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Why the Utah Utes Football Team Should be the National Champions:

I posted a parody a couple of days ago on how the BCS computers are a poor way of determining champions. The comments on that thread lead me to think, as the sole University of Utah blogger here, that I should set out the case for the Utes being ranked #1.

We could sit and argue about who the "best" team in the country is all-day long without getting anywhere. Of course, such an opinion would be a highly debatable fact, and the truth is fans always think their team is the best regardless of their current record (just ask any Yankees fan!). Instead, the only sensible argument — and conclusion, in my opinion — is that based on our current system the Utah Utes should have been ranked the #1 in post-season polls.

However flawed, instead of utilizing a traditional playoff, our current system creates a 13 game playoff known as the regular season. During that so called playoff Utah beat everyone on their schedule including #7 TCU, #18 Oregon State (who beat USC), #25 BYU, and of course the #1 ranked team in the country for 5 weeks, Alabama, While some teams may have had arguably "tougher" schedules during their regular season, each of the contenders for #1 has at least one loss to explain. The Utes are the only division I team in the country with a "0" on the right side of their record.

Florida, the purported "National Champions," during the regular season played against 4 teams that finished the season in the top 25. They went 3-1 in those games, losing at home to Ole Miss, a team who had four losses during the season, including losses to unranked Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina.

In addition to their undefeated season, Utah also had the most impressive win in a BCS game. Not because they merely beat 'Bama, but for long stretches of the game, they made them look like a J.V. team in their own backyard. Florida's win over Oklahoma doesn't even being to compare to the walloping Utah dished out.

So the question remains why did Utah not get the opportunity to play in the "National Championship" game? That answer is surprisingly simple and disturbing: Pre-season Polls. Consider where teams who were ranked ahead of Utah at the time of the selection of the "National Championship" game started the season: Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Texas, and Alabama were ranked 5th, 4th, 3rd, 11th, and 24th respectively in the AP Poll. (Utah was not in the top 25). Other than the big jump Bama got when they thumped pre-season #1 Georgia at home (who turned out to be wildly overrated), it is virtually impossible for a team to move over another team without that team losing. So in week 4 when USC lost to unranked Oregon St they fell from #1 to #9 while Utah was still at number 15. When #5 Florida lost to than-unranked Old Miss, they dropped only to 11th while undefeated Utah remained at 14th even though at that time nobody had any reason to believe Florida was any good based on anything other than the preseason polls.

In short, because Utah began the season unranked, they could not jump any team who was preseason ranked in the top 10 unless those teams lost twice, (LSU, Georgia, West Virginia, OSU, Clemson, and Auburn).

Knowing this raises the question: How are the top 10 teams decided before the season has even started? Basically a bunch of people get together before a single game had even been played at the "BCS Conferences" Media Days, where they listen to the hype of those coaches and decided by way of a popular vote what 10 or 12 teams will be considered for the national championship five months later in January. While pre-season polls should be used purely for entertainment purposes, instead they create a system of 10 or so elite teams that must lose at least twice before they can be passed by someone not in this unique fraternity.

In regard to my previous post, some VC readers wondered why Utah doesn't play more big teams. Utah scheduled (several years ago) a game against Michigan at Michigan. It was hardly the Utes' fault that Michigan turned out to be bad this year. (Or, maybe I should rephrase that — once the Utes knocked off Michigan at home, that sent Michigan into a downward spiral. Michigan essentially ranked 26th in the AP pre-season poll.) Moreover, most top-ranked teams don't want any piece of Utah. They know that Utah is a traditionally strong team and could very well knock them off and have no incentive to schedule them in non-conference play.

Finally, it's no secret that the BCS voters just don't like the MWC and Utah. The Utes were called "BCS Busters" for a reson: They are not part of the "in crowd" and this in crowd consists of many of the voters and media outlets. It would be interesting to see how many of the voters had seen the Utes play, given the limited broadcast arrangements that the Utes have been able to secure.

The bottom line is if the current system worked Utah would have been in the National Championship game; however, because the BCS is not in a vacuum it does not work and the big conferences with the most fan support will always have an advantage over the little guys. As Rick Reilly said: "Some gifts people give are pointless: Styling mousse to Dick Vitale. An all-you-can-eat card to Kate Moss. The BCS Championship given to Oklahoma or Florida. It means nothing because the BCS has no credibility. Florida? Oklahoma? Who cares? Utah is the national champion. The End. Roll credits."

Update: A commenter on this post mentions this interesting blog comment on what it means (and should mean) to be declared a "national champion." Here is John Feinstein's open letter asking AP poll voters to vote for Utah for college football's sake.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Why the Utah Utes Football Team Should be the National Champions:
  2. BCS Declares Germany to be the Winner of WWII
TCO:
AP poll?
1.15.2009 7:47am
Tek Jansen:
By all objective measures, Florida played a much more difficult schedule than Utah. Sagarin has Florida's schedule 4th and Utah's 56th. Colley has Florida 3rd and Utah 73rd. Massey has Florida's 1st and Utah's 36th. Anderson &Hester has Florida 3rd and Utah 54th. You make your point about scheduling by selecting only parts of their schedule. The entire schedule matters.
1.15.2009 7:58am
Floridan:
Here might be a reason for Utah's ranking: wins over 3-9 Michigan (by two points), 5-7 UNLV, 4-8 Wyoming, 4-8 New Mexico (by three points) and 2-10 San Diego State. Utah also beat Weber State, a 10-4 team, but who's victories were against the likes of Dixie State, Montana Western and Portland State.
1.15.2009 8:07am
Curt Fischer:
College football is like figure skating, diving, or gymnastics. It is not sufficient nor even necessarily desired to "beat" your competitors. Instead what is being judged is a team's form and aesthetics. You have to beat the team a certain way. You have to look good while you do it, you have to make sure you stay in the limelight. Have a bunch of blowouts plus maybe one nailbiter loss against a high-profile opponent, and you are sure to stay on the forefront of the judges' minds when they fill out their polling forms.

Actually, it's even worse than those other sports. A gymnast can't hope to be Olympic champion by dominating opponents in regional meets and steering clear of too many high-profile international competitions. The judges at a gymnastics meet have to judge to performance more-or-less in real time. They might be expected to have some technical knowledge of gymnastics. But in BCS the judges only need to fill out their polling forms once a week or so. And to become a BCS judge you need only to get a job at a newspaper.

As long as schools are free to set their own non-conference schedules, and as long as there are ~100 IA teams and only 12 games per season, there can be no meaningful champion. I agree with Rick Reilly that the BCS has no credibility. Of course, when it comes to picking national champions, neither does he (nor does, I am sorry to say, Judgeprof Cassell).
1.15.2009 8:19am
BKM:
"Florida's win over doesn't even compare"?

