Unexpected sanity? It could happen…
Posted by Euroranger on September 14, 2011
Once again, it’s been a little while since I posted. My normal heroically lethargic nature has gotten a big shot of lazy steroids the past few weeks because FOOTBALL SEASON HAS STARTED! This is why, instead of scribbling aimlessly on a blog page (like I’m doing now) I’ve been sitting aimlessly (hey, just because YOU can’t figure out a way to sit aimlessly doesn’t mean a seasoned professional like my ass cannot) on my couch watching what could only be described as gluttonous amounts of football the past 2 weeks. Now, as one or two might recall, I prefer college football these days to pro football so I was only mildly disappointed when Tampa Bay forgot to pack an offense for their outing with the Detroit Lions. Note to the Bucs: one “pick 6” and an irrelevant last second TD will not likely lead to playoff fame and fortune. Take it from me: being a Bucs fan, I know a thing or two about creative losing. You need to figure out ways to lose that generate excitement and discussion. Oh, hey, will you look at that? A perfect segue into talking about college football because if we’re going to talk about creative losing we need look no further than the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
So, in the interest of full disclosure (not that I have to but it seems like the journalistic thing to do and if want to pretend to be a journalist, I pretend in detail), I attended the University of South Florida for 2 semesters back in…oh…around 1975 or 1976. I was 9 or 10 years old at the time but I was an enrolled student at the school. On Saturdays. My parents did this to me. You can probably surmise I hold much fonder memories of USF today than I did when I was actually attending. Still though, I like to follow them today as my adoptive alma mater because my actual alma mater (McMaster University) is in Canada and hell, who wants to follow a Canadian university’s football program in the United States…if that were even possible (it’s not). So, with the full disclosure out of the way, let’s talk about creative losing and Notre Dame football. You see, when you discuss Notre Dame’s current 0-2 start and are one of the legions of clearly delusional Notre Dame fans, you cannot talk about the USF Bulls’ victory or the Michigan Wolverines’ victory. You can only discuss the results of both contests as Notre Dame losses. What’s the difference, you might ask. Well, if you’re a Notre Dame fan discussing those games it comes out sounding something like this: “you see, USF nor Michigan WON those games…Notre Dame LOST…and that’s not the same thing”. I’ve had it explained to me via several internet message board exchanges that the Irish actually dominated those games and it was only via surreptitious circumstance that either lowly USF or hated Michigan were allowed to commit game larceny and take their leave of the Irish with victories in their pockets. It comes off like “you guys were lucky we were so clumsy” with the implied “because you SURELY weren’t good enough to win on your own” attitude.
Now, I’ll go ahead and admit right now that when it comes to sports, I’m a pretty conservative guy. I used to be a big baseball fan until they went on strike years ago and decided to allow the likes of McGuire, Sosa and Bonds to shred over 100 years of record books through the use of steroids like most people use M&Ms. I have pretty much not given a single shit about baseball in at least 15 years and find it sad and yet completely unsurprising that they have friggin’ Congressional hearings about cheating and steroid use. Anyway, in that same vein I have to calmly explain to the hoards of duped and suckered Notre Dame worshipers that I still like to determine the winners and losers of football contests by, well, THE AMOUNT OF POINTS THEY SCORED IN THE FRIGGIN’ GAME. Oh, I know, I’m such a hardass sporting Luddite but I’m stubborn that way. Anyway, yeah, you can mark me down as “scoreboard counts” and not “how many yards we got” or “the history of our school” or “we had a better recruiting class” or whatever other comforting phrase is the excuse du jour in South Bend, Indiana. It’s pathetic. I really just wanted to get that off my chest about the Irish and be on record as saying that before they get their asses handed to them by Michigan State this weekend and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish go from a sad 0-2 team to a truly awful 0-3 team still adored by the legions of fans who will be making fast and furious excuses for how Sparty managed to “steal” a victory from them. The over/under on this game is 51. That’s points. The over/under on the Irish fans’ excuses should they lose (they’re actually favored by 5 right now) is around a brazillion. Anyway, my blog post title mentioned unexpected sanity…and there’s none of that to be found in Irish fans, unexpected or otherwise.
