SEC Shocker: Auburn Upsets Alabama

December 2, 2013

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With just a second remaining on Saturday and the game tied at 28, Alabama lined up for a game winning 57 yard field goal.  Make the kick and they are in the SEC title game, just one step away from the National Championship game.  Miss the kick and they just go to overtime, right?  Well, Auburn’s Chris Davis grabbed the missed field goal in the end zone and raced 100+ yards for a touchdown to give Auburn the win.  Alabama’s quest for a third straight national title is almost certainly over.

Ohio State won a squeaker over Michigan, 42-41.  Michigan ran a failed 2 point conversion on the final play, going for the immediate win instead of playing for overtime.  While I understand the emotion of going for it, I rarely think that going to two in this situation is the right move.  Overtime is essentially a coin-flip, with the home team having a slightly better than 50% chance of winning.  Unless your success rate on two point conversions is greater than 50%, kick the PAT and take your chances in overtime.

So, where does this leave us?  Florida State and Ohio State have direct paths to the title game.  If they win on Saturday, they are virtually guaranteed to play for the championship.  If one of them falters and Auburn beats Missouri in the SEC title game, Auburn would earn a berth.  Missouri is #5 in the BCS standings (behing Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn, and Alabama) but would likely vault to #2 if they beat Auburn and one of the top two loses (Alabama is idle, but I believe Mizzou would leapfrog them with a win).  If Ohio State and Florida State both lose, Alabama could slide into the title game through the back door, facing either Auburn or Missouri for the National Championship.

My Iowa State Cyclones had a disappointing year, finishing the season at 3-9.  For one Saturday in November, though, they made the fans proud.  The team stuttered out of the gates and were down 31-7 to West Virginia as the national anthem was finishing up.  Iowa State forced four turnovers in the second half and a 24 point fourth quarter flurry tied the game and pushed the game to overtime.  Iowa State prevailed 52-44 in triple overtime.

The Broncos beat the Chiefs on Sunday, pushing KC’s losing skid to three games following a 9-0 start.  Not to worry, Chiefs fans, KC is still is very good shape to make the playoffs and plays a couple of weak teams down the stretch.  Meanwhile, Peyton Manning’s exit from Indianapolis is working out well for both teams.  Andrew Luck has played well for the Colts (especially for a 24 year old QB) and the ageless Manning has been at the top of his game, no doubt aided by the thin air.  After all, the ball travels 10% further and the receivers have less resistance when running.  It’s surprising that Manning doesn’t throw an 80 yard TD on every play, given these advantages.  I expect opposing coaches to start calling for a humidor.

In baseball news, the A-Rod appeal saga continues.  New York Magazine has a lengthy article about the background of the case, including information on all the money paid to informants.  Millions has been spent  trying to obtain or hide information.

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Big 10 Will Have 14 Teams

November 27, 2012

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Greedy Big 10

The news leaked out last week, The Big 10 with 12 teams is going to now have 14 teams.

Am I the only person that thinks someone needs some remedial math…..

Maryland and Rutgers were invited to join the conference. And by invited I mean, umm….tapping into the Northeastern Television Market required the Big 10 to add some teams that were geographically located there.

The Greedy ACC

I am guessing the ACC put this into play since they landed their “Big Fish” in Notre Dame, and wanted to make sure that if the Golden Dome ever left the confines of the ACC they would be leaving some of their pots of gold behind.

Earlier this year Maryland – along with Florida State – voted against raising the exit fee from $20 million to $50 million in September after Notre Dame was added as a member in all sports but football. This is a significant exit penalty and much much more than Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M or Missouri had to pay in comparison for leaving the befuddled Big XII a few years ago.

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh went on record earlier this year saying he did not think the $50 million Atlantic Coast Conference exit fee would hold up in court, but now the ACC has filed a lawsuit against the University of Maryland to protect their interest in a buy-out clause that was reconfigured just last year.

“We continue to extend our best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its exit fee obligation,” Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “On Friday, the ACC Council of Presidents made the unanimous decision to file legal action to ensure the enforcement of this obligation.”

Rutgers, by comparison, had to pay only a $10 million exit fee to leave the Big East. This seems like lunch money at this stage.

It will be interesting to see if Maryland is able to barter down the price tag, but I am guessing that this would have been happening behind the scenes, and well in front of any lawsuit being filed.

Looks like the Commonwealth and the League need to take this one outside and duke it out.

Late Season Craziness

Hold off on your early Christmas parties…. This could shape up to be a crazy bowl season, and a lot hinges on what transpires this week.

UCLA and Stanford play each other for the second straight week to decide who represents the Pac 12 in the Rose Bowl. Nothing like a rematch on back to back weeks.

Nebraska has a rematch with Wisconsin to be the representative of the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska won the first meeting. If Wisconsin wins, they will be 8-5 and representing in Pasadena.

As a side note, Nebraska lost to UCLA earlier this year in September in California.

I think the Rose Bowl Committee is pulling hard for the Huskers and Stanford, as that match up will be much more attractive Nationally and will also benefit the ticket sales much more than any of the other possible combinations of those four teams.

Alabama and Georgia play one another to basically settle who gets to go to the beach and play Notre Dame.

The Big East has three teams still alive depending on who beats who this weekend.

And a freshman Quarterback might actually win the Heisman Trophy.

Good luck to you and your sports teams and remember…Johnny for Heisman!

Until next time, stay classy Tyler, Texas

Scrap The BCS

October 27, 2009

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We are entering that great time of year when the end all of end all college football arguments just starts to heat up.  That’s right, the BCS talk.

