From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...
In this Nov. 5, 2011, file photo, Alabama running back Eddie Lacy (42) is tackled by LSU linebacker Karnell Hatcher (37) and defensive tackle Josh Downs (77) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala. They are two of the nation's toughest defenses, so don't expect a lot of points when top-ranked LSU meets No. 12 Georgia in the SEC championship game. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
You're the NCAA commissioner and you just told the BCS to make like a tree and get out of here; you're holding a playoff. What does your opening round look like?
Great question, PDavi. Well-played indeed, especially since the 5-at-10 believes a playoff is the best way to determine the champion, but any new system must take huge strides to protect the glory that is the college football regular season.
Let's look at some of the things we must consider before incorporating a playoff:
We have to keep the regular season as valuable as it currently is. The college football regular season is best in sports, and every Saturday matters — although you could debate that this year considering Alabama's going to get a redeaux and it appears the SEC title game doesn't matter in determining the BCS champ since LSU is almost assured of a ticket to the title game win or lose against Georgia.
So in an effort to protect the regular season as much as find a more fair way to determine, we'll have an eight-team bracket with the following ways to enter the field:
First we need a name. If the NCAA hoops tournament is called the Big Dance, for shoots and giggles, let's call this the Power Polka.
First, every conference that wants to be considered has to structure themselves to a place where they have a conference title game if they want to be part of the Big 4 invite party. This is non-negotiable. Not every team has to be part of a conference, but every conference has to have a title game. (You can call that the Notre Dame clause if you want, but so be it. If the other schools want Notre Dame to join a conference, don't schedule them in football — force them to play a schedule so bad the Irish's schedule would look like a power version of Boise State's only it would be broadcast on NBC every week.)
There will be automatic bids to the respective champs of the four top conferences. The top four conferences could change every year and will be determined by a football-calculated RPI ranking. There will be only one computer ranking, and it will be available for everyone to see and decipher. (One of the big mistakes of the current system is the secrecy in which it operates.) This year, those conferences are likely in order, the SEC, the Big 12, the Pac 12 and the Big Ten. So, let's assume that the conference title games and the Bedlam Rivalry between Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (which in this case is a title game) finish as expected, here are your top four seeds:
2) Oklahoma State
This set-up allows for every game to continue to matter, at least in the power conferences, since any team — UCLA, Georgia, et al. — in those big conferences can get to the Power Polka. It also encourages programs and conference administrators to toughen those nonconference schedules in an effort to improve the conference RPI.
The next four seeds would be selected by a eight-person committee that would be given a list of eight possible schools from the single computer ranking of teams that determines the conference RPIs. This committee would be well-paid by the bowls and the NCAA and would be required to stand up in front of the media and explain their choices. All of them. Again, hiding behind a slew of computer rankings and formulas and polls is a major flaw of the current system. (Seriously, the coaches poll is fun and all but it has no business determining a champion if for no other reason than good college football coaches only watch two teams: Theirs and this week's opponent. Ask Nick Saban or Mike Gundy or _ about the strengths of Houston or Boise State or Stanford, and they'll say, "Well the quarterback can play...." and then refer to the fact that they are more focused or the process or their team or being a man because they're 40.)
So, since this is our Power Polka, and again, assuming that Saturday's conference championships go as above, here are the four at-large teams and their seeds:
7) Virginia Tech
Now the moving pieces and the drama of Saturday's conference championships would be OFF THE CHARTS. (Sorry for screaming there, but seriously, it would be through the roof, and it would theoretically add another round of playoffs in regard to play-in games.)
Look at the title games with the stakes from above:
SEC title game — LSU is in the tournament either way (which is justified), but Georgia may be the hottest team not named LSU and they could play their way into the No. 1 overall seed with a win. With a loss, it's hello Outback.
Big Ten — Wisconsin or Michigan State, winner gets in, losers says hello Georgia in the Outback.
ACC — Va. Tech gets in with a win. Clemson not so much.
Conference USA — Houston has everything on the line.
Bedlam — Oklahoma could get in.
Pac 12 — To secure a spot, No. 9-ranked Oregon would need to win. After firing their coach, the Bruins could shock the world and get in the draw. They could hire some wise-cracking 5-at-10 — Hey, we got a closet full of sweater vests and love March Madness, so we could at least match Rick Neuheisel — and make a run to the BCS with an interim coach.
