January 05, 2005

College football bowl recap

So the 2004 college football season is now officially at an end. Herein is my analysis and comments. No, I’m not going to talk about the big games until the very end, so if that’s all you care about, click on the extended entry link and skip the rest. Below is a handy chart I will reference in more detail.

Big 10
Big 12
Big East
PAC 10
S. Belt
Bowl Record
Total Bowls
No. of Top 25

The ACC sent six teams to bowl games; that was likely about four teams too many. The Big 10, Big 12, and SEC all sent six teams to bowl games as well. There were likely one or two teams out of each of these conferences that didn’t deserve to go to a bowl game, but heck, there are so many bowl games now that they have to fill them up somehow. (For future analysis of this phenomenon, see ACC, Big East, MAC, MWC, the Sun Belt, and WAC conferences.)

The PAC 10, home of two of the top five teams in the country, sent five teams to bowls. This was three teams too many. One will note that the PAC 10’s #2 team, Cal, was man-handled by lowly-ranked, #21 Texas Tech. This only furthers my case that the PAC 10 is woefully overrated when compared against the Big 10, Big 12, and SEC.

The Big East, Conference USA, and the MAC also sent five teams each to bowl games, and this was also about four teams each too many. At least Conference USA had a winning percentage.

Speaking of winning percentages, the Big 10 and the SEC both broke even in their bowl bids, going 3-3. This is proof not of the weaknesses in these conferences, but in their strengths, seeing as how in a lot of the bowls being played, these two conferences squared off against one another, or Big 12 opponents.

The SEC sent the most Top 25-ranked teams to bowls, with a total of five. The ACC, Big 10, and Big 12 each sent four, and the PAC 10 sent three. (For those at home without a scorecard, the PAC 10’s third-ranked team was Arizona State, at #24.)

The independents split, with Navy winning and Notre Dame falling, Notre Dame getting the bowl bid solely because they’re Notre Dame, and not having anything to do with the fact that they haven’t had a national championship contender in nearly a decade. Would someone care to explain to me how Navy, at 10-2, is unranked, while Arizona State (9-3), Texas Tech (8-4), and Ohio State (8-4) all made it in to the Top 25? Oh, is it the conferences those teams play in? Is it those teams’ strengths of schedule? Then how does one explain Boise State, Louisville, Utah, Cal, and USC?

Now on to the bowls:
(Please note that I did not watch all of the bowls, and most, if not all of these I mention I did personally view.)

I only mention this one because our good friend Gary is a Bowling Green alum, and they whooped Memphis.

Hawaii Bowl
I only mention this one because my parents reside in Birmingham, and UAB getting to a bowl game was the talk of the town. Plus, it was Tommy Chang’s last game in a Warrior uniform, and it was an entertaining offensive shoot-out.

Alamo Bowl
Gary is also an Ohio native, so he was clearly rooting for the Buckeyes in this one. They stomped Oklahoma State, whose coach is now moving to LSU, with Nick Saban’s departure to the NFL and the Miami Dolphins. I’m looking forward to seeing what Les Miles can do with the Tigers. Miles has found himself in the same situation Saban was in while in Michigan—in the shadow of a larger, more successful and more popular football program at the state’s other major university. LSU is one of the few teams in the SEC that doesn’t have to share with another SEC school in the state. Miles has taken the Cowboys to a bowl game each of the last three years, and is a coach in the Saban vein.

Holiday Bowl
I’m sorry, did the number four team in the country get trounced by the twenty-first-ranked team in the country? Where was that number four team from again? Oh, that’s right, the woefully overrated PAC 10.

Emerald Bowl
Unranked Navy, at 10-2, handily beats New Mexico, and still won’t be ranked at the start of the season next year.

Liberty Bowl
This was a great football game to watch. Louisville and Boise State went back and forth the entire way. It was really, really entertaining. Still, neither team deserved to be ranked in the Top 10.

