Meyer's post-game comments about his seniors. Apparently it was on the radio. Here is the quote:

"Well, for those guys who just put in their time and didn't make any real contributions, it's time for you to go. It won't be hard to say goodbye to some of those guys who just went through the motions. Now for those kids who actually bought into the program, and who made some sacrifices and contributions -- you know, like Bubba Caldwell....he's a graduate of UF and had a great career -- you'll really miss those guys. But just because you're a senior doesn't mean you have any value."

Nothing like throwing them under the bus eh?

Walter said...

While I personally think a sixteen team playoff would be the ideal method, I believe an eight team playoff may be the best chance to get a playoff system sufficiently large to matter but still be able to get buy-in from the conference commissioners. The eight teams should be chosen as:

- The six BCS conference champs
- Any non-BCS undefeated teams [minimum 10 D-IA wins]
- Remaining spots filled by highest-ranking teams

While I can hardly claim this is a unique idea, it has many significant advantages. First, guaranteeing the BCS conferences a spot will help gather support from the conference commissioners, which is (unfortunately) vital for any plan to succeed. Second, taking the BCS conference champs retains the importance of regular-season games (conference games, at least) that everyone is so afraid of losing in a playoff system. Third, giving undefeated non-BCS teams a spot guarantees every team in D-IA a chance to win a national title, the lack of which is perhaps the most unfair thing about the current system. Forth, this system would encourage competitive non-conference games, both because a loss would not eliminate the team from the playoff (they can still win their conference) AND because a quality non-conference win can boost their ranking for an at-large bid if they do lose the conference.

There are two potential difficulties I see in this system, both centered around those non-BCS undefeateds. First, what happens when three or more teams finish undefeated (highly unlikely as that may be)? Second, it discourages good non-BCS teams from playing good BCS teams, which is the reverse of the current bowl system, where BCS teams are afraid to play quality non-BCS teams. However, I believe both of these are far less objectionable than the catastrophe that is the current system.

Matt T said...

Last night was fantastic to watch, the defense was amazing.

As great of a season as it was and with how hot the team is, I am just happy, I don't really care to think about a playoff or if they should have been there or whatever.

I'm even more excited for next year.

But a lot of teams are returning players, not just Georgia. OU, OSU, UF and VA Tech all will be tough again.

Randvek said...

16 team playoff aint gonna happen. As much as some people might like it, you conveniently ignore one little fact: these guys are students playing football. Nothing like four extra chances to suffer a catastrophic injury just so you can crown a champion. If we start paying these guys (revenue sharing, whatever), maybe, maybe we can talk tacking on four extra games, but for unpaid students? No way.

Dave said...

The season length anti-playoff argument is a canard. When guys in high school, non-I-A colleges, and in the NFL all play more games than a 16-team playoff would require, you know it's nonsense to think I-A college football is special.

Dr. Zoom said...

Dabe -- bonus points for working "canard" into a comment. Thumbs up!