Saturday, November 22, 2008

College Football Saturday Live-Blog

What Oklahoma is doing to Texas Tech right now is absurd. It will be very hard for me to not rank Oklahoma as my No. 1 team on my BlogPoll ballot tomorrow. (BTW: Charlie Weis should be fired tomorrow.)

Florida takes care of business. Ohio State takes care of business. If Ole Miss beats LSU at LSU, does that make Florida's 1-point loss to them less of a nasty mark -- or does it make Florida's blowout win over LSU less of an impressive feat? Man, remember when UNC was supposed to be good this season? Poor Vandy: In Tennessee's worst season ever, the Dores still can't win.

Currently watching Florida work over The Citadel. Unfortunately, anything but a blowout will negatively affect Florida's perception among voters. So: Blowout away! 35 points in the first 16 minutes is a good start. They need to probably go 60+ while shutting Citadel out.

Obama's CFB Playoff? Curtis: No We Can't

Well, as long as the New York Times was going to reject my Obama-CFB Playoff op-ed, I'm glad they published one by my friend Bryan Curtis, one of the very best sports columnists in America.

(We have two distinct takes: Curtis dislikes the playoff idea generally; I want to borrow Obama's "open-source" campaign tactics to implement one.)

-- D.S.

Saturday CFB Picks and Viewing Guide

Viewing Guide:
1:30 Florida-Citadel (Game Plan)
8:00 TexasTech-Oklahoma (ABC)

Wasn't able to post predictions for today's games yesterday. Here you go:

(2) Texas Tech over @(5) Oklahoma
(4) Florida over Citadel
(7) Utah over (14) BYU
(8) Penn State over (15) Michigan St.
(9) Boise St over Nevada
(10) Ohio St over Michigan
(16) TCU over Air Force
(17) Ball St over C. Michigan -- Locked Wednesday
Ole Miss over @(18) LSU
(19) Cincinnati over (20) Pitt
(21) Oregon St over @Arizona
(22) UNC over NC St
Georgia Tech over (23) Miami -- Locked Thursday
(25) Maryland over Florida St

Saturday 11/22 (Very) Quickie

As first pronounced yesterday, the Knicks are SO getting LeBron in 2010. There couldn't be a bigger done-deal in the NBA. Cleveland fans are going to HATE the next 2 days -- and 2 years.

Otherwise, it's all lead-up to Oklahoma-Texas Tech.

More later

-- D.S.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gilbert Arenas: Losing "For The Better"

"I don't want to see them struggle, but if this is one of those years where we don't make the playoffs or we finish in last place... that's what happened to San Antonio and that's how they got Tim Duncan and look at them now... and that's for the better." -- Gilbert Arenas

You all know how I feel about this, and I'd react even if it wasn't from my favorite NBA player about my favorite NBA team:

I am a vocal proponent of the idea of tanking for draft position, under two conditions: (1) You weren't going to make the playoffs anyway, and (2) there is a transcendent talent available to you.

Unfortunately, the Wizards only qualify for (1), and Arenas' argument is undercut by his ignorance that there isn't a Tim Duncan or LeBron James in the 2009 draft pool. There isn't even a Derrick Rose, who -- for now -- seems pretty tank-worthy.

On the contrary, the draft class doesn't look quite as bad as the last time the Wizards drafted No. 1 overall (2001 -- Kwame Brown...ugh), but it is pretty unspectacular. A quick glance at DraftExpress tells the story: Ricky Rubio? Blake Griffin? DeMar DeRozan? BJ Mullens?

Not a single player in the draft class is transcendent in the way that Duncan or LeBron were -- maybe DeRozan, but shoot-first NBA swingmen aren't exactly hard to acquire. (Um, and the Wiz happen to have Caron Butler at the position.) Rubio plays Arenas' position; Griffin is undersized -- at best, the next Carlos Boozer. Maybe that's worth it.

If there was a game-changing center like Greg Oden or Tim Duncan available, then yes. The Wizards are desperate for a super-center, or at least a rebound-maniac power forward. But BJ Mullens? Yeah: Whoopee.

There is also the perfectly reasonable chance that the Wizards could end up with the league's worst record (OKC will have a say about that) and still not get the No. 1 pick. (And if OKC gets the first pick, there goes Griffin off the board.)