Peach Bowl
Finally in a conference that will air more legitimacy to future national title shots, Miami rolls over Florida, which, quite frankly, fell apart. The Gators didn’t look like their normal poised and confident selves, and the Hurricanes took full advantage.

Sun Bowl
I’m just glad Purdue lost, for reasons known only to myself.

Music City Bowl
This was another greatly entertaining football game, with Minnesota from the Big 10 going against the SEC’s Alabama. The Crimson Tide came up short, but this was one of many top conference slugfests that were the epitome of hard-nosed gridiron playing.

Cotton Bowl
This was probably the most disappointing of the major bowl games, as Tennessee crushed Texas A&M. The Aggies, in a rebuilding year, had fought their way in to the Top 25, and look to be turning their program back toward success. I was honestly surprised it got out of hand for them, but was glad to see another SEC team gain a victory.

Outback Bowl
Another great Big 10-SEC contest, with Georgia outlasting Wisconsin.

Capital One Bowl
I fully expected this to be a knock-down, drag-out slugfest, and I wasn’t disappointed—except with the final score. Iowa and LSU, two teams which should have been in the Top 10, participated in a purely defensive contest for three quarters, before their offenses blew it open in the fourth. The Tigers looked to have put the game away, but with 31 seconds left, the Tiger defense, in prevent mode, had the Hawkeye offense blow by them to score a touchdown on the last play of the game for the win.

I have long maintained—and I acknowledge my dad for putting forth this maxim—that the prevent defense only prevents the defense from stopping the offense. To this day, I have not seen a team successfully use a prevent formation to stop the opposing offensive unit. Maybe the Tiger defense was simply the first to tire. Maybe the players’ hearts were give out, trying to earn their coach a win in his final game. Maybe the coach, his mind already on a jet plane to Miami, forgot what sort of play won LSU a national championship last year. For whatever reasons, it was a heartbreaking loss for the Tigers, and Iowa is to be commended for their never-say-die attitude, and pulling out the win.

Fiesta Bowl
I can’t wait to see the Neilsens for this week. I’ll be shocked if the contest between Utah and Pittsburgh even registered. The big story here was how Utah was the first non-BCS conference team to make it to a BCS game. Yeah, they were undefeated. In the Mountain West Conference. Heck, Florida State or Miami deserved to play in this bowl more than Utah did.

Rose Bowl
This game had the feel of a national championship game. What a clash of titans here, as Texas and Michigan met for the first time ever. This was a great football game, with all the high drama that comes with such a contest. The Longhorns last-second field goal pulls it out for the Lone Star State. This game alone was testament to the greatness of the teams’ respective conferences.

Sugar Bowl
And Auburn wins the national championship.

Oh, there’s another bowl the night after this one? That bowl is for the BCS national championship? Oh.

Orange Bowl
This was quite a shocker. I was rooting for Oklahoma. I fully expected the Sooner defense to trounce Leinart and the Trojan offense. I figured the Sooner defense would slow the Trojans enough that the Oklahoma offense could keep up and pull it out. I don’t think anyone was expecting a 55-19 blowout. (Though I’m sure USC fans are insisting they knew this would happen all along, which is an outright lie. Hindsight is always 20/20.)

By the way, Mr. Leinart, it doesn’t show a lot of class for a Heisman Trophy winner to throw a hissy fit over taking a safety when his team is up 55-10. Mr. White, a fellow Heisman Trophy winner, and on the losing end of that 55-19 score, seemed to hold his composure much better. Then again, what was I expecting from a guy who earlier in the season wore a “F*ck the BCS” t-shirt for a nationally-televised interview?

By the by, I fully expect that this game will be lower in the Neilsens than both the Sugar and Rose Bowls.

The National Championship
So let’s talk about the national championship. USC and its fans, including those incredibly-biased media and coaching voters, now declare the Trojans to be the one and true national championship team.

I have long lamented how flawed the BCS is, most of it due to the incredibly-biased media and coaching voters. Despite its many flaws, however, the BCS was set up to ease the determination of a true national champion. Like it or not, the BCS was designed to have the number one and two teams in the nation fight it out for the title. It’s a shame that a worthy number three team is left out in the cold. As what happened to USC last year.

