Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More important stuff

Well, I'm sure there's lots going on today. But all I seem to care about is college football. Today a column in the Dallas Morning News about Texas and their BCS predictament caused me to fire off a rather lengthy email in response. That will be the main content of this post. But be sure to check back, for hopefully later to today will be the first installment of a public service for you. That being what I loosely call "Battle of the Apples." Now the letter.
Regarding your column today (12/1), I have several points of contention. I hope you find no vitriol included despite the fact that I am, indeed, a Texas fan.
First, you stated that the "...Kansas game was a killer. Texas should have dominated a Kansas team down to its fourth-string quarterback." I would agree with you. The only difference is I think there is sufficient evidence that they did. It's often said that any stat can be misleading. I think in this case that stat was the score. In the game UT had a running back go for 161 yards, a QB pass for 298 and run for 114, won the total yard battle 581-348 and had a 7 ½ minute advantage in time of possession. Some might call that dominating. I think Texas fell victim to bad field position, bone-head personal fouls, and possibly some bad calls. My point would be that it's all based on perception. The fact that I watched every play gives me the ability to say Texas dominated that game yet the score didn't demonstrate it. The problem is perception shouldn't decide seasons or champions.
You also stated "style points count". That should be a red-flag to anyone who hopes the current "system" approaches anything reputable. This is sports. Made up of games. Games can take on a life of their own based on various factors that never show up in the box score. That's why coming back from 28 down to win by 21 or converting a fourth and 18 with the game on the line is impressive. No matter what the opponent. The problem is you use the exact opposite argument for Utah. I'm told not to judge their opponent, just the fact that they went out each week and won. The pressure to stay undefeated is huge. So is trying to overcome a loss to your chief rival in game 5 when the consensus in that your season is now doomed. Once again, it's all based on perception, and that shouldn't be a deciding factor for a team's season.
Also, you seem to downplay the quality of those Big 12 teams in the 20-25 range of the rankings. But I think if you took anyone of those teams out of the Big 12 South and put them in the Mountain West, or even the Big 12 north, they would have only 1 or 2 loses instead of 4 or 5. Put good teams together and the generally beat up on each other. Put one in with a bunch of patsies and you get...well, Utah.
The media (note a column today by Kevin Sherrington as another example) seem to be taking great efforts to distance themselves from the most recent BCS mess. Brown asked you "to take control" because he knows you already have it, not because you necessarily should. The media in all their caterwauling seem to miss one key point. You are the one of the few entities that can effect change. If the media chose to put more pressure on the NCAA and the university presidents instead of playing the game, we might already have a playoff. It would seem to me that newspapers and the TV networks, especially ABC and ESPN have the most pull here. Yet, the polls are sponsored by the AP (news organization), USA today (newspaper), and ESPN. Maybe the powers that be would get the point that writers shouldn't be deciding a national champion if the AP poll ceased to exist. Or if ABC and ESPN made it a point to harp continuously on the unfairness of the exclusion of Auburn or Utah. But they don't. You don't. Instead you fill out your polls and plan your bowls.
To the casual observer there would seem to be a conflict of interest here. ESPN is probably the biggest reason we have seen NCAA football rise to the status it enjoys today. It would also seem to give it a very strong voice into the debate over instituting a playoff system. I think ABC would be a close second. Both are owned by Disney so in essence they are one in the same. Yet, if I pull out the sports page and check the listing of the upcoming bowls I find that 89% of the bowls this year will be seen on Disney owned network. That includes all 4 BCS bowls on ABC, of course. I could also note that the Dallas Morning News is owed by Belo, which also happens to own our local ABC affiliate. A local sports radio guy is known to say often, "Follow the money." It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see where this leads. Everyone seems to be taking part in obviously faulty system and getting rich by doing it. Yet we the fans, the ones who foot the bill are left shaking our heads. So Keith, help us, your customers. If you know the system's flawed, do something besides trying to justify your participation in it. In the end, whether Texas is 4th or 5th or 6th isn't as much of a problem as the fact that you have more control over it than the team does. In a fair system, you should be writing about the championship match-up, not deciding who plays in it.

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