Did the BCS Get it Right? Part II

January 9, 2008

Yesterday, I examined whether in hindsight the BCS got the national championship game participants right. As I have pointed out in the past though, that’s only half of the BCS’s mission:

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is a five-game arrangement for post-season college football that is designed to match the two top-rated teams in a national championship game and to create exciting and competitive matchups between eight other highly regarded teams in four other games.

So, did it get the second half correct?

The Sugar Bowl

Participants: 10-2 Georgia vs. 12-0 Hawaii

Result: Georgia 41 – Hawaii 10

This game sure set the tone for the 2008 rendition of the BCS. It was unwatchable unless you are a Dawg or you just liked seeing Hawaii get its comeuppance for actually thinking it belonged in the BCS and then daring to be sanctimonious about it. I feared for Colt Brennan’s life at times, and this game spooked June Jones so much that he actually willingly took the job at SMU.

The Rose Bowl

Participants: 9-3 Illinois vs. 10-2 USC

Result: USC 49 – Illinois 17

This game had the largest margin, and honestly USC could have made it even bigger if it wanted to. Illinois was overmatched from the start, and the Trojans just kept pouring it on as the Illini kept giving the ball away. From everything I’ve read, the nation wanted to see Georgia in this game, but that was kept from happening by two main things: 1) the BCS rules made it so the Sugar would’ve had to give permission to the Rose to take UGA, which it did not, and 2) the Rose Bowl officials think it’s 1960 and believe that there’s nothing better than a Big Ten/Pac 10 matchup.

Illinois had to be in a game somewhere since it finished in the top 14 and was the only eligible team left after you accounted for Hawaii’s auto bid and Georgia and Kansas’ selections. However, it should have been in a game versus someone around its talent level such as Hawaii, Kansas, or Virginia Tech. Note: it’s pretty sad if definite tiers can be seen within the BCS, but that’s the way it goes with the BCS.

The Fiesta Bowl

Participants: 10-2 West Virginia vs. 10-2 Oklahoma

Result: West Virginia 48 – Oklahoma 28

This game was probably not as close as the score indicates, though not nearly to the same degree as the Rose Bowl. The conventional wisdom said that OU had the better talent and was on a roll, as opposed to the poor old Mountaineers who had inexplicably lost to Pitt, keeping them out of the title game, and had lost head coach Rich Rodriguez. Instead, WVU rolled to a comfortable victory, and Bob Stoops’ bowl record now suddenly looks a lot like Larry Coker’s does.

The Orange Bowl

Participants: 10-2 Virginia Tech vs. 11-1 Kansas

Result: Kansas 24 – Virginia Tech 21

This one was the only actual close game, but it was the bad kind of close. Poor offensive execution by both sides hamstrung progress for these two defensive-minded teams, and yet each scored multiple touchdowns. This game proved that Kansas was good but not overwhelmingly so, and that VT (and by proxy, the ACC) probably just was not that good this year. That is all I have to say about the Orange Bowl.

The BCS National Championship Game

Participants: 11-2 LSU vs. 11-1 Ohio State

Result: LSU 38 – Ohio State 24

Ohio State got a garbage time TD late against an LSU prevent defense to keep within three scores, though the game really wasn’t that close after the first quarter. Again the SEC champion embarrassed Big Ten champ OSU in the biggest game of the year, turning the BCS’s experiment of having a special 5th game for the championship into a blowout-fest.

This game technically doesn’t fall under the second part of the BCS mandate, but the fact that it ended up a one-sided blowout reinforces the fact that the first part was botched.


So did the BCS fulfill its mission of creating exciting and competitive matches in the non-championship games? Absolutely not. Only one game (Orange Bowl) was competitive, and none were terribly exciting. As a showcase for the sport, the BCS gets a rating of “EPIC FAIL” for the 2008 bowl season.



Did the BCS Get it Right?

January 8, 2008

Now that LSU has defeated Ohio State for the BCS title, did the system set up the right championship game? I’ll do a quick rundown of the 1-loss and major conference 2-loss teams then make my case. After all, everything’s clearer with 20-20 hindsight. Teams are listed in alphabetical order, and the “Best Wins” category lists wins over .500 or better teams from major conferences (and Hawaii, if applicable, since the Warriors made a BCS game and had only one loss).

1 Loss Teams

Hawaii Warriors

Best Wins: Boise State, Fresno State

Loss: Georgia, 41-10

No wins over a major conference foe besides the Pac 10’s doormat, Washington. I feared for Colt Brennan’s life in the Sugar Bowl. No way, no how. I’m calling this one right now.

