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The National Championship of the Gulf Coast.
December 5, 2011 8:18 AM   Subscribe

The Southeastern Conference has been ensured of producing its sixth straight BCS national champion as the #1 ranked 13-0 LSU Tigers will play against the #2 ranked 11-1 Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2011 BCS championship game.

This year marks a number of firsts for the BCS title game, as it features two teams from not only the same conference, but from the same division, the first time that two teams who have already played, will meet again to decide the national championship, and the first team, Alabama, who has not either won, or played for their conference championship.

Strangely enough, the SEC's present run of five straight national championships began in 2006, when Florida beat Ohio State, after many were clamoring for a rematch between #1 ranked Ohio State and #3 ranked Michigan after the Buckeyes narrowly edged out the Wolverines in their season finale.

While one of LSU and Alabama will continue the SEC's run of national titles, many are upset that Oklahoma State, who leads in the arguably more objective BCS computer rankings, and comes from this years statistically highest rated conference, the Big XII, will not been given a shot to play for the BCS national title, especially after neither Alabama or LSU has played against an opponent from the Big XII.
posted by clearly (63 comments total)

 
Complaints about the BCS system may abound, but those are two f*ng great football teams.
posted by caddis at 8:27 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


This rematch is fucking bullshit.
posted by kmz at 8:29 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


The last game between the two featured a game of all field goals and no touchdowns scored. Included in the ever-so-boring game were four field goal misses by Alabama.

Excuse me while I skip watching the "National Championship" game this year despite being an avid college football fan. The BCS is an inexcusable joke that needs to end.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:29 AM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


LSU beat the Pac-12 (10? whatever) winner handily. It beat the Big East winner handily. It beat 3 top five teams. They should really just give them the trophy and let everyone else play for second.

OSU's worst loss (Iowa State) was much worse than Alabama's (LSU). Alabama's best win (Arkansas) was better by BCS standards than OSU's (Kansas State) although those two teams will play to let us see. You can make an argument for OSU but it sure isn't overwhelming.

What I hate is we have to wait a month for all of this to happen. It's just not the same as the grind of the regular season and almost feels like a different season.
posted by dig_duggler at 8:29 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's 90% about politics and money.

I am a Hokie and as rabid a Virginia Tech fan as there is. That said, there's no way we were a #5 team. We lost the ACC Championship game badly.

And we still got the Sugar Bowl - only because we'll bring the fans and the cash. We aren't there because we deserve it, we're there because Hokies fans travel well.

(Don't get me wrong. I'll be watching....)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:34 AM on December 5, 2011


but those are two f*ng great football teams.

And, because of inanity of the bowl system, we'll never know if they are as good as OSU. Which is shame for LSU, Alabama *and* OSU.

Real playoffs could not only make a better case for a national championship, they would make a stupid load of money for the BCS members.

Thus, to me, the only thing more meaningless than this "national championship" are the various conference championships.

I understand that we can't have a comprehensive tourney like we do with NCAA basketball -- you need to have too much time between the games in gridiron football. And, I realize that the basketball tourney selection process almost certainly does not actually pick the best 67 teams. It does, however, with a high degree of confidence, pick the best 32.

So, if I had my druthers, we'd simply select the best 16 and run a 4 week tourney. I would ignore the conferences -- unlike with 64, I can't count on the various conference championships to ensure that the winner is, in fact, one of the best 16 teams in the land. There's no way to make sure we have the best 16 teams -- but I think we could easily get the best 8 into this tournament.

It's a shame it will never happen.
posted by eriko at 8:35 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a joke.
posted by spicynuts at 8:45 AM on December 5, 2011


I believe that's spelled $EC.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:47 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hell, I'd settle for a plus one at this point. OSU v Alabama, winner plays LSU. Totally unrealistic, but I think most people (shut up Standford fans, Oregon crushed you and LSU crushed them) would be happy.
posted by dig_duggler at 8:48 AM on December 5, 2011


If you want the BCS to become some sort of modified playoff tourney, you've got to want chaos and controversy. So root for Alabama to win the National Championship game by a squeaker, and for OSU to demolish Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. Nick Saban is among the most hated men in college sports, and if his Crimson Time lays claim to the championship under dubious circumstances, the playoff supporters will be that much stronger heading into the future...
posted by BobbyVan at 8:52 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


(shut up Standford fans, Oregon crushed you and LSU crushed them)

Funny, but, no, the transitive property does not apply to football contests.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:08 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


It does not, but that's about the only measuring stick we have. The problem with +1's is the next one will want in too. The problem with a 4 playoff teams is the 5th will want in, etc.