This may be telling of the amount of college football the poster has actually watched. Mean to look that up before you posted?
1.15.2009 8:22am
mrshl (www):
I have to say Reilly's post convinced me. And I'm a Texas fan who's not a Reilly fan. But he's right about this. There are lots of cases to be made for different teams. But the case against Utah is pretty weak.
1.15.2009 8:30am
BA:
To follow up on BKM's point, the inability to get "Ole Miss" right also detracts from the credibility of the post.
1.15.2009 8:31am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

While some teams may have had arguably "tougher" schedules during their regular season

I totally thought you were serious until I read that line. My hat is off to you sir.
1.15.2009 8:32am
Steve Donohue (mail) (www):
"It would be interesting to see how many of the voters had seen the Utes play, given the limited broadcast arrangements that the Utes have been able to secure."

That's Utah's fault, or at least the MWC's fault. Most Mountain West conference games are shown on CBS Sports Channel, which almost no one gets. Even someone like me in a major market (Chicago) and with all the added sports features my cable system gives doesn't get that channel. The Mountain West worked out that agreement because the conference wanted to keep all of their marquee matchups on Saturday or Thursday, while outlets like ESPN usually move some smaller conference matchups to other days (MAC football on Tuesdays, WAC football on Fridays).

"(Or, maybe I should rephrase that — once the Utes knocked off Michigan at home, that sent Michigan into a downward spiral. Michigan essentially ranked 26th in the AP pre-season poll.)"

Michigan was always going to be bad this year. Losing by two to Utah wasn't a huge surprise (they were the underdog in that game) and Michigan won the next two out of three games, including Wisconsin, so they didn't go into a tailspin. Arguably, it was the Illinois beating followed by the loss to lowly Toledo that sent them into a tailspin.

Also, depending upon what your meaning of #1 is, there's a whole lot of teams you can make a better case for. If #1 means "most impressive resume", the arguments on behalf of Florida made above are clear. If #1 means "best team", then Vegas linesmakers would have five or six teams ranked ahead of Utah (and no, the line is not there just to get even money on both teams- that's a fallacy.)

Finally, most of the smaller conferences want nothing to do with the championship game, or even a playoff. I know, for example, the president of the WAC (Boise State's conference) has said they like the arrangement, because they have a realistic chance at winning a major bowl. They have little to no chance of winning a tournament.
1.15.2009 8:32am
Go Horns!:
Maybe Utah should not have backed out of their game with Texas (In 2004, Urban Meyer backed out of the scheduled 2008 game saying that it would make their schedule too tough). Don't cry about not getting to play the big boys when y'all finally get them on your schedule then decide you don't want to play in a game against a team with more than 3 legitimate pro prosprects.
1.15.2009 8:36am
Leland (mail):
Utah has a great argument for being #1. From a purely political standpoint, all those in favor of a playoff system ought to be pushing that notion.
1.15.2009 8:48am
hawkins:
You cant quote Rick Reilly regarding anything other than bad jokes and expect it to be taken seriously. He knows less about sports than the average columnist, and that's saying something.

I do wish Utah had finished #1 in the AP poll. It would be a catalyst for changing the current system. However, I dont believe for a second they're one of the 3 or 4 "best" teams in the country.
1.15.2009 9:11am
hawkins:

Vegas linesmakers would have five or six teams ranked ahead of Utah (and no, the line is not there just to get even money on both teams- that's a fallacy.)


I agree that linesmakers are much more accurate than the rankings. But is that really a fallacy? Their goal is to have even money. It just shows that public opinion is fairly accurate.
1.15.2009 9:15am
Chris from ASC (mail) (www):
I'll make a case against Utah. If they wanted to get in the national championship game they shouldn't have backed out of their game with Texas this last football season. Beating Texas would have made Utah impossible to ignore. Consequently Texas beating Utah would have been enough to keep them above Oklahoma and send them to the National Championship game. In backing out Utah screwed both teams.

If Utah wants to say they have an argument for more recognition they need to act like in with their schedule.
1.15.2009 9:18am
Guest Commenter #73:
Paul Cassell:

I second Tek Jansen and Floridan. You can't simply gloss over strength of schedule with:


While some teams may have had arguably "tougher" schedules during their regular season, each of the contenders for #1 has at least one loss to explain. The Utes are the only division I team in the country with a "0" on the right side of their record.


Further, you do your credibility no favors by being very selective as to your statistics. For instance, even though Alabama was not ranked No. 1 when Utah played it, you try to bolster Utah's resume by referring to Alabama as "the #1 ranked team in the country for 5 weeks." Yet you refer to Mississippi, the team that beat Florida (31-30), as "a team who had four losses during the season, including losses to unranked Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina." Though your post is replete with teams' rankings, you make no mention of the fact that Mississippi ended the season ranked No. 15, or that "unranked" Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina were all ranked during the season. Wake Forest, for example, was #20 at the time it beat Mississippi, and got as high as #15.

Why do you mention Alabama's highest ranking, which is neither its current ranking nor even its ranking at the time it played Utah, but refer to Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina as "unranked" and omit the fact that Mississippi ended the season at No. 15? If you want to use a team's final ranking, that's fine; if you want to use the highest ranking attained by a team during the season, that's also fine. However, you risk your credibility when you pick and choose to bolster your preferred team.
1.15.2009 9:28am
David Walser:

I'll make a case against Utah. If they wanted to get in the national championship game they shouldn't have backed out of their game with Texas this last football season. Beating Texas would have made Utah impossible to ignore. Consequently Texas beating Utah would have been enough to keep them above Oklahoma and send them to the National Championship game. In backing out Utah screwed both teams.


True, but who was responsible for backing out of the Texas game? Urban Meyer, then the coach of Utah and now the coach of Florida. Seems Meyer screwed his former team to the benefit of his current team. It's not really fair to blame the current coach and players for the decisions made by the former coach.
1.15.2009 9:28am
hawkins:

True, but who was responsible for backing out of the Texas game? Urban Meyer, then the coach of Utah and now the coach of Florida. Seems Meyer screwed his former team to the benefit of his current team. It's not really fair to blame the current coach and players for the decisions made by the former coach.


How is this any different than "blaming" the former coach for the players he recruited? Or blaming the school for the former coach's recruiting violations?
1.15.2009 9:31am
gran habano:
"By all objective measures, Florida played a much more difficult schedule than Utah. Sagarin has Florida's schedule 4th and Utah's 56th. Colley has Florida 3rd and Utah 73rd. Massey has Florida's 1st and Utah's 36th. Anderson &Hester has Florida 3rd and Utah 54th. You make your point about scheduling by selecting only parts of their schedule. The entire schedule matters."
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I disagree. It's the big games that count most. And Utah and Florida both played 4 top 25 teams. Utah won all of them, and FL didn't.

Looking at the magnificent NCAA basketball tournament that many would like to emulate in football, the selection committee always points to specific games to select and seed teams. Overall schedule strength and record? Sure, it's a consideration, but whacking good teams is a prime indicator of a team's quality, and the committee knows it. They will sit at the microphone and point to one specific GAME, at ANY point in the season, as the determining factor in their final decision. Big games matter. If you show up at showtime, it matters. And if you don't....

UT played a lot of cupcakes, and that dragged down their overall schedule strength. But, they beat those cupcakes. And they beat the good teams, more than Florida.

