I spent the New Years holiday holed up at Poseur HQ, watching lots of football. The question is, did I learn anything? Well, I learned that Cheetos are delicious, but only in small quantities. Other than that, I tried to glean some meaning from the games themselves. Here are my takeaways.
OKLAHOMA ST GOT SCREWED
The Cowpokes can't play defense, but they can play offense. As college football fans, we're being robbed of two contrasting styles, not to mention a Mo Claiborne v. Justin Blackmon matchup. Two of the best players at their position going head to head? Who wants to see that?
But worse than that, Okie St. now has five wins against teams that finished in the top 25 in the BCS final standings, and two in the top ten. Only LSU has as many wins over top 25 teams as OSU. Additionally, Okie St won the Big 12, which you might have noticed, has had a superb bowl season. OSU has a great resume, and they lost a spot in the title game to team that has beaten two teams in the final top 25 of the BCS poll. And one of those was Penn St, who looked downright awful against Houston. It's one thing to get passed over by a team with a slightly worse resume, but the resumes were not close. Oklahama State's accomplishments tower over Alabama's this season, and the only reason they don't get a shot is because, well, they are Okie St and Bama is Bama.
The stunning injustice of it just struck me last night. I've been against Bama in the title game, as they already lost to LSU at home, but I've also taken the attitude of we'll play whoever they tell us to play. I still do. I'm not afraid of Alabama. But it is not right they are playing in this game without having to prove their worth over the course of the season. OSU lost in the polls due to recency of their loss and historical reputation. Which are both awful factors. LSU should be playing OSU, not because I think they are the "easier" opponent, but because they are the right opponent who actually earned it on the field. Alabama getting a chance to win the BCS title by beating only three top 25 teams, and failing to win its conference or division, is an affront to the concept of fairness.
But life's not fair. It is what it is. Some teams get to take the easy road, and some teams take the hard road and still don't get rewarded. And it's not like Alabama is a bad team, they clearly have the ability to win the title game, considering the last game was tied after 60 minutes. It's just a shame they have been given the opportunity when they don't have the resume to back it up.
PLAYING FOR A FIELD GOAL IS STUPID
Every person who has ever criticized Les Miles for the 2007 Auburn game should be locked in a room and forced to watch the Outback and Fiesta Bowls, Clockwork Orange style. Both coaches decided to play for a long field goal instead of trying to win the game with a touchdown, and both got predictably burnt by these decisions designed to reduce criticism but not actually win the game.
Richt's decision was, by far, the worst of the two. Playing for a field goal from the 20-yard line when the clock isn't even a factor is just a terrible decision. Richt, by choice, put the game on the leg of a kicker who had missed seven field goal attempts this season. Additionally, he extended the kick to 42 yards by giving the five yards back by running to the middle of the field. Get this: college kickers are unreliable. Especially from 35 yards and beyond.
But that doesn't let Stanford off the hook. Oklahoma St called timeout with 52 seconds left, and the ball on the 25. Stanford would only run two more offensive plays, both runs, and one not even designed to gain yards. I hate to point out that Andrew Luck plays for Stanford, and was carving up the Cowboys "defense" at will all game. Stanford decided that it was better to rely on a freshman kicker than a senior quarterback who is going to be the #1 pick in the draft. It was a mind-boggingly terrible decision, but of course, the blame today is not on the coach, but the kicker. Well, the blame lies on David Shaw's shoulders.
TIME TO GET NEW BOWL TIE INS
The traditional slugfest between the SEC and the Big Ten on New Years is a lot of fun, but it has become rather one-sided. It's not even as much fun to chant SEC! SEC! at the Big Ten homers. The reason for this is that we're no longer playing for conference supremacy. I hate to say it, but the Big 12 has stepped up its game and taken the role as the challenger for best conference.
Sure, we will have the Cotton Bowl, but another Big 12-SEC game wouldn't be a bad idea. Don't get rid of the Big Ten matchups, but let's include the Big 12 in this battle for supremacy. They have earned it, and their absence on New Years was keenly felt.
THE ROSE BOWL IS STILL COOL
I find the Rose Bowl's general arrogance to be a bit off putting, but there's something right about the Big Ten and Pac-10, er, Pac-12 playing in the Grandaddy of Them All. It was a fun game between two really good teams, which is exactly what a BCS bowl should be. Just a fun game to watch.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS RUN BY MORONS
However, I spent the first half of the Rose Bowl watching the Winter Classic. I actually was flipping to the game during the Outback Bowl's many overtimes as well. I got to see a cool venue, snow, someone mocking Jaomir Jagr, a better musical act between periods than the Super Bowl has for its halftime, some genuine hate, and a game that came down to a penalty shot in the final minute. In short, it was an awesome game and even better TV.
And it only exists because college football ceded New Years Day. New Years should be college football's showcase day, belonging solely to them. But by moving so many of the best games off of the day itself, and playing all of the bowls early in the day to give no competition to the games airing, college football's powers that be allowed hockey to move in on its big day. College football is so incompetently led, it was just outsmarted by Gary Bettman.
JANUARY NINTH IS A LONG WAY OFF
We still have a week until LSU and Alabama play. That's a long wait, and completely removed from the New Years holiday. Given that many of the ESPN crews spent their time bad mouthing the game after the promos, I'm curious how many people are going to watch outside of our own fanatical fanbases. But it does seem like they are trying to squeeze all possible juice from the game, which is a shame.