College Football Awards
MAXWELL: ELI MANNING
Manning's put up pretty pedestrian stats, but he plays on a pedestrian team and almost won the SEC title by sheer force of will. He's a great player on a bad team, making that team pretty darn good. It's a defensible choice, but I'm a Larry Fitzgerald guy.
BEDNARIK: TEDDY LEHMAN
Seriously? He's not even the bets player on his team. Tommie Harris is. And what about Chad Lavalais? How is the best player on the best defense in the land not among the finalists for best defensive player, yet towo players from OU are?
OUTLAND: ROBERT GALLERY
There was a glut of talented nominees, so no one can complain. Even as an LSU alum, I would have voted for Shane Andrews of Arkansas instead of Lavalais. and I'm still not upset Gallery won because he's just as good as the other two. It was one of two awards they couldn't screw up.
O'BRIEN: JASON WHITE
I was on his bandwagon last year, but how come Ryan Dimwiddie can't even get nominated for these awards? Is anyone aware of the numbers this guy is putting up? White also put up some nice numbers and got his team to the Sugar Bowl, so no complaints. But how about some love for the mid-major guys?
DOAK WALKER: CHRIS PERRY
Well, duh. I'd pimp for Darren Sproles, but you can't argue against Perry. I think Sproles is more dynamic, but it's a personal taste thing. Perry's been great.
BILETNIKOFF: LARRY FITZGERALD
God, there were some awesome receivers this eyar. Fitzgerald wins this in a landslide, but this position is so stacked. There's the Williamses and the Claytons to consider as well.
THORPE: DERRICK STRAIT
Another award they couldn't mess up. Ratliff and Taylor were also incredible this season. somebody had to win it, but all could have. Ratliff was my choice, but he wasn't jobbed.
GROZA: JONATHAN NICHOLS
The Ole Miss kicker missed his biggest attempt of the year against LSU. To me, that means Kaeding should have gotten the award.
RAY GUY: BJ SANDER
Ohio State owes so much to special teams. A great choice.
posted by Poseur 12/12/2003 10:29:00 AM
Petitte signed with the Astros for less money. I think that's all we need to know. Are the Yankee falling apart? First Sheffield negotiations fall apart and now Petitte bolts to Houston. Let's just say the Sox just keep creeping up on 'em.
posted by Poseur 12/12/2003 09:52:00 AM
Wednesday was a bad day for head coaches. Dan Reeves didn't exactly get fired, but the worst kept secret in sports finally came out: Reeves was out in Atlanta. Reeves is a good coach, and I'm stunned he ever brought the Falcons to the Super Bowl. It's a one-man team, and that one man has been out all season. so Reeves got a raw deal. That said, the Falcons could use a new coach. Just some new blood for the franchise because despite Reeves' incredible good fortune in quality quarterbacks, he's by nature a conservative coach who wants to run and play defense. The falcons need a guy who can scheme for Michael Vick. Reeves really isn't that guy.
Bruce Cassidy got axed by the caps, and considering how terrible they have been this year, it's about time. Jagr takes a disproportionate amount of blame for this team's failings, but they can't play defense either. Really, they never should have fired Ron Wilson.
Frank Johnson got the boot from the Suns, but I'm sorta stumped by this one. Yes, the suns are 8-14, in dead last in their division. but Amare is hurt, the Western conference is awesome, and it's not like we thought the Suns were on the verge of winning the division. 8-14 is only six games under, it's not like the suns are a sinking ship. Do they honestly believe another coach is going to turn them into the Lakers?
posted by Poseur 12/12/2003 09:49:00 AM
Got your steroids here!
A former world shot put champion has told the Mercury News that two high-ranking international track and field officials promised to suppress news of his positive steroid test if he feigned an injury and withdrew from the 2000 Summer Olympics.
C.J. Hunter said officials wanted to avoid a major scandal in track and field just before the Sydney Games -- an allegation that adds a new wrinkle to the growing controversy surrounding drugs in sports.
The meeting in Belgium came a day after the IAAF notified USA Track & Field of Hunter's positive test. But Gyulai said Hunter misinterpreted the intentions: ``There was no back-room deal at all. There was a possibility to keep the confidentiality until after the Olympic Games -- if he accepted that he could not compete.''
When asked about a misunderstanding, Hunter asked: ``The IAAF protocol is to meet with the athlete? Why would you have a meeting, especially with two members that high-ranking, the day after notifying me?''
Athletes generally do not have face-to-face meetings with ranking sports administrators to discuss drug tests.
