College Football Mailbag (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday August 15, 2007 12:46PM; Updated: Thursday January 17, 2008 3:30PM
Stewart, I enjoy your writing on college football -- smart and reasoned. However, I read where you got on Tom Hansen for not wanting the plus-one thing, yet in a recent CollegeFootballNews roundtable, you said the way to go is revert to pre-BCS bowl match-ups and have a four-team playoff. What gives?
Very astute, Milo, very astute. You've caught me in my web of lies. Actually, there's a pretty significant difference between the two takes. In the roundtable, I was asked, "If it were up to you ..." Unfortunately, however, it's not up to me, and the reality is that four-team playoff concept is never, ever going to happen (or at least not anytime soon). Tom Hansen might actually like it, seeing as it would serve his main goal of preserving the Big Ten-Pac-10 Rose Bowl, but that doesn't matter because his conference presidents, as well those around the country, remain universally against any sort of formal playoff. (Incidentally, I don't claim ownership of that idea. I actually first heard it proposed by ABC legend Keith Jackson).
The plus-one, on the other hand, actually has a realistic chance of happening. In fact, it's very close to happening -- if the Pac-10 and Big Ten sign off on it. It's not that I don't appreciate Hansen's position. Believe me, between growing up in Big Ten country and having experienced the thrill as an undergrad of watching my school participate in that venue, I hold nothing but reverence for the Rose Bowl. And I know there are still plenty of traditionalists on the West Coast who would applaud Hansen for his stance. However, my guess is that contingent is in the minority.
In attempting to block the plus-one, Hansen would be alienating not only the other BCS conferences but, I believe, the majority of his own conference's fans. Ask yourself this: If you're a fan of, say, Oregon State, and your team finished the regular season No. 2 in the country, would you rather, a) Participate in a Sugar Bowl "semifinal" which, if the Beavers win, guarantees them a spot in the national title game; or b) Go to the Rose Bowl, play, say, No. 9 Michigan, and hope that both the No. 1 team loses its bowl game and that the pollsters take it upon themselves to elevate your team to No. 1 rather than the team that actually beat No. 1. And if you're not sure, ask Penn State fans how they felt at the end of the 1994 season.
How is Oregon not in the baron section but Washington is?? Oregon finished No. 2 just five years ago, and has made it to a bowl game for over ten years funning. Syracuse?? You are an idiot.
Actually, it was six years ago. And the Ducks did not make it to a bowl game in 2004. And I believe the word you're looking for is "running." Other than that, though, it's a solid argument. So why'd you have to go and play the "idiot" card, Fred? C'mon now -- you don't want to damage your credibility like that.
Does it hurt a defense to churn through defensive coordinators? Texas is now on its third in the last four years (Greg Robinson, Gene Chizik and now Duane Akina), and the other two happened to combine to win two Rose Bowls (including a national championship) and an Alamo Bowl. How does it affect the players? Or are they just so talented that I could be the defensive coordinator of Texas and still win bowl games?
With all due respect to your coaching abilities, Donnie, I do think the 'Horns would look a tad lost without some formal defensive scheme. In terms of the effect on the players, however, there's a big difference between new coordinators coming in and completely revamping the system (which usually only happens if there is a head-coaching change or, as was the case with Charlie Weis bringing in Corwin Brown this offseason, if the defense is clearly in need of an overhaul) or simply putting his own stamp on the one already in place. Texas has basically been running the same base defense throughout Mack Brown's tenure, though Robinson brought in some NFL-style blitz schemes during his one season there in 2004 and Chizik was known as an aggressive play-caller. Since the new guy, Akina, has already been on the staff since 2001 (and technically was Chizik's co-coordinator), I would imagine the change will be very minimal.
For a good comparison, look at Auburn over the past few years. Starting with Chizik, who left for Texas following the '04 season, the Tigers just went through three coordinators in three years (Gary Gibbs in '05, current coordinator Will Muschamp in '06), and it doesn't seem to be hurting them at all. During those three seasons, Auburn finished fifth ('04), 19th ('05) and 19th ('06) in total defense. I would imagine that's because no matter who the coordinator, ultimately, it's still Tommy Tuberville's defense.
Last week, you ranked all 66 BCS teams (including Notre Dame) into four separate tiers, completely ignoring the non-BCS portion of college football. Granted, unless you added categories below "peasant" (my vote would be for "serfs" and "livestock"), you probably could not rank all 119 teams, but do you feel any non-BCS teams might fall into the "Barons" or "Knights" category?
There were a few I thought about including, but then I worried it might be confusing why I didn't list all 119. Again -- this is about national perception. I believe BYU, due to the legacy it established under LaVell Edwards, would qualify as a knight (and, prior to the BCS/non-BCS era, was probably considered a baron), as would TCU, due to its recent success. Army and Navy will always carry a certain prestige and therefore could justify joining the knights as well. Boise State should obviously go somewhere, but much like Louisville, I'm not sure where yet. The Broncos are obviously extremely well-known now, but will it last? It's not like Utah's image has changed dramatically due to its 2004 season. Fresno State, I'd float somewhere between knight and peasant. They've garnered a lot of attention under Pat Hill but nothing to the extent of Boise State. Everybody else would have to be considered peasants or lower (and lord knows they get treated as such when it comes to TV deals/bowl placement, etc.).