Arenas wasn't wrong on the theory; he was simply very wrong on the reality of the 2009 draft pool.

But does it matter? The Wizards are in for a terrible season, a Lottery season.

Is it really so wrong to look ahead to next year after watching 10 percent of the season fly by with just 1 win, to try to look for the silver lining in a disappointing Lottery year?

It might offend you that he did it 3 weeks into the season, but he's not wrong. Just ask Cavs fans if they regret tanking the season to be in a position to draft LeBron. Who could?

-- D.S.

LeBron to the New York Knicks a Done Deal

LeBron James to the New York Knicks is a done deal. They got rid of Jamal Crawford. They got rid of Zach Randolph. All they needed to land LeBron was the cap room, and now they've got it. Damn, he's going to look good in a Knicks uni. (And I say that as a hater of both LeBron and the Knicks.) It's a "when" not an "if" - and the "when" is Summer 2010. -- D.S.

Total Rumor: Chiefs and Vikings Like Vick?

So I get a lot of tips from readers -- most of the time it's a link to something interesting, but sometimes someone sends me a first-hand (or Nth-hand) story. One I got today was from a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy (etc... the chain of evidence seemed plausible to me) who claims Michael Vick told him directly that:

The Chiefs and Vikings have contacted Vick's agent about playing for them when he gets out of prison.

Now, this isn't much of a stretch: Despite Tyler Thigpen's fairly remarkable play recently, both teams could use a solution at QB. (Perhaps KC reached out to Vick's team before Thigpen heated up.) There are a couple other teams that could use Vick, too (especially if they want to have a "Wildcat specialist" QB!) Just felt obligated to pass along this totally unfounded, Nth-hand story.

Take it with your own brand of skepticism, but a team's interest in Vick is worth debating among that team's fans, whether or not it's true now -- for QB-weak teams you have to believe it'll be true eventually. So: Would you want YOUR QB-depleted team to pursue Michael Vick?

-- D.S.

New BCS Deal Stifles College Football Playoff Hopes; BCS Can Still Be Improved

Consider this a follow-up to yesterday's blueprint for change. Stipulating to the realities that the BCS system is in place for at least another half-decade, here are a few positive changes we can make to the current system.

Despite Barack Obama throwing his weight around, don't expect a college football playoff before the end of the BCS contract in 2013, if then. (Yes, really: If then. Make no assumptions.)

There is, however, the opportunity to remedy two significant issues with the BCS system: Who gets included and who picks them.

(1) Implode the "Big Six + Notre Dame" cabal and include any school that cracks the Top 10, regardless of conference affiliation. That both Utah and Boise State could both run the table and both end up in the Top 8, let alone the Top 12 (BCS cut-off ranking), yet one be excluded from a BCS bowl seems the height of ridiculousness.

Allow any team in the Top 10 automatic inclusion in a BCS bowl, regardless of conference affiliation -- even if that means the Big 12 gets 4 spots. (You can already hear the ACC and Big East crying foul -- buy them off by guaranteeing them BCS-sized payouts, even if neither league places a team in the Top 10. As for Notre Dame, shut them out and dare them to gripe.)

(2) Implode the current ranking system: The coaches have a hopeless conflict-of-interest. No one can still say who, exactly, the Harris poll voters are -- and what their qualifications are. The computers are a mish-mash of formulas. There is absurdly little transparency across all of them. Meanwhile, the activist AP poll -- which pulled itself out of the BCS because it didn't want to "make news" -- continues to... make news, by naming its own champ.

The solution: Create one, big, open-to-anyone national poll, and put the selection of the Top 10/BCS teams in the hands of the fans -- and anyone else who wants to participate. (At the very minimum, put the selection of the Top 2 -- the two teams playing for the title -- in the hands of the fans.)

The Obama campaign and the realities of social media have finally illuminated the pathway to having a national Fan Poll to determine the Top 10. This is something that I have been publicly promoting since at least 1997 -- it is entirely feasible, and the sheer scale ensures that no single constituency can impact the overall outcome. Trust the fans -- they know better than the self-proclaimed experts. (As a microcosm, just look at the BlogPoll -- when fans take Top 25 ballotting seriously, you get a very efficient outcome.)

