College football mailbag (cont.)
Ohio State is not in your top 15? You are kidding right? They only lose five-to-six people that actually play, and they return Terrelle Pryor.
Uh huh. It's just those "five to six people" happen to be Beanie Wells, Brian Robiskie, Alex Boone, James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Freeman, otherwise known as the Buckeyes' best players.
Not surprisingly, I got a whole bunch of e-mails just like this one. Let's get a little perspective here, Buckeyes fans. Ohio State was a borderline top 10 team to begin with, and now it's losing the entire nucleus of its success the past few seasons. Yes, there's plenty of young talent in the pipeline, but it stands to reason that the Buckeyes will take a slight step backward in 2009 before returning to the BCS mix in 2010 when Pryor is a polished product with an experienced supporting cast.
And let me just reemphasize a point I made in the Oklahoma-Ohio State comparison earlier: This is a good thing. Ohio State, and the Big Ten in general, desperately need a year out of the spotlight. Produce a 9-3 champion with no delusion of expectations. Land one BCS bid for a change. Then you've got a chance to make it through the bowl season without the same level of embarrassment before returning full throttle in 2010, when not only the Buckeyes, but Michigan, Penn State and any of several other rising programs will have had a chance to better fortify themselves.
Duuuuuuuuuuuuude.....the Buckeyes man. Pryor at the Wheel....Etc.
Got it. Pryor, Pryor, Pryor. Rest of team optional.
With the outstanding performance of the Mountain West this season, what are the chances that they could become a "BCS conference" and receive an automatic bid? I've heard that a formula for determining which conferences receive the automatic bids exists but it's always been considered too complicated and too much of a long shot to look into further. Should we start considering that possibility now?
There is indeed a formula, and it is indeed extremely complicated. It consists of the average BCS ranking of each conference's highest ranked team, the average BCS ranking of each team in the conference and the number of teams from each conference in the BCS top 25. However, the evaluation takes place over a four-year period, and the latest one began just this season (2008). So any change to the lineup of "AQ" (automatic qualifier) conferences would not take place until after the 2011 season, which means the Mountain West would need to maintain its current threshold (if it is indeed high enough) for the next three seasons.
Once again, after looking at your final AP ballot, you ignored West Virginia. I know you are not a big fan of Bill Stewart, but after the Mountaineers' impressive performance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against an extremely good and well-coached North Carolina team, why would you not give the Mountaineers some love? If WVU had turned Pat White loose like that all year, we may have been playing in the BCS title game and White may have walked off with the Heisman!
And if Georgia didn't lose half its linemen to injury, maybe the Dawgs would have faced the Mountaineers in that mythical title game. And if Auburn hadn't hired a kooky new offensive coordinator, maybe the Tigers would have won the SEC. And if Oregon State hadn't recruited a particularly elusive freshman tailback, maybe USC never would have lost a game, and maybe Mark Sanchez, not Sam Bradford, would have won the Heisman. And if Clemson hadn't been ... well, Clemson, maybe the Tigers would have beaten Alabama in that season opener, and maybe the Tide never would have gained the confidence to win their first 12 games, and maybe someone else would have landed their spot in the Sugar Bowl and maybe that team would have beaten Utah and maybe the whole BCS thing would have gone off without a hitch.
Personally, I'm fine with the way things turned out.
With that, it's curtains on another season of the Mailbag. Just a little heads up: While you will continue to see my articles on this Web site through Signing Day, after that I will be taking a sabbatical from SI.com through early July to work on some non-football related projects. I apologize in advance that the Mailbag will be on hiatus a little longer than usual, but I promise to have some new tricks up my sleeve for when I return.
Have a great start to the new year.