Nobody cares about the 65th team's complaints in basketball.

Can't we all just agree LSU wins? This is coming from someone who lives in Alabama and roots for Alabama/Auburn when possible (yes, I didn't pick one growing up for some reason). LSU simply has had a great season and possibly one of the greatest in a long while.

Although I agree a Bama squeek out and a OSU crushing Stanford debacle would make things interesting. Boise State complaining is one thing. T Boone Pickens and his deep pockets complaining might have some traction.
posted by dig_duggler at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2011


Nick Saban is among the most hated men in college sports...

"Among" is certainly the operative word here. Because that bar has been set pretty fucking low lately.

That snarked, I feel like the NCAA and BCS are just trying to keep me from caring about college football. I watched a couple of games this season, which is a couple more than I've watched in recent years. And I was reminded that the level of the game, I actually enjoy it more that the pros. (A trip home in the fall reminded me that I like high school ball most of all for similar reasons.) But then shit like this happens and I'm reminded why my interested faded away. I don't have a team that I root for, and the BCS makes me not care about the season overall.

Mental Wimp: " Funny, but, no, the transitive property does not apply to football contests."

Somebody should tell the BCS that, as it is the simplest way to define the fucked up system, and if I was a high school algebra teacher, I'd be tempted to use it as a real world example, but since it doesn't work in any sort of reality, I think it'd be confusing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should have linked it in the post, but here is an overview of every bowl game and this site currently has the odds listed for the BCS bowls with the smaller bowls to follow soon.
posted by clearly at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got so involved in pretending to be an algebra teacher, I forgot the point I meant to make: This may just be me getting nostalgic for a time when I seriously followed college football but I'm starting to think that having no national championship game was better than the system we have now.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:19 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last game between the two featured a game of all field goals and no touchdowns scored. Included in the ever-so-boring game were four field goal misses by Alabama.

As an LSU fan, that game was anything but boring. It was a hell of a defensive game (that LSU barely squeaked by). I look forward to humiliating Nick Saban again, but I'd rather see a different lineup, too.
posted by ColdChef at 9:22 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What will it take to get rid of this joke of a system? No team should be in the National Championship game if they didn't win their conference.
And I'd like to see the logic behind selecting Michigan for the Sugar Bowl over, say, Michigan State.
posted by rocket88 at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2011


I think there is something nice about the fact that the college football ranking system remains so superstitious, and that computerizing the whole thing just makes it seem even more arbitrary. It's a hold-out. We live in an era where we think that subjecting a problem to the proper rational process will reveal some objective best answer, which seems to me an increasingly dubious assumption. Every time I watch a game and they show replays of some guy catching a ball from two dozen angles and you still can't tell if he actually has possession of it or did it pop out or did he hit the ground first or is that foot out of bounds? it makes me crazy. It feels refreshing, sort of capacious, to end the college football season with all the what-ifs and counterfactuals just hanging there. There's something honest about it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 9:30 AM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I were a Boise State fan I'd be fucking livid right now.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:38 AM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


(shut up Standford fans, Oregon crushed you and LSU crushed them)

Funny, but, no, the transitive property does not apply to football contests.


King Kaufmann once took that sort of argument to a hilarious conclusion.
posted by TedW at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]




the transitive property does not apply to football contests.

The Pac-12 Circle of Parity
The Big XII Circle of Parity

On the other hand: The SEC West Tier of Logic

And who knows what is going on with the Big 10.
posted by clearly at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


logic behind selecting Michigan for the Sugar Bowl over, say, Michigan State.


