Boise-Oregon debate, more mail (cont.)
OK, so if you lie to the NCAA you get suspended for a year (Dez Bryant), but if you try to intentionally blind someone by gouging them in the eye (Brandon Spikes) you sit out half a game. It sounds like the NCAA justice system needs some major work.
Reason No. 2,747 the NCAA has an image problem: Almost no one understands what it does. Think of the NCAA as the federal government. It sets up rules and regulations and goes about haphazardly enforcing them, but most day-to-day issues (like Spikes' incident) fall to the local authorities. The only reason the NCAA got involved with Bryant was due to concern he might have jeopardized his eligibility. During the course of the investigation, he broke one of its other rules. Personally, I think Bryant's punishment is absurdly severe, but because the NCAA's enforcement division is so powerless, it tends to go overboard in the few instances it actually gets to enforce one of its rules, often viewing the offense as an excuse to "send a message."
While there are literally hundreds of pages in the NCAA compliance manual outlining what a player can eat, from whom he can or cannot accept a ride, in how many high-school all-star games he can participate -- all falling under the "eligibility" umbrella -- not a single page addresses eye-gouging, sucker-punches, DUIs, marijuana possession or any other sort of personal misconduct. That falls to the schools, with the conferences occasionally getting involved in particularly unsportsmanlike acts. The precedent for in-game transgressions (like in the Big Ten earlier this season) tends to be one game.
By suspending Spikes for a half, Urban Meyer unavoidably set himself up for ridicule, but it's hard for me to get too indignant about it. Meyer is hardly the first coach to put wins and losses ahead of discipline. It reminds me of the time his predecessor, Ron Zook, suspended Channing Crowder for the season opener against Middle Tennessee State, but when a hurricane caused Florida to reschedule the game for mid-October ... Zook rescheduled the suspension. The reality is, if Meyer suspends Spikes for the Vandy game and the Gators wind up losing because of poor linebacker play, nobody's going to be patting him on the back saying, "That's OK, at least you sent a message about sportsmanship." He's getting paid $4 million to win championships, end of story.
On a related note, after reading all sorts of venomous Spikes e-mails, I found it interesting that the one guy who would seem to have the biggest gripe with Spikes, Georgia running back Washaun Ealey, doesn't think he should be suspended.
As a proud LSU alum and an ardent believer of your prognostication, please provide me a template for the path that results in the Tigers playing USC in a bowl game. We want this matchup, we deserve this matchup and we have been salivating for this opportunity since USC attempted to highjack our 2003 national championship. Given USC's second regular-season loss, this seems like more of a possibility than ever!
Indeed, I can authoritatively say no fan base is more obsessed with a team to which it has no conference or geographic connection than LSU's with USC. You would think it might have dissipated after the Tigers earned their second BCS championship two years ago, but no dice. Prior to last weekend, I was getting tons of incredulous e-mails from LSU fans as to why the Trojans were ranked higher than the Tigers. I even got one this week preemptively griping about USC's possible BCS inclusion over LSU's.
So I'm all for a USC-LSU bowl game if for no other reason than to shut up some of these people. If and when that happens, I would certainly hope that L.A. resident/Tigers diehard/2009 Mailbag Crush Katy Mixon gets to administer the pregame coin toss. But, unfortunately, it's going to be hard to pull off. To reach the BCS this year, LSU will either need to beat Alabama this weekend or, if it loses, win out and hope the SEC title game loser sustains a second loss. In either event, the Tigers would likely play in the Sugar Bowl.
But landing USC as their opponent will be nearly impossible. Besides the fact the slumping Trojans will probably need to win out, the Sugar Bowl has last pick of at-large teams this year. I can't imagine both the Orange and Fiesta bowls passing on 10-2 USC in favor of the Big East champion or TCU/Boise State, both of which will be guaranteed a berth. Sadly, this entirely one-sided rivalry may have to go unresolved for yet another year.
Challenge! Do you have instant replay? Boise State dominated Oregon the past two seasons. Go watch the tape. How can anyone rank Oregon higher? Is this figure skating judging?
Let's be honest. The only difference between college poll voting and figure skating judging is that football teams at least provide some data (scores) to work with. Though it would be interesting to watch both Jeremiah Masoli and Kellen Moore attempt a pirouette.
Stewart, I'm an admitted Penn State homer, but am I crazy for thinking Daryll Clark is getting stiffed in the Heisman talk? His 2,306 yards and 23 TDs (18 throwing, five running) are well above Tim Tebow's marks (1,874 yards, 18 TDs) and on pace with the golden boy, Jimmy Clausen (2,261 yards, 19 TDs). Shouldn't the quarterback of a one-loss team with those numbers get some chatter? And for the love of all that is holy do not mention strength of schedule -- Florida has played all of one team this year and that was LSU.
Well I can't entirely disregard strength-of-schedule since every objective rating system disagrees with you (Sagarin ranks Florida's schedule 27th, Penn State's 83rd; CollegeBCS.com, which mimics the RPI formula, ranks Florida's No. 7, Penn State's No. 40). But regardless, Clark's larger problem is that he laid an egg in the Nittany Lions' biggest and most-watched game to date, going 12-of-32 with three interceptions against Iowa. Say what you want about Clausen, but he's only thrown two picks all season and actually performed well in Notre Dame's two losses.
Personally, my Heisman stance hasn't changed in recent weeks. If I had to cast a ballot right now, it would go to a defensive player, most likely Ndamukong Suh (despite his penchant for hitting parked cars) or Eric Berry. And if we're talking quarterbacks with big statistics on one-loss teams, you can't top Houston's Case Keenum -- 72 percent completions, 3,293 yards, 25 TDs and five INTs. He's in my top three as well.
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