Emails in on Gundy, Obama, rankings & playoff
Good catch of emails this week, talking about rankings and playoffs and OU halfbacks and Mike Gundy. Let’s get to it.
My reality rankings drew a lot of buzz. Marc, a Texas fan, wrote, “Florida ahead of Tech? If you base that ranking on what they have done, how can you rank a team that lost at home to Ole Miss over an undefeated team that just beat Texas and OSU? I don’t see it. And although I’m not totally sold on OU, I can’t see them below underachieving Georgia. At least not until next week after Tech clobbers them.”
Here’s why. My reality rankings look at the whole season. Not just who you lost to, but also who you beat. And the SEC teams have an edge because their conference is deeper. The Big 12 is better at the top, but the SEC is better in the middle and at the bottom.
Jim wrote, “I like the concept of your reality poll but I must confess that you might be going against your own rule. You state ‘what they have done’ but you seem to go against that statement … everyone loves Florida. They appear to be very good. They have wins over an average LSU team and a good but not great Georgia. They lost to a 5-4 Mississippi team which is not ranked and they lost to them at home. Give Tech some love. They have done just what you said they should do. Beat everyone you play and you will be the best. OU should be fourth (only loss to a team in front of them) and Florida would be fifth (loss to an unranked team at home).”
Here’s what fascinates me. Everyone is always obsessed with who someone lost to and rarely focuses on who you beat. Tech isn’t as high as some teams because Tech started its season in October. If Tech beats OU, Tech will be higher. If OU beats Tech, OU will move up. But you get no credit for beating rumdums. And the Sooners’ schedule is back-loaded. Two tough tests still to come. That seems kind of obvious to me.
Jay didn’t like OU being ranked behind USC: “If you seriously think USC with a loss to Oregon State is better than OU with one loss to fourth-ranked Texas, you’ve finally lost your mind. Then again, you’ve always picked against the Sooners, so I guess I’m not really surprised.”
Yes, I certainly pick against the Sooners a lot. I think I’ve picked them to lose three times in the last five years. Anyway, USC’s resume’ is better than OU’s so far. Yes, USC has a worse loss than does OU, but USC also has a better victory (Ohio State) than anything OU has. And the Trojans have more solid other victories than does OU. SC has won at Arizona and Virginia, two decent teams, and that’s better than OU’s road victories (K-State, Baylor, A&M). USC’s home victories (Oregon and California) are not far from OU’s home victories (Kansas, Cincinnati, TCU). OU and USC are very close. But so far, USC has done a little more.
My questioning of why Mike Gundy would turn his back on his defense during games generated a lot of response. Doug didn’t appreciate my stance on Gundy: “You said, ‘Punt or go for it on fourth down? Long field goal or pooch punt? Onside kick or kick it deep?’ In every single situation you mentioned above, Gundy would be standing on the sidelines, because the offense would either be on the field or would have just scored. Nice try, but you whiffed.”
Nice try, Doug, but you whiffed. I didn’t say Gundy was unavailable for the tough decision. I said a coach must weight all the factors that go into that decision, and if he’s had his back to half the game, no way can he adequately make an informed decision.
Jim wrote, “Thank you for writing what many are thinking! Gundy looks silly and not head-coachlike taking that approach. Especially when you see Leach using a 4X4 card.”
I hadn’t thought of that. Why is Leach, the ultimate offensive mastermind, able to take in the whole game but Gundy is not.
Charles wrote, “I can’t believe that OSU is having the best season in years and you question Gundy’s style? It drives you and all the experts on TV nuts, doesn’t it? I say more power to him. Perhaps if Stoops had left the offense alone, OU would have a couple more national titles and be undefeated this year. A good man knows his limitations.”
I find two things peculiar: 1. Why the OSU coach turns his back on half the game when no other head coach I’ve ever seen does it; and 2. Why anyone would not find it peculiar.
Don wrote, “I appreciate you having the courage to actually speak up about what I consider a bizarre practice of Gundy’s. I can’t imagine how, after he misses all those plays, (all but removing himself from the field at times), that he would have any kinda true feel for how the refs are calling it, the prevailing momentum at any given point, the pace that the opponent is trying to establish, etc., along with all the other intangibles that affect both offensive decisions as well as defensive ones. I guess he gives up the right to tell his players and backups to keep their heads in the game. It has been like the old story of ‘the emperors new clothes’ as I notice that the announcers after remarking about it repeatedly on the ABC broadcasts were not willing to have even the color person criticize such a strange way of coaching, and no one until your article had written anything at all that I am aware of. So strange is his isolation from the game that I’ve never seen it at any level, much less D1, and he does it to such an extent that Gundy seems to willfully try and ignore what is happening on the field even more completely by sitting behind objects and barriers that don’t even give him a view of the field if he should happen to look up. As Alice said, ‘Curioser and curioser.’”Well, I don’t have really have a response. Don said it better than I did.
As always, any column about a college football playoff fired up the masses. My point: we don’t need a playoff, but if we’re going to have one, let’s make it conference-champions only. Brad wrote, “All Obama did was voice what the vast majority of sports fan clamor for every year, a playoff. You agree with him that we need a playoff but you spend the first part of your commentary attacking him. I don’t get it.”
Actually, I don’t get it. I didn’t agree that we have to have a playoff, and I most certainly didn’t attack Obama. He’s attacked plenty, but not by sports columnists who tell him to fix health care and leave college football alone.
Mike, an LSU fan, wrote, “I am not in favor of a playoff for some of the reasons you mentioned. Every team should begin the year with aspirations to be their conferences champion. That will always keep the regular season as interesting as it has been. I also believe that the arguments are as much fun as the games themselves and football is the only sport that is on everyone’s mind the entire year. Your playoff recommendations are about the best I have seen so far except it adds too many games. I also believe that the Pac-10 and the Big 10 should be required to add teams to reach 12 and have a conference championship game. The most unfair part of today’s environment is not the BCS or voting or any of those things, it is the fact that all the conferences do not have a championship game.”
How can the conference championship games be unfair when no one forced the Big 12, SEC and ACC to implement them? That was of their own choosing.
Roy also supported my playoff or lack thereof. “College football is doing fine, thank you, due in large measure to the fact, as you point out, that the regular season games mean something! They mean EVERYTHING. Those who pine for a tournament should wake up and smell the roar of the grease paint. The college football season IS a tournament! We’re watching an exciting one right now! And your emphasis on making the conferences the brackets to qualify is right on the money.”
Sometimes, cool heads prevail.
Ambrose – heck of a name, Ambrose – wrote, “I don’t remember you defending the integrity of the BCS like you did today. People seem to think the BCS is a person/organization that is making bad decisions, when in fact the BCS is just compiling the results of the data provided. It provides a vehicle for the top two teams to play. That rarely happened before the BCS, and it was an unlikely event every year. Please continue to educate people that the human polls are a major driving factor in the placement of teams in the BCS and that the computers remember (better than humans) what happened throughout the entire season.”
Look at it this way. The BCS is simply a tiebreaker. If the polls can’t agree on who is No. 1 and No. 2, the BCS formula steps in. But if the polls have the same two teams 1 and 2 or 2 and 1, then the computers don’t matter.
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