Posts Tagged ‘college football’

Name That Football Conference

November 5, 2011

Tom Trimble, Kneeling with Home Plate, plus other members of SABR-based Early Houston Baseball Research Project,

Credit has to go to fellow SABR member Tom Trimble for this idea. In one of our recent online discussions of college football today and the instability of traditional NCAA Division 1 conference alignments, Tom suggested on another link that it might simply be best to reorganize college football into conferences based on some common thread theme. Trimble specified that one group might be called the “Deity Conference” for the sake of, shall we say, ” gracing” the top religious schools in the country. Pick your poisons on that one. For the Deity Conference, how about TCU, SMU, Baylor, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Wake Forest, and Oral Roberts?

For the beyond-the-Ivy-League based Egghead Conference of schools with very high academic standards who are also attempting and once in a while succeeding at competitive football, how about Stanford, Rice, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Duke, Northwestern, Purdue, and Clemson.

Here’s my favorite idea. I like it because it seems to eliminate the need for the BCS or an expanded playoff system that is more equitable and inclusive of the schools attended by the the growing legions of disgruntled have-notters. This one is so big a thought, however, that we really need to reach beyond the idea of “conference” to properly identify what it is. For the sake of maximizing ideational simplicity and then integrating that base into an actual entity, let’s just call it “The Narcissus Union of Allied Athletic Power Schools.”

The “NUAAPS”  includes only those schools that enter each season with enough money, power, ego, and talent to expect an undefeated season and a national championship every year – and only those who have the gonads to fire any head coach in mid-season who doesn’t seem to get why he was hired in the first place.

The Narcissus Union would include only these Top Ten power schools: Alabama, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas, and USC (Southern Cal). Anyone who feels they have been unfairly omitted can simply apply to The Union for extended future consideration. Till then, they simply need to join the crowd while the chosen ones either carve up the college football pie into ten fairly cut slices, or else be made available in a winner-takes-all gift-wrapped package at each season’s end.

The benefit to all other colleges and universities is a nice little bottom line booster shot too. While the chosen ten are playing all out for the national championship, everyone else can get back to bringing their admittedly now smaller annual budgets in line with the needs of academic research and student education. It’s a little more difficult selling season tickets to a a double blind drug study than it is season football ducats, but you also save money by not having to build a 100,000 seat drug study fan stadium that also contains luxury boxes.

College Football: More Like Wrestling By the Day

January 22, 2011

Which team from the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, or PAC 10 is going to win it all in 2011?

I love college football, even though my school, the University of Houston, goes out there to play every year with s snow ball’s chance in hell of winning the national championship. Still, if I simply resist looking too closely at the growing divide between the “haves” and “have-nots” of the college football world, I can get excited over the fact that QB Case Keenum is coming back for a record sixth year at UH – and pretty much joy-fired over the fact that the Cougars open the season at their home in “The  Rob” against the only club on their schedule with an even remote chance of reaching the top rung of NCAA Division 1 football, the UCLA Bruins. Our other eleven 2011 foes are a tad on the also-ran downside. The Cougars’ 2011 schedule include schools like Mississippi Body & Fender Repair, Tulane, Florida Home for Retired Nuns, and Rice.

Not much traction for digging deep and going faster or further in that dirt.

I don’t want to wear us out thinking too long and hard about this fine mess of undisguised professionalism that passes for college football today, but I do hope to make a point about the system seems to be growing more like professional wrestling by the day.

The beneficiaries of the status quo seem to include only or mainly these groups: the NFL, the Colleges, TV Networks, Media Sponsors, Select Alumni with Deep Pockets and Mountain High Egos, the College Coaching Fraternity, and the few college players who go out there and prove that they are worthy of millions from the professional clubs. I guess we’d also have to include the post-season bowl games and the swarmy confederacy of sleazy agents that also feast on the way things are.

The vast number of college players who participate get nothing beyond their years of playing for alma mater and the show of things. They are of value to their schools for as long as they can play, but a sad and large number of them end up leaving school by age 22 with no degree – and no future in the NFL. Yet, the fact remains, these are the guys who made it all work for the beneficiary class. Had there been no faceless warrior players in the college football trenches, there could have been no canvas to paint with glory for artists like Auburn’s Cam Newton, the 2010 Heisman trophy winner.