So let’s see, Trojan fans and players: if you want the rest of us to acknowledge that you, as the BCS national championship game winner, are the undisputed #1 team in the nation, will you do the same for the 2003 LSU Tigers? Yeah, I thought not.

For the last time, USC worshippers: if you want to blame anyone for there not being a USC-LSU championship game last year in the Sugar Bowl, look to that incredibly-biased media and coaching voting segment that put Oklahoma there instead of you. This is the same incredibly-biased media and coaching voting segment, mind you, that ensured, all season long, that USC would compete for the national title this year.

Just as last year we should have seen a USC-LSU match-up, this year we probably should have seen an Auburn-Oklahoma match-up. Jason Campbell, in his last press conference as an Auburn player, makes one hell of a case for a national title to reside on the plains of Alabama. Put this in your crack pipes and smoke it, southern California: in every BCS category except poll voting, the Auburn Tigers kicked your butts.

Yes, it is a big deal for you to come in and whip the Big 12 champion the way you did the Sooners. I’m not trying to take anything away from your Orange Bowl victory. I simply take issue on whether you should have been there in the first place.

So enjoy this moment in the sun, USC. No doubt you will find yourselves atop the rank of college football’s best at the beginning of next season. No doubt, with a strong number of your current talent slated to return, the incredibly-biased media and coaching voting segment will ensure your return to the BCS national championship game again.

I think Coach Nick Saban had something last year, when questioned, before the Sugar Bowl, over the prospect of a “shared” championship. He thought the BCS system was pretty good, but in order to totally eliminate the sharing prospects, he recommended the “BCS plus one.” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville echoes the “plus one” scenario, as he finds himself in similar straits as Saban this year.

Wouldn’t that be something? To have one more game, USC against Auburn for all the marbles. Because if I were a betting man, I’ll take an undefeated SEC team over an undefeated PAC 10 team any day.

posted by retrophisch at 01:03 AM in college football
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December 20, 2004

Go Sooners, Longhorns, and Tigers (both of them)

Note to Texas Longhorn fans: Get over your rivalry with Oklahoma and root for the Sooners on January 4th.

That is what I will be doing. Having grown up in Baton Rouge, I don’t have a dog in the UT-OU hunt. Living in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, I do root for the state school, and will be doing so when they go up against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. When it comes to the rest of the Big 12, however, well, yeah, I’d like to see them do well against their bowl opponents. Just as I like to see SEC teams win in their respective bowls. If your team isn’t in the game, can you not put your intraconference rivalries aside and root for your fellow conference members?

The reason I will be rooting against USC on January 4th is that I don’t believe they deserve to be there. The great and all-powerful computer averaging systems of the BCS simply cannot overcome the incredibly flawed, glitter-eyed voters of the ESPN/Coaches’ and AP polls. Despite these pollsters, if you used the rest of the BCS’s criteria, Auburn is the number one team in the country. You want to talk strength of schedule? Auburn beat three Top 10 teams during the season. Oklahoma and USC: one each. I think margin of victory is a bogus statistic; of course you’re going to have a higher margin of victory against lesser, lower- or unranked teams. That only stands to reason. This is why OU deserved a poll jump last year when it blew out Texas. USC doesn’t deserve that kind of poll jump when they beat the likes of Colorado State.

USC deserved its title shot last year against LSU. Oklahoma did not deserve to play in the Sugar Bowl, due to the fact they lost their conference championship game. The BCS fixed that particular idiom, but too late for the Trojans and the 2003 season. It sucks for USC and its fans, but there it is.

This does not entitle USC, pollsters, to an automatic bid to the championship game this year. Auburn deserves that shot, and Oklahoma does, too. I will put a 9-2 SEC or Big 12 team up against an undefeated PAC 10 team any day of the week. Your conference is weak, Trojan fans, just as the opponents of Florida State and Miami have been weak in the past when they won their many undeserved (in my mind) national championships.

