Category Archives: BCS’ Bustin’

The BCS, Crystal Footballs, and Mark Richt

Earlier today, I responded to this comment by commenter PuffDawg over at the esteemed Senator’s blog about how I’ve grown to hate my own fanbase more and more as each day passes.  Whether it’s the inability to experience any semblance of joy in being a Dawg fan or the sense of entitlement regarding the overall status of our program that many Dawg fans seem to hold (considering our trophy case ain’t exactly Bama’s, this amuses me to no end) I’ve really begun to loathe a portion of the fanbase.

After my original comment, I was going to respond to commenter Charles, but quickly realized that my response was growing so lengthy that it would take away from the legitimate conversation at the Senator’s site.  As such, I’ve decided to post my response to Charles below so I don’t take up too much window space over there.  Apologies ahead for some of the language I use as this is something I feel strongly about and feel that it is necessary to get my point across.  I’d also like to clarify that while the tone of this post will take a defensive stance of Mark Richt as the UGA head coach, it is not an endorsement in any sense.  It’s merely my perspective that those who use the lack of a crystal football as an argument to run him out-of-town are evaluating the situation incorrectly and how the BCS has caused this problem.  Without further ado, here goes:

In my opinion, the total obsession with the national title these days is one of the unfortunate consequences of the BCS.  The BCS took what was a highly regional sport and made a national success.  In doing so, it has brought many millions of dollars to its members schools as well as the non-AQ schools that otherwise they never would have accessed.  For that reason, the BCS has been a highly successful endeavor for the conferences.  Unfortunately, along with the many millions of dollars, the sport has now become a national phenomenon and as such attracted the casual fan that couldn’t give two shits about the things that attracted most of us to college football in the beginning.  All they care about is whether their adopted school is competing for national titles or not and see the two team playoff currently held in the BCS as an atrocity because it only allows those two teams to have a post-season chance at the ultimate glory.

It’s the fans like these that want Mark Richt run out on a rail because he hasn’t delivered a crystal football to Athens during his tenure.  I honestly can say that I sympathize with these folks to an extent as I have a nagging feeling deep down that as long as Mark Richt is the head coach in Athens, Georgia football will always be a just above average program with an occasional 2002 or 2007 sprinkled in.  I just don’t believe he’s on the level of  a Nick Saban as a head coach (honestly, who is?) nor will he use the same tactics (you can argue the ethics of Saban’s tactics however you want, that’s not the point of this post) regarding roster management and whatnot that is required to keep up with him.

My main question to these types of fans is this: Why does the God-damned crystal football have to matter so much?  There are 120+ fucking teams in the highest division of college football and only one can win it every year.  The BCS has caused us to place so much importance on that crystal football that requires many moving parts to achieve, many of which are out of the control of the head coach of the football program.  Here’s my list of things that are most important to ME when evaluating the head football  coach at my alma mater:

  1. Don’t cheapen my degrees in any shape, manner, or form.
  2. Consistently contend for the division, and inherently, the conference championship.
  3. Consistently defeat our biggest rivals.
  4. Seriously, you better fucking not cheapen my degrees.

On numbers 1 and 4, there can be no doubt.  We know what the man is all about and he’s never going to do anything that will bring tarnish to my alma mater’s academic reputation (This is where the obligatory “Jim Harrick can go fuck himself” comment goes).

Numbers 2 and 3 are the only two variables that a head coach can control in the grand scheme of whether he is or isn’t competing for a national championship.  I’d say Coach Richt is doing a pretty bang-up job on #2.  The 4 trips to Atlanta in his tenure speaks for itself and he’s won 2 of those times.  While undoubtedly it was a low period with zero trips from 2006-2010, Coach Richt has finished no worse than second in the East Division 7 of his 11 years on campus.  Asides from the series with Florida (look at the rest of the East Division against Florida during his tenure and you’ll see a similar record), his record against anybody that could be considered a major rival (yes, that even includes those silly Gamecock fans) is pretty immaculate.  He has a winning record against every school in the SEC sans Florida and LSU (3-4).

