Monday, October 19, 2009

Random Thoughts on the Weekend

I ought to preface this complaint by saying that I don't dislike Florida. I liked the Spurrier Florida teams because they played a major role in the SEC becoming the conference that it is today. I like Urban Meyer's offense. I liked last year's Florida team because they were so freaking good. I still like this Florida defense. That said, I am not liking this Florida team and the main reason is because various entities have anointed them as the national champion before they have earned the title. CBS keeps flashing their presumptuous hierarchy of national title contenders as if it is a fact that Florida can lose a game and still play for the national title, as long as that game is not the SEC Title Game (and watch Gary Danielson's tone change if an unbeaten Alabama beats an unbeaten Florida in Atlanta). Various media entities still give Tim Tebow credit as if he is the Tebow of 2007 and 2008, rather than the skittish 2009 Tebow whose level of play has slipped, most likely because of a lack of confidence in his receivers and offensive line. Now, we can add SEC officials to the list of entities who have decided that Florida should play for the national title, because they did their absolute best to get Florida back on level terms after Arkansas took the lead with 9:36 remaining. (Was it just me, or were Lundquist and Danielson genuinely crest-fallen when Arkansas took the lead?) I thought that the personal foul call on A.J. Green was the worst call I had ever seen, but the personal foul call on Florida's penultimate drive takes the cake. The #1 team in the country is not entitled to preferential treatment against a spunky, unranked opponent in Gainesville just because the Gators are supposed to be very good. Part of me wonders if the conversation this week is going to be about the officiating in Gainesville, leading to a bit of a backlash against the Gators. Urban certainly has to hope so, as he would thrive off of it.

On a related note, I'm generally not inclined to buy the complaints of fans that their refs are the worst in the world because fans never like officials, but SEC fans have a legitimate gripe. The richest, most competitive conference in America desperately needs to raise the standard of officiating to the standard of play.

I'll say one nice thing about Florida: they don't look great, but compared to every other team in college football other than the one in Tuscaloosa, they are doing just fine. Texas is completely underwhelming, as they snuck past an Oklahoma team that did its best to hand the Horns opportunities to turn the game into a title credential-affirming rout. I have serious philosophical reservations about a team winning the national title when it cannot run the ball to save its life. Virginia Tech's resurgence turned out to be a hoax based on a lucky win over Nebraska and a couple big home blowouts. The dirty little secret is that Bud Foster's defense isn't that good (at least this year). USC looked like they were about to assert themselves into the top tier with a big win in South Bend, but then they showed the lack of the killer instinct that Pete Carroll teams normally have in spades. That leaves us the Gators, the Tide, and the frisky terrible schedule brigade (Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State, in that order). Oh, and Iowa, the least interesting national title contender ever. (And I'm saying that as someone who was on their bandwagon in the summer?) Wasn't this supposed to be a good year in college football?

OK, Ohio State fans, I have a question for you. Would you rather: (1) beat Michigan this year and have Jim Tressel decide that his offensive approach only needs minor changes; or (2) lose to Michigan and have him make significant alterations? A series of hidings at the hands of Florida, LSU, and USC were not enough to convince Tressel to come out of the dark ages, but the one message that he would receive loud and clear would be a loss to the Bucks' arch-rival, especially if it looks like Rich Rodriguez is accomplishing more with less on one side of the ball. Tressel has seen first hand how a different coach can change the dynamic of the rivalry, as the commencement of his tenure in Columbus caused a 180 degree swing in Ohio State-Michigan results and, to a lesser extent, the reputation of Lloyd Carr.

Alternatively, it could be that Terrelle Pryor simply isn't a good quarterback. If that's the case, then Ohio State is in real trouble because they don't have any other options. The plan all along was for Pryor to be the starter and then for Braxton Miller to replace him. Miller is a high school junior.

The ACC finally has quality teams that can challenge Virginia Tech: Miami and Georgia Tech. The three teams have played one another with the home team winning each time. So are we headed for a three-way tie at 7-1? All three teams have yet to play Virginia, which is a suddenly frisky 3-3. My guess is that Virginia will pick one of the three off, most likely on a day in which Virginia's inconsistent offense is clicking, and that will decide the division. Georgia Tech is the most likely of the three to get picked off because of their defensive weakness, their record in Charlottesville, the good job that Virginia did against the Johnson offense last year (warning: small sample size), and the fact that they have serious letdown potential this weekend.

After posting on Friday about how the Heisman isn't worth a warm bucket of spit, now seems like a good time to point out that Mark Ingram would be the front-runner if he played for Ohio State. Maybe the fact that his father was a New York Giant will swing the normal preference against Alabama players? Ingram's performance on Saturday night was epic.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure TCU's schedule is all that weak. They went on the road and beat both Virginia and Clemson. They also play top 25 teams Utah and BYU. It is a legitimate schedule as opposed to Boise State and Cincinnati.

Anonymous said...

Gary Danielson's love affair with Florida and Tebow more particularly is sickening. The best part was when Tebow fumbled the handoff and Danielson blamed the center for a "bad snap." The ball was maybe an inch or two from hitting Tebow between the numbers. And yes, both Danielson and Lundquist sounded upset when Arkansas looked like they would win the game.

I'm convinced this year, more than any year I can remember, any team in the top 25 can beat any other team any given Saturday.

Michael said...

That's a fair point about TCU's schedule. I bet that the Virginia and Clemson wins will look better by the end of November. Their schedule will end up being roughly on par with Cincy's, while Boise State will be miles behind. I kinda like TCU, although I'm not sure about them playing for a national title.

Michael said...

Danielson soft-pedaled his criticism of Tebow's horribly underthrown deep balls on the last two drives.

I've always liked Lundquist and I don't see him as being as agenda-driven as Danielson. I was shocked that he was so meek on the 75-yard TD, especially because Verne tends to be excitable.

Jesse said...

The UVA game is looking to be like a trap game for GT, but I'm not sure I'm ready to give them that much credit. They have only played two conference games, UNC and Maryland, both who aren't that great and have losses from MTSU, Rutgers, Wake, and two close calls against UCONN and James Madison. Not to mention that UVA lost to William & Mary.

Sure, GT hasn't won @ UVA since 1990, but we also hadn't won @FSU ever until two weeks ago. This isn't your normal Gailey GT team. I think GT will handle them easily.

As for the rest of college football, this year sucks for typical dominating teams. Florida is in a funk offensively, Texas looks lost in the first half of every game, Oklahoma isn't in the picture without Bradford, Ohio St is losing to bottom feeder Big11 teams, and outside of UF and Alabama the SEC looks weak. The ACC has a couple of top level teams emerging, but it's still the same tag-you're-it ACC. The BigEast has a couple teams trying to make some noise and the Pac10 is looking to still be a one-team conference.

If there has ever been a year for major BCS controversy, this might be the best chance at it. Let's all hope for a bunch of one-loss teams to argue over it in the end.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to that silly unsportsmanship flag thrown against Arkansas last Saturday, a review board of SEC officials reported yesterday (or maybe it was Sunday) that they could find no infraction of rules. Hence, it was a terrible call.