BCS remains a scam

October 26, 2009

Well, now. Bet all the Gators fans are feeling better now.

Despite another blown call in a close game, the Gators have recaptured the No. 1 position in the AP poll and remain atop the Bowl Championship Series rankings.

Too bad the BCS is nothing but a farce.

While some people may bemoan politicians spending time wading into such trivial matters, I think that the time is ripe for some bipartisan intervention into this mess. That’s why I think U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch did the right thing by calling on President Barack Obama to have the Justice Department investigate whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

I know, I know. Some of you SEC lovers think this is nothing but some sort of whining coming from the schools out West who have been unable to crack into the BCS and appear destined to have the same thing happen again this year.

But there is something almost borderline un-American about the way the BCS operates. Put it this way: There are less than 200 human beings across the country who even have any kind of sway in the weekly BCS rankings. That’s less than the number of people in Congress, probably less than the number of people in your neighborhood or your church, maybe even less than the number of people who show up at your kid’s soccer game.

Right now the BCS standings are determined by 59 football coaches, the 114 panelists of the Harris Interactive College Football Poll and an average of six computer rankings.

It’s been well established that many football coaches fill out their ballots without giving much more thought then looking at the scoreboard. The Harris poll is composed of  “former coaches, players, administrators and current and former media.” This includes people such as former Noles QB Danny Kanell and former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt and a whole bunch of other people that I would guess that even the most rabid football fan would have trouble recognizing.

The fact that the standings are determined by this cabal is far from the only problem with the BCS but it’s one of the most egregious. Then there’s the whole selection process that guarantees the highest spots to the champions of six conferences but then limits the number that can come from other conferences. Plus of course Notre Dame gets an automatic bowl bid if it finishes within the top eight in the BCS standings. How’s that for protectionism?

America is supposed to be the land of opportunity. If you play by the rules and work hard, you get your shot.

That’s not the way the BCS works now. It’s a scam aimed at protecting a select few. What’s wrong with competition? What’s wrong with deciding things on the field?

It’s time that college fans across the country to call on university presidents and boards to dismantle this system. And if they won’t do it then it’s time for state lawmakers and Congress to jump in.

Gators shouldn’t let No. 1 ranking fool them

October 20, 2009

I’m probably not going to say anything Urban Meyer doesn’t say constantly.

But that No. 1 ranking bestowed on the Florida Gators in the BCS standings means next to nothing right now.

And I will go one step further: The Gators don’t really deserve it.

But for a couple of questionable calls – one of which the SEC now says should never have been called – the Gators would have already lost a game this season. And let’s not forget that Riley Cooper could have easily been flagged on that touchdown grab against LSU.

It could be Tim Tebow’s concussion, it could be Meyer’s decision to rein in the playbook following the injury to his star quarterback, or it could be defenses are finally catching up, but whatever it is the Gators do not look as dominant as they were last season.

The reason the Gators are winning right now has more to do with that stifling defense that has clamped down on explosive teams such as Arkansas. But the Gators don’t look like the best team in the country. It’s as simple as that. And that’s why the AP poll dropped them this week.

The Gators are probably still one of the better teams in the nation – and other than maybe Bama – it’s hard to envision who is going to beat them. (South Carolina may have the best shot, but it’s hard to imagine how the Gamecocks weak offense will be able to muster more than a touchdown.)

Still there a couple of underdogs left on the schedule that could give the Gators a big surprise if they aren’t careful.

Bad start for Jags and Bucs is so predictable

October 12, 2009

In the wake of yet another debilitating loss, the rah-rahs for new coach Raheem Morris and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have just about faded away completely.

Instead we now have columnists wondering if Morris is up to the job as head coach.

Psst. It’s a bit too late to ask this question.

This train wreck of a season was set in motion months ago and back in April I warned that both the Jaguars and Bucs were heading in the wrong direction.

The decision to rebuild the Bucs and jettison everyone associated with past success made no sense earlier this year. And it’s being shown out on the football field on Sunday.

Let’s just face facts here.

1. Morris was rushed into this job with no proof that he was ready. It doesn’t mean he can’t be a good coach, but there was no evidence that he deserved it.

2. In the NFL there is one position that matters the most. It’s called quarterback. If you don’t have a half-way decent quarterback, you will lose most weeks. Only if you have a ferocious defense can you afford to have a mediocre player. Just look at the Tennessee Titans. If their defense isn’t playing the way they did last year, Kerry Collins isn’t good enough to bail them out. The Bucs had opportunities to go after and bring in a good quarterback and they didn’t do it. They went through the preseason insisting that they had two guys who could handle the job. Of course neither of them is playing now.

