Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday 01/02 A.M. Quickie:
Wild Cards, USC, Cotton Bowl, Barkley

First things first: You/I/anyone are not being bold by picking all four road teams to sweep the NFL's Wild Card round. It's fairly novel, to be sure, but all are favored. The Wild Card leads today's SN column, the first edition of '09.

That said: If I'm picking the road teams to all win, you just know it ain't gonna play out that way. The only thing I can hope for is that my Super Bowl pick -- the Eagles -- don't lose at Minnesota.

Far more interesting: Are the Vikings and Cardinals really not going to sell out their games? That's pretty pathetic. Like: You-don't-deserve-a-franchise pathetic.

At the very least, you'd think that local fans could pool their resources to buy up the remaining tickets to avert the TV blackout.

Meanwhile, USC is very very very good. But we already knew that. Beating up on overrated Penn State will hardly move the needle for them -- though it exacts a measure of justice re: Oregon St.

But I am sure that they will earn a couple of AP votes for No. 1 after next Thursday night (but so will Texas, when they put a similar hurt on Ohio State). And don't discount the 5-0 Pac-10 bowl season.

Yesterday's bowls were -- to put it mildly -- terrible. Even the Rose -- a clinic in excellence (by one team at least) -- lacked any sort of suspense.

Today's bowls, on the other hand, size up as interesting, if nothing else. I put this in the column today, but Texas Tech-Ole Miss is far more intriguing for its Transitive Property implications than the actual meeting between the two teams involved.

You'd be excused for using them as a proxy for the Big 12 and the SEC -- for Oklahoma/Texas and Florida. If Ole Miss wins, suddenly that win over Florida seems reasonable; if Texas Tech wins, then suddenly the Big 12 isn't the overrated defense-free zone they just might be.

And Alabama-Utah isn't Georgia-Hawaii: Utah is a legitimately good team (and extremely well-coached), unlike Hawaii last year. And Alabama is missing Andre Smith. Utah will need some Boise State-style offensive power to keep up; they can't/won't win a slugfest.

Barkley, Cont'd: I ripped Barkley yesterday, but in the reports about the arrest report, it sounds like he was totally upfront about his drinking (and the reason behind his traffic violation -- a race to get home and get with his favorite hook-up). It doesn't excuse the DUI, but at least Barkley is consistently transparent about his problems.

Finally: No, you didn't miss my annual Hot/Not List yesterday. I didn't get it published. But I worked on it last night and it should be ready to go a little later this morning. Check back then.

Complete SN column here.

-- D.S.


Matthew said...

I turned on the Rose Bowl just as PSU was evening the score, and I thought, "maybe they'll make a game of it after all". Then USC scored every 17 seconds in the second quarter. Oh, well.

The thing about USC is this: they've worked themselves into an incredibly irritating pattern of 1) losing to a crappy team, 2) finishing the season as strong, or stronger, than anybody, capping it off with a bowl blowout, and 3) complaining about the BCS and lack of a playoff.

As a Buckeye, this is painful to say, but part of me sympathizes with their argument. They'd have as good a chance in a playoff as anybody most years, there's no question about it. Except that there is no playoff, and there won't be until, at the very earliest, the current BCS contract expires in what, 2047? That's just how it is. And in light of that, I'd really like USC to either stop losing to Oregon State and Stanford, or stop complaining about a system that isn't going to change soon enough for most people's tastes.

And honestly, thinking about it that way has got me leaning back away from wanting a playoff. I know I'm probably the only one, but a one-loss USC tearing through a 4 weeks of a playoff seems considerably less interesting than hoping some team--doesn't matter which one--battles through 4 months of football to emerge undefeated and be anointed by popular opinion. This is simplistic, I know, but my gut tells me a playoff is a hot streak; 14-0 is epic.

I don't want CFB to become the NFL, because the NFL isn't interesting to me. I love the pageantry of CFB, I love the impossibility of the perfect season, and I love the dissonance of the debate over what team should be the champ--without the black&white of a playoff, more teams (and more teams' fans) are included in the debate, and that's good for everyone. Absolutely none of that exists in the NFL (and don't give me the Pats' run at perfection last year, because we all know it was a ridiculous aberration), and that's what makes the college game unique.

Granted, a playoff in college football would still be light years more interesting than the NFL's slog to the Superbowl (because the disparity of talent is just that much greater in college, which leads to more unpredictability), but that wouldn't likely change my feeling that the NCAA was turning into a minor leagues for the NFL.

I'll take endless debate, arguing--because that's a big part of what makes sports great. I'll take dissonance, thank you very much.

Scooter McGavin said...

I wouldn't call not selling out a playoff game in these economic times You-don't-deserve-a-franchise pathetic. There are a lot of struggling families out there. I wouldn't be surpised if this becomes a trend throughout sports if they don't start dropping ticket prices.

BobbyStompy said...

Yo, dude. In the column today you say "Matt" Sanchez. It's, uh, Mark... right?