You can sense that much of the current fan frustration about the BCS comes from a lack of a playoff, yes, but also from this lack of transparency, this lack of openness, this lack of control. My two minor suggestions to the current system help to remedy those concerns.

Sorry, Mr. President. Sorry, critics. Sorry, fans. You will not see a college football playoff for at least half-a-decade. But however naive you find my suggestions, it can't possibly be more naive than bellowing about a playoff when the nearest playoff will come halfway through the next decade.

What you can demand is a new openness in your current and flawed BCS system. And that's as good of a place to start as any.

-- D.S.

Friday 11/21 A.M. Quickie:
Texas Tech, Michigan, Giants, Lakers, More

"Playoff-ish": You all know that's my catch-all description for any college football game where both teams have national-title aspirations. I'd say Texas Tech-Oklahoma qualifies, and it leads today's SN column.

Picks come out later today, but I'm inclined to pick Texas Tech, even with the game in Norman. Tech's offense is playing at a higher level than anyone else -- even Oklahoma. And its defense might be the best in the Big 12 -- which is sort of relative, given how porous those defenses are.

(That said: It IS college football, which has an Occam's Razor of sorts: Whatever the biggest clusterf--k situation can be, usually happens. So even if Texas Tech beats Oklahoma, watch them lose to Missouri in the Big 12 title game.)

Meanwhile, Texas Tech's hoops team put up 167 on a college named "East Central." While it's fun to see such a pinball score, Pat Knight's team won by 50+, meaning that the 90-point second half was probably the worst exhibition of sportsmanship of 2008. What a d'bag.

That eye-popping total might just eclipse UCLA's choke-job in NYC against Michigan. I love Ben Howland and I'm almost always bullish on UCLA (see last year's November-to-March prediction they would win the national title), but their greatest strength -- defense -- means that their games will almost always be close, and close means the opponent has a puncher's chance.

The Lakers are unstoppable. The Pistons with AI aren't as much of a threat to the Celtics as the Nuggets with Billups (or, by extension) the Pistons with Billups.

I'm unmoved by Hank Steinbrenner's deadline for CC Sabathia to accept the Yankees' absurd offer. I'm a little more intrigued by the Nationals' interest in Mark Teixeira -- and the Maryland native's interest in the Nats.

(Speaking of DC baseball, I grew up on Thomas Boswell -- the guy is a baseball-columnist institution. But his support of Ryan Howard over Albert Pujols for NL MVP -- his argument -- was his tipping-point moment of his irrelevancy. Posnanski gave him what I would label a sympathetic evisceration.)

Looking ahead to Sunday: I am most intrigued by the Pats-Fins game, for a few reasons: (1) it has playoff implications; (2) they have one of the best rivalries in the NFL; (3) Miami revealed the "Wildcat" in their early-season clobbering of the Pats; will they go back to it again?

That said: I recognize that Giants-Cards is, on paper, the best match-up of the weekend. But since both teams are playoff locks, is it really bigger than Pats-Fins? Or even Titans-Jets, where the Titans look to continue their unbeaten season and the Jets are trying to stay one step ahead of the Pats-Fins winner?

Complete SN column here
. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carl Joseph and Myron Rolle

Have you ever heard of Carl Joseph? This might be some of the most dramatic sports footage I have ever seen. Meanwhile: you can hate FSU, but how can you hate Myron Rolle? Rhodes him!

(Speaking of wildly successful outliers, here's a very interesting Q&A Malcolm Gladwell did with ESPN the Mag. Hmm: Gladwell's next NYer piece is about college QBs?)

College Football Playoff? Yes We Can

The following was submitted -- and summarily rejected! -- as an Op-Ed piece off of Obama's interview on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. It was meant for a wider, non-avid-sports-fan audience. On Monday, there were several clever reactions to Obama's interview (this one I particularly liked), but they were more along the lines of "I want to be your Playoff Czar!"; none really offered a new direction for discussion. That's what I was hoping to do here. I openly recognize that there are lots of holes to shoot in this, but consider the larger point of populism.

College Football Playoff? Yes We Can.