A plethora of one undefeated teams still remain.  A lot of great one loss teams are out there.  The conference match-ups are starting to hit full bore and the host of rivalry weeks are soon to be upon us.

Phooey!

I for one am proposing that we totally re-vamp the BCS program.  What is that you ask?  Johnny you need to get in line with countless of hundreds if not thousands of others that argue the same thing.

Nope, I propose we scrap the whole shooting match and go back to the bowl tie in agreements that each conference used to have pre-BCS. 

Let’s look at the facts.  The BCS is driven by two factors … and no they are not determining who is ultimately the most deserving national champion each year.  Heck most years we can’t even agree who should be playing in the game. 

Factor one is pure and simple greed.  Greed of the NCAA, greed of the sports stations such as ABC/ESPN and CBS who cover the majority of games. ( I am not including FOX in the argument as they only have only covered the BCS games the last few years and frankly their telecasts are painful at best to watch) 

Factor two is the perception that this alignment actually settles something.  That it actually does determine the best and most worthy team at the end of the year.

I miss the by gone days of long ago, before many of you who likely read this blog were even following college football.  In those “olden days” each conference had multiple negotiated terms to send their teams to certain bowl games.  It still works much the same way today for the non-bcs games. 

What this accomplished each and every year was exciting and epic games on New Year’s day.  You didn’t have to “hang around” until January 7th to see if your team was going to win.

The best part of the “old way” was the scenarios were impossible to predict.  Since I am a Husker at Heart … lets take 1982.  When due to a series of upsets earlier in the day, the Clemson Tigers and the Cornhuskers found themselves playing on New Year’s Day night in the Orange Bowl for all the marbles.  This could not have happened today, and it lead for great drama and excitement.  Heck this same scenario played out countless times in the early years of the television bowl era …

Was it so wrong?

The BEST part of college sports is the water cooler talk, the speculation.  The Horned Frogs could beat Florida because of so and so….the ol’ My Dad is Bigger than your dad argument … that is where the true passion and fun of college football exists.

So let’s jump back up the rabbit hole, throw out the man behind the green curtain, and we just get an instant replay and see that the wrong call was made on the field?

Inequity in the BCS

October 20, 2009

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No, this won’t be a story about the hoops that teams from “Non-BCS” conferences must jump through in order to gain entry into the BCS games.  While I dislike this inequity – particularly now that computer analysis allows us much greater insight into strength of schedule than in decades past – but this is an issue that many others have raised, and I will let them continue their worthy crusade.

My concern is about the inequity amongst the BCS conferences themselves.  There are six conferences whose champions have automatic berths into the BCS – the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Pac 10, and SEC.

Three of these conferences – the ACC, Big 12, and SEC – end their season in a battle of the titans (otherwise known as a conference championship game) in which the winners of two divisions face off to determine who the best team in the conference is.

I love watching conference title games because it means seeing two great teams face off, and gives a good glimpse in which teams might be peaking at the end of the season and which teams might be cooling off a bit down the stretch.  The conference title games are also a financial windfall for the conferences.

Two other conferences play a round robin conference schedule.  One of them is the eight team Big East conference.  With just eight teams, a round robin is really the only reasonable schedule.  This conference has changed considerably from the Big East of the past, having lost Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College as members (replacing them with South Florida, Cincinnati, and Louisville).  The current configuration draws criticism as being too weak to deserve an automatic berth in the BCS. 

The second conference that plays a round robin schedule is the Pac 10.  The conference has, of course, ten teams, meaning that they play nine conference games.  There is a strong likelihood that the conference will dump the round robin schedule in the future, as an informal poll of coaches showed that six coaches were opposed to the round robin schedule and four were in favor.  The reasoning behind dumping the round robin?  To allow teams on the cusp of bowl eligibility to replace a Pac 10 rival with a cupcake team on their schedule.

This brings us to the one team that has neither a conference title game nor a round robin schedule.  This is the Big 10 conference, which has, of course, eleven teams.  Big 10 teams play eight conference games, meaning that they avoid playing two conference rivals every season.  My concern is that this could allow two undefeated Big 10 teams to end up in the national championship game, simply because they were able to duck each other during the regular season.

Does this sound far fetched?  Let’s turn the calendar back to 2002.  At the end of the regular season, Ohio State and Iowa were both undefeated in conference games.  Ohio State was 13-0 and headed to the national championship game.  Iowa had tripped 36-31 in a game against Iowa State during the non-conference game early in the season.  If Iowa had been able to make it through the non-conference schedule without a loss they would also have been in serious consideration for a spot in the title game.  (Note: an undefeated Miami was the BCS #1 team that year heading into the title game, so in all likelihood, one of the Big 10 teams would have been left out of the game – but the possibility would have been there).

I am strongly opposed to the possibility of settling a conference title in the national championship game.  If two teams from a particular conference emerge as the two best teams in the land, I’m OK with that.  But don’t leave open the door for two strong teams to duck the most difficult team in their conference en route an undefeated record.

I am calling for the BCS to change the eligibility for the BCS title game to allow only teams from conferences that decide their champion on the field – either via a round robin schedule or a conference title game.  This would force the Pac 10 to retain their round robin schedule and force the Big 10 to either add a conference title game (which would necessitate adding a twelfth team) or expanding the conference schedule to ten games (allowing only two cupcakes per season instead of four).  After all, if you’re not sure who best team in the conference is, why should we crown one of your teams as the national champion?