Kansas Jayhawks

Best Wins: Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech

Loss: Missouri, 36-28

While losing only once (and only by 8 points) is impressive, beating a perpetually suspect Virginia Tech team and a 7-6 Oklahoma State team is not, so Kansas is not helping itself much with the schedule.

2 Loss Teams

Georgia Bulldogs

Best Wins: Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, Kentucky, Oklahoma State

Losses: South Carolina, 16-12; Tennessee 35-14

The team was lost and listless until injuries forced Mark Richt to play Knowshown Moreno as a feature back. Uninspired play also forced Richt to pick a new motivational gimmick each week starting with the Florida game, all of which worked. This team was playing some of the best football in the country at the end of the year, but you must consider the season as a whole.

LSU Tigers

Best Wins: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia Tech

Losses: Kentucky, 43-37 (3OT); Arkansas, 50-48 (3OT)

It’s hard to accept a national champion who had two losses and gave up 50 points in a game during the season. Still, no one had a better array of wins, and as LSU fans will be quick to point out, the Tigers were undefeated in regulation and won the system everyone agreed upon.

Missouri Tigers

Best Wins: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

Losses: Oklahoma, 41-31; Oklahoma, 38-17

Missouri only lost to one team all year, except that it did so on two separate occasions. The Tigers did have wins over BCS participant Illinois and Arkansas, a team that beat LSU.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Best Wins: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin

Losses: Illinois, 28-21; LSU, 38-24

Ohio State had the #1 rated defense in the regular season and was one of the most consistent teams all year. It did however play in the Big Ten, which dropped a stink bomb in bowl season and looks awful now. Plus, Illinois was thrashed by USC and the final score of the LSU game was closer than it should have been.

USC Trojans

Best Wins: Arizona State, Illinois, Oregon State

Losses: Stanford, 24-23; Oregon, 24-17

The Arizona State and Illinois wins were certainly impressive. However, it took until November 3 for the Trojans to beat a team that would finish above .500 for the year. The Stanford loss was unimaginably bad, and though USC had it’s backup QB playing the game, so did the Cardinal. Oregon with a healthy Dennis Dixon was probably the best team all year, and USC lost by just a touchdown.

West Virginia

Best Wins: Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Rutgers, UConn

Losses: USF, 21-13; Pittsburgh, 13-9

The Fiesta Bowl win was a huge statement, the Miss State win was nearly as big as LSU’s, and the UConn win was overwhelming. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the Pitt loss was nearly as bad as USC’s loss to Stanford, and the team couldn’t get anything going against USF. In its defense, WVU lost Pat White for large stretched during the two losses.

As a side note, Pitt’s 13-9 win over WVU that sent LSU to the championship game was the same score as the UCLA win over USC last year that sent Florida to the championship game.


Who are the top two teams?

Hawaii is eliminated, period.

Kansas had just two wins over teams that finished above .500 for the year. You’re a nice story, Jayhawks, but you’re also eliminated.

USC, you only had 3 wins over above-.500 teams, and you still lost to Stanford. Total body of work counts, so you’re eliminated.

Ohio State had only 5 wins over winning teams, but it also played a pillow-soft non conference schedule and the Big Ten was deplorable this year.

West Virginia had also 5 wins over winning teams, but it was the weakest set of wins out of the teams with 5. WVU, you’re eliminated.

We’re now down to Georgia, LSU, and Missouri. LSU does belong in the top two because it had seven wins over .500 or above opponents and wins over two other BCS conference champions (ACC, Big Ten). Between Missouri and Georgia, the Bulldogs had more wins over teams .500 or better and beat a team (UK) that beat LSU. But, Missouri’s losses were better and the Tigers played just as well as UGA did in each’s bowl game.

For the moment, I have to pick the team with more quality wins, so I go with Georgia. That leaves an LSU/Georgia game. It might make people from the Midwest or West unhappy, but honestly those two deserved it more.

So no, the BCS didn’t get it right.

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Colt

January 2, 2008

Last night’s Sugar Bowl was immensely satisfying. I have been sick and tired of the Colt Brennan hype machine since, oh, about last year’s bowl season. It got even worse when Hawaii plundered the bakery that is the WAC and somehow played an even worse non-conference schedule to finish the season undefeated. I didn’t want to see him get injured (although Georgia’s defense appeared to be trying to accomplish just that with as many fearsome hits as it delivered), but to see him humbled on the national stage was great, and possibly even good for him as he heads into draft workouts.

