Monday, January 09, 2006

Texas 41, USC 38: The computers nailed this one...but I'm still trying to figure out this analogy:
So the Trojans are denied a second straight championship. Not a third. USC and its fans have been talking a lot about a "three-Pete" -- as in Pete Carroll, you see -- because the Trojans were No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll in 2003.

But the 2003 national champion was LSU. The Bowl Championship Series is a lousy system, but it's the system USC signed up for. You can't agree to play for a championship under one set of rules, then, when you don't win the championship, say, "Well, we won the championship under these other rules."

Unless you think the accountants at Enron were straight shooters.
Huh?!? Does that go the same for people who think Raging Bull was a better pic than Ordinary People? I guess they're screwed too, since the Academy had the final say in 1981.

Last time I checked, there is no official "national champion" in college football, since, unlike every other Division 1 college sport, there is no playoff. The BCS has a system that's supposed to match-up the two best teams, and remove most of the controversy, but it didn't work out in 2003. The best-ranked team that year failed to make it, so the vast fraternity of college football fans outside of Baton Rouge, Lousiana, treated it the same way boxing fans have learned to ignore the machinations of the WBC when determining who the "real" heavyweight champ is. They went with the best team, the team that earned it on the playing field, phony system be damned.

In fact, the same writer observed at the time:
This is of course what's so great about the BCS: It's complete nonsense. It was supposedly designed to end these end-of-year arguments over who should be named the national champion by presenting a championship game between the top two teams. It does no such thing. But here's a shocking secret: That wasn't the real purpose. You mustn't tell anyone.

The BCS ought to be used in business schools as a lesson in how not to approach problem solving. The Cliffs Notes version is that the people trying to solve the problem have to have clear, attainable objectives, and they have to be free of conflicts of interest.

The professed objective of the BCS is to crown a true national champion. If that were really the goal, the plan would be to figure out a way to have a playoff system, same as they have in Divisions I-AA, II and III. Simple. But the real purpose is to crown a national champion using a system that increases profits and consolidates power for the six biggest conferences, the four biggest bowls and the TV networks, the parties that created the BCS. That's a very different thing, and an impossible one.
Two years ago, he was as apparently deluded as Enron's investors. Thank god Vince Young made it safe for him to jump on an another bandwagon. Not even Plaschke would be that loathsome.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

O-Ver-A-Ted: Jonathan Chait, one of the new op-ed columnists for the local paper of record, has a fine piece on the 2005 USC Trojans. Considering that there is nothing to indicate that the PAC-10 was a particularly deep conference this season, or that the Big-12 was particularly weak, I don't see why Texas should be such a significant underdog next week. USC has a spectacular offense, led by the winners of the last two Heisman Trophies, but their defense (Pete Carroll's strong suit, after all) is not that impressive. Besides the now-legendary game with Notre Dame, they almost lost to Fresno State and Arizona State, teams with four and five losses, respectively, and were a bad call away from being 17 points down to Oregon.

Texas is a hungrier team, had only two close calls (both against schools named "O.S.U."), and actually know how to play good defense. They would be hard to beat even if they were playing an opponent that wasn't undeservedly being included among the greatest teams of all time. As the author alludes to, the last time we had a match-up like this, Ohio State knocked off Miami, the defending national champion, in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

And, of course, no team has ever won three consecutive AP national titles.

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