Tuesday, January 12, 2016

College Football: Playoff: Great Championship Game, Meh Format

Some thoughts following Alabama's 45-40 win over Clemson which clinched the Tide a National Championship and ignited the Saban vs. Bryant debate over which coach is the G.O.A.T.

1. Getting this out of the way, Saban's resume > Bryant's resume. For many reasons. First, it's much harder to win consistently in today's limited-scholarship, practice, early-exit environment. 2. The gap between the halves and have-nots is narrower. 3. You don't get to keep your players for 4 to 5 years, if they're any good they are heading to the pros. Which guy is the "better" coach?  I have no idea. But I do know that Saban's list of accomplishments is pretty staggering all things considered.

2. So much for defense. I honestly thought this game would be safely under. For all of the hype about Henry and Watson I thought most of the talent on the field would be trying to prevent scoring. Wrong. Alabama suddenly discovered that OJ Howard was on their team and Clemson found a walk-on target in Renfrow.  And yes, Henry and Watson are very, very good at the game of tackle football.

3. I'm still underwhelmed by ESPN's 'mega-cast' gimmick. I flipped around, but I always defaulted back to the main broadcast. "ESPN Voices" is just dumb, the homer broadcast is mainly just sideline interviews, the "coaches tape" broadcast has some merit as does the "command center" view which provides the radio call of Mike Terico (ESPN's strongest play by play guy). The Finebaum film room is just stupid.  All of this could be redeemed however by including a "BrentCast" which had Brent Musberger and a couple of Vegas Handicappers calling the game. Now THAT would be the broadcast I would watch.

4. Balance in broadcasting is needed, badly. I get that ESPN has forked over a lot of money to run the SEC Network, but when they're in the finals game having an entire channel devoted exclusively to them winning upsets the balance. The ACC needed a homer network as much as the SEC did. Maybe even more.

5. The "S-E-C" Chant is still the worst. Congratulations Aggie and Gator. You've just celebrated a team that beat the socks off of you advancing to the National Championship.  All the SEC chant is right now is a desperate attempt for schools that contribute little to the National picture partaking in a vain attempt to act as if they accomplished something. Note: You didn't hear 'Bama fans chanting SEC did you?  Nope, they were too busy Rolling Tide all the way to a championship.

6. Speaking of that, about this "SEC" dominance. No one can doubt that the conference has won a LOT of championships. Or that, this year, they appear to have been one of the better conferences in the land, probably even the best.  But, if you look at the record, almost all of this success is related to two things: Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.  Meyer is now coaching in the B1G and Saban is rumored to be on his way out almost every year.  Once those two guys are gone......

7. This year, the College Football Playoff Worked. Sorta. The Semi-finals were awful but they produced a stellar championship game. Critics of playoff expansion note that this year is 'proof' the system works.  Except, it's not. This year was actually proof that the B(C)S would work from time to time. Not that the CFP worked. If anything, the blowouts and uninteresting games that we saw in the Semi-finals was proof the system needs tweaking.  The Championship Game was a matchup of the two best teams in football, but the Football Four was probably not the best 4 teams.  That's a problem.

8. At some point, we need to drop the charade. Last night a LOT of money was made by College Football, and it's associated hangers-on, in the name of amateur athletics. It's time to quit pretending that these guys are normal, everyday students who just happen to play football and get serious about the issue of player compensation.

9. College Football TV coverage is in desperate need of diversity. Fox, CBS and NBC really need to pick it up and get involved. The ESPN almost-monopoly is not helping in terms of either good analysis or broadcasts.

And finally......

10. The house ALWAYS wins. No matter what some might say, and there were undoubtedly many who won money last night, the edge is always, always, always with the house.  Always.

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