Its economic logic. Bowls w/o tie-ins have always passed up better teams for teams that travel better. Always. Predates the BCS by 60 years.

I'm guessing they bet Michigan brings more fans who spend more per person. The only matchup predicated on purported team quality is the National Championship game. Beyond that as long as a team qualifies for a BCS bowl they can be chosen for any slot that isn't linked to a conference.
posted by JPD at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a lifelong LSU fan I'd much rather play Oklahoma State in the national championship game. Alabama had their chance and blew it. Maybe this whole trainwreck will get some actual momentum behind a plus-one. I also would like to see the cap on teams from a conference eligible for BCS bowls lifted, and I would like to see a new rule requiring that participants in the national championship game be conference champions. No, I don't care about Notre Dame's status as a precious snowflake.

If I were a Boise State fan, I'd be embarrassed by their terrible strength of schedule (#77).
posted by wintermind at 9:50 AM on December 5, 2011


This is coming from someone who lives in Alabama and roots for Alabama/Auburn when possible (yes, I didn't pick one growing up for some reason).

Does not compute.
posted by naoko at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2011


Potential derail: College football is going to continue a downhill slide into corruption, greed, and graft as long as we continue to use it as a staging zone for the NFL instead of a venue where STUDENT-athletes compete for the glory of their alma matter.

Honestly, fix the academic and behavior requirements and most of this all goes away. Not because that fixes the problem of picking the absolute, be-all-end-all, statistically, astrologically best team but instead because it puts the focus back where it belongs: on the players who are busting their ass to make it through and get a degree that's worth something and their schools helping them along the way most successfully.

Right now college football is less about who deserves to win and more about who can sneak and slither away from getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar. So while it remains valid to fuss around the issue of this team or that team not getting their shot or getting shafted, it really boils down to the vast majority of the players getting shafted way harder than anything happening to any of us as fans/supporters. And what's the value of the title of 'best' when rules/ideals are being broken to get there?

I had a professor at UA break it down to me with this question:
"As it stands now, with the rampant commercialism, with the academic abuses (above and below the radar), with the massive recruiting efforts, and with the net benefit to the universities being much more marginal than the conferences would have you believe: What is the point of having massive, powerhouse football programs even affiliated with an university? Shouldn't they be able to stand on their own?"

Bah, probably more off topic than most people wanted to hear but I had to bear my soul there a bit. Sorry for the sidetrack.

... And don't get me wrong, I'll be right there on the sofa watching the game and screaming Roll Tide when gameday comes, but not a dime of my money goes towards their pocketbooks or programs until things change quite a bit.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:55 AM on December 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


This time of year always reminds me about how football, in both its professional and "amateur" versions, somehow manages to remain the biggest sport in North America despite showing nothing but contempt for players and fans in favour of entrenched special interests. Truly the most American of games.
posted by auto-correct at 10:12 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm channeling a bit of Coach Bryant with my typos: "...had to bear my soul..." should be "...had to bare my soul..."
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2011


With the net benefit to the universities being much more marginal than the conferences would have you believe: What is the point of having massive, powerhouse football programs even affiliated with an university?

When Houston lost to Southern Miss this weekend, it cost them a berth in the Sugar Bowl, and $17 million dollars to be distributed among Conference USA members. When Nevada beat Boise State last year, it cost Boise a berth in a BCS game and itself and each of its conference members more than a million dollars.

Combine big bowl payouts with TV deals bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, money brought in from licensing university apparel, and ticket and concession sales and you have a multi billion dollar industry. The margins aren't small, and the profits from the football cash cow go to pay for smaller sports and make legislation like Title IX possible (as flawed as it is) as well as supporting other university functions.

I'm not saying that more emphasis shouldn't be put on the academics of student athletes, but maintaining a top notch football program by any means necessary is certainly in a university's best interest financially and for national recognition.
posted by clearly at 10:22 AM on December 5, 2011


There is a Division 1 tournament of Football but teams year in and year out vote with their membership to stay out of it. They elect to stay in the broken BCS system instead of a fair tournament.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 10:24 AM on December 5, 2011


Nick Saban is among the most hated men in college sports

Not in Tuscaloosa! Not yet, anyway. I heard rumors he has been talking to U. Texas about moving to Austin and shoving Mack Brown to the curb, which would be hilarious if you are not an Alabama or a Texas fan.

