Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Say What?

"It was positive," Kubiak said of the workout. "He did a good job. Some of our people who were over there watching him were amazed at how fast he ran. I don't even know if he was full speed at that time.

Kubiak was talking about a potential player that was brought into the Texans facility for a workout. The player in question is Justin Gatlin. If you follow sports, you might have heard the name. If you don't follow sports, but maybe watch the Olympics, you might have heard the name.

Gatlin is regarded as the fastest man in the world. That title goes with the winner of the 100 meter dash at the Olympics. Gatlin had the extra distinction of breaking the world record in the 100 meters, running it in 9.76 seconds. That's farkin fast.

So lets go back to the head coach's quote.

"Some of our people who were over there watching him were amazed at how fast he ran."

Excuse me? How fast did you think he was going to run? He's the fastest man on the PLANET.

It really amazes me how people say things in public.

My other favorite part of the story is that Gatlin hasn't played football since the TENTH grade. I hope he makes the team, is returning a kickoff - and gets CLOBBERED. I want to see the look on his face after getting that hit. Maybe then he'll realize how stupid it was to get banned from track.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Video Flax

I play college football on PS2, and currently, I'm a quarterback at Notre Dame.

It seems that even my PS2 knows me pretty well.

And if you haven't seen the original... where the hell have you been?

BCS = Bull Chip Series

It never ceases to amaze me that our species has lasted as long as we have. There are many great things that we have done with this world... but far too often, very simple things get screwed up. And more often than not, when we try to fix them, we make them worse. HOW, when often times the answer be an obvious one, do groups of human beings go a different route?

This is but a minor example, but we've managed to mangle my favorite sport of college football for the last eight years, going on nine. For the one or two non-sports fans that might come across this, the NCAA created the Bowl Championship Series, which started in 1998, with the intention of crowning one national champion in division 1-A. How could there not have been a system in place to crown a champion before that you ask? Well, college bowl games have been around for almost as long as college football itself. They are steeped in tradition ( which tends to be a big deal when it comes to college sports ), and for many years the teams, coaches, players, administrators and the like, relied on a poll at years end to determine the winner of the national championship.

This system seemed to work JUST fine for about a hundred years. Every so often, the number one and number two ranked teams would HAPPEN to meet in a bowl game, and then there was a true 'championship' game - but that didn't happen all that often. Sometime back, there was a second poll introduced to the national scope, and for the most part, the two polls agreed. One poll by the media, and one poll by the actual coaches themselves. In the event they disagreed, two schools would 'claim' they'd won the national title.

So some bigwigs had a great idea. And the idea, in and of itself, is a spectacular idea. Their idea was that there should be a system in place that KEEPS the traditions of the bowl games, and makes sure that the number one and number two ranked teams meet at the end of the year. Sounds great, right?

But how do you go about it? Those same bigwigs thought they'd make it as CONFUSING as possible. They decided to take the media poll, the coaches poll, seven different computer rankings, factor in strength of schedule, and also factor in margin of victory. Those were the initial criteria in the first BCS ratings system.

On the surface, might look okay. But look again. Computer rankings. Seven of them. Written by seven different people. Each with their own set of criteria in how a team should be ranked. Of course, I'm biased, a computer can't watch a game, so I've never liked computer rankings. But looking further, they took into account margin of victory. College football used to be a civil place. You didn't see teams running up the score in the modern era, cuz you knew you'd have to play that team next year. Now, if you didn't hang half a hund-y on someone, you'd get punished in the polls. The third string kids at Florida used to look forward to playing Western Kentucky State. Now, the starters have to stay in till the fourth quarter.

Over the years, the BCS has tweaked the criteria used to determine the rankings. Most of the time, this is reactive tweaking. In the 2000 season, Nebraska and Miami met in the national championship game. The trouble with the 2001 Rose Bowl that season, was that Nebraska wasn't even the champion of the conference it was in. But mathematically, they retained the number two ranking - despite not even being a consensus number two in the human polls.

And I feel they're never going to get it right. I'm not here to discuss that a playoff system would be the right answer ( but it would be a better answer ). Even now, eight years later, they are no closer to getting it right. The current situation with 1 vs 2 is a whole 'nother post, so I'm going to bitch about the rest of the system. The current rules say that to be eligible for a BCS bowl game ( either the Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, or Orange bowl ), you need to win 9 games, and be ranked AT LEAST in the top 14 of the final BCS rankings. This was done to insure that teams from conferences that don't normally participate in those bowls, had a chance at the big stage.

