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heisman trophy

Mark Ingram Alabama Crimson TideMark Ingram is no longer a Heisman hopeful. He’s the 75th winner of the most hallowed individual trophy in all of sport. Now all there is left to do is to bring home the crystal trophy of the BCS national championship. Some people talk about the “Heisman Slump,” wondering if it’ll affect Mark’s play in the BCS championship game against the Longhorns, but it doesn’t really matter if it does. Trent Richardson guarantees it.

Joe Namath. Kenny Stabler. Cornelius Bennett. Bart Starr. Lee Roy Jordan. Don Hutson. John Hannah. Derrick Thomas. Ozzie Newsome. Shaun Alexander.

Is Mark Ingram, the 19-year old from Flint, Michigan, the greatest football player in the history of Alabama football? Is he even the greatest running back? Well, possibly, but with a tradition as rich as ‘Bama’s it’ll take a bit more time to tell. Regardless, one thing is for certain: he was the most outstanding player in college football in 2009. It is amazing that Alabama, with 12 national championships to their credit and 96 first-team All-Americans, the team that dominated the decade of the 70s, has no Heisman winner in their history before 2009. Now let’s add that thirteenth championship ring and this might be the best year ever.

Now I’ve got to make the trip back down to T-Town so I can visit the Bryant Museum again. I want to see it for myself. Maybe touch it. It’s comforting just to know it’ll soon be there, a mere fifty miles away.

Well done, Mark.

Roll Tide Rollelephant_crimson_bama_logo

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FIX IT

Once again, voters’ opinions have thrown the national championship race into turmoil. How it’s possible that Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Texas, who beat them, is beyond me. And again, as I wrote last week, no way does USC deserve to be ranked ahead of Texas Tech.

The NCAA has always been a duplicitous beast. It hammers the teams that it supposes have transgressed some of its hallowed rules, but then it lays off the teams and conferences, letting them formulate their own methods for determining their champions. The SEC proved that a championship game is the right way to go, and the Big 12 followed suit. Now it’s time for the Big 10 and the PAC 10 to get on board. The recent trend of voters’ rewarding conferences who do have a championship game is promising, as seen last year when 2-loss LSU played for the BCS title in lieu of 2-loss USC. At least they got that one right.

But this year the polls are on their backs, and the official is counting. Something must be done to fix the system. I’ve already given one idea that could work without instituting a playoff, which the powers-that-be are so adamantly opposed to. But a few things must happen without question: The Big 10 and PAC 10 must crown their champions in a championship game. The Big 10 will have to either add a team or cut a team for that to happen, but if Notre Dame would get off their high horse and join, both the Big 10 and ND would be better off for it. All the PAC 10 really has to do is schedule the game and play it, since they’ve already got an even number of teams, although it would be nice if they’d add a couple more teams to the pot.

The Big 10 and PAC 10 may already have plans to that effect. Surely they see that their lack of a conference championship is costing them consideration at season’s end. Everyone said the SEC would put themselves out of contention when they started up their championship game, but in fact, just the opposite has happened. The SEC is getting more consideration because of the championship game. Several other conferences have followed suit. At this point, to refrain is nothing more than a display of stubbornness.

There are ways to fix the system, NCAA. We all know you hate the idea of a playoff, despite the wishes of the fans of the sport, but there are other ways than the BCS. Use your imagination and come up with one, or just ask me, I’ve got a guaranteed formula for success. I call it the Super Conference.

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USC Leapfrogs Texas Tech?

AP voters, you’ve really screwed up this time. With USC leapfrogging Tech in the most recent polls, the BCS picture–still not reliable due to its dependence on voters’ opinions–is once again screwed up.

Let’s look at the losses these two teams have suffered. Both have one loss; USC’s to Oregon State, a 7-3 team with a conference loss to weakling Stanford, and TT’s to Oklahoma, another one-loss team whose only loss came at the hands of Texas, current one-loss #2 in the BCS. Aside from that, TT plays in a much stronger conference–and don’t give me that crap about how USC’s defense is the best in the nation, if TT was playing in the lackluster PAC-10 their defense would look stellar too.

