I wrote a column last night on wishing that college football had a dictator like Roger Goodell. I realize that this isn't the week to express Goodell envy, but I have been so non-plussed by the non-conference offerings this September that I am pining for a central authority to force major powers to play one another. People have faith that a selection committee for a four-team playoff will create the right incentives, but these are still human beings who are more affected by the number in the loss column than anything else. I don't get why a committee of ten would be likely to reach a different result than a poll of one hundred, at least in terms of valuing strength of schedule over record. Using computer rankings that account for margin-of-victory would be a good way to align incentives properly so that teams played challenging schedules, but we don't appear any closer to that. Is anyone punishing Texas right now for playing an embarrassing non-conference schedule? Or Oregon?
My column last week was about my feelings on Keith Brooking, namely that he was an overrated player when he was here and if that opinion makes me an idiot according to Steak Shapiro, then that is a cross that I am willing to bear. I thought about that issue when Bill Simmons made a telling remark in a footnote last week. He wrote a paragraph about whether the replacement refs would amplify homefield advantage because of their greater propensity to be intimidated by a crowd and then he added the following: "This whole paragraph would have been much more fun to write during the
era of sportwriting when you didn't have to support your arguments with
actual facts." For whatever flaws Simmons has, he does seem to take a data-based approach to most (but not all) sports issues, at least moreso than many popular writers. And then you have sports talk radio, which is pretty much a data-free zone (with a few notable exceptions). If someone in print were going to tackle Keith Brooking's career with the Falcons, they would surely have a more logical take than "he's local and he made a few Pro Bowls." Then again, I was listening to sports talk radio instead of a football podcast, so maybe the joke's on me.
As always, you can find my SB Nation work here. I am writing there once a week. When I get time, I do intend to write a post or two here about the Blaugrana's start to the season. (Short answer: they are playing well, but the next three games - at Sevilla, at Benfica, and home against Real Madrid - will be telling. The lack of depth at center back may prove to be a killer, as they go into this stretch with Pique and Puyol both out. [PSG's inflation of the transfer market is affecting clubs as rich as Barca. The amount that PSG spent on Thiago Silva crushed Barca's attempts to sign him or anyone close in terms of talent.] They look better up front when at least one of Pedro or Tello play to give them some width. Cesc is struggling. Xavi remains irreplaceable. Busquets is having a quietly excellent year. I am concerned that they lack balance at the back because they need [but don't have until Abidal returns, if that ever happens] a defensive left back to cover for a marauding right back. Adriano's defensive issues were on full display last week against Spartak.)