"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
This post was spurred by the mention of the new Rose Bowl rule incorporating non-BCS teams covered by Brian yesterday and today. I post it mainly because it's June, but also because I'm interested in the blogs' overall verdict on this proposition:
Resolved, in a perfect (non-lawsuit) world, non-BCS schools should not be involved in BCS Bowls or the BCS championship game. Rationale: because they are not as good**. Agree or disagree?
My sentiments are betrayed in the subject line, but I'll attempt to briefly elaborate. The three main arguments in favor of non-BCS inclusion are: 1- it's fair, 2- the BCS is an illegal monopoly, and 3- superior non-BCS teams deserve to be in, and recent bowls have proven they belong.
For brevity's sake I won't address #2 as it's economic in nature. And regarding #1, I'll say this: so? The existence of the BCS, polls, life, and any number of things that won't change shows that life is not fair. And adding one team doesn't change that. Did you know that "According to Jim" is still on the air?
On to #3. While it's perfectly legitimate to say that Boise and Utah proved their worth by winning, I say "not so fast my friend." I have an explanation that may or may not be persuasive: the BCS itself. This unfortunate creation has not only warped the system, making it's presence felt in scheduling (cupcakes for non-conference games), but it has also devalued every bowl except the Championship game When Alabama and Oklahoma played in those prestigious Bowls, they were actually DISAPPOINTED to be there. Teams in that situation are always in potential trouble of not playing to their usual level. If Bama has to play, say, LSU or USC, some of that is mitigated by the glamour of the matchup and the challenge of playing a top program. If they have to play Utah, who they believe, in their non-media interview hearts they should easily beat, then watch out. And when a decent team like Utah has everything to play for and the team they face does not, upsets are thus created. Which then perpetuate the (IMO false) notion that those teams belong in the first place.
I don't know anyone who believes the quality of the football played in the Mountain West/MAC/WAC equals the B10 the Big East or even the ACC. And from players sent to the NFL, recruiting rankings of the current players, strength of schedule, and records against outside ranked teams, most data supports what we intuitively know. IMO Utah would have finished no better than 4th in the B10, so for Brian to say that it would be a wash between a non-BCS team and the 2nd place P10 team, I revolt.
The Bowl system is an oligarchy, but one of (mostly) merit, based upon getting though the best conferences with the highest level of talent with the best records. Why make a flawed system even more flawed by including teams that never would get there if they were playing in the top conferences in the first place?
Agree or not?
* Kind of a dumb statement in itself but meant to drive readership so I can get a general sense of the blog while still conveying my innermost, slightly sheepish feelings.
** See above
Disclaimer: This may have been talked about before. And this may be such an old and tired subject, that just seeing the title causes many of you to groan. Then seeing Meeechigan Dan causes even more of you to groan. I will keep it brief; just killing time.
RR appears in our eyes to be Hugh Jackman getting excited about dates with fat girls when he should be holding out for dates with Adriana Lima or Marisa Miller.
I would suggest that Hugh's plan is to never be without a date ever again.
Now that this bad analogy is over, I will translate. I think RR is shooting for a 25 man class, perhaps as high as 28. He wants raw material. Last year, he learned that the danger of only asking Marisa and Adriana out is that if both say no, you are sad and alone. At this stage, I think he is falling back on his tried and true WVU recruiting strategy: finding system guys that are diamonds in the rough and lots of 'em. He knows that, with Michigan gravitas behind these offers, he can stockpile as many as 15 three star system guys while he waits for the supermodels to call him back. He knows there will be attrition and that he can easily accommodate a class of that size without even sniffing Saban territory. He is not going to wait ever again (until success brings 'em a running, like with Texas recruiting, if that ever happens) to fill holes in his roster. Every hole will be filled with guys he feels can contribute before Sentreal or Corey or Gholston pull the trigger.
In other words, last year while basking in the glow that the Michigan name opens all doors, he perhaps said, "Jay, don't offer that guy yet, we're waiting on Pearlie" or "Bruce, let's see if we can get so and so in the fold before you make that trip to Maryland for that one kid."
The danger, of course, if that a position looks filled, maybe someone is scared away. But his advantage is that with the lower-rated guys in the fold first, what stud is going to be scared away?