How is it possible that two teams with one loss each can be ranked so wrong? There’s no way SC deserves to be ranked ahead of TT, other than the love affair current AP voters have with all-things Pete Carroll. Give us a break, AP, vote for body of work instead of who you’d like to see winning. At worst, TT shouldn’t have dropped below fifth.

The Big 12–of which I am not counted as a fan, by the way–should have some combination of teams ranked currently at numbers 2, 3, and 4. Period. How you rank them is up in the air, but there’s no question in my mind that Texas’s, Oklahoma’s and Texas Tech’s one loss each is a much better loss than either Florida (who lost to a pretty good team in Mississippi and should be ranked #5) and USC, who lost to Oregon State and should be ranked no higher than #6.

What’s really frustrating about this is that I don’t even see how there can be any question that it should be this way. So long as you’re looking at things rationally and with no bias, at this stage in the season the top ten is pretty clear cut. At least it is if you’re not an AP voter.

Here’s the current Houndstooth Top 10. There’s not much difference between this poll and the AP poll, except 1-5 and flip flopping Utah and Penn State. But at this point in the season every little spot counts big time, and USC just doesn’t deserve to be a top 5 team:

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Texas Tech
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Utah
  8. Penn State
  9. Boise State
  10. Georgia (I’d have no problem putting Oklahoma State in the ten spot)

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The spotlight is on, and now it’s time to see how the Tide handles pressure. Because from here on out, every game, every playeven, will be a chance at greatness. One slip and suddenly you’re merely good–not great. But if anyone can prepare a team for this moment, it’s Nick Saban.

It might have been better for them to have climbed the polls more slowly than they did. If they only hadn’t looked so damned dominating against Clemson and at Georgia, maybe right now they’d be number 8, or number 5, instead of 2. Not that it matters that much, as the Head Coach will tell you.

I don’t know what we’re ranked,” Saban said. “But wherever it is, let me ask you this: Who was ranked there on Sept. 29 of last year? Do you remember?””>”I don’t know what we’re ranked,” Saban said. “But wherever it is, let me ask you this: Who was ranked there on Sept. 29 of last year? Do you remember?”

Yes, we understand, and we all chant in unison: Ranking doesn’t matter until the season is over. Watching the rankings is fun business if you’re a fan, but as a fan, wouldn’t you rather your team didn’t even know what they were ranked? Is a team ranked #2 going to play any harder (or softer) than a team ranked #22 or #72? I’m sure if the Head Coach had his way, the team would be incommunicado concerning rankings as a general rule.

But even players are fans. Fans of their own team. They want to see their teammates succeed as badly as they want to succeed themselves. So they know what the rankings are, where they lie, and they know what they have to do to stay there. There is only one rule the players need to abide by in order to remain in the BCS hunt:

  1. Listen to the Head Coach.

Saban has done an amazing job of letting the team know how good they can be (Clemson, Georgia), while mixing in just a bit of letting them know how bad they might be (Kentucky, Tulane), and at the same time, winning every game in the process.

And now the coach has posted two words as reminders all over the football complex: “consistency” and “finish.” If they listen to those valuable lessons, they may–they may–achieve greatness. In a college football world where the talent division between the top and the bottom is as tight as it’s ever been, that’s all one can really hope for–a chance. And if they listen to the Head Coach, if they play with consistency and finish…There’s no team in the country who can line up and win every time they play. 

Every game from here on out represents for the Tide an opportunity to write their names in the annals of college football’s greatest. If they win out, Alabama will hoist their thirteenth championship flag above Bryant-Denny Stadium, and Nick Saban will be enshrined with his own statue on the Walk of Champions. But at the same time, every game represents an opportunity for the team to end the season as a good team, not a great team.