I’m sure many of you are wondering, perhaps even aloud, Who the hell does this guy think he is? He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is just an opinion. What do you think the votes by the pollsters are? Those are merely opinions by those individuals on who should be ranked what. Granted, they have certain criteria they use, and I feel I’ve been trying to play by their rules in my own analysis. USC fans simply don’t want to face up to the reality I’ve pontificated on, because they feel they’re getting their due from last year. And the pollsters have made sure to give that due, despite Auburn’s clear superiority on the gridiron.

So the Trojans don’t think I’m picking on them, I’m still wondering why an undefeated Utah team is ranked in the Top 10. Do you see another Mountain West conference team in the Top 25? No, you do not. Utah gets a pass because of their record, not because of their strength of schedule, margin of victory, etc. Likewise with Boise State—you won’t see another WAC team in the Top 25, and while Louisville also falls in to the Top 10, you won’t see another Conference USA team in the Top 25. These two teams are keeping worthy teams like LSU (yes, I’m very biased) and Iowa, the Tigers’ Capital One Bowl opponent, out of the Top 10. Either of these contenders would wipe the floor with the Broncos or Cardinals. The fact that LSU and Iowa are 9-2 speaks to the conferences they play in. The fact that BSU and Louisville are 11-0 and 10-1 equally speaks to the conferences they play in, and they don’t compare.

Unlike a lot of Texas fans out there, I have no such hang-ups on conference rivalries. I don’t believe in “I root for LSU and any team that plays Ole Miss.” That’s bunk. I’ll root for LSU when they play Ole Miss. I’ll root for the team that plays against Ole Miss so long as it helps LSU in the rankings. If that’s not at stake—if Ole Miss is ahead of LSU, or if Ole Miss is in a bowl game—then I’m rooting for my fellow SEC team. It’s that simple. You should want the rest of your conference to do well, because it makes your team look good, too. Your conference rivals winning in the post-season boosts your own team, especially when next year comes around.

So stomp those Trojans, Sooners! Hook those Wolverines, ‘Horns! Dine on some Hokie, War Eagles! And Geaux Tigers!!

posted by retrophisch at 09:30 PM in college football
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November 01, 2004

2004 College football update

So another weekend of college football has come and gone, and the SEC still gets no respect. Auburn goes 8-0, clinches the SEC West, yet remains at number 3 when they should be number 1. How is it that California, with one loss, is ahead of Wisconsin, which is undefeated, in the AP Poll? What is this blinding obsession the sports press has with the PAC 10?

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, there is obviously a large sympathy vote out there for USC, on top of the PAC 10 obsession. Since the BCS failed to do the right thing last year and pit USC against LSU for the national title, the sports press is making sure they get the title shot this year, deservedly or not.

Moving on, I realize Utah is undefeated, but what are they doing in the Top 10? Their conference is just packed with those football heavyweights of BYU, Air Force, and UNLV. The MWC doesn’t compare to the Big 12, Big 10, or SEC.

The voters in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll can’t let go of their obsession with Miami, keeping them at number 10, despite the stomping the Canes received from North Carolina. Sure, the Tar Heels only won by a field goal, but when you consider they were three touchdown underdogs, to win by three points constitutes a whoopin’.

So, without further ado, this week’s Retrophish™ Real-World Top 5:

  1. Auburn
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Oklahoma
  4. USC
  5. Georgia
posted by retrophisch at 11:44 PM in college football
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October 24, 2004

College football mid-season

Okay, so mid-season was really kind of last week, but whatever. The mind-boggling insaneness of the ranking system continues to annoy me. I am still waiting for a credible explanation in the sports press on why Auburn is not the Number One team in the country. The ESPN/Coaches’ Poll actually has them at #4—an 8-0 team behind Miami, which is 6-0. What kind of ganja are these people smoking?

