Monday, December 04, 2006


Like everyone knows, Florida slipped past Michigan in the human polls this weekend to steal the #2 slot in the BCS championship game.  My response was predictable.  First came the yelling, then the throwing things, then the kicking things, and then back to the throwing, before finally tiring myself out.  How did this happen? Who's to blame?
  1. Urban Meyer
    He goes right on the "Dead To Me" list for his relentless, shameless lobbying and politicking.  He's spent the last three weeks crying that his team might not get their shot in the title game.  All he had going for him was the blind assertion that SEC football is the best in the country.  Outside of their conference, they didn't beat anybody other than the worst Florida State team of my lifetime, coached by a man worried about the eBay, and they lost to an Auburn team that forgot to bring an offense.  But, by golly, his Gators just had to get a chance, or their little hearts would break!

    The flip side here, of course, would be to blame Lloyd Carr, who was conpicuously absent from college football media this past week.  He didn't lobby anyone for votes and it may have cost us in the end.  But that's Lloyd, he's not going to change, and I like him better this way.  Coaches just shouldn't have to do that.  Jim Brandstatter was talking to him on Michigan Replay on Sunday morning, and he was this close to calling Urban Meyer bush league; not for his lobbying on behalf of Florida, but for what he's said about Michigan.  For Lloyd, everything's about his kids, never about taking anyone else down, like Meyer's content to do.

  2. Poll Voters
    In the space of a weekend, the question switched from "USC or Michigan?" to "Florida or Michigan?".  Poll voters were running around screaming, getting an attack of rematch terror, and giving in to the fallacy that Michigan had their chance.  Poll voters have goldfish-like brains.  They have this instinctual knowledge that the SEC is the toughest conference, the Pac-10 can't play defense, and the pre-season Top 25 poll is just a matter of shuffling the deck chairs from last season's final ballot.  Beyond that, they only remember what's happened in the last seven seconds.  Last-second miracle block to avoid losing to South Carolina? Gone! Six-point victory over Vanderbilt? Sayonara! SEC football is awesome! + No rematch, arghh!! = Vote for Florida.

  3. Gary Danielson
    The hope for Michigan fans was that the goldfish/poll voters would actually watch the SEC championship game to see whether Florida really deserved a #2 bid.  The Gators' win over Arkansas wasn't some sort of epic beatdown.  They won by 11, based on a gift 14 points off of two errors in the kicking game by an Arkansas team seemingly determined to throw away a game they could've won.  However, Gary Danielson's advocacy for Florida and the SEC was relentless.  During the game, I texted Craig, asking if Danielson was taking money under the table from Gator boosters.  Gary didn't even give token respect to a Michigan program he covered for a lot of years on ABC Sports.  His comparison chart was a joke, as was his assertion that you shouldn't give style points for wins.  Then he asked if you could get style points for defense, implying that would somehow go to Florida.  Admittedly, the OSU game blew a lot of Michigan's numbers to pieces, but the out and out idiocy of implying that the Florida defense is markedly superior to Michigan's didn't seem to register with Danielson's companion in the booth.

  4. Notre Dame
    Notre Dame is such a disappointment to Michigan fans.  They were overrated to start the season, let a not-that-good Georgia Tech team hang around on them all night long, tore apart a Penn State team hell-bent on giving Brady Quinn all the time in the world to throw, and were then exposed in The Great BEAT DOWN of '06.  They flirted with disaster against UCLA, but remained insensibly relevant to BCS discussion all season.  They had a chance to step up against a USC team that had shown themselves to be vulnerable, but the Irish made them look like world-beaters.  If Notre Dame could've found a defense and a way to not drop all their passes, they could've been the ones to beat the Trojans.  That would've put Michigan in the driver's seat, giving our win over ND a little more shine and bumping up the strength of schedule numbers.  Instead, they crawl off to the Sugar Bowl, sure to get taken apart by vicious tigers.

  5. Arkansas.
    See #3.  Two horrible miscues on special teams gave the game away.  The inexplicable attempted punt return, muffed by Fish on the goal line, was by far the worst play of the game, maybe of the year.  Florida's made 5 punt (kick?) blocks this year, according to the CBS crew, so the punt block wasn't some insane, freak accident, but it's an outlier, to be sure.  Without those two plays, the Gators lose.  Also, if the Razorbacks could've found a quarterback who wasn't entirely incompetent, well, that would've been nice too.  Hope you like the Citrus Capital One Bowl, guys.

  6. The Big Ten Conference (Administrative division)
    In their infinite wisdom, the Big Ten has mandated that all teams cease play on the weekend before Thanksgiving, unless you go to Hawaii.  There are solid reasons for their decision, of course.  November football in the Midwest is dicey enough, but a homegame in Madison in December is Russian roulette with Mother Nature.  However, it means that the rest of the country has two extra weeks to continue making their case on the football field.  We won't have a conference championship game unless a twelfth team joins (Notre Dame's fault, AGAIN), but there has to be some way to make it work so that Big Ten teams play on the last day of the season.

  7. The Big Ten Conference (Athletic division)
    If the rest of the conference comes up to scratch, it makes Michigan look that much better.  Iowa is the first among equals here.  The Hawkeyes struggled without Drew Tate, lost at Indiana to nosedive out of the top 25, then just gave up the ghost after the Michigan game.  Penn State's boneheaded playcalling handed Notre Dame a blowout victory.  The bottom of the conference went around losing to 1-AA teams and UConn.  1-AA teams! If the rest of the conference can take care of their own business, the conference schedule looks like a better test.  Note: OSU and Wiconsin are exempted here.  Pre-season polls kept the Badgers out of the top ranks until way too late to do Michigan any good, and OSU for obvious reasons.

  8. The Computers
    You know, I really thought we had a good thing going with the computers for most of the season.  Heading into the OSU game, they had us in the #1 spot.  Naturally, we dropped down after losing, but it was still OK.  Then somehow we ended up deadlocked with Florida in the computer polls after this weekend.  Brian already ripped into the Billingsley poll last week, so I'll leave that screed to him.  But I'll add this: Florida somehow received positive points in the computer polls for beating 1-AA Western Carolina, a team with a 2-9 record.

  9. The BCS
    This one was so obvious that it slipped by me in my first draft, but a suggestion from Craig brought it to my attention.  To paraphrase my good friend Chuck D, the BCS is a joke.  Intended to put the best two teams in the country into the national title game, it's ended in controversy in half the years of its existence and it keeps tweaking its "formula" because of it.  The S stands for "series", but there's nothing serial about it.  It's one game between two teams that may or may not be the #1 and #2.  I don't want a March Madness-style playoff.  Even a two-round, four-team playoff should cover just about any scenario, and an eight-team format definitely would include any team with real title ambitions.  But the BCS is worried about money, so a playoff system will just sit on the shelf.  If they'd put the cash up, FOX could probably have demanded it, but we're stuck for a few more years.

  10. Jerry Falwell
    Somehow, in time, I'm going to figure out a way to blame this on Jerry Falwell.

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