Monday, November 26, 2018

College Football: Notes from the last.

Outside of conference championship games, and a stray make-up or three, last weekend was the end of regular season college football for 2018.  Much like the rest of the season it contained a few hits, more misses, and some downright disappointing results.

"Rivalry" week, unlike SEC Buy Week, is typically filled with high-stakes match-ups that provide the public with a plethora of great finishes, back and forth games, and a surprise or three.  This year?

Not so much.

The problems started in the early window, when The Game, The Iron Bowl and....Georgia vs. Georgia Tech all turned into laughers, especially in the 2nd half.  I'll have more on Michigan later but, for now, lets just say that the SEC is exactly what we thought it was and we're back to 'Bama vs. Georgia in the SEC title game with them being the top two teams in the SEC and it's not close.

College football today has gentrified into distinct strata.

On top, you have Alabama and Clemson. They're miles ahead of everyone else and it's likely (although not a certainty) that they'll be the last two teams standing (again) when the CFP rolls around.  After that you have a second tier: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State who are all pretty much interchangeable. The only reason the Irish have an edge in the polls is that most of the teams they played as "rivals" this year were relatively down.  This doesn't mean that the Irish aren't any good, but do you really give them much of a chance against Clemson or Alabama?

After that comes the third tier. Teams like Michigan, Texas, Washington, Florida, LSU, West Virginia, Penn State, teams that are plenty good, and who might even pull the occasional upset against one of the big dogs, but teams that cannot quite put it together on a consistent basis.

After that it's a grab-bag of several teams who float in and out of the Top 25, before hitting the teams with six or seven wins who will fill out the bowl schedule and then you have the have-nots.  The point is, outside of the 1st two tiers, the CFP has ensured that no one even matters. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The College Football Playoff is ruining college football and it needs to either be expanded or (preferably) killed off altogether.

Floating around this flotsam and jetsam of team rankings is UCF.  Winners of 25 straight they're kind of hard to categorize because we really aren't that sure how good they really are.  Not even going into the horrid leg injury suffered by McKinzie Milton, they're a team with a relatively weak strength of schedule who has done nothing but win, and sometimes win big. It's somewhat of a parlor game to make fun of them (especially by the eternally jealous Mountain West) but the fact is the committee should give them a chance against Alabama in the Playoff, but you can be guaranteed they will not.

Again, the CFP cannot continue to exist in its current form for much longer without suffering a massive crisis or confidence from the fans.  An expansion to eight teams would help, but not resolve, many of the doubts about its validity (and, also, its integrity) but at this point getting away from it and reverting back to the old bowl system might be the best option.  The only workable, above-board, 100% legitimate option is to expand to 16, with the 10 conference champions getting an automatic berth and six at-large teams.  To do this however you'd need to shorten the schedule back to 11 games, and this genie will not get stuck back in the bottle.

So, we're stuck with what we're stuck with, as imperfect as it might be.

Other notes:

 - As a Michigan fan you can 100% bet that I'm disappointed with Saturday's game. While it's very clear that Ohio State has a giant edge on Michigan right now it shouldn't be lost that Harbaugh has elevated Michigan to the status of 2nd best team in the B1G.  Considering when he took over the team four years ago Big Blue was a bottom half B1G team, progress IS being made.  What Michigan fans need to do is drown out the white noise of bad takes from controversy mongers like Finebaum and Stephen A. Smith and focus on where progress IS being made. I don't like losing to Ohio State any more than you do, but canning a 10-2 coach is never the right answer.

 - That aTm and LSU played a 7 overtime game that ended 74-72 and now holds the title for highest scoring college game ever feels like an open challenge to the Big XII, especially for this weekend's Championship game between OU and Texas.

 - Mack Brown is going back to North Carolina, Les Miles is headed to Kansas. At this rate hiring back older guys with coaching experience seems to be a trend. (Herm Edwards at ASU)  Will it work?  Who knows, but at least it could make it a little fun.

 - Conference Championship games this weekend.  I'm hoping for a narrow upset of Alabama by Georgia which would result in a CFP featuring the following 4 teams: Georgia, Notre Dame, Clemson, Alabama.  Which would mean the Pac-12, B1G and Big XII get shut-out.  Which would lead to wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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