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VETTEL: Final Weekly Football Musings

Written by larry vettel, December 7, 2006, 0 Comments,
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The BCS has done its best, but the simple fact is its best isn’t good enough and never will be. The Gators were more deserving of a spot in the National Championship Game than Michigan was. They may or may not be a better team, but by every objective analysis UF comes out on top. More bowl-bound teams, more ten-win teams, more teams in the final BCS top 25, higher strength of schedule and so on.

Michigan should be ticked off, but those supporting the Wolverines are missing one important point that most national analysts have not verbalized effectively. The fact Michigan was passed twice despite not playing is not a reflection of them being punished for not playing. Instead, it is a reflection that as the season drew to a close, voters switched their mindset from what teams “looked” the best to what teams “deserved” a shot at the title. If UCLA had not upset USC the Gators would be headed to New Orleans and the gnashing of teeth would be taking place in BOTH Michigan and Florida. But the Trojans probably were more deserving than the Gators if you use the same factors to determine “worth”.

That said it’s time for some musing.

Plus-one system would not have helped —– If there was an extra game this year, it would not have been a clean top four to put into the “semi-finals”. Florida, Michigan and Ohio State grab three spots, but who gets the fourth? Do you take unbeaten Boise State or once-beaten Louisville or Wisconsin? Of the two loss teams, is LSU the choice or do you select Southern Cal? Do Auburn and Oklahoma warrant consideration?

Serious playoff discussion will finally come —– UF President Bernie Machen is going to at least get the conversation going about a better way to select the national champion. It should get a lot of attention that the school that “won” the right to play for the title under the current system leads the call for change. Machen’s efforts should generate some significant response(s). I have long advocated a 16-team playoff because it comes closest to matching the percentage of teams that enter post-season compared with basketball. The only way a 16-team playoff happens is if the NCAA creates it and in so doing eliminates either the 12th game or conference championship games.

My 16-team plan —– I’d have eight automatic bids going to the six power conferences plus the two highest rated mid-major conference champs based on criteria similar to the BCS rankings. This year that would be Ohio State, Florida, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Louisville and Wake Forest plus Boise State and Brigham Young. Then you choose the eight at-large teams. Michigan, LSU, Wisconsin, Auburn and Notre Dame get the first five. The last three spots go to West Virginia, Virginia Tech and California. Oh yeah, the Larry system limits each conference to three teams. Now we rank them 1-thru-16 and play first round games ON CAMPUS with the top eight teams hosting. Do you think this Saturday would be a little more entertaining if we had the following games to watch?

* Brigham Young at Ohio State

* California at Florida

* Virginia Tech at Michigan

* Wake Forest at LSU

* West Virginia at Southern Cal

* Notre Dame at Louisville

* Oklahoma at Wisconsin

* Auburn at Boise State

The eight winners go to the big four bowl games and play it out from there.

Great job openings —– There are some really good jobs out there for coaches looking to either move up into the “big time” or assistants looking to become the boss. Headlining the list are Alabama and Miami, two traditional programs that think they should win it all every year. Add to that two sleeping giants in Stanford and Arizona State and you have some great opportunities. For first time head coach wannabes you have FIU, La. Tech, Tulane, Central Michigan and North Texas. Somewhere in between those categories you have North Carolina State. Those jobs should start getting filled late this week. I still think NC State should hire David Cutcliff, but indications are Paul Johnson of Navy tops their list. FIU should grab Charlie Strong. Bama may end up with Jim Grobe but they’re giving their best shot at attracting Rich Rodriguez. Miami will most likely end the retirement of Barry Alvarez.

Black head coach controversy —– It is pitiful that only five of 117 Division 1-A football programs have black head coaches. When the support is about 50/50 black/white that is just obscene. Look for that issue to be a big time controversy if at least three of the top ten openings don’t go to qualified black assistants. Right now, it’s not encouraging that only two men, Strong and Randy Shannon of Miami seem to be getting significant mention anywhere.

My Heisman ballot —– As usual I put a “non traditional” candidate on my three man ballot for the top player in college football. I do this more often than not because I think it’s important to acknowledge the best player on defense or an offensive lineman. In the past I have voted for Marvin Jones, Bryant McKinney, Jonathan Ogden, Charles Woodson and others. This time around my first two choices went to Troy Smith (1) and Darren McFadden (2). The third selection was both a defensive and special teams star who intercepted passes, made tackles for losses and blocked kicks for one of the nation’s elite teams. That spot on my ballot went to Reggie Nelson.