One thing which nobody has mentioned is there are few places where Saban is hated as much as in Baton Rouge, which is an argument for this game.
posted by bukvich at 10:28 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


rocket88: "And I'd like to see the logic behind selecting Michigan for the Sugar Bowl over, say, Michigan State."

Rematches. Ugh. Given that my alma mater were one stupid penalty away from the Rose Bowl - against a team they already beat earlier this year - I can't agree more. Outback Bowl seems like kind of a shitty second prize to me. It's better than no bowl at all, but still. You win your division in a conference, you should be offered the best bowl available to that conference division if you don't win the conference as a whole. If State had won, does anyone really think Wisconsin would be in the Outback Bowl?
posted by caution live frogs at 10:30 AM on December 5, 2011


One thing which nobody has mentioned is there are few places where Saban is hated as much as in Baton Rouge, which is an argument for this game.

Oh fuck that. LSU already has its vindication over Saban this year. There is no place where Les Miles is more hated than Stillwater, Oklahoma.
posted by clearly at 10:33 AM on December 5, 2011


bukvich: "One thing which nobody has mentioned is there are few places where Saban is hated as much as in Baton Rouge"

Well, he doesn't exactly have a lot of people in East Lansing MI showering him with love. But what did you expect, LSU? If he'll leave one school in the lurch for more money, what made you think he wouldn't do the same to you? There's a reason the student body couldn't spell his name without a dollar sign for a long, long time.

posted by caution live frogs at 10:33 AM on December 5, 2011


The ESPN Mothership is laughing all the way to the bank with the BCS. All the way to the bank....
posted by lstanley at 10:35 AM on December 5, 2011


If State had won, does anyone really think Wisconsin would be in the Outback Bowl?


Of course not. But its not their fault they travel better than you do.

Also I didn't realize OSU people were pissed at Les for leaving.
posted by JPD at 10:35 AM on December 5, 2011


Les Miles hate?

Nick Saban to Les Miles is Darth Vader to the clown on the bridge of the Death Star.
posted by bukvich at 10:37 AM on December 5, 2011




I would like to propose an Alliance of Saban Hate to include residents of Baton Rouge, LA and East Lansing, MI, as well as anyone else who would like to participate. A man as loathsome as that deserves an appropriately large base of detractors.

I remember the first time he came back to Baton Rouge after returning to college football...the phalanx of state troopers surrounding him was comically large.
posted by wintermind at 11:02 AM on December 5, 2011


...College football is going to continue a downhill slide into corruption, greed, and graft as long as we continue to use it as a staging zone for the NFL instead of a venue where STUDENT-athletes compete for the glory of their alma matter.

Agreed. But I disagree with your suggested solution, which will never work because of the aforementioned billions of dollars on the table.

But your professor friend is on to something:

"What is the point of having massive, powerhouse football programs even affiliated with an university? Shouldn't they be able to stand on their own?"

They should be able to stand on their own, while maintaining their university affiliations. But let's just stop pretending the athletes are anything other than NFL recruits in training, and let's stop pretending that they are entering the university on any sort of academic footing, and let's stop stealing their bodies and earning potential for three years while the university makes ungodly sums of money on the literal backs of those kids.

Let's just let a school opt to remove the "student" element from its so-called "student-athletes" program. One doesn't have to be an enrolled student taking classes to play on it. The LSU Tiger Football Team can be filled with duly recruited high school athletes, but let's stop pretending they are also students and that these are amateur programs. Compensate the kids fairly, and stop creating these separate but equal academic "majors" where the athletes "attend classes" and "earn degrees" which are legions below the same academic rigor and requirements of regular students at the same university.

Let's designate a legitimate status somewhere between amateur and professional, where 20-year-olds can get the physical grooming and experience to enter the NFL.

