Friday, January 14, 2011

Wrapping up the college football season

Some belated thoughts on the end of the 2010 college football season:

1. As much as I hate the Bowl Championship Series, I think it got things right. At least, as far as crowning a legitimate national champion is concerned. Auburn went undefeated in the SEC, which is clearly the best conference in the nation, and defeated an excellent Oregon team in the BCS National Championship. No controversy or second-guessing here. The Tigers earned their title, and the SEC continues its dominance of the college football landscape.

That being said, I honestly don't think we've heard the last about the controversy surrounding Cam Newton. We'll just have to wait and see how that plays out, if it does at all. For now, congratulations are in order for the Auburn Tigers, the 2010 Football Bowl Subdivision national champions.

(As an aside, congrats also go to the Eastern Washington Eagles, who earned the Football Championship Subdivision title with a win over Delaware last Friday. Funny how the players in every other division or subdivision of college football can handle a playoff without a problem, yet we're told by the BCS shills that the kids at the FBS level, i.e. the best players in the sport, somehow can't.)

2. TCU is a great team and deserves its #2 postseason ranking. In a perfect world, we'd still have one football game remaining and TCU would get to prove themselves against Auburn (for the record, I think Auburn would win). But TCU has plenty to be proud of what they've accomplished. A Rose Bowl victory over Big Ten champion Wisconsin and a #2 ranking to end the season is nothing to be upset about, and, indeed, the Horned Frogs seem pretty happy right now.

Of course, I can't mention TCU's success without going back to Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee and his stupid "little sisters of the poor" comment regarding the Horned Frogs' schedule. To Gee's credit, he admitted the need to keep his mouth shut in the wake of the uproar surrounding his statement last November, and, after watching TCU beat the same Wisconsin team that handed his Ohio State Buckeyes their only loss of the season, he agreed to "eat some crow." TCU boosters, meanwhile, are having some fun of their own by putting up billboards in Columbus, where Gee's school is located, congratulating TCU's Rose Bowl victory on behalf of those same "little sisters of the poor."

3. With regard to some of the other marquee games, the best argument against the BCS continues to be the BCS itself. Granted, the Rose Bowl was a great game, and the Sugar Bowl between Ohio State and Arkansas was highly entertaining as well. But the two other BCS games - the Orange Bowl matchup between Stanford and Virginia Tech and the Fiesta Bowl featuring Oklahoma and Connecticut - were snooze-inducing blowouts.

UConn was 7-4 and unranked going into the postseason; they were assured a BCS berth because they were the champions of the automatic-qualifying Big East conference. Virginia Tech was ranked #12 going into the bowls (in spite of a pretty serious blemish on their record in the form of a loss to an FCS school) and got to play in a BCS bowl because they were champions of the automatically-qualifying Atlantic Coast Conference. But both schools' lopsided defeats - UConn was trounced by Oklahoma, 20-48, and Virginia Tech was trashed by Stanford, 12-40 - suggested that they probably didn't belong in these games. Meanwhile, several one-loss teams, such as Boise State were left on the outside of the BCS party looking in.

This is just another example of the cynical and unjust arrangement of the BCS cartel that deems some schools to be more deserving of their highly-lucrative bowls than others based simply on their conference affiliation. Yet the BCS shills want us to continue to believe that this system is supposedly superior to a playoff, even as bowl ratings decline, fewer fans purchase tickets and bowl executives command outrageous salaries while cash-strapped schools struggle to sell their required ticket allotments (at face value, even though fans can get much cheaper tickets through sources like stubhub).

The system got the Auburn-Oregon matchup right. But it's still broken.

4. Non-AQs represent! The only way the non-AQ "have-nots" can continue to prove that the BCS system is a farce is to continue to do well in the postseason, and in that regard they did pretty well. In addition to going 4-2 in bowl games against teams from automatically-qualifying conferences, for the second year in a row the non-automatically-qualifying conferences have put five teams in the final AP poll (including two from Conference USA, a first for the conference). It's interesting to note that the automatically-qualifying Big East does not have any teams ranked in either the final AP or Coaches' poll. Which goes back to my previous point.

5. Did bowl season really need to be this long? It used to be that college football season would end on New Year's Day with an orgy of bowl games, a champion would be crowned (and/or controversy would ensue), and that would be that. That's not the way it works anymore, as the bowl season continues to get strung out longer and longer into January. This year, the season didn't end until the title game was played on January 10th.

Now, I can't say I'm particularly outraged that college football season is a few days longer than it used to be. But is it occurring to the detriment of the on-field performance of the players? Both Oregon and Auburn had to wait well over a month between their final regular-season games and the BCS National Championship Game, and it was pretty evident that both teams were trying to shake off the rust, particularly on offense, over much of the title game's first half.

6. I suck at prognostication. At the beginning of the season I had Alabama beating Nebraska in the national title game. I specifically stated that Oregon would not get a shot at the title. Auburn wasn't even on my radar screen. Oops.

But if I suck at preseason predictions, so does everyone else. In my preseason post I created a table of the consensus top 15 teams based on eight different preseason ranking systems. Alabama was first and Ohio State was second. Oregon was number nine. Auburn was nowhere to be found. Apparently, nobody else was really taking the Tigers seriously, either.

7. On to the offseason. Bummer. Sure, there will be plenty of activity over the offseason. Signing day is less than a month away, and spring practices will whet the appetites of the die-hard fans. Conference realignment is an issue that may reappear as well. But the games themselves are seven-and-a-half long months away. Alas...

ESPN's Ivan Maisel chronicles Auburn's long-awaited moment of glory, while his colleague Ted Miller examines what went wrong for the Ducks. Recaps of the other 34 bowl games are here. provides a season-ending ranking for all 120 teams, while Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel lists the ten biggest stories of the football season that just passed.

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