I got no dog in this fight, but I do agree this is more of a media issue, and a money issue, than a football issue. Utah doesn't pay, and won't be paying next season, and I think decisionmakers act accordingly.
1.15.2009 9:35am
wjmooner:
Tek:

The problem with your strength of schedule argument is that Penn State had the 55th toughest schedule according to Sagarin, for example. Do you truly think that if Penn State had gone undefeated that they wouldn't have won the National Championship? Nobody seriously can argue that an undefeated Penn State wouldn't have won the national title over Florida or Oklahoma. It's absurd.

That's why the failure to recognize Utah as national champions is also absurd. They played, essentially, the same schedule as Penn State. Sure, Florida's overall strength of schedule was better, but Utah and Florida aren't going to lose to mediocre teams anyway, so it doesn't matter if Utah beats Wyoming or Florida beats Tennessee. What matters is whether they have proven themselves against strong competition. Utah's strength of schedule is more than sufficient to demonstrate that they are National Champions.
1.15.2009 9:36am
Matthewccr (mail):

I disagree. It's the big games that count most. And Utah and Florida both played 4 top 25 teams. Utah won all of them, and FL didn't.


Florida and USC won all of their big games, too. Florida/Ole Miss was hardly a big game. It was only televised regionally. Same for USC/Oregon State. Both of these teams had 4 or 5 games this year that were 'big[ger]' games.


And..... wait..... are you guys saying the BCS isn't a legitimate way to pick a national champion?

Shocking.
1.15.2009 9:42am
Applekeys:
A lot of these debates are circular and not well reasoned. I can't say Rick Reilly's made a lot of sense.

The best analysis of the BCS and what it means to even pick a National Champion I've seen is here:

Smart Football: What does (should) it mean to be crowned National Champion?

I mean there are counterarguments to the Utah as champion position, but they usually presuppose some normative view of what a National Champion should be (and few of those conceptions are the usual result of a playoff anyway). I mean, if you want to know who would win most games, I think most would say Florida. Utah, on the other hand, maybe ought to be rewarded for "the best season." (Or you might want to "stick it" to the BCS people, but to what end?)
1.15.2009 9:44am
Gator Bait (mail):
Sorry, but for once you are wrong about something. Your complaint is that Utah had a better season, and you cite as support their strength of schedule and perfect record. That logic, indeed, is that a one-loss team cannot be better than an undefeated team.

Back in August, had you looked at the schedules and said, "who would rank higher in January: a one-loss Florida team or an undefeated Utes team?" No one in their right mind, after looking at the schedules, would have said Utah.

The reality is that Utah did not have a chance to win the championship this year, regardless of how their season played out. That's because they play in the minor leagues, and occasionally step up to play in the majors.

Significantly, I have no doubt that they could play in the majors, and could have had an amazing season in the SEC. But they don't, and they didn't. It's not UF's fault, so quit trying to take away their championship. They played a tougher schedule, and you will never know what would have happened to Utah had they played UF's schedule.

Bottom Line: stop speculating, start respecting.
1.15.2009 9:51am
hawkins:

the [NCAA basketball] selection committee always points to specific games to select and seed teams. Overall schedule strength and record?


Strength of schedule is one of the biggest things the committee takes into account. Hence Arizona receiving a birth last year over Arizona State, a team that beat them twice.
1.15.2009 9:53am
gran habano:
Wait a minute, Matthew, you're arguing now that Mississippi is a cupcake, and that it's ok to lose to a cupcake?

Heck, then UT coulda lost to Towson State Teachers, and still be making their same argument, couldn't they?

I disagree with you on Ole Miss, too. Fine, fine football team there. And FL lost to 'em.
1.15.2009 9:58am
Rich Vail, Pikesville, MD (mail):
Yet another dismal BCS end of year...the real solution would be to dump the lame Big East Conference, and add the Mountain West Conference...hmmmm...any takers?

The other alternative would be to use the same system that all the other (whatevertheirnamesarethisseason) divisions do...a true 16 team play off...use the 16 biggest bowls as the format...and invite the season ending top 16 teams...that would solve the problem
1.15.2009 10:05am
Don Miller (mail) (www):
The reality is the roots of the BCS system lie with the 1985 BYU Cougars. They won the National Championship as a WAC Team. They spurned the offers from the big Bowls to play in the Holiday Bowl.

The Big Bowls were upset, the major Conferences were upset. The BCS System was designed to make sure that a team from a small conference would never ever win the National Title again.

The only way to make the current system fair is to eliminate preseason polls and SOS calculations from the system. After about 6 weeks of actual games, the computers can do a pretty good job of sorting out who is playing the stronger opponents and start ranking them accordingly, by week 10, we would have a real SOS ranking based on actual performance during the current season.

Won't work that way in reality though. It doesn't enough to keep small schools from rising to the top.
1.15.2009 10:12am
Enrique:
Most people will stop reading this once they get to the part where you ascribe to Utah's opponents the highest "ranking" they achieved over the course of the season, while you use the final rankings of the season (where, after all, there were many more opportunities to lose) to determine Florida's opponents' "rankings."

Applying the same strength-of-schedule metric you apply to Utah's opponents to Florida's opponents, you'll see that Florida beat a #3 LSU team, a #8 Georgia team, a #1 Alabama team, and a #1 Oklahoma team, among others.
1.15.2009 10:15am
hawkins:

Yet another dismal BCS end of year...the real solution would be to dump the lame Big East Conference, and add the Mountain West Conference...hmmmm...any takers?


It could happen, but not until 2011

"There is indeed a formula, and it is indeed extremely complicated. It consists of the average BCS ranking of each conference's highest ranked team, the average BCS ranking of each team in the conference and the number of teams from each conference in the BCS top 25. However, the evaluation takes place over a four-year period, and the latest one began just this season (2008). So any change to the lineup of "AQ" (automatic qualifier) conferences would not take place until after the 2011 season, which means the Mountain West would need to maintain its current threshold (if it is indeed high enough) for the next three seasons."
1.15.2009 10:16am
rjs:
Yet another dismal BCS end of year...the real solution would be to dump the lame Big East Conference, and add the Mountain West Conference...hmmmm...any takers?

I disagree. The big ten needs to get dumped.
1.15.2009 10:19am
Enrique:
My bad - those were in fact the final AP rankings for most of Utah's opponents. However, if Utah gets extra credit for beating a #1 Alabama, I still fail to see why Florida doesn't get extra credit for beating a #1 Alabama and a #1 Oklahoma (when they were both #1).
1.15.2009 10:31am
soonerfan:
I agree that Florida's win in the "national championship" game doesn't even compare; OU was in that game neck-and-neck with Florida until the interception that lead to a TD and 10-point lead late in the 4th quarter. Florida had the lucky breaks in that game (both Bradford interceptions were just plain bad luck), and the only objectively impressive performance they put up was red-zone defense. Other than that, OU's offense could have put up a lot of points against them (but for a critically important holding call, Stoops running the exact-same-play 4 times from the 5 yard line, and one massively unlucky interception at the goal line, OU scores 35 and wins easily). Close game. Lotsa credit to Florida but not as much as the media's giving them.