But pretending that College Football Inc. today is anything like it was 50 years ago is delusional. There is far too much money and fame on the table, and it corrupts absolutely. The regional conferences and rivalries as we knew them have spun apart into nothing meaningful. Let's be honest with ourselves. I full well know that the boys in burnt orange for whom I cheer on the weekends aren't having the same collegiate experience that I did, and frankly I don't care. Let's stop pretending the NCAA is anything different from the NFL.
posted by pineapple at 11:32 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite Nick Saban story: I spent a little time working for LSU a few years back when Saban was the head coach. He was notoriously focused on the game before him, so there were strict rules against approaching him on gamedays. (All queries went to assistant coaches and their assistants).

I was in one of the LSU Alumni offices when I saw Coach Saban walking hurriedly across the parking lot. As a fan (and a gentleman) I jumped up and ran across the lobby to open the door for him, but slipped on the marble and fell flat on my face a few feet from the door. Coach Saban walked in, STEPPED OVER ME, and continued on to the elevators, unperturbed. I sat up, to see a lobby full of fan with their mouths agape. I got up, dusted off my suit, and became a running joke for the rest of my employment there.
posted by ColdChef at 11:34 AM on December 5, 2011 [11 favorites]


Combine big bowl payouts with TV deals bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars per year, money brought in from licensing university apparel, and ticket and concession sales and you have a multi billion dollar industry. The margins aren't small, and the profits from the football cash cow go to pay for smaller sports and make legislation like Title IX possible (as flawed as it is) as well as supporting other university functions.

Here's the flaw in this: there is little doubt that the NCAA wouldn't make more money off of a 8-team, or better a 16-team playoff for Division I-A football. The estimates are roughly that the entirety of the bowl system makes around $250 million per year for universities. The estimate is that a playoff would make around $1 billion (source) and that was an old estimate. Odds are a 16-team playoff would have even more TV revenue than previously estimated.

The real issue is a political one with lots of money involved. The Bowl Commissioner in charge of the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (yes, that's a real bowl game featuring 6-6 Ohio State vs. 6-6 Florida) has a salary of around $800,000. To run one very mediocre game a year. The bowl associations are, laughably, 501(c)3 non-profits. The claim that they have is that they bring money to the region where the games are and they give out money to charity. The bowl commissioners are mostly in the pocket of politicians and the various conferences that make up the Div. I-A schools. Hell, can anyone repeat the sentence "Congratulations on winning the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl" without laughing?

The school presidents like to add their false arguments. There's the time-honored complaint of too many games. Apparently teams playing 15-16 games would be too many and the student-athletes couldn't study enough. This is the presidents trying to encourage the idea that all of these athletes are genuinely students and not just playing football to try to make the NFL. Of course playing potentially 15-16 games isn't too many for the Div-I-AA, Div II and Div III teams who already have a tournament. While I understand the toll football takes on one's body, college basketball players play 30+ games, college hockey players play 40+ games, college baseball 55-65 games. I've yet to hear that a 60-game baseball schedule is affecting education. Division I-AA aka the FCS schools have a 20-team playoff, Div-II has 24 teams and Div-III has 32 teams.

Throw in to the mix that the universities want to make as much money as they can without making too much money. The top-tier college programs are in fear that someday they might get an antitrust lawsuit against them and have to pay players. It's harder to defend against that sort of suit when the entirety of college football starts making $1-2 billion more per year.

I'm sure there is more to it that I forget or don't even see. I didn't even touch on "tradition." But it's a nasty clusterfuck. It honestly might take an act of Congress or the US DoJ to force the change. Every other NCAA sport can manage to have a playoff or tournament or finals meet to determine a national championship except the one that people want to see most and would make the colleges the most money.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:35 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pineapple: I'm with ya, but what's the point in leaving the players/team associated with the university at that point? If you're proposing it in the terms of "doing the wrong thing for the right ends" I guess I can see it. I'm guessing you're saying that in the terms of this might work because you're asking too much of the schools to do the right thing. I totally agree, I was being idealistic to a pretty extended degree.