I’m actually okay with arguing that the series record against Florida is a fireable offense, but you also have to acknowledge that his 7-4, 11-1, 7-4, 7-4 records against Auburn, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and South Carolina are also arguments that he’s getting it done against the major rivals.

My perspective is that the lack of crystal football is a warped way to evaluate Mark Richt’s tenure in Athens and whether it should continue.  I’ve laid out some legitimate metrics which I think his tenure should be measured on and one could argue that he’s done pretty well based on those.  However, I also realize that there are some that are just tired of the guy and after 11 years it’s unrealistic to expect everybody to still be in love with the guy.

Ultimately, I think Joe Bulldog would make a stronger argument about why Mark Richt  should be let go by focusing on things like letting fixable problems like defense and special teams lapse to the point where they began to cost games before fixes were implemented rather than the lack of crystal footballs in Butts-Mehre.  The more I see the “lack of crystal football” argument levied against Mark Richt, the more I echo the sentiments of the Wake Forest blogger (h/t: Senator) and how the aspects of college football that we all originally loved about it are being killed because of this laser focus on the crystal football instead of things like conference championships and the records against rivals.  We’re seeing it everyday in Athens as the University and the Athletic Department go out of their way to shit on season ticket holders with crap-tastic home schedules such as this year just because there’s a better chance of getting in the eventual playoff with that model.  Anyways, that’s just me $0.02.  YMMV, of course.

A Few Thoughts in Early March

I’ve really got to get better at this posting regularly around here thing. However, I changed jobs at the beginning of the new year and now have some more time to contribute to the cause around here. Hopefully I’ll be active enough to contribute material that is meaningful to discussion around UGA topics and college football in general. With all that said, here are a few things just bouncing around my head on this Monday morning:

  • Perhaps I’ll save the longer rant on this for another post at a later time, but who in their right mind believes that a playoff without the team that stomped the ever-living crap out of LSU on January 9th (since it seems señor Sam the Eagle and Larry Scott believe that the soon-to-be Plus One should be comprised only of conference champs) would legitimately be considered an effort at crowning the best team in college football?
  • Following up on my first point above. Dude…DUDE…You wrote an entire damned book espousing the idea that a playoff system had to include conference champions as it “maintained the integrity and relevancy of the regular season”. Now you say that a playoff system that includes conference champions over a non-conference champion such as Alabama would make the regular season less relevant? Consistency, thy name is not Dan Wetzel (h/t: Senator).
  • I particularly like the news coming out of Athens regarding Isaiah Crowell from his teammates, and I agree pretty strongly with these words from Artie Lynch:

“The person I’ve been most impressed with — and the person who I think has been wrongly scrutinized the whole year — was Isaiah,” Lynch said. “You ask these high expectations out of a kid who’s 18 years old, it’s such a different game than high school. Let’s face it, he had instant success and people were so demanding of him to be the savior, this idea of `Oh, the next Herschel.’ That was just unfairly [placed on] him. . . .

  • We’ll never know the extent of Crowell’s ankle injury and how much it truly hurt him to try to tough it out. I certainly struggled adjusting to the college life my first semester away from home and I never had to endure everything I did being scrutinized by a million different people. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him. I personally believe his ankle never really was healthy the last half of the season last year and we’ll see a world of difference this fall after a full offseason in the conditioning program and having endured a full season playing big boy football. I expect we’ll see big things from him next season.
  • Losing the Auburn game annually would probably be enough to make me stop caring about college football the same way I don’t really have a passionate interest in the NFL and college basketball anymore. I suppose baseball could get me through the year, but with the new playoff format I’m already having my doubts. Basically, don’t screw this up for us SEC president’s and AD’s. Please step back from seeing all the $$’s in your eyes and try to remember what made your commodity so valuable in the first place. I assure you it has nothing to do with entering the Dallas and St. Louis TV markets.
  • On that same note, the 9 game conference schedule is going to happen at some point. The coaches can go suck on an egg and stop whining about it. They sound just like the Jim Boeheim’s of the world who want the NCAA tournament to expand to 128 teams so that there is little to no chance they would ever miss it ensuring perpetual job security.