Speaking of Miami, I still await a credible explanation within the sports press of why both Miami and Florida State are in the Top 5 in both polls. You’re talking about two teams that struggle against those football powerhouses of Wake Forest, Louisville, and Syracuse.

LSU played a pretty pathetic game against Troy State for their homecoming last night, eeking out a win in the final two minutes of the game, 24-20. This explains their drop in the polls by one notch. What the hell were the Tigers, doing, looking ahead to the game against football powerhouse Vanderbilt?

Oklahoma State, in the same division and conference as its Norman brethren, has only a single loss, and still gets no respect from the poll voters, staying at #20 in both polls. Once again, and with the examples of Miami and Florida State firmly noted, there goes the whole “strength of schedule” argument.

Wisconsin is receiving similar shoddy treatment at the hands of the voters: an 8-0 team from the Big 10, shut out of the Top 5 because of the blind Miami/Florida State Kool-Aid guzzling of the pollsters.

So, this week’s Retrophisch™ College Football Top 5:

  1. Auburn
  2. Wisconsin
  3. USC
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia

Yeah, that’s right. I’ll put up an SEC championship contender any time against Miami or Florida State. The biggest game those two teams will play any given year is against one another.

posted by retrophisch at 09:03 PM in LSU , college football
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October 10, 2004

Showdown Saturday

So the sports media billed yesterday as “Showdown Saturday” in college football. The day was filled with a lot of great match-ups, but honestly, was really no different for a lot of the teams than any other gridiron weekend. Here’s the view from our little bowl:

Oklahoma vs Texas

What a yawner. When we finally turned on the game, mid-way through the second quarter, we were impressed that Texas had managed to hold the Sooners scoreless thus far, considering the shellacking the Longhorns received last year in the Red River Shootout. It was decidedly a defensive game, but alas, the Longhorn defense tired first, and Texas was held scoreless for the first time in 24 years. Bob Stoops beats Texas for the fifth time, and I’m sure there’s already talk in Austin amongst the restless Longhorn fans that maybe Mack Brown’s time at UT is over. Pshaw. Texas fans should be proud of the program Brown has put together; in the past four years, UT has won at least 10 games every season. As was noted on the broadcast today, UT has the fourth-winningest record in college football these past four or five years. If you flip-flopped the Red River Shootout record with Oklahoma, Texas would be number one. There is very little Mack Brown and the Longhorns have to be ashamed of; beating the Sooners is at the top of the short list.

California vs USC

Simply put, the better team lost. Aaron Rodgers lit up the vaunted USC secondary, tying a NCAA record with 23 consecutive completions. The Trojans were able to make crucial stops when required, and got lucky as Rodgers’ arm just got tired enough in the fourth quarter that he threw three straight incompletions in the Bears’ final drive. Technically, he threw four, but that was because his receiver fell down on the last play for Cal. Considering the two offenses involved, 23-17 seems like a low-scoring affair.

Tennessee vs Georgia

Boy, was I ever wrong about this one. After the pile-driving the Vols received at Rocky Top last weekend by Auburn, and the similar butt-whooping Georgia handed LSU last week, I fully expected the Bulldogs to crush Tennessee. Georgia had a 17-game winning streak at home in its favor to boot. A big upset in the SEC, as I was sure we’d see two undefeateds going at it for the SEC Championship come December, in the form of Georgia versus Auburn. Now the SEC East is up for grabs.

LSU vs Florida

However, LSU made it a little easier for Tennessee and Georgia in the east. How about those Tigers? Again, was I ever wrong about this game. Seeing how David Greene picked apart the Tiger secondary last week, I expected the same from Chris Leak and the Gator receiving corps. LSU’s defense decided to show up for this game, even if it took the offense a little longer to do so. Fourteen of Florida’s 21 points came off of LSU turnovers in the first quarter, both at the hands of redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell, who was given his first start by Coach Nick Saban.