But... I mean... Schools could run casinos or prostitute themselves in various other ways as well (not that they don't already in various ways), where does the line get drawn with regards to publicity and profit at the cost of education and morals?
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2011


This makes me livid.*

The OU, LSU, USC cluster of 2004 was embarrassing, but at least the BCS could point at the old system and say things would've still been worse in the old bowl system with the conference tie-ins paying no attention to rankings. But this disaster is entirely of the BCS own making.

With slavish attention to rankings, this years national championship is an exhibition game. If LSU wins? So what? LSU already beat Alabama in the midst of a rigorous 13 game season. If Alabama wins, So what? The series is at best tied and tie breaker goes the more impressive win... which is going to be the LSU win on Bama's HOME TURF.

Is Alabama better than OSU? To be honest, probably. But it's not certain. You can talk about the performances of the two teams in the regular season, 5 top 25 opponents for OSU, 2 for Alabama... 7 Opponents with winning records, 3 for Alabama, Iowa State (who I have to mention is 6-6, yeah they're terrible, but they aren't as terrible as they usually are this year) vs Alabama, Number 1 offense versus top ranked defense.

But Alabama is not as good as LSU. Certain. Proven. On the field. No changing that. No argument. Just scoreboard. I say that HATING the Tigers. The Tide did nothing last weekend to convince me otherwise (because they didn't even play for their conference championship). And nothing that happens on Neutral Territory 4 weeks from now would convince me either. So I guess congrats to LSU, 2012 College Football National Champions, I hope no one suffers a serious injury playing in next month's utterly meaningless game.

*Okay, as livid as I can get about sports
posted by midmarch snowman at 12:06 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...What is the point of having massive, powerhouse football programs even affiliated with an university?"

My best friend had football pay her $3000 a year for her degree. She rowed for her division one crew team and was under scholarship. The football team at her school was responsible for the lion-share of the $100+ Million of annual revenue the athletic department enjoyed. In a mid-west school you better believe there would not be scholarships for female crew athletes (much less money for boats, Regatta travel, etc) without a combo of Title IX and very profitable athletic department. SI did a feature on several other schools where football is a relative cash cow.

Yeah, it probably makes a lot less sense for a school like Conference USA also-ran Eastern Carolina, who may never turn a profit, plays in a region with no shortage of College and Professional Football options. NPR did a story once on the expense associated with starting a mid-major college football program, and the likely limited chance of the program ever generating net revenue. If I was a chancellor of a school like Youngstown State or Midwestern State you'd better believe I'd fight moving to the expensive FBS division tooth and nail.

"This is the presidents trying to encourage the idea that all of these athletes are genuinely students and not just playing football to try to make the NFL."

So I have two current friends who were NCAA football players. One was Division II, the other played for one of the historically most successful programs in the mid-west. Both are currently applying for surgery residencies. 150-200 NCAA players go to the NFL each year, that leaves about 1000 who better be focusing on academics. The pros piggybacking on the NCAA for farm-team development leads to abuse, but the focus on academics is not total hypocrisy and throwing the baby out with the bathwater would be regrettable.
posted by midmarch snowman at 12:47 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was in one of the LSU Alumni offices when I saw Coach Saban walking hurriedly across the parking lot. As a fan (and a gentleman) I jumped up and ran across the lobby to open the door for him, but slipped on the marble and fell flat on my face a few feet from the door. Coach Saban walked in, STEPPED OVER ME, and continued on to the elevators, unperturbed. I sat up, to see a lobby full of fan with their mouths agape. I got up, dusted off my suit, and became a running joke for the rest of my employment there.

LSU employs an undertaker ON THEIR STAFF on gamedays? Holy good goddamn, college football has gotten more serious than I thought.
posted by Mayor West at 12:55 PM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


So I have two current friends who were NCAA football players. One was Division II, the other played for one of the historically most successful programs in the mid-west. Both are currently applying for surgery residencies. 150-200 NCAA players go to the NFL each year, that leaves about 1000 who better be focusing on academics. The pros piggybacking on the NCAA for farm-team development leads to abuse, but the focus on academics is not total hypocrisy and throwing the baby out with the bathwater would be regrettable.