Finally, I would say that this is not a permanent strategy, but a two-year strategy. To get the roster loaded with bodies while success on the field comes. Once gridiron success is combined with the Michigan name and the recruiting effort of this staff, RR can ease back a little on the system guys.
Am I making lemonade out of lemons?
Yes, USC-Illinois turned out to be a terrible game but probably any team that was picked to face USC in the Rose Bowl was going to get blown out. That year, USC lost to Dennis Dixon and had their seemingly-annual loss of focus when they lost to Stanford. However as Michigan knows from experience, USC is always focused in the bowl games.
The first question we can ask is whether Illinois was deserving of one of the BCS at-large spots. The answer to this is actually a fairly strong yes. Here's how it broke down (according to BCS rankings):
#1 OSU and #2 LSU were in the championship game
#3 Va Tech was slotted for the Orange Bowl
#4 Oklahoma for the Fiesta
#7 USC obviously for the Rose Bowl
#9 West Virginia was the Big East champion (but not tied to a bowl)
#10 Hawaii was automatically an at-large team.
So, there were 3 at-large spots to be filled with the following eligible teams:
#11 Arizona State
#14 Boston College
Only one of Georgia/Florida and one of Missouri/Kansas could get picked. So that left Arizona State, Illinois and Boston College fighting for one spot. As Black Shoe Diaries talked about, http://www.blackshoediaries.com/2009/5/30/893422/prepare-yourself-for-po... it is completely reasonable to pick Illinois over those other teams.
Now the Rose Bowl could have taken another team, but it wouldn't have been Georgia since the Sugar Bowl was certainly going to be lobbying to keep an SEC team. That means they were deciding between Kansas, West Virginia, Hawaii and Illinois. Any bowl game is going to avoid Hawaii at all costs so the Rose Bowl is down to Kansas, West Virginia and Illinois. Here are their results against AP-ranked and other notable opponents and what their OOC schedule was:
|Team||Wins vs Ranked||Losses vs Ranked||Other Notable Opponents||Non-Conference Schedule|
|Kansas||none||#7 Missouri 36-28||None. They didn't play Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma||Central Michigan, SE Louisiana, Toledo, FIU|
|West Virginia||#20 Cincy 28-23||#23 USF 21-13||Lost the last week of the season to Pitt 13-9||Western Michigan, Marshall, Maryland, East Carolina, Mississippi St,|
|Illinois||#1 OSU 28-21, #18 Wisconsin 31-26||#7 Missouri 40-34||Beat Penn St (receiving votes team) 27-20||Missouri, Western Illinois, Syracuse, Ball St|
So Illinois had the best and second best wins of the three teams. They also had the best loss (or at least tied with Kansas for the best loss). Kansas only had one loss, but they literally did not play any good teams except for losing to Missouri. None whatsoever.
Also, Kansas and West Virginia lost their last games of the regular season while Illinois beat Ohio State and then creamed their rival Northwestern 41-22.
So, although we know in hindsight that the Rose Bowl should not have picked Illinois ("we should have had hindsight"), it actually was a reasonable pick at the time.
Press release from the U; thought it was interesting enough to diarize.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.--The University of Michigan and The Ohio State University have agreed to halt the printing of athletic team media guides in an effort to develop new media initiatives for more effective communications and help with cost containment.
“With the new media environment and current economic climate, the decision to cut back in this area was prudent,” Bill Martin, University of Michigan Director of Athletics, said. “The discussion to eliminate the printed version of the media guide has been ongoing within the Big Ten and NCAA administrative services for some time.
“We understand there is a need for a stronger commitment to new media,” Martin added. “Our alumni and fans want more timely information.”
Both Martin and Smith also noted it is important to make changes that will not affect the athletic and academic well-being of the school’s student-athletes.
“With Ohio State and Michigan together making this statement, I hope our decision will be a catalyst for other schools to follow suit,” Gene Smith, Ohio State Director of Athletics, said. “All athletic programs are in the midst of cost containment discussions, but our decision is not only based on economics, the structure of media consumption has changed rapidly and we need to meet the challenges head on.
