Friday, December 23, 2005

CAL 35, BYU 28: Playing in front of a sell-out crowd in Las Vegas, the Bears cruised to a three-touchdown lead entering the final quarter, then held off the Cougars in the ultimate Blue State v. Red State match-up. The capacity crowd probably saved the Las Vegas Bowl, or, to use the correct title, the "Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl", which has been played more often than not before half-empty crowds, who half-heartedly cheer on second-division Pac-10 and also-ran MWC schools, at rickety Sam Boyd Stadium. The NCAA had threatened to strip the accreditation of the pre-Christmas classic unless it drew at least 2/3 capacity this year.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

MSNBC dissents as to the lack of controversy over the Heisman Trophy balloting:

Opposing defenses were unable to do it all season, but Vince Young was finally tackled Saturday - by semantics.

The star junior quarterback for second-ranked Texas, Young placed a distant second in Heisman Trophy balloting to Southern California tailback Reggie Bush, who received a record 87.9 percent of the first-place votes.

The Heisman is presented to “the outstanding player in college football in the United States,” and one would be hard-pressed to find one better than Bush, an extraordinary talent who has prompted comparisons to NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers for his speed, quickness and cut-back ability.

But were the Heisman handed to “the most valuable player,” Young almost certainly would receive far more than 79 of the 892 total votes cast.

Although Bush came up with clutch performances when USC was in trouble this season - especially against Notre Dame and Fresno State - he sometimes was overshadowed by 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart and fellow tailback LenDale White.

Young, on the other hand, clearly was the focal point of his offense, which led the country in scoring at 50.92 points per game.

He often willed his team to victory, throwing the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute in a 25-22 win at Ohio State on September 10 and leading the Longhorns from a 19-point deficit to a 47-29 triumph at Oklahoma State on October 29, when he became the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 250 yards and pass for more than 230 in the same contest.
This issue comes up every November, when the MVP award is given out in baseball, and it's rather tiresome. There is, and should be, no distinction between who the "best player" is, and who the MVP is. "Most valuable" means, and should mean, the player who, over the course of the season, has the most value, not the player with the best numbers who happens to play either for a mediocre team or for a team in a tight race. That USC had other formidable weapons, or that Texas played an offensive set that emphasized a single player, is irrelevant in determining who should win the award given out to the best player in college football.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Disappointing piece on Texas Tech football, by Moneyball author Michael Lewis, in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. The focus is on this year's version of the Run-and-Shoot, or how the Red Raiders are able to compile the best offensive numbers in football by playing a joke schedule, in a weak conference. Their blow-out loss to Texas (ie., their one real opponent) is glossed over; 80% of the rest is the author's dull take on game preparation.

Come to think of it, TTech usually gets blown out by the real teams in the Big 12. Their non-conference slate this season included SMU and two non-Division 1 opponents, and their one big win in recent years, the 2004 Holiday Bowl, was against a disinterested, banged-up, demoralized CAL team that seemed to be playing as if it was engaged in a sit-down strike against the BCS. Lewis, a fine writer when the topic isn't his wife or concubines, has to guard against going down the Halberstam path of sportswriting while he's still young.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Basement Tapes: The New York Times reports on the cult popularity of a collection of grainy videotapes of Heisman Trophy frontrunner Reggie Bush, from his days playing high school football in San Diego

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