In fact, Florida beat Bama much less impressively than Utah did (the SEC conference championship was a really close game and took two comeback TT-lead drives in the 4th to seal it). Utah blew out Bama 21-0 in the first few minutes of that game (and oh how sweet it was to see that!) and they were never really all that close to coming back.

Utah to #1 in the AP poll!
1.15.2009 10:34am
Not so fast, my friend (mail):

If #1 means "best team", then Vegas linesmakers would have five or six teams ranked ahead of Utah (and no, the line is not there just to get even money on both teams- that's a fallacy.)


So what you're telling me is that the Vegas casinos gamble on college football. This is absurd. The whole point of the operation is to make money on mathematical probabilities. There isn't a bet in the house that is a gamble for the casino. They are all just house-weighted statistics. Getting even money on both sides of a game is precisely what the lines are for.

As an avid Longhorn fan, I would begrudgingly vote Utah #1 as well. They played a legit schedule, rolled Alabama (and would do it again if given the chance) and finished undefeated. The FL-OU game was a slopfest played between one team that clearly should not have been there (OU) and another that looked like it didn't care to be there. For more pro-Utah analysis, see:

1.15.2009 10:45am
ChrisIowa (mail):
Rich V.

a true 16 team play off...use the 16 biggest bowls as the format...and invite the season ending top 16 teams...that would solve the problem

You would need 15 games to eliminate 15 of the 16 teams.
1.15.2009 10:47am
Guest Commenter #73:
Enrique,

Utah beat an unranked Alabama team. Florida, on the other hand, beat both No. 1 Alabama and No. 1 Oklahoma.

Or at least that's what I'd argue if I wanted to play the foil to Paul Cassell. You do, however, have to agree with his statement that "the truth is fans always think their team is the best."
1.15.2009 11:09am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
The problem is that Division One is too big. Since Utah didn't stand a chance of being the champion, then it should follow that they don't belong in the division. Strip Division One down only to those teams that might possibly win the championship, and then let them play each other. If you did that, "playoffs" would become moot.

What this year proves is that not all Division One teams are really Division One, more like One-A.
1.15.2009 11:16am
Steve Donohue (mail) (www):
'So what you're telling me is that the Vegas casinos gamble on college football. This is absurd."

Yes, they do. They gamble on games all the time. Sportsbooks on the whole make money, but there are lots of times when they're forced to take a bath because they're shading public opinion to one side (for example, every major sportsbook lost millions last Super Bowl because they were essentailly betting on the Patriots by refusing to balance the action.) There are some games where the linesmakers have no opinion about the game and simply try to split the money, take home the vig, and call it a day. But there are a great many more games where the books are passively gambling on a game by presenting a line they feel to be favorable to Team A, but they no will result in much more money being bet on Team B.

This usually happens with big road favorites in football. The home team has, over time, a three point advantage over the road team. People see a good team favored by less than they think they should be and bet exuberently- someimtes as much as 90% of the money comes in on one team. If the books are scared they'll move the line, but more times than not they'll leave it right where it is and let the money roll in (about once a week in college football, they'll even move it towards the favorite to encourage more money to come in.)
1.15.2009 11:20am
Melvin H. (mail):
This also works the other direction as well, as I will give two examples of such problems which involve Air Force.

1) Back a few years ago, Air Force was looking for another game to fill its schedule. The reported teams in the running were Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, Texas A&M, and Nebraska. (Keep in mind, this was a few years ago, not long after Nebraska won its second national title under Tom Osborne.) Not a bad bunch of teams, right? And Air Force had a top-20 ranking for a number of years AND had knocked off Ohio State and Texas in bowl games.
Who did Air Force pick? NONE of them--because none of the teams listed wanted to come to Colorado Springs to play Air Force! All the teams listed either wanted two-for-one at their place with the one game here way down the line or wanted the game at a neutral site like Kansas City or Dallas. (Contrast that with Oklahoma--they came here first as their first game after they won the "national championship"; the reverse game is coming up. Kudos to the Sooners!)

2) Back when the papers ran a listing of the BCS (BS?) rankings, it was listed by each component (W-L record, AP &coaches rankings, computer rankings, schedule strength (SOS), etc.) so you could see the way the BCS standings were figured. Air Force was a #8 AP-ranked team at the time (due to play Notre Dame that week).
Just for fun, I figured out what might have happened if Air Force had been #1 in both the human polls (AP and coaches). Imagine my shock when the result popped up--they could NEVER play in any "national championship" game in that season, even if they were #1 in the two main polls! How possible? Well, SOS was a separate component, but it ALSO figured into six of the seven computer polls--and Air Force's was in the mid-50's (52nd-57th) range. (If I remember right, three of those teams mentioned in (1) above had a comparable SOS ranking then.)

All I can say is, it is time for a true playoff--16 teams, straight knockout, no conference gets more than two teams into this playoff. If it works for all other levels of college football, it's overdue. And, if it turns out that a Utah, say, gets beat by a Florida by 30+ points or watever result, fine . . . at least it is on the field!
1.15.2009 11:26am
Steve Donohue (mail) (www):
"they could NEVER play in any "national championship" game in that season, even if they were #1 in the two main polls!"

They've since changed the formula to make that impossible, after the same thing happened to USC a few years ago (#1 in both polls, but awful SOS). The human polls are now the dog that wags the tail of the computer rankings.
1.15.2009 11:34am
hawkins:

The home team has, over time, a three point advantage over the road team.


Something I've never understood about this concept. When its said that the home team is given three points, is this a sixpoint swing? For instance, if the Super Bowl ends up being a pick'em. Does that mean, if the game were played in one team's stadium, whichever team was at home would be a three point favorite?
1.15.2009 11:49am
DNL (mail):
Your theory is patently false. It is not the pre-season polls which did in Utah. Rather, they were done in by a simple and understandable (albeit factually flawed) bias against non-BCS conferences.

Evidence of the former? Easy. If, say, Ole Miss ran the table, they -- a team unranked in the pre-season -- would get an invite to the BCS Championship Game.

Evidence of the latter? The proof is in the pudding -- Florida got a chance, but Utah did not. And it's not the computers' faults.

At the close of the regular season -- and therefore, at the close of the BCS ratings season -- the two polls (Harris and USA Today/Coaches) put Utah at #7. They both put Alabama at #4. However, the computers -- even with their handicap of BCS-required statistical gerrymandering -- put Utah at 5 and Alabama at 6. The computers are harmed by imperfect information. Florida was #3 in light of its recent victory over Alabama; Alabama was #6 in light of its recent loss in the same game. But if one factors in Florida's victory over Oklahoma and Utah's over Alabama, I'm sure that Florida rises to #1 and Utah to, at least, #3.