I was pleased to see Russell get the start. I have never been a fan of Marcus Randall. Like many LSU fans, and I expect more than a few members of the Tiger football squad, Randall has never really inspired much confidence in me. When Russell was sidelined with an ankle injury, Randall came in and proved all of us unbelievers wrong. He simply had the best game of his career at LSU. He kept his poise and built his confidence, in the process showing his teammates how to keep their poise and building their confidence in him. It paid off, with a last minute drive that culminated in a 10-yard strike to Joseph Addai for the go-ahead touchdown with 27 seconds left. The Tigers would hang on for the win, 24-21, in the Swamp. I couldn’t be more pleased, and am shocked I didn’t wake up the little phisch when I whooped at LSU’s go-ahead score.

The above were the games I was focused on today, so the rest of this will be the miscellany I picked up throughout, and my thoughts.

First, someone want to tell me why Auburn won’t be ranked #1 ahead of Oklahoma and USC? With one game and one win up on each of these teams, you would think that the War Eagles would deserve the #1 spot in every poll out there. With its loss today, Georgia will obviously fall out of the Top 5, as will Texas. It’s laughable that Florida State is even in the Top 10, and with their lackluster performance against Syracuse this weekend (come on, it’s Syracuse!), they shouldn’t advance, and, quite frankly, should drop down. I would put California, with the loss to USC, ahead of Florida State.

Auburn, however, like just about every other SEC team that manages to stay undefeated, will be shunned by the pollsters. Oklahoma and USC will retain the top two spots. This is because college football journalists are enamored with Bob Stoops and with the Hollywood glitz of USC. Granted, Bob Stoops has built a fantastic football program in Norman. He lured away the top running prospect in all of Texas, Adrian Peterson, for crying out loud. However, I don’t think the Sooners are one of the top two teams in the nation at this stage of the year. They certainly weren’t one of the top two teams in the nation at the end of last year. The BCS had to institute a new rule for this season, the “Oklahoma Rule,” which stipulates you have to win your conference to be eligible for a BCS bowl. This, after the pollsters saw to it that Oklahoma would play LSU for the national championship, rather than the USC-LSU match-up we should have gotten.

USC, likewise, has a great football team, but I fail to be convinced that a legitimate national champion can come out of the Pac 10. I would rather see a national champion with one loss out of the SEC, Big 12, or Big 10, than an undefeated out of the Pac 10, Big East, or ACC. Are you listening, Miami and Florida State? It’s one thing to roll over Syracuse, Rutgers, and Temple year after year. A lot of Texas high school teams could go undefeated in the Big East or the ACC. It’s quite another thing to do so in the SEC, Big 12, or Big 10. Those latter three conferences are where your “strength of schedule” lies year after year. The Trojans romp over those powerhouses at BYU, Stanford, and Colorado State. California gave them their first real test, and but for Aaron Rodger’s tired throwing arm, there but goes a perfect season for USC. As much as I stand by the statement that led this paragraph, I will grant you that the Pac 10 is a stronger conference than the ACC or Big East.

While we’re at it, will someone also please explain to me why Oklahoma State, at 4-0, went in to this weekend at #21? That’s atrocious. They are not only in the same conference, but in the same division as #1/2 Oklahoma. Using the BCS theory, they have the same “strength of schedule”. Like Oklahoma, they are now 5-0 after play today. This should be the number two or three team in the country come Monday, but I doubt they’ll crack the Top 10.

The Retrophisch College Football Top 5, post-October 9th, reflecting reality a bit more than the sports journalists and coaches will:

  1. Auburn
  2. Oklahoma State
  3. Oklahoma
  4. USC
  5. California

Yeah, I know what I said about the Pac 10, but looking at their game against USC, I’d put Cal up against Miami or Florida State any Saturday of the season.

Finally, you know things are floopy in the NCAA when Purdue is leading the Big 10 in the rankings…

posted by retrophisch at 12:29 AM in college football
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September 06, 2004

1-0, but no longer #3

It was a disaster. No, I’m not talking about Florida after the double-whammy of Charley and Frances, though that certainly qualifies, and more so. I’m talking about the near-loss by LSU Saturday night against Oregon State.