“New initiatives will have to be developed to allow media, recruits, alumni and fans to follow our teams,” Smith said. “Social networking already plays a role in our communication plan and new platforms will continue to develop.”
The elimination of printed media guides will take place immediately and effectively will result in a total cost reduction of more than $250,000 per year.
You may have noticed at some point over the past few seasons that college football fanaticism, as it relates to games and records, is undergoing some changes. With the increase in available bowls, national exposure and ultimately, the whining of the Non-BCS schools for better representation, conference games are actually losing their classic importance. Big 10 teams are actually rooting for their natural rivals, because better records and performance by conference schools means a bigger piece of the pie for your school’s conference, and by extension, your school.
This is fine. It is the natural evolution of a sport in transition to pockets of intense rivalry in an almost club-like setting, to a national, well organized and intensely competitive sport. However, I believe everyone can see the day coming when the balance actually begins to tip in that direction too much. When the performance of a conference becomes so important that the next generation actually begins to become Big10 fans rather than Michigan fans. When the 10 years war loses its importance in history as Big10 vs SEC vs Pac10 takes over as the new rivalry.
This is not fine. College football should be dominated by devotion to a team, school colors, in some cases an Alma Mater or in others, the jersey you grew up cheering for with your dad on Saturday afternoons. And mark my words, that is disappearing. And it makes me sad.
But a solution does exist, in a sport much older than college football. Applause for Mr. Doubleday, if you please. Baseball has the solution. In fact, at one time, the Big10 embraced this solution. Only the conference champion went to the Rose Bowl. In baseball, only the top team in a division (wildcard excluded) goes to the playoffs, and it doesn’t matter how that division performed either. In college football, there are too many bowls, and too much politics involved in the postseason deciding process.
I’m sorry to the Non-BCS schools, but at large bids are destroying the game. They really are. I’m not saying we need a playoff or anything. In fact, a playoff based on some sort of subjective polls is a mistake. It decides nothing, as the NC game has already proven. We need to give every single bowl game a hard and fast conference alliance. This will spur intra-conference competitiveness and rivalries back to the forefront by removing the advantage gained by having a conference as a whole perform well or poorly. Furthermore, like baseball, if we then want to have an NC game (which I do), we ensure a much better mix of teams to choose from in the bowls (if it is arranged in a +1 setup). After all, if I have 6 teams from a certain conference in NC game eligible bowls, I’m pretty likely to end up choosing two of them, not because they’re the best, but because of sheer numbers.
So, football commissioners of America, lets learn from an older, unfailingly successful sport. Absolute and unflinching conference-bowl affiliations. Fewer bowls. More heated rivalries that turn areas of the country to lucrative war-zones than luke warm general affections for a conference. More good football. Less whining. Less crap.
There are a few spots on the defense that are up for grabs this fall. I would like to know who you think will win the starting job and why. Here are the positions - weakside defensive end, both outside linebackers, and both D-tackle spots.
Many things will happen between now and September, but here's how I think it will play out at DE. Even though Van Bergen looks like he's in the lead for the DE spot, I really think Craig Roh will impress. That kid showed a relentless motor in the All-American game that reminds me of Brandon Graham. He wasn't going against chopped liver in that game either.
Because Mike Martin flashed in the backfield all year last year, I really think he earns the #1 spot at DT. Second string will be a battle, but I'm not going to give Big Will the nod just yet. I think Sagesse will use his experience to beat him out for the second spot.
As far as outside linebacker, this one is tough because there are a few frosh safeties who project at this position that could push for PT. If the spring game is any indication, Jonas Mouton and Marell Evans will start at Will and Sam. (For those of you who don't know, "Will"=Weakside Linebacker, "Mike"=Middle Linebacker, and "Sam"=Strongside Linebacker. The strength of the defense is determined by either the wide side of the field or the strength of the offensive formation. Each team does things differently, and last year the field determined the strength for the UM defense. If the ball is on the left hash, the right is the strong side, and vice versa. Determining the formation strength can get complicated, but here is a simple version: if there is one tight end and he is lined up on the left side, that is the strong side.) If I had to bet, I think J.B. Fitzgerald wins out the weakside spot because of speed. Mouton stays at Sam.
What do you think??