Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What? Agreement?

Sometimes I get to feeling fairly isolated due to my political beliefs and my musical tastes being outside the mainstream. I'm even a hockey fan in the middle of basketball country. But, somewhat like my political views, being against the college football BCS championship game is gaining steam, and the predictably boring LSU-Alabama rematch has helped.

I must confess: I only have heard, read, and surmised that it was boring. I didn't watch. I did check the box score at one point, saw that Alabama had kicked 5 field goals, that LSU's punter was as active as their quarterback, and concluded that I made the right call. From ESPN's Tim Keown, who gets in a lovely Rick Santorum dig in the process of making his case:

The LSU Tigers crossed midfield once and got so worked up over the achievement they promptly went backward and recrossed, apparently worried they were trespassing and might get in trouble. Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley got so much air time his mother was yelling at Nick Saban to go for it on fourth down, just once.

The complaint isn't necessarily the teams the BCS system chose for the title game. Instead, it's the system itself. All the calls for a playoff -- and there's really no argument anymore -- can be distilled to one sentence: More teams need a chance. When they narrow the world down to two teams, it's hard to complain when one team is undefeated and the other loses only to that team, and by just three points. But there's no way -- no possible way -- that (pick one) Oregon/Wisconsin/Oklahoma State/Stanford/Boise State would have been held to fewer than 100 yards of total offense by the Alabama defense. As good as Alabama's defense is, there's no way an Oregon-Alabama game would have been that unwatchable. And if an eight-team playoff gave us Alabama-LSU II, then fine.

This BCS National Championship Game was an ironclad argument against the current system, made all the more damning by the tremendous performances by the underlings in the Rose and Fiesta bowls. Not that anybody really needed any more evidence.

Les Miles, you mean to tell us you had a month to prepare a game plan for the national championship and you couldn't do any better than a bunch of slow-developing option plays and a couple of 2-yard pass plays? Did Jefferson tear his rotator cuff in pregame warm-ups? That game plan was so conservative I expected the cameras to pan the LSU coaches' booth to show us Rick Santorum in a sweater vest and a headset, trying to figure out which play was more likely to lose 2 yards -- Stroll Option or Hopeless Hitch?

I dunno. I thought the sweater vest was perfect- for standing around as an extra on the set of Happy Days.

You pretty much knew the game was over when Shelley kicked his fifth field goal with 22 seconds left in the third. There was simply no way LSU was going to have enough time to kick six of 'em and take the lead. But hey -- look at the bright side. At least Wing (who punted nine times for LSU) and Shelley don't have to go to the NFL scouting combine now; they had their own on Monday night.

Something good has to come out of this, so it's important that all those people who are fighting for the NCAA to institute a playoff format don't forget this night. They can't. They need to make sure nobody in power forgets how broken the system really is, and how much more fulfilling a legitimate playoff could be.

My cynicism is large, and I really doubt anything will change. Evidence seems to be the least motivating factor, with emotion the greatest. Maybe, hopefully, the ratings for the game were low. As ever, following the money tells the greatest tales. From Sports Illustrated:

TV ratings dipped for this year's BCS title game, Alabama's 21-0 win in a rematch against Southeastern Conference rival LSU. The Crimson Tide went up 15-0 late in the third quarter on five field goals while the Tigers' offense struggled to even cross midfield.

A year ago, Auburn drove for a winning field goal on the final play to beat Oregon 22-19.

Monday's game on ESPN earned a 14.0 rating, down 8 percent from last year. It's the third-lowest rating of the 14 BCS title games, beating only a 13.9 for Miami-Nebraska in 2002 and a 13.7 for Southern California-Oklahoma in 2005.

Awesome! Great! Hopefully the NCAA receives the message... and adapts a playoff.

1 comment:

Todd S. said...

My understanding is that it's not really up to the NCAA. There's so much money involved that if they try to step in and mandate a playoff the six BCS conferences will simply leave the NCAA. The change is going to have to come from the six power conferences, so it will be very slow.