If you follow college football you may have heard that greed and envy are about to implode the Big 12 conference (actually 10 teams) because the University of Texas decided it wanted its own television network and ESPN somehow agreed with them. Forget the fact that up to this point (barring eternally narcissistic Notre Dame and their NBC TV deal) only conferences had TV network deals. Apparently, when they say “everything is bigger in Texas” they must be referring to greed, hubris, arrogance and stupidity. Their conference rivals like Oklahoma, Texas A&M and so on don’t have TV deals but Texas decreed that they MUST have one so that’s what they did. Unfortunately, that creates a very unbalanced situation out that way. You see, college football is all about 2 things and neither one of them is victories on the field. Those two things are “money” and “recruiting”. This new Texas Longhorns Network delivers both in spades to the University of Texas. In and of itself, this seems like a smart and shrewd move by Texas…and if Texas were operating in a vacuum and was the only one affected by such a move this wouldn’t be a story. Of course however, they belong to a conference, one of the members of which (Texas A&M) also resides in the state of Texas…and the Aggies aren’t at all happy that their state and conference rival has the potential to flood the TV airwaves with Texas propaganda thus gaining a distinct edge in recruiting. In a move of pique, Texas A&M decided to take their ball and go home. Well, actually “leave” is the better turn of phrase. It looks, as of today, that they’ll join the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and begin play next season there. You may have noticed that I mentioned that the Big 12 is actually only 10 teams today (9 after Texas A&M officially leaves). That’s because last season two other teams who were in the Big 12 also left: Nebraska to the Big X (pronounced “ten” and actually with 12 teams) and Colorado to the Pac 12 (used to be called Pac 10 but they gained 2 members and saw the obvious name change that the Big X and Big 12 apparently were too brain deficient to detect). So, you have the Big 12 slowly coming apart at the seams starting around 2 years ago…so what does Texas do? Yeah, they give it a good solid kick of their own. Stories now point at Oklahoma (arguably Texas’ #1 rival) looking to leave and apparently they’re also interested in the Pac 12. If that happens the Big 12 turns into the Big 8 and many fans think an 8 team conference consisting of Texas, Texas Tech and a slew of also rans wouldn’t work. It especially wouldn’t work because it’s widely known that if Oklahoma leaves, Oklahoma State will leave as well meaning it wouldn’t actually be the Big 12 with 8 teams it’d be the Big 12 with 7 teams.
You keeping up with all this? Are you asking yourself yet how this could unexpectedly result in sanity? Here’s how I figure it could turn out:
For as long as there’s been college football, champions have been determined by polling coaches and sportwriters. They now use a system that attempts to put a much more objective set of criteria to work (called the BCS) but the system still takes in and uses human polls to spit out a who’s better score (known as the BCS standings). The only other viable alternative was to institute a playoff system which college football has vigorously opposed since Adam suggested it to Eve several seasons back. Well, if the Big 12 does eventually implode (it will) those 10 teams will all want to go somewhere. Those other destinations are the SEC, Pac 12, Big X, ACC and Big East conferences. Today there are 6 “major” conferences. After the Big 12 dissolves and those member teams settle elsewhere and after Boise State and TCU (perennial successful outsiders) join their own “major” conferences, what we’re left with is basically 5 major conferences comprised of anywhere from 9 teams (the Big East) to as many as 14 teams (possibly the SEC and Pac 12). When you get to 10 teams, most conferences split into two divisions and play an end of schedule conference championship game. Well, if the instability of major college football were to result in just 4 “super conferences” (conferences with 14 to 16 teams) then after one additional week of play we’d have 4 conference champions. And 4 conference champions can be distilled down to one national champion with but the addition of 3 more games.
In other words: a long sought college football playoff.
College football has long resisted the call for a playoff system primarily because it would be detrimental to the money they get from the bowl system they have now. In other words: greed. It’s ironic then that because of the greed of one prominent team (Texas) the ultimate fallout (due to more greed) could be that the system college football resisted in the name of greed…is defeated by the results of even more greed.
I guess Gordon Gekko WAS right:
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.