I found an article at Foxsports.com with some quotes of his, and I’d like to share them with you now:

  • “When you play against a team like this, you can’t miss a beat. We didn’t do that.”

No joke, Colt. When your whole team has 4 guys who might in a dream scenario play in the NFL, you have to absolutely perfect because every mistake becomes a sack, turnover, or touchdown for the other team.

  • “We knew coming in this was probably the best defense we’d ever faced. We really wanted to do something special here tonight, but we just couldn’t get any momentum going. We have a lot of drives that didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t so much a question of X’s and O’s. They just won the battles all night.”

Perhaps, but your X’s and O’s guru on the sidelines also had a hard time not calling slow-developing pass plays despite the fact you became intimately familiar with the inner workings of the “Sportexe Momentum 41” playing surface of the Superdome.

  • “Everybody knows the SEC is the fastest league in the country. We just couldn’t simulate that in practice with our scout team.”

Self-explanatory. It’s similar to Billy Donovan’s comments about Marresse Speights and Alex Tyus – they’re suffering in practice because there’s no one else on the team like them to hone their skills against. Okay, back to football.

  • “We had never played in this type of element before. We tried as hard as we could to keep everything the same as we have all season long, but it just seemed like we weren’t used to the venue as big the Super Dome. Georgia plays in this kind of environment in the SEC every week all season.”

If anyone has questioned whether playing on big stages every week helps teams of the major conferences, here’s your proof that it does make a difference. Hawaii started 1st and 20 on its opening drive due to penalties, and it was all downhill from there. Before you bring up Boise State last year, remember that the Broncos had a similar harrowing experience at the hands of Georgia in Sanford Stadium in 2006, and BSU regularly plays at Pac 10 venues.

  • “We have done a good job most of the year protecting Colt,” [Head Coach June] Jones said. “But they had eight sacks and a couple of times we didn’t touch anybody. They just blew in and whacked him.”

Well said, June. That about sums up the 2008 Sugar Bowl.

If last year’s Fiesta Bowl set up this season’s craziness from week to week, this year’s Sugar Bowl most likely sets up next year as a season of juggernauts. Florida, Georgia, and maybe LSU in the SEC, Ohio State in the Big Ten, Oklahoma, Missouri, and maybe Texas in the Big 12, and USC in the Pac 10 all appear set to dominate next season.

West Virginia in the Big East would have counted if Rich Rodriguez had stayed, and then Pat White and Steve Slaton would have stayed as well. If WVU hires former Rodriguez assistant and spread option fan Butch Jones away from Central Michigan, and Jones can convince White and Slaton to stay, they might yet have a chance. After all, Jones molded Dan LeFevour into only the second guy to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season, Vince Young being the first.

Virginia Tech will likely be the titan of the ACC, but the rest of that conference save Boston College is so bad, it’d be difficult to tell if the Hokies are really that good. BC won’t qualify as a juggernaut because it wasn’t one this year and is losing its senior starting QB Matt Ryan. No one else in the conference will clock in as better than “surprisingly good.”

Trophy Day

December 8, 2007

Three trophies for Tim Tebow the Cheat!

Tonight is the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and by all accounts Tim Tebow will win it. He’s already won the Davey O’Brien and the Maxwell Award, and for him to take home the Heisman would be a great ending to an amazing season. No one deserves it more than Tim does, and I fully expect him to make history tonight.

Unfortunately, I am not in a place with cable at the moment, so I will not be able to watch the ceremony tonight. I have it recording on my DVR back home, so I will get to see it when I get back to Florida. That’s fine though, since most of the show is fluff-ridden biopics of each candidate. I can live without yet another ESPN piece on Colt Brennan, considering there’s been one nearly every week on College GameDay.

Congrats, Tim. You’ve earned it.

June Jones’ Comments about Tim Tebow

December 4, 2007

First, a video:

Jones went on to clarify his remarks here.

This is my interpretation of what happened:

June Jones finally got a chance to do a live interview on ESPN during a time when people on the East Coast are still awake and watching. He wanted to make the best case he could for his guy, Colt Brennan, to win the Heisman Trophy, so he did what everyone else has done in 2007: put Brennan in terms of Tim Tebow. He compared his guy to the front runner for the award and said Brennan is better. How he made that case was from the start bound to cause confusion.