Plus teams such as Boise State, Arkansas, Stanford and even Houston would be forced to watch nervously as the conference champs were determined.
Now we agree with the sentiment that the BCS current sites (the Orange Bowl could be a semifinal site) would need to be included to make this fly, and preference to bowl sites would be given to the hire seeds. Yes, LSU is in the Superdome in Round 1, but the Tigers earned that, so there. Here's our first round (provided the conference title games go as expected):
LSU vs. Houston
Wisconsin vs. Alabama
Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech
Oregon vs. Stanford
We kind of threw this together this morning, but it has some promise. Thoughts?
Mississippi football coach Houston Nutt celebrating his team's victory over then No. 10 LSU in their NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
5 to 10--I'm with you on props to Weeds and Pasquali. Could even say they're propping up the ol' sports ed. Good traditional point spread analysis on your part.
With the SEC football season all but done, how do you rate the job the coaches did? Lexington Herald Leader columnist John Clay ranks them, giving a rationale for each at www.kentucky.com/2011/11/30/1977402/j... Clay says it goes like this:
1) Les Miles
2) James Franklin
3) Mark Richt
4) Steve Superior
5) Nick Saban
6) Bobby Petrino
7) Will Muschamp
8) Gene Chizik
9) Joker Phillips
10) Dan Mullen
11) He whose name shall not be mentioned
12) Houston Nutt
He all but says that had a wide receiver playing QB beaten The Vols, numbers 9 and 11 would be reversed. What say you?
No doubt there's a lot of folks around here who prop up the Sports Editor. Dude spends a lot of time drinking coffee and running his yapper.
Anyhoo, as we said in the comments this week, this is an excellent idea for a column. There are a lot of coaches would could move several spots because of the outcome of just one game. Here's our take on it:
1) Les Miles — The Hatter kept this team focused through preseason arrests, a QB potential controversy that could have race implications (easily the biggest locker room killer around), suspensions to two top players for violation of team "rules" (cough, cough). Through it all they have been awesome. That said, who knows what happens if they fall in Tuscaloosa. Well played indeed.
2) Mark Richt — Survived the disastrous start and all the hot-seat talk. Could contend for the top spot if he'd stop swapping spit with Mrs. Richt on the sidelines.
3) James Franklin — Vandy's in a bowl game. That's enough to zoom up the list. If the 'Dores had topped UT to get to 7-5, Franklin would have a serious case for the top spot.
4) Steve Spurrier — Winning 10 games is not a birth right in Columbia, and to do it after booting a fifth-year senior QB and losing Marcus Lattimore to injury is even more impressive.
5) Nick Saban — Would he be No. 1 on this list if they make a field goal against LSU? Maybe. But know this: Dude does not get enough credit for assembling the roster of studs. Saban is 47-6 in the last four years. Read that again, and Oatmeal Cream Pies for everyone.
6) Bobby Petrino —This likely will be the best team Arkansas will have for a while and they still couldn't finish better than third in the West. Of course third in the West is also good enough for 6th in the country according to the AP.
7) Gene Chizik — Auburn's 7-5 record was a dichotomy. Seven wins in a rebuilding year is overachieving; none of the five losses were by less than two touchdowns, and three — Alabama, LSU and Georgia — were out-and-out whippings.
8) Dan Mullen — Bad season, but the media and the fans may have underestimated the losses on the defensive front seven and across the offensive line. It may have been a disappointing season, but in truth, Mullen's team was not as good as we thought in August.
9) Will Muschamp — Muschamp did have a slew of injuries to deal with and changing a system is never easy, but this was the worst Gators team in a generation. His seat will be the second hottest in the league to start the season next fall. Yes, we know it's Year 2 for Muschamp, but this is the SEC.
10) Joker Phillips — Finding a way to snap a 26-year losing streak can cool a hot seat pretty quick, huh?
11) Derek Dooley — Finding a way to snap a 26-year winning streak — against a WR playing quarterback and running five plays — can turn up the heat on a seat pretty quick, huh?
12) Houston Nutt — Nutt's swan song was wicked bad. Historic in fact. Here's saying that Nutt will be excellent on TV next fall.