With all due respect to your friends, this is a misleading statement. That you know two guys who played college ball and are now becoming doctors.... and plus that some 150-200 players get drafted annually..... leaves thousands of players who were never, ever, ever going to med school. Ever. They entered their college team praying to become one of the 150 NFL stars, not one of the 150 grad school students.

That the "focus on academics is not total hypocrisy" at some schools is admirable. But for the BCS football programs, where they churn through kids and see only dollar signs, not degrees, something needs to change.

I don't buy the "and hey, look, cash cow football programs fund the small women's sports programs like crew too!" argument. It's one that I desperately want to believe in, but I've just heard and read too many stories about the tail wagging that dog. Women's programs are often funded only because they must be by law, and the stories of rampant abuse of universities trying to maintain their Title IX status by hook or by crook are legion.
posted by pineapple at 1:07 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


But Alabama is not as good as LSU. Certain. Proven. On the field. No changing that. No argument. Just scoreboard.

Right, which is why LSU is ranked #1. What I don't understand is why that should mean Alabama shouldn't be #2.

The system as it works now says that #1 and #2 play each other for the title, and 2/3s of the determination comes from polling. The voters think Alabama is the second best team in the nation. There are plenty of valid arguments for a different system, and it's something I think should probably happen (among plenty of other things wrong with college athletics), but in this particular case, as an Alabama fan, I'm pleased.

If LSU wins? So what? LSU already beat Alabama in the midst of a rigorous 13 game season. If Alabama wins, So what? The series is at best tied and tie breaker goes the more impressive win... which is going to be the LSU win on Bama's HOME TURF.

And nothing that happens on Neutral Territory 4 weeks from now would convince me either.

I can see your point, but would a 6-3 overtime victory (that would've been a tie at any point earlier than 15 years ago) be significantly more impressive than, say, Alabama winning the BCS game by 21 points*? Just because of home field territory?

* Not that I'm expecting that kind of margin, but I can hope.
posted by ndfine at 1:13 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both are currently applying for surgery residencies

Not to pile on too much with with what pineapple is saying but using two individuals who may have been, seemingly anyway, brilliant enough to have gotten academic scholarships as victories for the collegiate athletic scholarship system (which only recently began to admit that 1-year scholarship guarantee/deals might not be all that fair) probably isn't the best starting point for your points.

Highly recommended reading here by the way just in case you were enjoying this sidetrack discussion.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:31 PM on December 5, 2011


Pineapple and Roland: I'm not going to argue that NCAA improves graduation rates, much less produces doctors. And I recognize that for every future pro there are probably a half dozen dreamers who got burned and walk away having squandered their education not realizing a 5'5" 155 pound running back (or whatever they are) has no chance in the NFL. But I'd say a sizable portion or even a majority of players know they better at least get a degree cause they have no chance in the NFL.

I brought up my friends not to be misleading, but to say that calling the goals of "student athlete" a "cynical hoax" is insulting to the hundreds or even thousands of players who actually do give a crap about getting a job in something other than football, basketball, or whatever they play. Saying the NCAA should be scrapped, that regulations protecting academic time for the hundreds of players who give a crap about school in favor of a more professional model where players are paid and there are no academic standards just because it'd be more honest and consistent is not a solution. Yeah, my friends probably owe nothing to the NCAA, but they are very personal reminders that the system is not filled with Reggie Bush wannabes.

Also, Woman's crew may be poor example since they'd never be funded without Title IX, but I mentioned her because I know her well. But there's countless other men's sports like track and field, swimming, gymnastics or tennis that have never turned a profit but had always been financed by Universities and are financed well at schools with profitable football programs (the Hamm brothers probably didn't choose to compete for Ohio State gymnastics for the weather). You can argue what's the point of a broad and well supported athletic department, I'd say they enrich the University experience. I like having Olympic medalist along with nobel prize winners at my school, it's fun to have a lot to root for. You're free to disagree, that's why there's Emory.
posted by midmarch snowman at 2:35 PM on December 5, 2011