I've long advocated for a plus-one system which (a) expands the BCS Bowls to 5 games plus a National Title game and (b) structures the five bowls to (i) ensure traditional matchups where possible and important (i.e. a Big 10/Pac 10 Rose) and (ii) reduce controversy in the title game. In this case, it would have been easy:

Rose -- USC v Penn State
Sugar -- Florida v. Texas
Fiesta -- Oklahoma v. Utah

(VTech, Cincy, OSU, and Bama/Texas round out the five games.)

As a team which did not win their conference really should not be considered a national champion, and as in this case, VTech and Cincy have no real claim to a title shot, this would play out as follows:

1) The winner of the Fiesta Bowl goes to the title game.
2) If Florida wins the Sugar, they go to the title game. Otherwise, the winner of the Rose goes.

It's rather uncontroversial. The biggest flaw is that Texas could beat Florida and Penn State could topple USC, meaning that one-loss Texas stays home while two-loss Penn State advances. My advice: Beat Oklahoma next time.
1.15.2009 11:55am
The Cabbage (mail):
and the truth is fans always think their team is the best regardless of their current record (just ask any Yankees fan!)

Obviously, you don't know many Cubs fans.
1.15.2009 11:58am
Doug Sundseth (mail):
Utah is the national champion because, according to my proprietary algorithm, they are #1.

What most fans seem not to realize is that championships are not about finding the best team (by whatever measure), but about finding the champion. In fact, it's historically pretty unlikely that any playoff system will result in the best team winning the championship in any sport at any level. Since the BS subdivision (or whatever the recent name change was) of Division 1 doesn't have a championship, my claim above has as much validity as any other such claim, to specifically include that of the BCS.
1.15.2009 12:07pm
CJColucci:
In the old bowl days, you had tradition, hoopla, lots of fun, and many bar-stool arguments over who would beat whom in hypothetical match-ups, and who ought to be the mythical "national champion." Sometimes, you got lucky and a bowl match-up would feature a consensus No. 1 v. a consensus No. 2, and kind of, sort of, decide the question on the field, but usuaully not, so back to the bar-stool arguments. This was a lot of fun and made a lot of money for some important people. I can live with this system, and did, and enjoyed it.
A real playoff might not decide who the "best" team is -- sometimes the better team has a bad day -- but it would crown a recognized champion determined on the field. I could live with this system and would probably enjoy it.
The current system manages to take the tradition, hoopla, and fun out of the old bowl system without substituting a clear champion determined on the field.
The worst of both worlds.
To make matters worse, I doubt that a plus-one, which might be a reasonable compromise, would work this year, since I see four legitimate contenders for a national title: Florida, Utah, Texas, and USC.
Bottom line: the current system stinks.
1.15.2009 12:36pm
Mark E.Butler (mail):
As I see it, there are two fundamental problems:

1. Too many teams, and
2. The ridiculous requirement that the football players be students.

There are about 110 FBS teams, about three times the number in the NFL. Any championship tournament would either have to include so many teams that the winner would have to play six games--the same number as in the basketball tournament. And, that would take too long. (If they made it a 16 team tournament, too many good teams would be excluded by some polling mechanism, same as now, and we'd be griping about that.)

Unless, the players were no longer required to be students. Then they could play all through December and January until the national championship was determined. They could even take a week off to play in a bowl game.

We don't require that the universities' groundskeepers, janitors, architects, builders be students. And they're engaged in the same basic effort as the football players--to improve the public image of the university. Give them an age limit--18-25, say--and turn them loose.
1.15.2009 12:46pm
West Coast Bias:
"In addition to their undefeated season, Utah also had the most impressive win in a BCS game."

I think USC dominating Penn State 31-7 for 3 quarters before checking out for the 4th with the game easily in hand was at least if not more impressive than Utah's performance against Alabama.
1.15.2009 1:21pm
Joey Plummer (mail):
Why should Utah's victory over Alabama be compared to Florida's?
Alabama had everything to play for against Florida; their game against Utah was an exhibition game.

Discounting the Alabama game, what was Utah's signature win?

Without looking, I would bet that Florida had 4 wins that were "bigger"--better team, higher pressure, etc., than Utah's best win. The Florida-Georgia game that is played every year is "bigger", arguably, than any game Utah has EVER played.

Does anyone believe that this team that played basically even with Michigan could have beaten Florida if the two had played at a neutral site in say mid-October?

OTOH when was the last time Florida won a meaningful regular season road game outside the South?
1.15.2009 1:24pm
Steve Donohue (mail) (www):
"Something I've never understood about this concept. When its said that the home team is given three points, is this a sixpoint swing? For instance, if the Super Bowl ends up being a pick'em. Does that mean, if the game were played in one team's stadium, whichever team was at home would be a three point favorite?"

Precisely. Most good handicappers and all the books have a power ranking system, where all the teams are assigned an arbitrary number. Let's say there's three teams:

Dallas- 147
Chicago- 145
Detroit- 138

If the games were all played at neutral stadiums (like the super bowl), then dallas would be a 2 point favorive over the Bears and a nine point favorite over Detroit- that is, vegas thinks that, all things considered, this represents how good the teams actually are. If the Dallas/Chicago game were played in Chicago, Chicago would be a one point favorite. In Dallas, Dallas would be a five point favorite. (This is somewhat simplified, because some numbers are stickier than others, because, for example, a football game is more likely to be decided by a three point margin than a two point margin.)

Where the public tends to lose money (and where the books clean up) is when a team like Dallas plays Detroit in Detroit. Dallas is still the favorite, but only 6 points. People say "oh wow, Dallas is at least a touchdown better than Detroit", but home-field advantage is real and persistent.

Last time I looked, the Eagles are favored by 3.5 points and the Steelers are favored by 5 points this weekend. That means that the books think Philly is actually 6.5 points better than Arizona. Also note that if the AFC game were in Baltimore, the Ravens would be favored.
1.15.2009 1:31pm
Ben P:

All I can say is, it is time for a true playoff--16 teams, straight knockout, no conference gets more than two teams into this playoff.



And you've immediately disqualified this system. Both the Big 12 and the SEC would never agree to such a system in principle unless it also included a significant number of wild card teams.

I'm willing to admit that there's an occasional year where a CUSA or Mountain West Conference team might be a top national team.

But are you seriously asserting that the third best team in the SEC is or should be equivalent to the third best team in the Mountain West?

You have to remember that in several of the major conferences a significant number of teams never play each other head to head. Developing a system where the mountain West brings two teams to the playoff, and the SEC and Big 12 each bring two teams is quite simply laughable.
1.15.2009 1:36pm
Tebow4President2024:
I actually think Western Michigan should have gotten a chance at the title. Western beat Illinois. Illinois beat Michigan (by a bigger margin than Utah) and Iowa. Iowa beat then number 3 Penn State, who also beat Oregon State. Iowa also beat South Carolina, who beat Ole Miss who beat Florida and Texas Tech who beat Texas who beat Oklahoma.

Given the fact that Western Michigan has all of these imputed victories on its record, and Utah really only has the imputed victory over USC by virtue of its beating Oregon State (an imputed victory that Western Michigan also has), I really fail to see how any reasonable voter can keep Western Michigan out of the national championship discussion.

