College football drives me crazy. Don’t get me wrong, there were some tremendous games this holiday weekend, including some huge upsets and some wins that meant a lot to me personally (thanks Penn State!). Football at the college level, as a game, is tremendous. The structure of the postseason is a total mess, of course, and has been for years. The unfortunate part this week is that college football managed to find a way to rob me of the enjoyment of something that I would have loved in past years, which is chaos.
Alabama, the two-time defending national champion, lost to Auburn in a thrilling game on Saturday. This, along, with some other recent upsets, has thrown the whole championship picture into confusion just as the season is winding down, but the thrill is muted due to the upcoming four-team playoff that begins next year.
To be clear, I am not saying that the new playoff has solved all of the problems, and so I am not just complaining about not being able to complain anymore. That’s not it at all. The playoff is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Having looked at all of the options, I believe a sixteen-team tournament is what is needed, and I expect that we will eventually get there. The problem is that the new format has already been decided for next year, which means no matter how much wonderful chaos occurs this season, there is absolutely no chance that anything will be reevaluated and changed before next year. As bad as the BCS has been for all of the years, it was always fun to constantly root for every possible upset to occur so that someone with some power might decide that the system needed to change. With a clearly deficient plan already in place, all we can do is wait until next year and hope that there is enormous controversy around the selection of the four teams.
There are people that say that you will always have controversy with the selections, no matter how many teams are in the playoff, but I feel that is a shortsighted argument. Will the seventeenth team argue that it should have been included in a sixteen-team field? Sure. Will that mean as much to anyone as the fifth team thinking it should have been included in a four-team field? There are unhappy people after Selection Sunday determines the NCAA Basketball Tournament field each year, but for the most part, people are happy with the process and the product. Football should take note. Four teams is not nearly enough. Northern Illinois is 12-0 right now. They play in a sub-par conference, but they have beaten everyone that they have played, including two Big Ten teams. They are currently 14th in the BCS rankings. There is no way they would be included in a four-team field or even an eight-team field. Do they deserve a chance to play for the championship? Of course they do. In a sixteen-team field, they would be in and would get a chance to prove their worth on the field.
It’s a shame that Auburn’s big win lost some luster, as far as its chaos-inducing potential goes, but I still enjoyed seeing the Crimson Tide go down. This week, I will be rooting for Duke over Florida State, Michigan State over Ohio State, and Missouri over Auburn. None of the games will help my real goal become reality, but it’s still always fun to root for the underdog.
Bad sports, continued:
2) Many people will tell you that the biggest game in college football every year is the Ohio State-Michigan game. I hate both of them, so I have trouble getting excited for the annual tilt, but this year’s edition was quite the game. Michigan, a decided underdog, hung in there the whole way and scored a touchdown with 32 seconds left in regulation to pull within one point. An extra point would have tied it, but Michigan went for the two-point conversion and the win. Devin Gardner’s pass was intercepted, and Ohio State won the game. The thrilling end was nearly overshadowed by a brawl between the two teams during the second quarter that ended with two Buckeyes and one Wolverine being ejected from the game. Helmets were ripped off, punches were thrown, and there was a lot of general ugliness. I wish I could say that I was surprised to read that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer is refusing to suspend Dontre Wilson or Marcus Hall for this week’s game against Michigan State, but I’m not. Meyer has a long history of extremely lax discipline for his players (hello, Aaron Hernandez), and this is just another chapter in that book.
3) Brandon Browner, a cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks, will be suspended for a year after failing some kind of drug test. He was suspended for four games last year for performance-enhancing drugs, but this one sounds like drugs of the more recreational variety.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin pulled a ridiculous stunt during his team’s loss to Baltimore on Thanksgiving night. He stood right on the edge of the field, even having a foot on the playing surface at one point, while Baltimore kick returner Jacoby Jones was racing up the sideline with a return. Tomlin was facing the other way, watching the play on the big screen. He looked over his shoulder and jumped out of the way as Jones got close. There is no doubt in my mind that Tomlin was intentionally interfering with Jones, and it sounds like the league might agree with me. A league source has stated that a major fine is in the offing, along with the possible loss of a draft pick. If that happens, I will be surprised and very pleased.
5) Continuing the discussion of coaches trying to manipulate games, Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd pulled his own stupid stunt during his team’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night. Late in the game, he found himself with no remaining timeouts. Kidd told an approaching player to run into him, knocking the soda he was holding to the floor and causing a stoppage of play. No one was fooled, and Kidd was hit with a $50,000 fine.
6) Two people were killed when part of a stadium that is set to host the opening match of next year’s World Cup in Brazil collapsed on Wednesday.
7) Last week, I mentioned that a number of people had won a bunch of money by hitting half-court shots at halftime of Oklahoma City Thunder games this year. One of those people, Cameron Rodriguez, will apparently have to forgo the money due to some stupid rule of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Rodriguez is a basketball player at Southwestern College in Kansas, and the rule will prevent him from keeping the cash. I guess the NCAA is not the only organization out there that needs to fix some things.
1) I know that Auburn’s big win over Alabama was part of my lead Bad Sports story, but it also deserves to be here, if only for the way it ended. After Auburn scored with 32 seconds left to tie the game, Alabama ran several plays to try to get into field goal range. They made it to Auburn’s 38-yard-line as time ran out, but they convinced the referees to add a second back to the clock. Kicker Adam Griffith then attempted a 57-yard field goal. Knowing it might well fall short, Auburn sent Chris Davis back to stand near the back of the end zone. He caught the kick, which did not make it the needed distance, and proceeded to run it back 109 yards for a touchdown and an enormous win. Spectacular.
Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday
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