Post-mortem/Time to move on

I don’t want to beat a dead horse (no pun intended) as this thing has been covered pretty much everywhere in the Dawg-o-sphere. I’m not here to break down the multiple failures. We all know what we saw on Saturday night and it wasn’t pretty. Despite all the happy talk of changes in S&C, cancers being rooted out of the team, and a head coach that was now fully devoted to the game of football after the AD took a lot of responsibilities of his shoulders, we saw a team that displayed all the bad habits that have been so prevalent in the last two years in Athens that looked like nothing had changed from the awfulness that was 2010.

At this point, I’m not screaming for anybody’s heads to roll or anything like that, but I’ve finally been pushed to the point that I don’t have the faith anymore in the current regime in Athens to succeed and that this boat of bad habits is just too dang big for them to turn around. They very may well surprise me and go on a run this year that we all hoped for, but for the first time since Mark Richt was announced as the head coach at Georgia in December of 2000 I don’t have any confidence that it will happen.

With all that said, we’ve got a huge game coming up this Saturday that will go a long ways to determining whether last week was merely a blip on the radar and Boise is truly a buzzsaw that we were unfortunate to run into or if it was truly the beginning of the last season in the Mark Richt era. Despite the negativity I’ve displayed openly and internally the past week, I will be in Sanford Stadium on Saturday wearing my red and black and screaming my head off for the young men that represent my alma mater out there. No matter how bad it’s been or will get, that will never change.

Now, for five things I liked and disliked about the game last week:

I liked

  1. Malcolm Mitchell – That kid is a talent.  I hope we figure out a way to get him the ball more.
  2. I-formation – Only successful drive of the night was run from this formation and we looked comfortable in it.
  3. Orson Charles – Same comment as Mitchell above.  Have got to figure out a way to get the ball in his hands as much as possible.
  4. Run defense – Good job by Grantham to scheme to effectively shut down Boise’s running game.  We’re going to need that this weekend.
  5. Bradon Boykin – Most explosive guy in the open field at UGA since Fred Gibson.

What I didn’t like

  1. O-line – Looked like they were on roller skates all night.  Not sure if there’s going to be a quick fix to this thing outside of developing and recruiting some young talent or scouring the JUCO ranks for some ready to play guys.
  2. Lack of offensive identity – I’m not even sure how to begin on this one.  It just looks like Bobo tries too hard to outsmart everybody else and all that he ends up doing in the end is outsmarting himself and his players.  If we want any chance for success he’s going to have to be able to recognize early on in games what is and isn’t working and make sure to focus on the former.  Whether I think he’s capable of doing that is  a half hour conversation that would only make me mad.
  3. Fans booing and blasting players in social media – All the Georgia fans that booed and then got behind their computers to blast players on Twitter and Facebook can go fornicate themselves with a rusty nail.  We don’t want or need you in our fanbase.
  4. Crossing patterns – For the health of my heart, I’d really appreciate it if the UGA defense would defend the middle of the field this weekend.  It’s a strategy that has not been seen in Athens since sometime mid-2005.
  5. ‘Tree going down – ILB and OL are the two areas we could least afford an injury and we got hit hard by losing Alec Ogletree for half the season.

More to come on the South Carolina game later today and tomorrow.

Finally…More About Orrin Hatch, the BCS, and why I don’t think a playoff makes sense

It’s been promised to Mike that I was going to get my thoughts out there about the whole debacle going on lately around college football, but real life has intervened in the interim.  This is actually a very prescient topic just because of all the discussion going on within the college news ranks regarding Orrin Hatch, BCS, and playoffs.  In light of this discussion, I find it interesting that I just finished reading Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis this past weekend.  More on that later.