Of course, I feel bad that the cute little team from Utah was slighted by the pollsters and kept out of the national title game, so I think Utah and Boise State (another undefeated team who was punished at the hands of the voters) should go out and form their own National Championship League (similar to the NIT, but not quite as prestigious) where they play each other on the pretty blue field every New Year's Day. I'm sure it will draw viewership in excess of 10,000 and collect revenues from TV, the gate and concessions in excess of $100,000 per team. They can then hand out a little trophy, maybe a half used roll of toilet paper or something, and they can then say they were champions. It's win-win.
1.15.2009 1:41pm
autolykos:
We don't need cute little teams playing in the National Title Game every year. If Utah wants to play Boise State or Hawaii in a bowl game, that's their choice. There will always be mediocre teams like Utah that go undefeated, but just because you finish your Happy Meal doesn't give you the right to sit at the adults' table.
1.15.2009 2:04pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
College football is essentially boxing. Teams like Florida, Texas, Penn State and Alabama pad their schedules by paying tomato cans (Citadel, Monroe, Ark st, Troy) hundreds of thousands of dollars to come take a beating and fluff their record. Then they play the journeymen (Vanderbilt, Miss St, Ky, etc) in their overrated sanctioning body. they play 7 home games and 4 away agames.

Then, Voila! the sanctioning body created by these conferences, the BCS, annoints two of its members to play for the title.

My tweak would be this: No game against a paid opponent should count in the standings. Wins against after-thought conferences should be downgraded below a road loss to a BCS conference opponent (i.e., losing to Penn st on the road is more worthy then destroying Citadel at home).

The PAc 10 is already moving this way, its teams are the most courageous and worthy by the simple fact of scheduling home and homes against real teams.
1.15.2009 2:07pm
hawkins:
Steve -

Thanks for the clarification.


but home-field advantage is real and persistent.


Any idea of books are starting to place less significance on NFL home field advantage? It seems less and less important each year.
1.15.2009 2:09pm
David Drake:
CJColucci said


The current system manages to take the tradition, hoopla, and fun out of the old bowl system without substituting a clear champion determined on the field.
The worst of both worlds.
To make matters worse, I doubt that a plus-one, which might be a reasonable compromise, would work this year, since I see four legitimate contenders for a national title: Florida, Utah, Texas, and USC.
Bottom line: the current system stinks.


I couldn't agree more, and I think Mr. Cassell's original post that targets using the pre-season and early-season polls as any part of the equation explains the outcome pretty well.

I vote for Don Miller's suggestion:


The only way to make the current system fair is to eliminate preseason polls and SOS calculations from the system. After about 6 weeks of actual games, the computers can do a pretty good job of sorting out who is playing the stronger opponents and start ranking them accordingly, by week 10, we would have a real SOS ranking based on actual performance during the current season.
1.15.2009 2:12pm
Tebow4President2024:
Dear guy -

Yep, Florida padded its schedule alright. Out of conference games against last year's Cinderella undefeated, Hawaii and the Citadel. Then the rivalry games with in state opponents FSU and Miami. Total cupcakes.

Penn State played (and crushed) the same Oregon State team that Utah hangs it hat on as its signature win over a BCS team - they were really ducking everybody. Say what you will about the journeymen teams in any conference, but if you're a big time team like OSU, USC, Texas, Oklahoma or Florida, your trip to Eugene, Corvallis, Champaign, Madison, East Lansing, Iowa City, Lincoln, Knoxville, Baton Rouge (since LSU was worse than TCU or BYU this year, thus making LSU a journeyman), Auburn, Columbia, etc. is not just any old game - you are getting the best the home team has to offer, you have a target on you every single week. Are there any reputable teams out there bragging about beating Utah 3 out of the last 4 years?

And by the way, teams play 12 regular season games now, not 11.
1.15.2009 2:20pm
wolfefan (mail):
Hi -

The post lost me at the first sentence, referring to what the BCS computers had done. People often write about computers this way, as if the computers are somehow making decisions and judgments on their own with no human input or guidance.

Bill James wrote an excellent article in Slate on why statistical analyists should boycott the BCS:

http://www.slate.com/id/2208108/

Full credit to Prof. Cassell, though - his critique of pre-season polls and their pernicious effects is right on.
1.15.2009 2:23pm
david niehaus (mail):
A different thought: ask the gambling business which format it prefers. It is ridiculous to pretend that the driving force behind college athletics is anything but money, and more money. The BCS/Media cartel is a power that must be dealt with. But since you can't reason with an $18 million pay day, I doubt that appeals to the big schools' better nature will succeed. I firmly believe that the gambling industry, if properly organized, (See UMW, Teamsters,the liquor industry), is up to the task of taking the BCS down. And I have faith in organized gambling's ability to produce good product week after week and to organize the NCAA schools in a rational scheduling system that will make a playoff worthwhile. This approach also has the advantage of keeping government out of the pristine religious exercise known as Division 1 football. The market soulution is almost always the better soulution.
1.15.2009 3:51pm
Joe Gator (mail):

In fact, Florida beat Bama much less impressively than Utah did (the SEC conference championship was a really close game and took two comeback TT-lead drives in the 4th to seal it). Utah blew out Bama 21-0 in the first few minutes of that game (and oh how sweet it was to see that!) and they were never really all that close to coming back.




In addition to the fact that Bama was disinterested; they were also missing their best offensive lineman, and the likely #1 pick in this year's NFL draft, Andre Smith to suspension.
1.15.2009 4:21pm
Tebow4President2024:
Sorry Joe. That argument isn't working on here. The Ute backers uniformly refuse to acknowledge the importance of the Outland Trophy winner to his football team - they are very skilled at ignoring the fact that his contract will exceed the aggregate revenues of the entire Utah Athletic Department. According to the market, he is better than everything in the Utah Athletic Department combined, but despite that high market value, his absence and the fact that the majority of the o-line was then forced to play out of position had no bearing on the game.
1.15.2009 4:44pm
D.R.M.:
A parody that would have had a lot more value if you understood that the computer methods pay no attention whatsoever to pre-season rankings.