Despite the August agreement, Hunter's positive tests became public in Sydney, leading to charges that the United States had a history of suppressing drug cases and failing to tackle doping while lecturing the rest of the world. Dick Pound, chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said then that the Hunter case looked like a coverup on the part of USA Track & Field.
NO! Say it isn't so. The international governing body of a sport would sell an athlete down the river? I'm shocked! This is also helpful to USA Track, which has supressed results and generally advocated the do-as-I-say-not-as-i-do approach to drugs. Here's an instance when they were unfairly villified, and they'll trot this example out to gloss over the times they did cheat.
Everybody is guilty. Nobody's hands are clean. USA Track does lecture other countries about drug use while ignoring positive tests of its own athletes. The IAAF does have a no-tolerance drug policy which they try to circumvent to avoid bad publicity. The Olympics are run by corrupt men more concerned with money than fair play. And the athletes are doping.
posted by Poseur 12/10/2003 08:37:00 AM
Sheffield to the Yanks... maybe not
Under normal circumstances, the team probably would have announced the signing last week. But if an announcement had been made before last Sunday, then the Yankees would have owed a pair of 2004 amateur draft picks to the Atlanta Braves, Sheffield's former team. So an unnamed official involved in the discussions leaked information that the two sides had hit a "snag."
That leak was designed to prevent the Braves from offering arbitration on Sunday, and it worked, as Atlanta did not do so, preventing them from re-signing him until May 1. The Braves, however, have filed a complaint with Major League Baseball in an attempt to get those draft picks, asserting the Yankees held off on the announcement only to preserve the draft selections.
Then, in an episode reminiscent of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," the two sides hit an actual snag over the weekend. Sheffield, acting as his own agent, suddenly asked Steinbrenner to raise the package to $42 million. He threatened to return to the Braves if he didn't receive what he wanted.
First off, the Braves are right to be super-pissed. It's one thing for a team to sign one of your best players. It happens all the time. It is quite another for them to circumvent the rules regarding compensation. If the Yankees do sign Sheffield, they are still guilty of cheating and deserve to lose draft picks. What? aving a 100 million dollar edge isn't enough?
Secondly, the Yankees are right not to give in to whatever Sheffield thinks up next. The market is sagging right now, and does Sheffield honestly believe he's going to get three years at 15 million anywhere else? It's a gloriously FUBAR situation, with each side blinded by their own greed.
posted by Poseur 12/10/2003 08:29:00 AM
AC Milan and Ajax lose
OK, defending champs AC Milan had already qualified for the next round and they had about as much interest in playing Celtic Vigo as I have of watching Gigli. Because of injuries, Ajax sent out a roster with an average age of 21. That's not a good thing in international competition. The Champions League marches on.
Also, Sparta's goal in the 90th minute secured a win over Lazio. Meanwhile, Chelsea downed Besiktas allowing Sparta to leapfrog from last to second in one day. And they advance while traditional powers Lazio and Besiktas will go home.
posted by Poseur 12/10/2003 08:23:00 AM
BCS history lesson
In 1994, Penn State had perhaps the best team of all time. They outscored their opponents 564-252, or about 20 points a game. They won the Big Ten and went to the Rose Bowl, in which they destroyed Oregon 38-20 in a game not as close as the score looked. Unfortunately, Nebraska was pretty damn good as well. They won by a combined 459-162, or 22.8 points per game. They won the Big Eight, and beat Miami 24-17 in the Orange Bowl. The only two unbeaten and untied teams didnâ€™t play in a bowl game because of tie-ins. So the Bowl Alliance was born.
Besides, 1994 wasnâ€™t the first year with controversy.
1993: FSU, Notre Dame, and Nebraska all had one loss (FSUâ€™s to Notre Dame). Auburn went undefeated but didnâ€™t go to a bowl due to probation. FSU won the title.
1991: Washington and Miami both went undefeated and split the title.
1990: Colorado went 10-1-1, and won the title over the 11-0-1 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, still the worst AP decision in history.
So, four of the last five years effectively had a disputed national title. The Bowl Alliance hummed along for two years without controversy. 1995 matched the only two unbeatens against one another (Nebraska and Florida). 1996 had mild controversy, rematching Florida against FSU. Florida won and took the title over four other one-loss teams. Had Arizona St been able to hold off Ohio Stateâ€™s late drive, they would have won the title. We had to wait a year. While Nebraska blasted Tennessee in the Orange Bowl, undefeated Michigan held on against Washington St. Two undefeated teams, yet another split title. The Bowl Alliance died, and the BCS was born, bringing the Rose Bowl into the fold and introducing the most cumbersome, ridiculous formula in sports history (ok, behind FIFAâ€™s world rankings).