"We should be creating a [college football] playoff system. So I'm going to throw my weight around a little bit." -- President-elect Barack Obama on "60 Minutes," November 16

To: President-elect Obama
From: The Head of College Football Playoff Transition Team

Nothing needs more of the "change" you talk about than college football's system for determining a national champion.

Your support for a long-desired 8-team playoff system is achievable. However, the existing institutional inertia -- even resistance -- is substantial. To create a college football playoff, you will have to answer two key questions: Which schools are included? And who gets to
decide which teams make the playoff?

The answers lie in the same populist, "bottom-up" solutions you used so effectively on the campaign trail.

Let's review the existing system: The two top-ranked teams in the Bowl Championship Series ("BCS") play for the national title.

The BCS comprises the teams represented by the six "power" conferences who negotiated the original BCS deal: The SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East and ACC, plus Notre Dame. Upon annual review, a lone representative of non-"power" teams may be allowed into the group,
with an unbeaten season (and some luck).

The system is, by its very definition, exclusionary. This season, two non-"power" teams -- Utah and Boise State -- are both undefeated and ranked in the Top 10 nationally. Only one will break through the class ceiling, and even then, there is no talk that either would be one of two teams selected to actually compete for the national title.

An even larger source of contention is the process to select the two teams that play for the national title. The top two teams are derived from a combination of two "human" polls (conducted among college football coaches and select outside experts) and the average of a
batch of rankings determined by computer algorithm. (Google, it ain't.)

The polling is opaque. Coaches are inherently biased. Experts can only watch so many games at once. Numbers baked into a computer program can never tell the whole story. Ultimately, sorting among half-a-dozen -- or more -- worthy contenders is perennially maddening to fans. The Associated Press thought so little of the BCS process that it removed its own poll of college football writers from the formula.

So how to bring the country together and deliver the playoff everyone wants? The solution is to "open-source" it.

It starts by curbing the current BCS cabal. Mandate a one-time opt-out of the current system for any school or conference interested in a playoff.

From there, create a pool of willing playoff participants. But it can't be based on the same old power-conference politics.

Open the playoff system to any team that wants to be a part of it. That allows any conscientious objectors to a playoff -- university presidents or conference commissioners -- to opt out, for any reason. Their teams will simply not be eligible to participate in the playoff. Left intact are the schools with a commitment to a playoff.

Next, we need a more structurally sound and sustainable system to determine the 8 playoff teams. For starters, eliminate the current bloated bureaucracy of ranking teams through a hazy mix of conflicted coaches, so-called experts and soulless computers.

Instead, tap into the renewable energy of the fans themselves. Replace the current convoluted ranking system with a nationalized "Fan Poll," open to any registered fan to submit their own Top 8 ballot. Give fans themselves the biggest stake in this new process and its outcome; trust their interest in taking it seriously. These results would create a self-fulfilling mandate -- what outraged coach or pundit could seriously disagree with a nation of fans weighing in?

If your campaign proved anything, Mr. President-elect, it was that the power of the Web to efficiently enable the actions of a massive collection of motivated, individual people. Harness that again: The sheer volume of participants will ensure that no single constituency will dominate; a free market of fans -- with limited, helpful regulation from your National Office of College Football Playoff -- will deliver the wisest, fairest, most transparent group of 8 playoff teams each season.

A college football playoff powered by populism inclusively puts the process in the hands of whoever wants to create the change they want: Whether you are a university trustee or a fan on the couch, only participate if you care to -- but, in the end, everyone choosing to take part is motivated by a vested interest in the best outcome possible for the sport.

After that, it's easy: Three rounds, three weeks, one champion: In a way you and the country might recognize, a "Champ We Can Believe In."

-- D.S.

(Update: Smart overview of the landscape from Josh Levin at Slate. Wilbon weighed in Tuesday.)

Thursday 11/20 A.M. Quickie:
Ball St, Moose, AI, Oden, Twitter, More

So Shaq is on Twitter. What do you think it would take to get him to follow me? (If you're on Twitter, you can follow me @danshanoff)

OK, I love that Ball State is having an undefeated season. I'm sure Whitlock is beside himself. But there's a huge difference between appreciating their unbeaten season and finding them BCS-worthy, which they are not. That's near the top of today's SN column.