I wrote a piece while Kyle and his family took a vacation a few weeks ago regarding Orrin Hatch and his anti-trust crusade against the BCS.  Personally, I think Mr. Hatch is doing a disservice to all those rational supporters of a playoff and gives unlimited ammunition to the oldies (by oldies, I mean traditionalists, I’m still a child of the 1980s dammit) like me that are still in favor of the bowl system as it stands today.  My ultimate conclusion about Hatch is that he probably is just trying to score some cheap political points with his constituents as the BCS vs. playoff debate touches an emotional button akin to the pro-life/pro-choice debate. 

Rather I think he (as most politicians today) just doesn’t care how the taxpayer dollars are spent and thinks by spouting off with the word “anti-trust” that the proletariat will believe anything he says as “anti-trust” is a complex subject.  In reality, he has absolutely no “anti-trust” case as the BCS does not violate any provisions of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.  Nothing is stopping the Coalition conferences from setting up their own post-season and TV deal and call it a national championship tournament if they wish.  Anyways, the anti-trust debate is another discussion for another day.  I’m here to talk why I’m against a playoff.

A few months ago, I posted some thoughts about how I see any potential playoff systems happening.  Now that I’m a little older and a little wiser (with improving writing skills) I’d like to expand upon that initial foray into this slippery slope.  First, we need to define what is a national champion.  College football is unique in that it has always defined (or attempted to define) its national champion as the best team over the course of an entire season of work.  This is inherently different from every other sport where we essentially define champion as the team holding the trophy at the end of the day.  That in and of itself presents a problem with having a playoff to me.  I especially like that unique quality of college football where we try to objectively evaluate who was the best team over a four month season.  We don’t just say “this team that backed into the playoffs and only played four good games all season long deserves to be declared the best team in the nation”. 

I think the biggest proof of the fault in determining a champion in a playoff is evidenced by the results the last few years in the NFL.  I mentioned this in my previous post, but these are still my three biggest reasons why I’m against a playoff:

(1) 2008 Arizona Cardinals
(2) 2007 New York Giants
(3) 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers

None of these three teams would be considered the best team over the course of their respective seasons, but two of them were deemed champions and one nearly won a championship because of the playoff structure in the NFL. There’s not one person that will ever convince me that the 2007 New England Patriots were not the best team that season and possibly in the history of pro football. Yet, because they lost one game by three points to a team that they defeated soundly in the regular season, they are an afterthought. If the Patriots and Giants played again the next week, who do you think would be favored in Vegas? To get in touch with my inner Orrin Hatch, I find it slightly unfair that the Patriots weren’t considered the best team in football that year because they lost one game. They might not be the champions under the definition of “holding trophy at end of day”, but they were the best team in football that year and no one will ever convince me otherwise.

That in and of itself is why college football is different. There is no team holding the trophy at the end of the day. There is “best team in the land” and a four game playoff doesn’t determine that. A four game playoff determines who played good football for four games, not twelve. I brought up Moneyball earlier for a quote that I read in the book that I think is very relevant. It was near the end of the book and the Oakland A’s (who won more games in 2003 than any team not named the Braves/Yankees/Giants) had just been defeated in the 1st round of the playoffs by the Minnesota Twins who were considered an inferior opponent. A’s GM Billy Beane was flabbergasted at why everyone considered the A’s to be a failure becuse they lost in a five game playoff series despite the fact that they won 96 games during the regular season. Over time, statistical studies have shown that 15% of the time, an inferior team will win in baseball. You can’t account for abnormalities to the norm (in that playoff series Tim Hudson lost two games which no one would have predicted at the time). In Beane’s opinion, and generally that of sabermetricians, the best measure of a baseball team was how the team performed during the regular season because sample size was large enough.

Ultimately, this is why I’m against a playoff. I believe that if a playoff is ever implemented in the highest level of college football, there is an inevitable expansion just like what has happened with every other sport that determines its champion via a playoff. Once you start expanding to include wild-card teams and the such, you truly devalue the regular season. It becomes the objective of teams to make the postseason, not win their rivalry games and the such. I suppose I’m just a traditionalist in that sense, but I sincerely believe a playoff will devalue what is the truly unique aspect about college football and that is the regular season. There is no other sport in America where hopes and dreams hinge on every game.  One loss and you could be done for the season. Could you imagine a 16 team playoff (I know that 8 is the most discussed, but I think that it would expand to at least 16 if not more) where both Michigan and Ohio State have playoff spots wrapped up and they sit all their starters to rest for the first round of the playoffs? I don’t want to imagine a college football world like that.