So, how has the BCS done?
Only one undefeated team, Tennessee , which won the BCS title game over FSU (#2 in the polls and the BCS). There were five other one-loss teams passed over by FSU, most notably Kansas St, who lost their conference title game to miss out on the BCS game. KSU pouted in their bowl loss to Purdue, but Ohio St (#4), Arizona (#7), and Wisconsin (#9) all won.
WHAT IF NO BCS? Tennessee plays FSU in the Sugar Bowl.
VERDICT: System worked the same had their been no formula. Didnâ€™t screw things up.
Two undefeated teams, VT and FSU play in the Sugar Bowl. FSU wins and takes home undisputed national title as the nationâ€™s sole unbeaten,
NO BCS? FSU beats VT in the Fiesta Bowl.
VERDICT: Once again, the BCS didnâ€™t screw things up, but the old system still would have worked.
The first use of the formula. Oklahoma goes undefeated, the only one, and beats #2 BCS FSU in the Orange Bowl. Miami, #2 in the polls, misses out and takes it out on Florida in the Sugar. Itâ€™s the first real snafu, as FSU lost to Miami in the regular season, causing the powers-that-be to invent the quality win point next year. Washington, VT, and Oregon St all have one loss and no one cares. All three win their bowl games and finish with one loss. The BCS officials throw a party when OU wins, saving their system.
NO BCS? Same bowl matchups. The Big 12 had a tie-in with the Orange, and they actually probably would have taken Miami over FSU. Washington still kills Purdue in the Rose and Oregon St. still kills the Irish in the Fiesta. Florida-Florida St play in the Sugar. Again.
VERDICT: OU saved the system. Had they lost, we would have had chaos. Without the BCS, we have the same chaos saved by OU.
Glorious 2001. Miami goes unbeaten, but plays Nebraska in the Rose Bowl for the title despite the fact Nebraska didnâ€™t even win their division, much less their conference. Colorado, third in the polls, finishes third in the BCS. Oregon, winners of the Pac-10 and ranked second, finish FOURTH in the BCS and watch Miamiâ€™s win from the sidelines, having beaten Colorado (the #3 BCS team) in the Fiesta 38-16.
NO BCS? Oregon goes to the Rose Bowl and humiliates Illinois. Miami beats up on Colorado in the Orange Bowl. Nebraska probably goes to the Sugar to play LSU and replay the 1983 Orange Bowl.
VERDICT: Same result as without the BCS, only the BCS robs Oregon fans of the Rose Bowl. So now weâ€™ve completely trashed tradition for absolutely no gain. And Miami has to at least play a team which won their frigginâ€™ division.
Miami and Ohio State are the only two unbeaten teams. They play a classic in the Fiesta Bowl.
NO BCS? Ohio St. goes to the Rose a la Penn St. or Michigan and beats Washington St. Miami plays Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. And USC and Iowa mix it up in the Fiesta. Had Georgia beaten Miami and Ohio St lost, weâ€™d be looking at a split title between Georgia and the Iowa-USC winner. Had both OSU and Miami won, another split title.
VERDICT: The BCS clearly worked in 2002, the first and only time it got a result better than had it not existed.
Three one-loss teams. Nothing separates the three, but #3 Oklahoma jumps #1 USC in the BCS poll. #2 LSU holds steady.
NO BCS? Um, the same exact match-ups, minus the controversy. Oklahoma would go to the Sugar to play LSU and the Rose would still be USC-Michigan. The Orange Bowl keeps Miami, but only takes KSU as the Big 12 champ. FSU goes to the Fiesta to play Texas.
posted by Poseur 12/09/2003 05:59:00 PM
One of the big arguments for Oklahoma is the strength of schedule. Now, I've ranted about the SOS formula before, so I won't repeat myself, but it's not a good one. I don't have a quick solution, but I did want a quick way to rate schedules, so here's what I came up with.
I charted each opponent's rank in scoring offense and defense, really, the only two stats that matter. I added the ranks of these units to come up with a team score. So Auburn has the 65th ranked offense and the 11th ranked defense, giving them a team score of 76, which is actually pretty good. It's a blunt tool, but it can at least put teams in the groups they should be in. Here's each schedule, with the teams listed in order of quality
USC LSU OU
WSU 34+24=58 Fla 31+21=52 KSU 8+4=12
Cal 30+42=72 OM 15+37=52 Tex 4+32=36
Aub 65+11=76 UGa 67+2=69 OSU 10+56=66
OSU 28+51=79 UGa 67+2=69 Miz 26+41=67
Haw 22+79=101 Ark 17+55=72 NTx 46+38=84
Wsh 66+69=135 Aub 65+11=76 TxT 3+105=108
UCLA 94+53=147 Bama 69+60=129 Bama 69+60=129
ASU 74+73=147 USC 82+65=147 FSt 80+49=129
ND 92+67=159 LaT 68+96=164 UCLA 94+53=147
BYU 109+62=171 ULM 94+116=210 Col 63+98=161
Stan 108+81=189 Zona 108+108=216 A&M 71+115=186
Arz 108+108=216 MSU 100+117=217 Bay 110+112=222
We'll get into analyzing these schedules tommorrow, but I wanted to post them and let you draw your own conclusions based on the data.