If all it takes to be BCS-worthy is being undefeated, then any/every BCS-conference team -- particularly the ones who can't crack the BCS -- would be smart to drop out of their conference, join the MAC or Sun Belt or Whatever and go unbeaten.

Now, compare Ball State's unbeaten season -- on the back of a terrible strength of schedule (see Hawaii a year ago) -- to Utah. Utah has arguably played a tougher schedule than USC. The computers have Utah ranked at No. 4.

Would Utah be unbeaten if they played in the Big 12? Doubt it. Would they be unbeaten if they played in the Pac-10? The Mountain West's success againt the Pac-10 this season would suggest that they very well might. I'd love to see Utah vs. USC in a BCS bowl, just to prove it.

This is a big weekend for the Utes: If they beat rival BYU in SLC, they should be BCS-bowl-bound. And they are worthy. Unlike Ball State, which is a great story, but not a BCS story.

(Hell: Ball State still has to beat Western Michigan next week, though the MAC title game should be a breeze.)

Meanwhile, I'm partial to Mike Mussina -- I saw him pitch in person a ton when I was growing up going to Orioles games and I saw his final game at Yankee Stadium. But I think that anyone who can get to 270 wins in this era -- in this era -- deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I think he'll get there.

I put what could be my lamentation of the year in the column today: With the Dec. 1 deadline for Cubs bids, it is the shame of our generation that we couldn't harness the power of the Web to put together a million people putting up $1,000 each to make a billion-dollar play for the team. It would have been very hard for MLB to dismiss a massive fan-ownership effort. It's a missed opportunity.

Kudos to mega-Blazers fan Henry Abbott for pointing his readers to this yesterday: Greg Oden's plus-minus is not very good. In fact, it's kind of terrible. So I checked out last night's game stats: Sure, 11 pts, 10 reb, 4 blocks in 17 minutes seems good. But he had a +9 +/- in a 42-point Blazers win. That's not good. (FWIW, +/- is probably the most accurate broad-stroke single way to gauge a player's impact.)

I just can't buy Michigan State as a Final Four team, and I was thinking that long before last night's ugly win over IPFW.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obamaball: "Throw Long and Deep"

Continuing coverage of the intersection of Barack Obama and sports...

In a meeting with business leaders yesterday, Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the group the administration would "throw long and deep" to tackle big issues like health care and energy. That's a strong metaphor, in an industry (politics) that deploys sports language regularly.

Emanuel is a Chicago guy, so naturally the first thing you think of when you hear "throw long and deep" is Rex Grossman flinging it out there. Let's hope Obama's "throw long and deep" is less Grossman-esque (or even Favrian) and more Elway-ish.

-- D.S.

Debate: Geek-as-Jock vs. Jock-as-Geek

So this highlighted the "geek-as-jock" thing, but aren't we already at "jock-as-geek" -- look at Gilbert Arenas, Rod Benson, Greg Oden, Chris Bosh, any pro athlete who talks about playing fantasy football, any athlete who blogs or acknowledges Facebook, etc.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 11/19 A.M. Quickie:
Erin Andrews, Curry, Muschamp, More

I lead today's SN column with Erin Andrews. (God: Do I hate the link-baiting that goes on with posts about EA... and, yet, here I am. I'd like to think I make a fairly intelligent point about her.)

Meanwhile: Blake Griffin vs. Stephen Curry may very well turn out to be the single-best individual matchup of the college basketball season. How did this end up as an NIT game OUTSIDE of NYC?

I give a big thumbs-up to Texas locking in Will Muschamp as Mack Brown's successor, but there's that little nag in the back of my head: You're going to put a coach with zero head-coaching experience at the helm of Texas? It's not without risk. (In the column, I labeled this the "Bob Stoops vs. Urban Meyer" debate, which I think is accurate.)

OK, so LeBron is not coming to Brooklyn because the NETS are not coming to Brooklyn. I still think he's a lock for New York.

Ball St vs. Central Michigan -- as far as MAC regular-season games go, this is about as big as it gets.

I cannot believe the Yankees are so desperate that they're going to overpay for AJ Burnett, whose inevitability for the DL is so obvious that even I can see it.

More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Google Rules: Life Magazine Photo Archives

There is some amazing stuff in here. Try searching phrases like "Muhammad Ali" or "basketball." Wild.