Final, post-bowl rankings from the six computer methods (none of which give any weight to pre-season rankings, poll votes, or the rest):

Anderson &Hester
#1 Utah
#2 Florida
#3 Texas
#4 Oklahoma
#5 USC
#6 Alabama
#7 TCU
#8 Texas Tech
#9 Boise State

Billingsley
#1 Florida
#2 USC
#3 Utah
#4 Texas
#5 Oklahoma
#6 Alabama
#7 Texas Tech
#8 TCU
#9 Boise State

Colley
#1 Florida
#2 Texas
#3 Utah
#4 USC
#5 Oklahoma
#6 Alabama
#7 Texas Tech
#8 Penn State
#9 Boise State

Massey:
#1 Utah
#2 Florida
#3 Oklahoma
#4 Texas
#5 USC
#6 Alabama
#7 Texas Tech
#8 TCU
#9 Georgia

Sagarin
#1 Utah
#2 Florida
#3 Texas
#4 Oklahoma
#5 USC
#6 Alabama
#7 TCU
#8 Georgia
#9 Texas Tech

Wolfe
#1 Utah
#2 Florida
#3 Texas
#4 USC
#5 Oklahoma
#6 TCU
#7 Alabama
#8 Georgia
#9 Texas Tech

Using the in-season BCS method for combining the computer rankings, then, the final combined rankings are
#1 Utah and Florida (tie)
#3 Texas
#4 USC
#5 Oklahoma
#6 Alabama
#7 Texas Tech
1.15.2009 4:50pm
Steve Donohue (mail) (www):
Remember, however, that the computers are not allowed to take account of a number of prescient issues, like strength of victory. Sagarin has repeatedly said that the numbers are practically useless as a predictive tool because of this, and the system he relies on has Florida on top.
1.15.2009 5:41pm
Floridan:
Sonnerfan: "Florida had the lucky breaks in that game (both Bradford interceptions were just plain bad luck), and the only objectively impressive performance they put up was red-zone defense. Other than that, OU's offense could have put up a lot of points against them (but for a critically important holding call, Stoops running the exact-same-play 4 times from the 5 yard line, and one massively unlucky interception at the goal line . . ."

Boy, that's a whole bunch of "lucky breaks."
1.15.2009 5:57pm
Brett A. (mail):

Moreover, most top-ranked teams don't want any piece of Utah. They know that Utah is a traditionally strong team and could very well knock them off and have no incentive to schedule them in non-conference play.


I disagree with this. The Utes, to be frank, haven't been that hot every year, although I think they've gotten better over time (particularly with firing Ron McBride).

I'm going to say this again - I have yet to hear a single argument from people (especially Autolykos) as to why Andre Smith would have been the game-changer they seem to think they were. I asked Autolykos this in the other thread, and he said "Well, I'm not going to take up that hypothetical, but look at how valuable his NFL contract is!"

Of course, I highly doubt Smith is valued because NFL teams think that he alone will make the difference between victory and defeat, but I guess actually providing a reason as to why he thinks it would be a game-changer is just too difficult. And now, repeatedly saying "He's the #1 player!" does not constitute an answer - you have to actually argue why having a better left tackle would have meant anything other than a few less sacks (particularly since Smith was lined up with the Ute's best defensive lineman, Paul Kruger).
1.15.2009 7:56pm
hawkins:

you have to actually argue why having a better left tackle would have meant anything other than a few less sacks (particularly since Smith was lined up with the Ute's best defensive lineman, Paul Kruger).


A few less sacks!?!?! That's a HUGE deal. I did not see the game (only highlights), so I have no idea how many sacks the replacement gave up. But a few sacks can have a huge impact on the game. It was fairly close in the second half, wasnt it?
1.15.2009 8:19pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
D.R.M.,

How f**king, disingenuous can you get? Sagarin has 2-loss Oklahoma as a 10 point favorite, and USC and Florida as 2 TD+ favorites against Utah. As Sagarin states, his predictor rankings are his "real" rankings, his other rankings have been modified to account for the tee-ball, everyone gets a trophy rules imposed by the BCS, in which margin of victory doesn't count.

Secondly, I don't think you understand how the in-season BCS rankings are calculated, because the liklihood of a tie is very low. Granted, I haven't re-run the calculations.

As for the OP, Utah's win over Alabama was NOT the most impressive BCS win. USC beat a Penn St. team worse than Utah beat Alabama, and Florida beat OU, which is way more impressive than any win over Alabama.

When it comes to scheduling, it's hard to have ANY sympathy for Utah when they schedule weaker non-conference opponents (both from an actual and a predicted basis) than Oklahoma and USC, who both, you know, have to play consistently good opposition in the rest of their schedule.

Next, while I admit that this is an extremely small sample, look at Utah and Oklahoma's common opponent, TCU. If Oklahoma doesn't take their foot off the gas, they win by 40+. Utah needed a miracle to win.

I'm an OU fan, and I'll go to my grave thinking that OU beats Florida more than half the time (especially if they cover kicks like they did that day), so you can chalk this all up to bias if you wish. But Utah played three games that a legitimate top-5 team has a greater than 10% chance of losing ('Bama, TCU, and Oregon St.). 'Bama at a neutral site was the only one that was anything worth really bragging about. Oklahoma's 11th hardest game (@ Baylor) was tougher than Utah's 4th hardest game (BYU). You're seriously telling me that if they play seven more games against competition comparable to playing BYU at home, you think they have the same record?

Last, I don't know if teams should get credit for the emotional state of their opponents, but OU, Florida, USC, etc. play opponents that are playing the biggest game of their season every week. Maybe New Mexico St. gets up to play the Utes, but in no way is playing in front of 18,000 fans the same as playing multiple road games in front of 80k or more drunk, hostile fans.
1.15.2009 11:17pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
guy_in_the_veal_calf's_office,

Please retract your inane post about Florida and Oklahoma padding their schedules with tomato cans. Florida scheduled Miami and Florida St., two perennial powers, this year. If you want to argue that those teams weren't that good last year, well, then they also scheduled Hawaii, who had one loss last year.

Oklahoma played TCU and Cincinnati OOC, and their toughest game, at Washington, didn't materialize, because Washington decided to suck. They also had a FBS team with a decent record last year (Mid Tenn?) back out of a game at the last minute, and they had to be replaced with someone (UT-Chatt?).

Next year, Oklahoma plays at Miami, at Tulsa, and BYU on a neutral field. Utah doesn't play non-conference schedules that tough, and they play in the middling MWC.

Look at USC every year. They often play two of their three non-conference games against top 15 programs, and the third is against a BCS conference team.

If you want to play a schedule comparable to the big boys, schedule three or four OOC games against BCS opponents, at least two of which are on the road. Utah can do this. Many BCS conference teams will do 2 for 1s, and some will do home-and-homes.

Look at Fresno St. five years ago, when they had aspirations of rising to National Prominence. They schedule three or four top teams from BCS conferences every year, and lost two or three of the games every year.
1.15.2009 11:44pm
LM (mail):
If you made a conference out of the top dozen teams, and they all played each other once, I'd bet on Utah to finish between the top and bottom quartiles. I'd even bet on the greater likelihood of it finishing in the bottom quartile than the top, though including two Big 10 teams would make that a risky proposition.
1.15.2009 11:52pm
D.R.M.:
It's disingenuous to simply point out exactly what the BCS algorithms would say if applied post-bowls? How so? I'm not making a claim that the computers are right; I'm not endorsing the BCS algorithms; I am simply pointing out what they would say.

And the BCS method of finding the combined six-algorithm computer rankings is very simple. For each computer ranking, the #1 team gets 25 points, the #2 gets 24, the #3 gets 23, and so on, down the line. Each team is then ranked by number of points they have.

Utah, which is #1 in 4 and #3 in two, has 25+25+25+25+23+23 = 146 points.

Florida, which is #1 in two and #2 in four, has 25+25+24+24+24+24 = 146 points.

