Saturday, December 06, 2008

Saturday 12/06 (Very) Quickie: SEC Mania

Is Florida-Alabama the biggest regular-season college football game of the BCS Era?

First, I'm not even sure it should be considered a "regular-season" game. It's a conference playoff game. That said, it counts within the "regular-season" record. Let's assume it is.

Next, the affirmative evidence: The winner (presumably) goes to the national-title game, making it the closest thing to a national semifinal in the final week of the season. Plus, it's 1-vs-2.

That said: What about Ohio State-Michigan in 2006? That was winner-goes-to-the-BCS-title-game. That was 1-vs-2. That was the teams' final game of the regular season.

Where that game had the "Best-Rivalry-In-College-Football" vibe, this SEC title game feels like the grown-ups' table. Conference title games aren't everyone's taste, but they can be a Big Deal.

(Especially in the SEC, where -- at least for the last 3 years running -- the winner has gone on to the national title game.)

It probably does a disservice to both game to try to rank-order them. We can all agree that UM-OSU '06 was a Big Game, and that Florida-Bama '08 is a Big Game.

It certainly boosts the stakes for a fan of the teams involved, like me. But I can't tell you how many folks have either emailed or stopped me around my neighborhood (seeing me in Florida gear) who have mentioned that they aren't really big CFB fans, but are excited in today's game.

It's a Big Game.

Meanwhile, there is the little matter of Oklahoma having to take care of business against Missouri tonight. All signs point to that, but it is precisely the conditions where upsets thrive. By the way, Burnt Orange Nation is calling this the Bowl, appropriately.

Unbeaten Ball State lost -- lost -- to Buffalo in the MAC title game. Going undefeated is hard. The Cards were a great story, but this just underscores the idea that they were the No. 12 team in the country -- No. 12?! -- was ludicrous, the product of simply going unbeaten, no matter who they played. (Under that logic, a mid-level big-conference team might as well go independent and schedule the easiest 12 teams possible, stringing together their own "unbeaten" season.)

That said, let's not take away from Buffalo. Turner Gill is one of the great young head coaches in the sport, and he should have massive opportunities going forward. Syracuse would be insane not to look just a few miles away in the state and try to bring Gill over. He turned Buffalo into a winner -- Buffalo!

OJ gets anywhere from 6-16 years in prison: Karma is a beeeee-otch, ain't it, Orenthal James?

Greg Maddux retiring: I would argue that pound-for-pound he is the best pitcher of our generation -- and one of the Top 5 pitchers of all time.

Leach gets offer from Texas Tech: 5Y/$12.1M? My reaction: That's all? For turning the school into a telegenic Top 10 program? That's like $2.5M a year. I can't believe that Auburn -- or any other big-name school -- couldn't top that by at least a half-a-mil a year. In college football, it is all about the head coach. Just look at the two teams in the SEC title game. Not sure how Leach isn't worth top dollar.

NBA: The red-hot Blazers -- currently tearing up an East Coast road swing -- got a reality check against the defending champs... If the Wizards can stay within 2 points of the best team in the NBA (Lakers), they should be winning more games than they are... Fantasy Stud: Paul Millsap (17 pts, 11 reb, 7 ast, 3 blocks)...

4 pm...4pm...4pm...4pm...4pm...

-- D.S.


Matthew said...

My brother-in-law once made an observation (as a young boy) that I find appropriate to this endless "game of the year/decade/century/whatever" talk. He was looking at a flyer from JCPenny proclaiming their "Biggest Sale of the Year!" and he said, "Yeah, until their next 'Biggest Sale of the Year!"

Of course, the Florida-Alabama game is probably one of the biggest games of this year; big games at the end of the year are invariably bigger than the big games at the beginning of the year (*cough-OSU-USC-cough*), by virtue of their being at the end of the year and having an entire season's-worth of games and insta-history behind them, plus the immediate actual title-game ramifications (again, *cough-OSU-USC-cough*).

In reality, though, I cannot see how one could possibly argue that this is bigger (or smaller) than games like the OSU-Michigan game of '06 or whatever other game of the century you prefer. Whether we've got the BCS or a playoff, each college season is a universe unto itself, with the previuse season or two hanging around in the ether. It's hard to really compare Big Games in different seasons, because the universes are totally different.

The grown-up' table? Really? That smacks a bit of SEC-homerism, to me, which seems a bit out of place in this conversation. That game, which had hype leading into it that dwarfs anything we will see for the Florida-Alabama game, so it's a bit near-sighted of you to relegate that '06 version of the sesason-ending quasi-playoff game to some lesser, kids'-table status, don't you think?

What's great about college football is that the participants are not grown-ups, but kids. Putting a grown-up spin on today's game almost tones down its epic nature. After all, kids (and the childlike in spirit, as most true CFB fans are) are prone to embellishing the relative importance or epic-ness of a given game; saying this is the grown-ups' table makes it too serious, too unnecessarily adult. It makes it too close to the tasteless, humorless, totalitarian state that is the NFL, and that's no good.

Your conclusion, though, saves you, here. They're both Big--no, EPIC--games, so let's leave it at that.

I live in Buffalo, now (by marriage), so I was glad to see UB win that game, both for UB and for Gil, specifically. I'll be watching his career with interest, to be sure.

As for Maddux: I'm glad I got to see him pitch once, because I don't think I'll see another like him again. Maybe ever. As a parent, I appreciate his lack of ego and pure, youthful enjoyment of the game. He gave kids a fantastic example of how sports are meant to be approached, and just as much for his genius, he should be remembered for that.

Unknown said...

4pm? You're not excited about the VT-BC game?! Also, what exactly does pound-for-pound mean? I assume the point is that Clemens is better than Maddux because he weighs more, or alternatively, you're afraid to just say that Maddux is the best, which he obviously is. I also not sure what "our generation" means, but I was born in '84, so I barely remember Clemens in Boston and don't remember his great early years there. So for me, Clemens was the guy who pitched for Toronto that got talked about a lot, then he went to the Yankees and Piazza threw a bat at him, then he went to the Astros and had a couple really great seasons, then he became baseball's Brett Favre, except he did what Favre should have done and waited until the middle of the year to sign with a team. Clemens wasn't even the best pitcher in the AL during my baseball watching life (Randy Johnson) except for the very end of his career, which was, obviously, tainted (side note: I don't care at all about steroids, and think players should be able to do whatever they want). But for the purposes of comparing players, steroids are relevant. Also, as someone who never had a great fastball and liked to throw junk, Maddux was much more fun to watch. So I guess the point of this rambling, poorly conceived comment is drop the "pound-for-pound". Also, boomer sooner.

Michael W said...

The Blazers are looking good right now, but they aren't looking elite. You play that game in Boston ten times and they'd win maybe once. Boston and L.A. just look unstoppable. That classic matchup stuff was ok last year, but if we start having to choke it down repeatedly, it's gonna get old fast.

bird said...

Regarding O.J. Simpson and the sentence he got yesterday--Al Capone didn't go to prison for murder, racketeering, or any of his other "mob" activities. He went away for income tax evasion! Sometimes, justice is served, if a bit belatedly!

Countdown to the SEC championship game--1 hour. GO GATORS!!