I think the problem a lot of people have regarding the BCS, and what Orrin Hatch consistently mentions under the guise of anti-trust, is that the BCS is unfair.  I somewhat disagree with that sentiment.  I find the argument that so many people make that teams like Utah or Boise State are systematically eliminated due to the structure of the BCS to be a valid one, if not misguided.  The BCS didn’t prevent Utah/Boise State/Hawaii of the last few years from playing for the BCS championship.  It was the voters that didn’t deem them as worth as other counterparts. 

Some argue that this is exactly why a playoff is needed because these teams will never get a chance otherwise.  I completely disagree with that sentiment.  My recommendation is that Utah does what Florida State did 30 years ago.  Become an independent.  Take the Fresno State mentality of “anyone/anywhere”.  That’s exactly what FSU did and now we give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to rankings and the such.  The Utahs and Boise States of the world need to prove that they belong with the big boys.  We’re so quick to remember Utah beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl or Boise State beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl as proof that they belong while discounting Hawaii and Boise State both being destroyed by Georgia in recent years.  Behind the to two teams in the MWC and WAC there aren’t a whole lot of world beaters and that’s why Utah/Hawaii/Boise State doesn’t get the love in the final polls.  Start playing and beating the big boys more frequently and maybe you have a case that there’s a systematic exclusion of your team.

Anyways, to make a long story short, there are several reasons I am anti-playoff in college football. 
(1) There is an inherent devalution of the regular season that I refuse to stand for. 
(2) A playoff does not determine who is the best team over the course of a season, but rather who played the best football for 1/4 of the season (i.e. too small a sample size).
(3) I haven’t really mentioned it, but there are so many economic factors and communties of bowl games that would be adversely impacted by the loss of the bowl season that I don’t think there’s a realistic way to satisfy everyone involved.

Now do I think the BCS is without its flaws and is the best solution? Not necessarily. Do I think it is better than the proposed playoff models? Absolutely.

Welp

I’ve promised Mike a few words about why I’m anti-playoff and those will come tomorrow.  First, I have a CPA Exam tomorrow at noon and then there was this.

Wow!  This was something inevitable I suppose, but I didn’t think he’d end up with the biggest rival of the Braves.  I have mixed opinions.  I do think the team is better for this and maybe Frenchy will be as well.  I certainly wish him the best and it’s tough to see a guy that you enjoyed watching play be traded, but I understand that it needed to happen.  I’m really glad I wasn’t old enough to understand the Dale Murphy trade when it happened, because I might be soured to the Braves after this one.

A day late, a buck short

If you haven’t already, come check me out at Dawg Sports where T. Kyle King was kind enough to ask me to join in on “Open Mic” week while he takes his family on a well deserved vacation.

Please no…

Here’s some disturbing news from Capitol Hill.

The current system “leaves nearly half of all the teams in college football at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for the millions of dollars paid out every year,” the Senate Judiciary’s subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights said in a statement Wednesday announcing the hearings.

For the love of the Pete, can’t Congress just stay out of college football and worry about other problems? Last time I checked college football was just a game and a form of entertainment. I also seem to remember that the United States is currently fighting two wars, has inferior public education, and is in the worst economic crisis in recent memory. I’m no Senator, but certainly spending taxpayer dollars to hold hearings regarding college football and the BCS has to be low on the list of things that taxpayers care about. As a friend of mine said, “Why are we paying these guys $250K to basically sit around and complain about things that you and I complain about for free in bars?” I have one request to the men and women in our Congress. Please devote your time and resources to things that are more important. I’m begging you!

Here is a visual representation of Congress when it gets involved with sports.

Here is a visual representation of Congress when it gets involved with sports.

Update: The Senator adds some nice thoughts to this discussion