The conference tie ins are still in place, so as long as the winner of the Big Ten is in the top 14, they'll get a bid to the Rose Bowl. But an interesting case is brewing this year. Ohio State is going to the national championship game. Normally, the Rose Bowl would get to pick OSU, but because they're in the championship game, the Rose Bowl gets to pick an at-large team from the BCS. They will more than likely select Michigan, a fellow big ten team. This is fine with me, because Michigan earned a BCS bid.

But there's a chance that Michigan will be ranked number 2 in the BCS, which means that the Rose Bowl will have to pick someone else. You want to know who they CAN'T select, even though this team will be in the top 14? Wisconsin. In fact, there's a chance that Wisconsin could go as high as sixth in the BCS. But they're not eligible for a BCS game.

The BCS says that three teams from the same conference cannot receive bids. WHY NOT? If the Badgers finish as high as sixth in the rankings, why should Auburn, ranked at 12 get a bid over them?

Rules, for the sake of rules, are stupid. If you put together the rankings of teams - don't make rules that say your rankings apply "only in these cases". If the Badgers are sixth in the BCS rankings, THEY SHOULD GET A SPOT.

This is really easy. Either use the system that you used for a hundred years and keep the bowls - or create a playoff system. If the powers that be can't see after eight freaking years that this isn't going to work, they should be punched in the mouth.

The world will run alot smoother when I'm in charge.

Friday, November 10, 2006

How Can You Not Love This Game?

1867. Only one school in the nation has been playing football since then. And for most of my life, they've been the worst football program in division 1-A. Hell, for that matter, they've been one of the worst programs of the 20th, and 21st centuries.

Not anymore. Rutgers University, in New Jersey, burst back onto the national scene tonight by beating the third ranked Louisville Cardinals. The Cardinals had the national stage via a trouncing of then number three West Virginia - and the Cards also had a good chance at a national championship bid by virtue of winning out.

But undefeated Rutgers had other ideas. With public support - a vast difference of years ago, when players would have beer bottles broken on their cars after a loss - and even the Empire State Building in Scarlet Red, Rutgers showed why college football is the greatest sport out there. It took only 137 years, but the biggest game in the history of Rutgers football was played on Thursday night. ( Well, okay, the second most important. Being the birthplace of college football would trump everything I guess )

And this game didn't disappoint. Louisville is an offensive juggernaut this season - as they are most seasons. Rutgers, is well Rutgers. They play in the Big East, which the last few years has not been very highly regarded by the so-called powerhouse conferences. But there's something magical about college football. It doesn't matter who's playing - or what the rank is. You get 100 college kids inspired, and they can do anything. And it's damn fun to watch.

Rutgers went down one point 25-7. But what kind of story would that make? An air tight defense in the second half bogged down Louisville. If it weren't for my boy Brady Quinn, Louisville's quarterback, Brian Brohm, would be the most highly regarded QB in the country. Think Rutgers cared? Nope. This is college football. Rutgers prolly hasn't been on national television, since..... well maybe they were once by accident when they played Notre Dame a few years back. See, when you're that bad for that long, you really don't get that much respect. So for everyone that didn't have money on the game, or that isn't a UL or RU alumni - shame on you. This is college football. Games like this HAVE to happen. The football Gods wouldn't have it any other way.

A masterful second half defense held Louisville scoreless for the whole second half, and Rutgers worked their way back to a tie game. Louisville got the ball back with a few minutes to go, and Rutgers defense held yet again, forcing a punt. Rutgers moved down the field on nice, precise short passes, and a few great runs to set themselves up for the winning field goal as time expired.

The kicker lined it up, and missed it.

That's right, he missed it.

Now this is college football - and there have been plenty of stories that end with a missed field goal. It's the football gods way of mocking kickers for not being real football players ( sorry Brad ). But every once and a while, the gods smile on the kickers, and give them another chance ( i.e. PSU FSU Sugar Bowl last year ).

An offsides penalty on Louisville ( I wouldn't want to be that kid in film session tomorrow ) gave the Rutgers kicker, Ito, another chance. And this one he nailed. And as if on cue, and it were planned, ESPN showed the kick from the 'skycam'. After making his kick, Ito turned around and pointed to the camera before being mobbed by teammates, and eventually the whole state of New Jersey. This is college football, and that's the ending I should have seen coming.

I have this thing about my list of things to do before I die. Everyone's got one, and my list is a simple one. Visit the major college football stadiums. The Big House, The Swamp, Rocky Top, Oklahoma, Ohio State... the list goes on. So far, I've crossed off Camp Randall, Notre Dame Stadium, and Happy Valley at Penn State. Rutgers was on my list, but really for the only reason that it was the birthplace of college football. Lets just say it wasn't on the top of the list when it came to the order of stadiums I'm going to visit.

But after tonight, it moved up the list some. I love this sport.