You see, in the college football world, the spread offense is commonplace and there’s nothing unusual about it. It is considered to be a normal part of the landscape. June Jones however is first and foremost an NFL guy, so when he evaluates football he looks at both the NFL and college. The spread has not been tried in the NFL, so for him it goes alongside the triple option, the Nebraska power option, and other college-only systems. For an NFL guy, an offense has to work in both college and the NFL to be a valid offense and not a “system” that manufactures good stats due to scheme rather than talent and technique of the quarterback. Because of this mindset, Tim Tebow is a “system quarterback” for running the spread.

Now, June Jones implemented the Run & Shoot offense at Hawaii, which he also ran in the NFL while coaching the Atlanta Falcons from 1994 – 1996. His argument is that because Colt Brennan has proven himself in Jones’ NFL offense, then Brennan could run any offense and therefore is a better pro prospect than Tebow is. Also, because Brennan is the better pro prospect, he is plain and simple a better quarterback and should win the Heisman Trophy. Remember: in an NFL guy’s mind, anything that is NFL-related is automatically better than anything solely college-related. Tebow runs a college-only scheme, so he is not as good as the pro-offense running Brennan.

There are two glaring problems with Jones’ statements, though. First, he says Tebow is not a natural passer due to a lack of accuracy and not being able “to make all the throws” required by his offense. I find it overwhelmingly unlikely that Jones has had time to break down tape on Tebow, and due to time zone differences and just plain being busy because he’s a coach, its just as unlikely that he’s seen Florida play a full game. He’s probably only seen highlights of Tim’s play. That’s unfortunate because the majority of his highlights this year are of his runs, not his throws, because it’s his running style that makes him unique from any other QB. If Jones had seen Tebow play all year, he’d know that Tebow has made every throw in the book, from screen passes all the way up to 50-yard bombs. He’s stuck on the old “Tebow can’t throw” theme, and he hasn’t had the chance to see enough of Florida to know it’s not true.

The “inaccurate” comment is completely inexcusable when it’s easy to look up that Tim Tebow has a better passer rating than Colt Brennan himself does. Plus, Tebow faces much more difficult defenses week in and week out. Boise State and Hawaii going to a BCS game in consecutive seasons does a great job at disguising the fact that the rest of the WAC is really, very, extremely, deplorably bad. Take out the top two and you’ve got the Sun Belt west.

The second glaring weakness is his implied assertion that the Run & Shoot is a legit NFL offense. As far as I can tell, only two teams actually ran it in the NFL: the early 1990s Houston Oilers and Jones’ Atlanta teams. Other franchises have done no-huddle or other fast-paced schemes, but those two teams are it for the actual Run & Shoot. Those teams never made it to even a conference title game much less the Super Bowl, and the offense hasn’t been used again since Jones’ firing by Atlanta due to it not employing the running back enough. Jones’ final NFL record was 19-29. At best, the Run & Shoot was an experiment run by two head coaches (Jerry Glanville and Jones) that was discredited for a lacking a sufficient running game and not having enough blocking. In other words it’s no West Coast Offense, something that has been employed in the NFL consistently for more than 20 years.

Jones did backtrack from his initial comments some, saying that Tebow is a great QB who will likely win the Heisman and probably a national title as well. However, he continued, Tebow is productive by doing things that can’t be done in the NFL, whereas his guy Colt Brennan is the “best passer in college history.” While that’s true if you look at the record book, Jones should also look at the guys Brennan has been passing up: Andre Ware, David Klingler, Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons, and the like. Owning records in college is an awful predictor of NFL success, especially when you consider that Jones’ and Brennan’s Run & Shoot is what Ware, Klingler and (more or less) Mike Leach’s Texas Tech guys (Kingsbury and Symons) ran in college. You should also note that when pressed on the issue, Jones bases his evaluation of Tebow more on how Alex Smith is performing with the 49ers than anything Tebow has actually done at Florida.

In the end what we have here is someone seeking to promote his player by denigrating another. We also have an NFL supremacist taking a shot at the spread offense, despite the fact that his own “pro-style” offense hasn’t been run in the NFL for over a decade. We also have someone asking for 70+ points to be scored on him come August 30, 2008. Perhaps when Tebow levels his linebackers, June Jones will understand why Tebow is such a special player as a runner. And maybe, just maybe, as he watches Tebow connect with Percy Harvin on a 70 yard touchdown pass he’ll realize a year behind the rest of the country that hey, this kid can throw after all.

UPDATE: Tebow responds with humor, Jones backtracks, and Bob Griese talks some sense.