Tuesday 11/18 A.M. Quickie:
Cuban, AL MVP, T-Mac, NFL Refs, More

I think the consensus is that while Mark Cuban's outrage at the SEC is entertaining, taking on the government isn't usually a winning strategy, as outlined in today's SN column.

Quickie scandal management is predicated on a few simple steps: Admit to something. Fix it. Move on. Whether it is allegations of insider trading or confirmation of NFL reffing screw-ups, the playbook is simple.

(It's particularly questionable in Cuban's case: It's not like he's facing jail time. What's a couple million in fines? Hell, David Stern pings Cubes for that every season.)

Meanwhile, the AL MVP race is by far the most up-in-the-air of any in this fairly straightforward MLB awards season. Split ballots may yield a very interesting winner.

NBA: T-Mac's knee is pretty messed up, as is my preseason pick of the Rockets winning the NBA title. So I'd rather concentrate on the breakout season being had by the Spurs' Roger Mason.

CBB: Stephen Curry -- so on fire, it's ridiculous. 14/19 FG, 9 assists, 4 steals (on top of 10 steals in the season-opener). Blake Griffin is pretty good, too. I can't stand that the Establishment has already determined that Tyler Hansbrough is going to win Player of the Year.

Finally, can we all agree that the Steelers-Chargers outcome wasn't fixed -- Occam's Razor would suggest that, as usual, it was inept officiating, pure and simple. At this rate, the NFL won't have any officiating crews left for the Super Bowl.

Tons more in today's SN column. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nate Silver: $700,000 Book Deal

My man-crush continues: Though if he was really good, wouldn't PECOTA have predicted it?

New York Times Shutters Play Magazine

Here are the details. That's really too bad. I had enjoyed contributing (you can find the archive on the right). I'm particularly grateful for the chance to have published this.

-- D.S.

Mark Cuban Insider Trading Allegation Reax

From a sports standpoint, the question is whether the allegations turn out to be conviction-worthy, does David Stern suspend Mark Cuban's ownership of the Mavs, a la MLB and Steinbrenner?

(Different circumstances between Cubes and the Boss, but same principle: In the event an owner is convicted of a crime, does the sport commissioner have the authority to exile the owner?)

-- D.S.

Obamaball: President Obama vs. World Leaders PLUS Obama on "60 Minutes" Talking College Football Playoff

The NYT's Christopher Clarey has a fantastic piece today about the sporting passions of world leaders that Barack Obama might want to know about, given his own love of playing hoops.

Meanwhile, did you catch Obama on "60 Minutes" last night, promoting his 8-team playoff? He's still light on details -- who's included, how to do rankings, how to implode the BCS cabal -- but I love that this is his signature issue in sports. He's a fan just like you and me.

-- D.S.

Monday 11/17 A.M. Quickie:
Romo, Titans, Ties, BCS, Dirk, Obama, More

Yeah, yeah: The Cowboys snagged a win in D.C. behind Tony Four-Fingers. And the Titans are still undefeated. But can we all agree that the most surreal storyline of the NFL weekend was...

Donovan McNabb didn't understand/know/realize that NFL games can end in ties? Now, he may have a point, buried under the ignorance: The idea that NFL games end in ties is ludicrous.

Yeah, those fans who paid through the nose to see a result would really be offended if they had to stick around for a bonus extra quarter or two until there is a win/loss result.

Meanwhile, among other things you'll find in today's SN column:

NFL: The Giants are No. 1, Albert Haynesworth edges Kurt Warner as my up-til-today MVP, Steve Slaton may be the best of an insanely good crop of rookie RBs, Williams and Stewart are the new White and Johnson and it's hard not to enjoy what the Dolphins are doing right now.

CFB: OK, OK...I changed my BlogPoll ballot to this: TX Tech, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Okla. Again, I'm happy to hide my obvious impulse to rank Florida as high as No. 2, because they have their fate in their own hands. Teams like Texas and Oklahoma need the propping up.

NBA: Dirk went crazy last night in NYC, though for performance of the night, I think Amare may give him a run for his money.

CBB: So Duke escaped with a win over Rhode Island, but remember the name Jimmy Baron. He could be the best pure 3-point shooter in college hoops.