Either way, though, the nation’s face has turned south once again, and one and all know that the Crimson Tide is back in the land of prominence.

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I’ve been watching commentators of college football jumping on the OSU bandwagon for weeks. Virtually everyone was predicting OSU to win, often for no better reason than that LSU was favored. Yes, they were picking OSU because LSU was favored. But by predicting OSU to win, in one way, they made OSU the favorite, thereby shifting the balance of fate back to LSU. Additionally, they failed to acknowledge the simple fact that, though LSU was favored, OSU was ranked #1. In my mind, that was the biggest consideration (as far as intangibles can be considered :-). LSU might have been favored in the point spread, but I never wavered from my prediction that LSU would win, and my primary reasoning for being so confident, in the end, was that all the analysts were picking OSU, and because LSU was ranked #2, and in my mind, #2 beating #1 is still an upset.

It was, after all, the season of upsets.

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Talk radio is rife with talk of unfairness and the want of a playoff. As for the unfairness, I say bull. No other team deserved to be in the championship game than the two that were there. There might have been equals, but none more deserving. And as for the playoff: It ain’t gonna happen, get over it.

There is a sure-fire way to fix college football without a playoff though, and that is through the Super Conference concept, in which the top 25 teams each season must play a specified number of games against one another, and in which the only teams eligible for to win the national championship are those 25 teams.

Each season the bottom 5 teams in the super conference drop out to be replaced by the next top 5 ranked teams. This season Notre Dame would have dropped out. To be eligible for championship contention again they would have to play their way first back into the super conference. The super conference concept would ensure a level playing field for all teams vying for the championship, and give us the best option under the rules we have now for deciding the champion of college football.

The conferences wouldn’t have to change. The bowls wouldn’t have to change. Everything could remain the same; all you would do would rearrange the schedules so that teams would play different, better, competition.

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Bowling

Mark Richt is bitter that Georgia was bypassed by LSU for the National Championship game. Oh well, maybe you shouldn’t have gotten stomped by Tennessee. While we’re on Georgia, however, I believe the bowl committee missed a prime opportunity by not putting Georgia in the Rose Bowl against USC. Those might be the two best teams in the country right now, and it would have been a great game. Illinois – USC is good, but USC – Georgia would have been great. Besides, who on the planet wouldn’t have loved to see Ron Zook and Illinois vs. Florida? All I can say is, in my humble opinion, the bowl committe has blown it — once again.

As for the National Championship game, they at least got it as right as they could. If not LSU – OSU then who else? Maybe VT, but then LSU waxed VT earlier in the season. My only real problem with the selection is OSU’s schedule, which was weak this year. LSU losses both came against teams with Heisman Trophy contenders on them and both games lasted three overtimes apiece. In my opinion, LSU had to be there. For the other team, they would have been safe pulling from a pool of four other teams: VT, Oklahoma, USC or Georgia. (Georgia – LSU would have been very interesting…)

This year, I believe LSU has shown that they are the best team in the country, the next five teams are just that–the next best five teams in the nation. The only reason you can take OSU above the others is because they only have one loss, even though their schedule was weak. So anyway, I’m fine with the choice of LSU – OSU. Everyone else get ready to fight it out for second place, because whichever team loses in the championship game and either Georgia, USC or Oklahoma win, they’ll skip over the losers into second place. The loser of the NC game could actually drop all the way to number five.

Other bowls of interest:

  • Utah vs. Navy | Go Navy!!
  • Nevada vs. New Mexico | This is only interesting to me because it’s the Wolfpack vs. the Lobos.
  • Arizona St. vs. Texas | Could be a good game.
  • Maryland vs. Oregon St | Go Beavers!
  • UCF vs. Mississippi State | MSU finally goes bowling again. I’m very happy for Sly Croom.
  • Alabama vs. Colorado | Roll Tide. I love this matchup.
  • Texas Tech vs. Virginia | Could be a fun game.
  • All the BCS bowls look to be fun to watch.

Happy bowling!

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