Jay, I always like your work, but I take exception to your comments yesterday about Verne Lundquist. Sure he makes mistakes, like about two minutes into the LSU game yesterday, when he missed the call on the procedure penalty. I've seen a lot of Saturdays and a lot of slick technical play-by-play guys, but I still prefer an "old" guy with a lot of enthusiasm. Being an old Dawg he kinda reminds me of Munson.
Ron, Thanks for the kind words and for reading. We received some similar remarks about our less-than-flattering views on Verne and Dickie V this week. Well, let's be clear about this: Both guys seem like super fellows that love the sports they cover. We've never been a fan of Dickie V's schtick, but he loves the game of college hoops and he has a following. So be it. (Although, wouldn't he be better served as a college hoops version of Lee Corso on the college hoops preview show rather than as a color guy?)
As for Verne, his fall is the most alarming thing to the 5-at-10. We love Verne — he's got a great voice and a rich style (he reminds me more of Keith Jackson more than Munson, but I can see some Munson there, too). My view on Verne is we'd rather him step away now and be remembered for his greatness (and his call in the 1986 Masters is/was an all-timer) than hang around too long and be remembered for always getting things mixed up.
Let's go into the rich banks of Les Miles' quotes and see if one applies: "I think they'll miss it most after it's over." There you go.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley tries to motivate his team during the fourth quarter.Photo by Associated Press
From Celtic Vol
Hey 5@10, I take full responsibility for UT's loss against Kentucky. I jinxed us when I said I didn't care if we went 6-6 and went bowling in Shreveport. So to all Vol fans, please accept my most sincere apology.
Do you ever feel like you hold the key to your team's success? For example, if your team is performing well, you feel like you can't get up from a particular chair for fear of a bad play occurring. Or maybe thinking you have to wear a certain shirt or certain pair of underwear in order for your team to win.
Am I the only one that does this?
Dude, you are SO not alone in pregame rituals, in-game streaks or traditional talisman of any kind. Being a college football fan is among many things, part passion, part tradition, part desperation and part faith. In that regard, there's a certain belief that everyone must have, and as Crash Davis says, "A player on a streak has to respect the streak. If you believe you're playing well because you're wearing women's underwear, then you are. And you should know that."
Here's one of the strangest ones we've heard: Couple of UT fans we know, if the Vols needed a big stop, would line up in three-point stances on each edge of the TV as if they were about to rush the passer. Hey, they believed it worked and they respected streak and said it worked every time. (Maybe Justin Wilcox should get their number and call that play a little more often huh?) They didn't overuse it or overplay it.
Did it matter or make a difference? Of course not, but it added to their belief and their passion, so it helped them. And fans on a streak have got to respect the streak. The 5-at-10 clan wore the same AU outfits all of 2010 on the way to the BCS title. We believed in it by golly and the Tigers went the distance. (Of course we wore the same outfits for most of this year, too, and we saw what happened. Apparently Cam Newton was more important than our navy blue AU Under Armor shirt. Who knew?)
Heck, the 5-at-10 ate the same pregame meal, wore the same socks every game we pitched, and followed untold numbers of superstitions. Did they help, probably not, but they helped calm our mind about it, so maybe they did.
Do fan jinxes or superstitions or good guys rushing the edge of a Sony trying to knock Tim Tebow down help the outcome? No, but they help the experience and help feed the passion and tradition that make college football so great.
So take heart, C-Vol, you are not alone and you do not deserve the blame for the Vols' implosion against the Wildcats. (But, here's saying that Derek Dooley would gladly share as much of the blame as you're willing to take.)
Georgia's Brandon Boykin (2) picks off a pass intended for LSU's Richard Dickson as Georgia's Bryan Evans (3) looks on during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
From the 5-at-10
Hey, is everyone entered into the SEC title game contest?
Here's what we have so far:
Blue Oval — LSU 28-10
McPell — LSU 45-16
Eastridge8 — LSU 42-17
5-at-10 — LSU 34-16
Mrs. 5-at-10 — LSU 31-20
OTWatcher — LSU 30-24
FEchancellor — LSU, 36-10
Spy — LSU 33-17
Pdavi — LSU 46-7
JProctor — LSU 31-14
TFP SEC ace David Paschall — LSU 30-19
AddictedtoChalupa— UGA, 14-10
Bdub13 — LSU 42-24
Musicman375 — LSU 35-21
Remember, it's "Price is Right" rule and we'll bring the winner a T-shirt from the SEC title game.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...