The first number is offensive rank, then defensive rank, then total. There will be a test.
posted by Poseur 12/09/2003 04:25:00 PM
O'Leary's a head coach again
UCFs football program is down, way down. But not quite as far down as George O'Leary was two years ago when he lost his job at Notre Dame after five days.
When certain facts on his resume were found to be less than true, O'Leary went overnight from what some consider the best job in college football to material for Jay Leno and David Letterman jokes.
He also joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Good for O'Leary. He's more than paid for his sins, and the guy is a really good coach. what was so irritating about the Notre Dame scandal was that O'Leary didn't have to lie on his resume to get the job. He got hired for his work at Georgia Tech, not his work twenty years ago, which turned out to be fraudulant.
I'm all for second chances. Even guys I absolutely detest, like Rick Neuheisel. I don't want him coaching a team I like, but he should get a second chance to clean up his act. Everybody should get the chance to learn from their mistakes after they have reaped the consequences from their dumber actions.
Except Dave Bliss. He can rot.
posted by Poseur 12/09/2003 08:45:00 AM
Magic get a miracle
One measley game away from losing twenty straight, the Magic erased a 22-point deficit to actually win a game, this one over the Phoenix Suns. Yes, Amare Stoudamire was out and the Suns haven't won without him, but let's be honest, the Magic will take what they can get. It still counts as a win.
What I can't figure out is how this team is this bad. McGrady's a star. Gooden's a pretty good player as well. Juwan Howard and Tyrone Lue are real contributors. this team should be competing for a playoff spot. Instead, they suck out loud. Thank God they fired the coach, eh?
posted by Poseur 12/09/2003 08:41:00 AM
Tiger wins Player of the Year
BartCop Hex or no BartCop Hex, Tiger Woods still won the Player of the Year trophy. Look, there's only so much a hex can do. At least the Hammer made it close.
posted by Poseur 12/09/2003 08:36:00 AM
LSU's sheer joy
posted by Poseur 12/08/2003 09:21:00 AM
Win your conference or shut up
I'm going to write a lot about this over the course of the week, but let's just get the big stuff out of the way first: USC got completely screwed. As longtime readers know, I have absolutely no sympathy for a team which fails to win their conference championship. So Oklahoma can stuff it. You cannot win the national title without winning your conference. It's as simple as that.
You advocate a playoff? Then Oklahoma just lost in the first round of a de facto playoff. You advocate the meme "the regular season" must matter? Well, Oklahoma lost their conference. If the regular season is to mean anything, then we must pay more attention to conference titles than any other single factor. I'v long advocated a plyoff system with only conference champs. So, yes, I would advocate a playoff system which includes Southern Miss (C-USA champ) over Oklahoma (Big 12 runner-up). I'm that intransigant on the position. Nothing, and I mean nothing, in college football means more than conference titles. Oklahoma didn't win theirs, so they absolutely zero claim on the national title.
None. Zero. Zippo. Zilch. Nada.
We won't even get into the fact that Oklahoma didn't just lose, they lose by TWENTY-EIGHT points. Is it fair they had to play an extra game to win their conference? Life's not fair. The system bit Kansas State in the ass in 1998, and they lost in overtime. If the system for determining the Big 12 champ is unfair, the Big 12 should eliminate it. I don't think it is unfair, bcause the boost for winning the confernce title game is huge. Look at LSU. Their schedule strength went from 18 places weaker than USC to 14 places tougher by simply playing Georgia while USC played a pretty good Oregon State team, also passing USC in every computer poll save one. LSU got a tremendous advantage for playing a title game. In exchange for getting such a massive boost, there has to be an equivilent risk. A risk Oklahoma does not want to take. Neither did KSU in 1998 or Tennessee in 2001.
I find it offensive to the concept of fair play that OU fans want all of the advantages of playing a conference title game with none of the risk. Once again, I have no sympathy for their case. They have no business playing for the title.
posted by Poseur 12/08/2003 09:03:00 AM