Defending my stances on 'Bama-Texas, TCU-Boise State and more
The difference between Alabama and Texas is the Crimson Tide's statement wins
Why Boise St. and TCU's best realistic matchups (Florida and Cincy), didn't happen
Ndamukong Suh could be headed for a landmark moment in the Heisman voting
After poring through 1,087 unread e-mails, I now know I'm not a very popular man in Austin, Texas. And apparently I'm not among the 99 percent of the population that seems to feel the TCU-Boise State Fiesta Bowl is nothing short of a crime against humanity.
But this being America, I know I the have a right to defend myself. Some of you are coming after me like a scorned Swedish supermodel.
Why would you call Texas vs. Alabama a mismatch based on the work of one day? Not once, but twice Alabama had to have a miracle to win a game against Tennessee. On one Saturday the Tide played out of their minds and won. On the same day, Texas didn't have its best game and still managed to win. Shouldn't we all be looking at the WHOLE body of work rather than the outcomes of one day?
Randy is absolutely, 100 percent correct. However, he also affirmed the very point I was making. If you look at the two teams' bodies of work, there's a gaping disparity.
It's true that Alabama had its own "one second left" moment with Terrence Cody's blocked field goal in its 12-10 win against the Vols. The Tide even had to produce a last-minute touchdown drive to beat Auburn just a week before the Florida game. If these were the only tough games Alabama played all season, I would have far less confidence in the Tide than I would Texas. However, from their 498-yard day against Virginia Tech to their fourth-quarter explosion against LSU to, you know, throttling the defending national champions, I'd say Alabama's produced more championship-inspiring moments than unsettling scares.
Conversely, Texas' closest thing to a "statement" victory was a 41-14 win at Oklahoma State, a team that lost its last regular-season game 27-0. If the Longhorns had some equivalent to Alabama's Florida win -- or even its Virginia Tech or LSU wins -- I'd be more likely to chalk up the Nebraska game as a fluke. As it is, the Longhorns basically faced two elite defenses the entire season, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and Colt McCoy and the offense struggled miserably against both. (I'm more willing to throw out the Texas A&M shootout as an aberration because Texas' defense has been solid in every other game.)
I've covered enough championship games to know anything is possible. While I will proudly note thatI correctly pegged the Texas-USC upset in 2005 and aptly prophesized pretty much every aspect oflast year's Florida-Oklahoma game (though I did overshoot on the score), I never saw 13-2 (Oklahoma-Florida State), 55-19 (USC-Oklahoma) or 41-14 (Florida-Ohio State) coming. And believe me, I'd love nothing more than to see another epic, double-overtime classic, or another transcendent performance from a Texas quarterback.
But as long as I'm being honest (because I certainly don't need anyone coming at me with a 9-iron), I can't escape this sneaking suspicion that the 'Horns are in much the same boat as Florida. They were the two prohibitive title favorites coming into the season, but once the games began, it became increasingly evident that Florida had some serious flaws. Its offense wasn't explosive. It had trouble protecting Tim Tebow. It committed too many penalties and turnovers. It was still able to roll off 12 straight wins largely on superior talent, but once the Gators finally ran into a comparable opponent, all those flaws got exposed at once (and their defense inexplicably melted down.)
Unfortunately, Texas may be in for the same awakening. Over the first half of the season, when McCoy didn't look like McCoy, we heard all about how he was sick, his receivers were inexperienced, etc., etc. They kicked it into gear after the Oklahoma game, but then they get to Nebraska and all those same issues came back. Quite frankly, Texas' offensive line and non-Jordan Shipley receivers aren't impressive. Unlike Florida, it was fortunate enough to play a team with its own share of flaws (like the utter lack of a competent offense) in its conference title game and emerge victorious. Unfortunately, like Florida, it now gets Alabama.
Come on Stewart: Don't you think there were some backroom deals the BCS worked out to get the Fiesta Bowl to take both TCU and Boise State? Now no other BCS-conference school has to worry about being embarrassed by a non-BCS school like Alabama and Oklahoma and the BCS won't have to listen next year to how an outsider is as good as one of their own. TCU and Boise State playing Georgia Tech, Iowa, Cincinnati, or Florida would have been much better games.
Yeah ... you're really an idiot. Matching TCU and Boise State is a sign of respect? The whole season, everyone's been questioning whether these two teams, especially Boise State should be ranked so high compared to the regularly top-ranked teams (i.e., the BCS conferences). So the BEST way to determine that is to have TCU and Boise State play an AQ-team, not each other!
While I believe the Fiesta Bowl's intentions were pure, there's probably nothing I can say here that will change the minds of all you conspiracy theorists. The Fiesta Bowl turned itself into a major bowl due almost entirely to a renegade approach and its CEO, John Junker, is probably the last guy in the business who would sabotage his own game for the sake of others, but I'm sure that's not going to sway anybody. But the argument I simply cannot accept -- that I really, truly can't believe I keep hearing -- is that these teams would be better served facing Georgia Tech or Iowa than each other.
First of all, let's analyze the situation in a realistic context, not some fantasyland where the BCS would suddenly adopt a playoff (or even The Mandel Plan) sometime in the next three weeks. Under the actual system we have, the best possible matchups for TCU and Boise State would have been against Cincinnati and Florida. I can't argue that. But realistically, that never could have happened. Cincinnati, in the bowls' eyes, was the least desirable team in the group. The school didn't travel well to the Orange Bowl last year, wouldn't realistically bring more than 10,000 fans to Arizona (Boise and TCU have both already requested additions to their 17,500 allotment) and may well be without its coach.
Therefore, the only realistic matchups available to these teams were TCU-Georgia Tech and Boise State-Iowa -- or TCU-Boise. They got the better game. Where there seems to be a real disconnect between myself and most of you is this notion that the non-AQ teams would "earn respect" by beating any possible AQ team. Anyone who believes that is still stuck in 2006. If Boise State beating Oklahoma was an earthquake and Utah crushing Alabama was a hurricane, TCU beating Georgia Tech would be like a steady drizzle.
Look at how much respect these teams have already gained just in the past 365 days. A year ago, Utah went undefeated and still finished behind five one-loss teams. A year later, TCU went undefeated and came within one second of playing for the national title. I'd say the Horned Frogs are pretty respected. And Bob's line about "everyone's questioning" Boise State's ranking -- who's "everyone?" The only time the Broncos' ranking ever came into question was after Oregon crushed USC, and those arguments were coming almost entirely from the state of Oregon.
Considering Boise State beat the Pac-10's champion, what more would it prove by beating the Big Ten's runner-up? Considering TCU went on the road and beat ACC division champ Clemson, what exactly would a win over that league's other division champ affirm? If anything, I would expect TCU to beat Georgia Tech, and I would expect Boise to beat Iowa. But I don't know who will win TCU-Boise, which is a pretty telling sign right there that it's a better game.
Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy put it best: "[The Fiesta Bowl] treated the Horned Frogs and Broncos just like any other team, opting to put together the best matchup and ignoring the programs' small alumni bases and newcomer status. In other words, they treated them as equals, which is all the non-BCS teams and their fans ever wanted."
If the Orange Bowl had the third pick (after Sugar and Fiesta picked their replacement teams) -- why did they pick Iowa? It seems like at least one undefeated team should have been available. Did they think Iowa would be a better game, do they travel better, or do bowls sometimes help each other out some?
Because Hawkeyes fans travel well. End of discussion.
So just to recap, the Fiesta Bowl went for the better team while the Orange Bowl went for the $$$, and the Fiesta is the one taking all the heat. Go figure.
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