The Beavers were supposed to come in and give the Tigers a good go, but eventually fall to the defending BCS champions. Oregon State would have no such thing, and shocked LSU in to double overtime. And there but for the right-leaning foot of Beavers kicker Alex Serna—and I’m not talking politics—would have gone the Tigers’ chance at repeating as BCS champs. Serna missed three extra point attempts, including the one that would have sent the two teams to a third overtime, but instead won the game for the Tigers.

LSU had problems from the outset. For the second year in a row, the home opener was delayed due to a monsoon. This levelled the playing field as far as Oregon State was concerned, and they took advantage of it from the opening kickoff, when LSU’s Skyler Green fumbled on his own 25-yard line. The Beavers would eventually turn that in to six points; it was the first extra point Serna would miss.

The pundits of college football now point to this game as LSU being overrated as far as the 2004 season is concerned. I love my Tigers, but to be honest, I didn’t see a lot Saturday night that would lead me to believe otherwise. The two teams LSU had problems with last year—Florida, to whom they suffered their only loss, and Georgia—both host LSU in their home venues this season. If this was the same team from last year, I wouldn’t be worried. This isn’t the same team from last year.

I have never understood the recruitment and grooming of Marcus Randall as quarterback. Randall has never inspired confidence in his teammates, or the fans. Most of the time he has this deer-in-the-headlamps look on his face. His first-half performance was so bad that Coach Nick Saban had to put redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell in to the game for the second half, and that poor kid was so keyed up he kept getting leg cramps and back spams. Yes, the Tigers sorely miss Matt Mauck, who, while not the athelete Russell certainly is, had all the leadership qualities one looks for in a quarterback. Randall has had three seasons to pick up on those qualities, and has failed to deliver time and again. Russell might grown in to the leader that LSU needs, but that will only come through playing time the Tigers cannot afford to give.

And that may be the problem with the 2004 LSU Tigers. Too many seniors gone, not enough left. Too many freshmen and sophomores on the squad, not enough juniors to balance it out. This happens in college football. Unlike the professional game, where players can be locked in to multi-year contracts, college football is transient, and it is coaching systems that continually win championships. Such systems, however, do demand certain types of personnel year after year, and LSU simply may not have said personnel this year.

So the Tigers win their first game, despite the fact that they shouldn’t have, and will lose their #3 spot in the BCS rankings. The AP poll already has them at #6, which, quite frankly surprises me. If the Coaches’ Poll puts them in roughly the same area, I expect they’ll end up at 6 or 7 on the BCS. In my mind, they probably don’t deserve to be in the Top 10 right now. It’s only the first game of the season. It’s only one game. But it could be the one game that determines how far LSU goes in the post-season, and whether they will play for another BCS title.

posted by retrophisch at 11:33 AM in LSU , college football
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January 23, 2004

The People’s Champion?

Okay, last post about the LSU Tigers National Championship football team…

There’s been a lot of talk about how USC is the “people’s choice” for college football’s national championship. Mostly, this talk has come from sports pundits who think the glitzy Trojans are all that and a bag of potato chips, to quote a bad Mike Myers movie.

So what did the people think? Well, let’s go to the Nielsen ratings for the week of December 29, 2003, through January 4, 2004, courtesy of EW, shall we?

The Sugar Bowl, featuring the LSU National Champions and those Oklahoma Sooners, was the #2 rated show of the week, with 23.9 million viewers, second only to the Cowboys-Panthers NFL playoff game.

The Rose Bowl, featuring USC and the Michigan Wolverines? Didn’t even register in the Top 30 shows viewed. The Orange Bowl clocked in at #8. The Fiesta Bowl came in at #9. More people watched the lame Michael Jackson special than watched the Rose Bowl.

Face it, USC-worshipping sports writers: the people have spoken, and their choice for college football’s national championship makes its home in Baton Rouge. Geaux Tigers!

posted by retrophisch at 11:29 PM in LSU , college football
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