3. If you can’t evaluate personnel and talent, you are also doomed. Why bring in a new kicker, or hire a new offensive coordinator if just a few months later you are forced to discard both of them? That’s yet another sign that no one knows how to run an organization.

By contrast, we know that the Jaguars have a good coach in the past with Jack Del Rio.

But the continued off-field problems – such as the need to suspend leading receiver Mike Sims-Walker – reprise questions from last season about whether Del Rio has control of the team anymore. The Seahawks 41-o drubbing on Sunday has to go down as one of the most embarrassing losses in team history.

And there’s still the problem that the team lacks the offensive firepower to win consistently. When a team shuts down running back Maurice Jones-Drew, then there’s got to be someone else who can help. It shouldn’t take the suspension of one player to derail the entire aerial attack of a team.

So two more predictions: Del Rio and Morris will find their coaching careers in the NFL come to a crashing end in the next few weeks unless something miraculous occurs between now and then.

Let’s see whether I am wrong about this one.

Will FSU fans show their displeasure on Saturday night?

October 7, 2009

blackoutSo it would appear from media accounts that Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden may get a reprieve and may in fact get to decide when he will step down despite the disappointment over this year’s 2-3 season.

There’s no doubt that Bowden – who met with FSU President T.K. Wetherell on Tuesday – has gotten his back  up about it. Just witness this exchange from Monday night where a clearly perturbed Bowden responds to a question from a female reporter about his future by saying he has no comment about his future and then while smiling says that her question “is like a woman.” He then goes on to say he had no idea that his wife, Ann Bowden, had criticized FSU Trustee Jim Smith for saying it was time for Bowden to step down.

But the question is whether FSU fans will begin to more forcefully show their feelings about the situation. One group on Facebook called BLACK OUT DOAK for CHANGE has already drawn nearly 5,000 members online. It is urging that FSU fans wear black to their home games – starting with this weekend’s clash with Georgia Tech – to tell the administration that “the fans want something drastic done.” Nearly 2,000 FB members have already “confirmed” they plan to show up at this weekend’s game in black.

There is at least pro Bowden group that has formed on Facebook called “Stop Trashing Bobby Bowden” and it has more than 100 members right now, although in their defense their group hasn’t got the same amount of publicity as the first one. Others defending Bowden include Deion Sanders who told the Tallahassee Democrat “at least have a proper funeral for him.”

It is becoming crystal clear that FSU has a full-blown crisis on its hands and that one way or the other the university is going to be forced to step forward and explain what’s going to happen to Bowden, what’s going to happen with head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher, and who is going to control the team.

And oh yeah, there’s still a bunch of games left to play. It might be good to do something soon to end the distractions.

FSU president must decide if it’s time for Bowden era to end

October 4, 2009

On the same weekend that the University of Miami upset Oklahoma and completed an impressive four-game stretch, it is clear that the end of an era is coming for Florida State.

When head coach Bobby Bowden is forced to defend himself as vigorously as he did in the moments following the loss to Boston College, you can tell that even he knows that the pressure is mounting against him. Bowden told reporters “What would I gain by stepping down now? What would you do? Fire everybody and bring in a new coaching staff?”

When veteran FSU beat writer Steve Ellis – who has covered the program for years and even wrote a book with Bowden – is now saying it’s time for him to go – then you know that Bowden is running out of allies. The Sentinel chimed in with the same theme.

Plus, it’s apparent right now that Bowden will never catch Joe Paterno.  He’s fallen three games behind the Penn State legend and right now it appears highly unlikely that the NCAA will reverse itself on the decision to strip Bowden of 14 victories due to the cheating scandal that caught up the entire athletics department.

One big problem, of course, is the fluid situation at FSU. Hate to diverge into politics, but the fact that President T.K. Wetherell has already announced his resignation could also play a role in how this plays out. Wetherell himself could force Bowden out since he’s got little to lose by the decision. Or on the very least, he could persuade Bowden that it would be in his best interest to step down before a new president is selected. In other words, T.K. could give Bowden a way to exit somewhat gracefully and have him avoid a confrontation with the next administration.

That way Wetherell would at least have tried to resolve the situation as he heads out the door instead of handing his successor a mess to figure out.

But then again will a new president go along with handing the job over to Jimbo Fisher with no questions asked? Or will a new president be willing to pay $5 million in order to have complete control moving into the future. Wetherell probably has no way of knowing that, but he does have to decide what he wants the next president to deal with.

It is such an unfortunate way for Bowden to exit the stage. Without him there would be no FSU program to speak of. No nice stadium, no national championships. Many boosters would likely say Bowden earned the right to go when he wanted.

But now it’s clear that’s not going to happen. The only remaining question is when and where Bowden will make it official and say he’s walking away.