Now we get the news that the University of Texas and ESPN are teaming up to launch the “Longhorn Network,” a 24/7 television exposition of UT sports as the land of opportunity for all the world’s best athletes, including the trench-warriors of college football. Now other big schools will be forced to either get their own non-stop TV networks, or else, get buried by the “just-do-like-Nike” familiarity brands of UT Sports Live and the kindred rival school networks that are certain to follow them..

Let’s be practical. There’s not enough channel space on Comcast to house all the Division 1 colleges, even if they all wanted and could afford their own 24/7 sports stations. Providing space would require the cable/satellite  networks to shut down too many of the Spanish-speaking gospel, soap opera, booby-dancing game shows, and Latino soccer channels to make room for American football schools – and that is never going to happen.

Give or take a few more, we may end up with these following schools having their own 24/7 all sports networks: Notre Dame, Texas, Oregon, Boise State,  Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska,  USC, and UCLA.  Then we will be able to simply sit back and watch the forces of market familiarity drive 90% of all the best athletes in the country to these schools alone. In time, some writer may note that all our national championship games consistently include only schools from the TV network group.

On the day that happens, and maybe we are already there without the private network help, college football will be on a level with professional wrestling. Only a few select challengers will get to face off for the title each year. All other schools will simply show up as well-compensated opponents for the sake of drawing a pay-day and helping fill out the regular season as the psychological set up for the “big game.”


The College Football Bowl System Sucks Big Time

January 1, 2011

The Cotton, Orange, Rose, and Sugar once meant everything on January 1st!

Years ago, before we knew any better, New Years Day meant the coming of college football’s “Big Four” bowl games, the contests that would pretty much help those lucky elitists with a vote pick the next national champions of college football, based on the results of whatever happened on New Years Day. Well through the 1950s and early 1960s, we were all a lot younger and far more naive about these things – and the television network-corporate sponsor money had yet to take over the major bowls and to proliferate, mutate, and water down the significance of bowls to the point of making sure we had at least one game on the tube every evening for nearly two-thirds of all the days in December leading up to New Years Day.

We had to have a bowl game for every brand of corn chip, car company, and insurance giant in the nation. It didn’t matter a rat’s ankle that few beyond the parents of the players involved cared about the outcome of these games, all a college needed to get into one of these bowls was a group of fans who “traveled well” and a “bowl eligible” regular season record that contained, at least, an even number of wins and losses on the game outcome tally sheet.

Who could ask for anything more?

From about 1970 through 2010, the new system brokers have been readjusting the significance of these bowl games with the infusion of new power and big money as the corporate payoffs to the most desirable colleges (those with the biggest free-spending travel alums and largest dent-makers in the home television shares market following.)

Bigger money bumped the Cotton down a few notches, replacing it with the Fiesta as the new “Big Four” companion to the Rose, Sugar, and Orange. A new system also came into play for making the computer a participant in picking the two most likely candidates for participation in a post-season national championship game. This Bowl Championship Series (BCS) set-up even found a way to throw a rope around the wealth so that the annual big game rotated annually from of the “Big Four” bowls to another – while also making sure that all the power schools had the best chances of getting selected every time.

Once in a while, a TCU or Boise State comes along and is welcomed by the BCS crowd with all the enthusiasm of a River Oaks host for a couple of cockroaches at a dinner party. In this case, it isn’t politically correct for the BCS hosts to call Orkin. All they can do is try to place the intruder at a dinner table where he is most likely to get smashed by the other invited guest. Today, January 1, 2011, the TCU cockroach is seated at the Rose Bowl, right across the table from Wisconsin. – Darrell Royal of UT tried to warn the world about TCU years ago. Now, here they are again – about to fall into the BCS-Rose bowl and maybe mess things up for one of those fine old monster-size Big Ten schools.

TCU-Wisconsin will likely be the only bowl game i watch. All others, including the Cam Newton-Auburn Anointment Bowl that’s set for about a week from now against Oregon have no interest for me. All these meaningless games just suck for wont of any real competitive goal connected to winning.

Hey, Deafened Ears in the Halls of Corporate Television Power, do you have to lose your entire audience before you see the rich valley of genuine opportunity that you’re missing? Before it’s too late, overhaul the bowl game system into either a 16 or 8 team playoff system that culminates in a truer national championship game. – Skip the elitist exclusion of schools like TCU and UH. Make it so that winning gets you a chance to be voted high enough in the poll to be included in the playoff mix.

Whatever you come up with will never be perfect, but it will be a damn sight better than this boring mess that now passes for the dud-filled icing on the college football cake.