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The BCS has done its best, but the simple fact is its best isn’t good enough and never will be. The Gators were more deserving of a spot in the National Championship Game than Michigan was. They may or may not be a better team, but by every objective analysis UF comes out on top. More bowl-bound teams, more ten-win teams, more teams in the final BCS top 25, higher strength of schedule and so on.

Michigan should be ticked off, but those supporting the Wolverines are missing one important point that most national analysts have not verbalized effectively. The fact Michigan was passed twice despite not playing is not a reflection of them being punished for not playing. Instead, it is a reflection that as the season drew to a close, voters switched their mindset from what teams “looked” the best to what teams “deserved” a shot at the title. If UCLA had not upset USC the Gators would be headed to New Orleans and the gnashing of teeth would be taking place in BOTH Michigan and Florida. But the Trojans probably were more deserving than the Gators if you use the same factors to determine “worth”.

That said it’s time for some musing.

Plus-one system would not have helped —– If there was an extra game this year, it would not have been a clean top four to put into the “semi-finals”. Florida, Michigan and Ohio State grab three spots, but who gets the fourth? Do you take unbeaten Boise State or once-beaten Louisville or Wisconsin? Of the two loss teams, is LSU the choice or do you select Southern Cal? Do Auburn and Oklahoma warrant consideration?

Serious playoff discussion will finally come —– UF President Bernie Machen is going to at least get the conversation going about a better way to select the national champion. It should get a lot of attention that the school that “won” the right to play for the title under the current system leads the call for change. Machen’s efforts should generate some significant response(s). I have long advocated a 16-team playoff because it comes closest to matching the percentage of teams that enter post-season compared with basketball. The only way a 16-team playoff happens is if the NCAA creates it and in so doing eliminates either the 12th game or conference championship games.

My 16-team plan —– I’d have eight automatic bids going to the six power conferences plus the two highest rated mid-major conference champs based on criteria similar to the BCS rankings. This year that would be Ohio State, Florida, Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Louisville and Wake Forest plus Boise State and Brigham Young. Then you choose the eight at-large teams. Michigan, LSU, Wisconsin, Auburn and Notre Dame get the first five. The last three spots go to West Virginia, Virginia Tech and California. Oh yeah, the Larry system limits each conference to three teams. Now we rank them 1-thru-16 and play first round games ON CAMPUS with the top eight teams hosting. Do you think this Saturday would be a little more entertaining if we had the following games to watch?

* Brigham Young at Ohio State

* California at Florida

* Virginia Tech at Michigan

* Wake Forest at LSU

* West Virginia at Southern Cal

* Notre Dame at Louisville

* Oklahoma at Wisconsin

* Auburn at Boise State

The eight winners go to the big four bowl games and play it out from there.

Great job openings —– There are some really good jobs out there for coaches looking to either move up into the “big time” or assistants looking to become the boss. Headlining the list are Alabama and Miami, two traditional programs that think they should win it all every year. Add to that two sleeping giants in Stanford and Arizona State and you have some great opportunities. For first time head coach wannabes you have FIU, La. Tech, Tulane, Central Michigan and North Texas. Somewhere in between those categories you have North Carolina State. Those jobs should start getting filled late this week. I still think NC State should hire David Cutcliff, but indications are Paul Johnson of Navy tops their list. FIU should grab Charlie Strong. Bama may end up with Jim Grobe but they’re giving their best shot at attracting Rich Rodriguez. Miami will most likely end the retirement of Barry Alvarez.

Black head coach controversy —– It is pitiful that only five of 117 Division 1-A football programs have black head coaches. When the support is about 50/50 black/white that is just obscene. Look for that issue to be a big time controversy if at least three of the top ten openings don’t go to qualified black assistants. Right now, it’s not encouraging that only two men, Strong and Randy Shannon of Miami seem to be getting significant mention anywhere.

My Heisman ballot —– As usual I put a “non traditional” candidate on my three man ballot for the top player in college football. I do this more often than not because I think it’s important to acknowledge the best player on defense or an offensive lineman. In the past I have voted for Marvin Jones, Bryant McKinney, Jonathan Ogden, Charles Woodson and others. This time around my first two choices went to Troy Smith (1) and Darren McFadden (2). The third selection was both a defensive and special teams star who intercepted passes, made tackles for losses and blocked kicks for one of the nation’s elite teams. That spot on my ballot went to Reggie Nelson.

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