As usual on Mondays, there's a ton more in the column. Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

CFB BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot, Version 1

The BlogPoll ballot uploader is on the blink right now, so I'll post it when I can. I'll put my list below by hand. Meanwhile, the new AP and Coaches' polls are out.

Two observations: (1) I cannot believe that the coaches continue to put Bama over Texas Tech (although in the instant-history world of pollsters, Bama's win last night trump's TT's bye.), and (2) thank god the Coaches flipped Texas ahead of Oklahoma -- the reverse made no sense, given that OU, um, LOST TO TEXAS HEAD TO HEAD. Just needed to shout that...again...

BTW, two AP voters ranked Florida first. Eh... no. Only legit if they have done their ballots the entire season based on the lone criteria "Who is playing the best right now?" If you involve any season-long "resume" rationale in your balloting (which you have to in the case of Florida), you simply can't put the Gators at No. 1 ahead of Texas Tech. Over Bama? Well... um, yes:

(1) TX Tech; (2) Florida; (3) Texas; (4) Alabama; (5) Oklahoma; (6) USC; (7) Utah; (8) Boise St; (9) Penn State; (10) Ohio State; (11) OK St; (12) Mizzou; (13) Georgia; (14) TCU; (15) Ball St; (16) Cincy; (17) Oregon St; (18) LSU; (19) Michigan St; (20) BYU; (21) Pitt; (22) Maryland; (23) Central Michigan; (24) Miami; (25) Northwestern. Yeesh: It gets grim after the top 12.

- D.S.

Quickie Vocab: USChadenfreude -- Whoops

UPDATE: Yeah, yeah... I totally blew the number of at-large teams. I look forward to USC's inclusion in the BCS as an at-large team. That's a big fat "D'oh!" to me, and thanks to the many of you who emailed and Commented to correct me.

USChadenfreude: Not only will USC not play in the Rose Bowl when they lose the Pac-10 title tiebreaker to Oregon State, but they won't even play in a BCS bowl.

(Of the 2 at-large spots, one will go to the Alabama-Florida loser, from the Sugar Bowl, which will lose the SEC title-game winner to the BCS title game; the other at-large spot will go to Utah or Boise State. That puts USC in the "Pac-10 No. 2" spot for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30. Hey, at least it will be a good game -- it's against the No. 3 team in the Big 12.)

Sunday 11/16 (Very) Quickie

Barack Obama loves a CFB playoff and isn't afraid to tell the world on "60 Minutes." See post below...

Florida may have a loss, but no team in the country -- including Texas Tech -- is playing better right now. That doesn't mean anything in terms of rankings or national titles, but it sure will be interesting to see if anyone can stop them: Offense, defense, special teams...all clicking at a best-in-the-nation pace right now.

That said, my first-glance BlogPoll ballot this week looks much like last week: Texas Tech, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma. I can afford to be magnanimous about Florida's placement, because they'll have their chance to vault the field in 4 weeks.

(Florida is not in the same boat as the other 1-loss teams: UF controls its own destiny. If UF wins the next 2 games, then beats Alabama in the SEC CG, there is no question they will make the national title game. Meanwhile, Texas needs Texas Tech to lose. And Oklahoma needs to beat Texas Tech, then hope voters don't realize that OU lost head-to-head to Texas. USC has virtually no hope. Hell, they need Oregon State to lose before they even enter the discussion. Their case comes least close to "controlling own destiny." See my post later this morning.

CFB Late Night: So much for "revenge." Bama and USC took care of business more than anything. (But USC remains so screwed -- check back later today for a new vocabulary word.)

College Hoops: UNC wins without Hansbrough... Gonzaga (my "tier 2" pick to win the national title, behind "tier 1" pick, Louisville) rolls... Freshman Watch: Tyreke Evans (19 pts), Demar DeRozan (14 pts)...

NBA: Who is Anthony Morrow? He just set the record for points scored by an undrafted rookie in his first season. 37, to go with 11 rebounds. He just got made. Meanwhile, Devin Harris is on fire.

MMA: Brock Lesnar is your new UFC champ, and his wide crossover appeal could usher the sport to new heights.

-- D.S.