146 = 146, and since the absolute maximum number of points available to anyone else would be #3 in four polls and #2 in two, for 23+23+23+23+24+24 = 140 points, we know nobody else ties or comes ahead.
1.16.2009 12:11am
D.R.M.:
To be clear, my point was not that Utah is #1 or deserves to be #1, but to point out to Mr. Cassell that he doesn't actually have a beef with the BCS computers over Utah's not finishing #1. It's the humans that gave Florida the sole championship; the BCS computers liked Utah.
1.16.2009 12:22am
Brett A. (mail):

A few less sacks!?!?! That's a HUGE deal. I did not see the game (only highlights), so I have no idea how many sacks the replacement gave up. But a few sacks can have a huge impact on the game. It was fairly close in the second half, wasnt it?


It was eight - but I acknowledged that he would have probably lowered the number of sacks. I can't remember whether or not there were any major game-changing sacks in the 3rd and 4th quarters - there was one, near the end of the game, but the Utes were already up 11 at that point.

For the record, I don't think the Utes were the #1 team this season. I think they were probably 4th, or 5th. That's why I'd like to see the Utes play either Texas or USC on a neutral field. It's also why I wish they'd schedule some tougher games in-season (the backing off of the Texas game was an atrocity).
1.16.2009 1:01am
Brett A. (mail):


If you want to play a schedule comparable to the big boys, schedule three or four OOC games against BCS opponents, at least two of which are on the road. Utah can do this. Many BCS conference teams will do 2 for 1s, and some will do home-and-homes.


That's what I'd love to have this season, if we could get them to agree. Even if the Utes went on to get their asses handed to them by, say, Texas and USC in 2009, it would at least be nice to know that they tried.

In any case, the Utes probably aren't going to be that good this coming season. We've got most of our defense (including Paul Kruger)back, but the Utes are losing all their key players on offense.
1.16.2009 1:06am
Public_Defender (mail):
Still playing the victim, I see.
1.16.2009 6:39am
autolykos:

I'm going to say this again - I have yet to hear a single argument from people (especially Autolykos) as to why Andre Smith would have been the game-changer they seem to think they were. I asked Autolykos this in the other thread, and he said "Well, I'm not going to take up that hypothetical, but look at how valuable his NFL contract is!"


Reading is FUNdamental. You asked me to PROVE (your words, not mine) that he would have made the difference. Since we're talking about a hypothetical, it's obviously impossible to do that, so I'm not going to accept that ridiculous burden on proof. If you don't understand this, I suggest you get back to your first year legal reasoning class at Hofstra and jump back in the thread upon completion of said class.

Moreover, my broader point was that, if you don't understand that the offensive line is the most important unit in the offense (and a good left tackle is as important as any position player other than the QB) and, more importantly, that an offensive line does much more than pass block, but is integral to a team's running game (and Alabama's offense was primarily a running offense), you don't understand enough about college football for me to bother to try and engage in a discussion with you. Try leaving the Hofstra campus on a couple Saturdays next fall and going to some games and maybe you'll learn a little about the game.

In addition, this is why I hate teams like Utah. You have a bunch of fake bandwagon fans who aren't invested in the game of college football and who aren't knowledgeable about how the game actually works beyond the most superficial level who want their team to backdoor their way into college football's most important game and want to declare their team better than all the teams of all the fans who actually are invested in the game without doing any of the work.


Of course, I highly doubt Smith is valued because NFL teams think that he alone will make the difference between victory and defeat, but I guess actually providing a reason as to why he thinks it would be a game-changer is just too difficult. And now, repeatedly saying "He's the #1 player!" does not constitute an answer - you have to actually argue why having a better left tackle would have meant anything other than a few less sacks (particularly since Smith was lined up with the Ute's best defensive lineman, Paul Kruger).


Yes, NFL teams choose players because they think they make the difference between victory and defeat. That's why some make more than others. It's a team game, but some team members are more important than others. Whether a team member means the difference between victory and defeat depends on the game. For example, Florida would beat Utah by 4 touchdowns even if Percy Harvin was sitting on the sidelines, but Percy Harvin meant the difference between victory and defeat against Oklahoma and he could mean the difference between victory and defeat for an NFL team in some future game. It's not that hard of a concept.

If I wanted to talk about the difference a lineman makes to the running game, I suppose I could talk about guards (who played out of position in the Utah game) pulling, stunts, zone blocking and a bunch of other concepts you wouldn't understand. Suffice it to say, the quality of a team's offensive line is directly correlated to the success of their running game.
1.16.2009 12:33pm
Brett A. (mail):

Moreover, my broader point was that, if you don't understand that the offensive line is the most important unit in the offense (and a good left tackle is as important as any position player other than the QB) and, more importantly, that an offensive line does much more than pass block, but is integral to a team's running game (and Alabama's offense was primarily a running offense), you don't understand enough about college football for me to bother to try and engage in a discussion with you.


There, an argument! Was that so hard, Autolykos?


You have a bunch of fake bandwagon fans


I attend at the University of Utah, which makes me an honest fan. Where did you get the idea that I went to Hofstra?

who want their team to backdoor their way into college football's most important game and want to declare their team better than all the teams of all the fans who actually are invested in the game without doing any of the work.


They got into the BCS (twice), via the BCS's own ranking and selection system. If you don't like that, reform the system - take out the computer-driven segment, or whatever it is that you think would eliminate challengers like Utah. Then you could have all the SEC dominance that you could possibly imagine.


For example, Florida would beat Utah by 4 touchdowns


I thought you didn't like hypotheticals. ;D Not that I'm disputing the conclusion that Florida would kick Utah around the block - I don't think the Utes are the #1 team this year. At best, they're either 4th or 5th.


Suffice it to say, the quality of a team's offensive line is directly correlated to the success of their running game.


I didn't dispute that point - I questioned as to whether one offensive line player, even if he is the best O-line man in the NCAA that year, would be enough to change the outcome of that game.
1.16.2009 6:39pm
Brett A. (mail):
To change one of my points -

It looks like our best defensive guy, Paul Kruger, is going for the NFL draft. That sucks - don't expect to see the Utes back in the BCS next year barring some very weird circumstances, what with the whole "replace most of the offense" in addition to that. Whittingham is going to have his hands full.
1.16.2009 6:51pm
MikeDT (mail):
As I remember the bar-stool arguments before the BCS, they went something like,

"Doesn't it suck that the #1 and #2 team can't play each other in a game?"

"Yeah, why can't they have a playoff like every other sport?"
1.17.2009 8:49pm
Dissenting Justice (mail) (www):
Even in a playoff system, teams are placed in brackets and tiers. That involves subjective analysis. Also, why limit this to division 1?

NCAA basketball includes the Ivies and a host of other teams small college teams. Harvard only lost one game this year. Shouldn't Harvard have a claim for #1 or 2, just like PSU, USC and Texas? No one makes this argument because, well, subjectively, they do not believe it's true.

Also, why stop with a mere one-game-and-out system? WE could use the baseball version and have a series of games, to isolate random events - like Utah beating Alabama (perhaps).

PS: GO GATORS!
1.18.2009 10:09am

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