"The system as it works now says that #1 and #2 play each other for the title, and 2/3s of the determination comes from polling. The voters think Alabama is the second best team in the nation."
Yeah it worked to achieve it's stated goal of having the number one ranked school play the number two ranked school. But it's failed at it's implicit goal of furthering the legitimacy of the national championship. Having the team everyone THINKs is number one play the team everyone KNOWS had a much less impressive season has no drama. What if the SEC is vastly overrated and the BIG XII is underrated? Like the OP mentioned, happened in 2006 when everyone over-estimated the B1G or Big Ten or whatever we call it. I don't think OSU would've won but it'd at least have a little more drama than what we have, the 2012 BCS National Exhibition Match at the Sugar Bowl.

Having a goal of pitting Number One play Number Two kinda misses the point. It's kinda like forgoing checkmate to take your opponent's Queen.
posted by midmarch snowman at 2:53 PM on December 5, 2011


rocket88: "And I'd like to see the logic behind selecting Michigan for the Sugar Bowl over, say, Michigan State."

Michigan State wasn't eligible, because you have to be ranked in the top 14 to make a BCS bowl, and the computers hate MSU.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2011


Yeah it worked to achieve it's stated goal of having the number one ranked school play the number two ranked school. But it's failed at it's implicit goal of furthering the legitimacy of the national championship.

Like I said upthread, I think the system is flawed and should probably* be changed, but outside of a playoff system I don't know of any system that is better than what we have. The obvious solution, in my opinion, is to pick two more bowls as "BCS bowls" and rotate through them using four as a playoff of the top 8 teams and the other two as the semi-finals on New Year's, with the championship a week later. That allows for some mid-majors to take a for real shot at the throne all while allowing the coaches and writers to keep some of the subjective power they are reluctant to give up.

Having the team everyone THINKs is number one play the team everyone KNOWS had a much less impressive season has no drama.

I'm assuming you mean LSU for the first "team" in that sentence and Alabama for the second. What I'm not sure about is "everyone." If you're talking the voters in the polls, then, yeah, everyone literally thinks LSU is the #1 team, and everyone thinks Alabama was less impressive and thus ranked them lower.

* I say probably because in the event the system is changed, I do not have much faith in it being an improvement given the powers that be. I believe the only way to fix it will require some form of playoff system. Without one, I can't think of a better way than having the two best teams, as decided by those who spend their lives either coaching or covering the sport, play for the top spot. It's far from perfect, but it beats things like split championships.
posted by ndfine at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2011


As someone who lives in New Orleans I welcome your money.
posted by govtdrone at 6:38 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


OSU really did get gypped. I figure LSU has a home crowd, so Bama is going to get its rear handed to it.

However, the winner of the first game is 10-11 in rematch games (the link hasn't been updated with the Clemson-VT and MSU-Wisconsin scores). So, who knows.
posted by dw at 7:40 PM on December 5, 2011


But I'd say a sizable portion or even a majority of players know they better at least get a degree cause they have no chance in the NFL.

midmarch: Again, while I suspect we are mostly on the same side of this argument, I have to point out how misleading a point this is. To say that college football players who hit junior or senior year and realize they aren't going to the NFL then wake up and decide they really better earn degrees, well, that's kind of a stretch.

Rather, there are assessments that are forced by the NCAA, under which a low-performing school (defined by number of graduating athletes) gets penalized. How can we rationally imagine that this external NCAA metric turns into anything other than "the athletes' academic tracks = diploma mill"? The caliber of the athletes' education isn't measured; just the number of graduates.

And to suggest that the academic experience of a BCS player is equivalent to that of another non-NCAA-athlete student at the same school... that's a real stretch.

I really don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But at this point, I am so disillusioned and disenchanted by the system that I think we might have to throw out a couple of med school and Title IX poster children. The system is irrevocably broken... and the money and TV that got us there is only going up, not down.

I love college football. Like, a whole whole lot. But I can admit that something is terminally wrong with it.
posted by pineapple at 7:50 PM on December 5, 2011


midmarch snowman wrote: You can talk about the performances of the two teams in the regular season, 5 top 25 opponents for OSU, 2 for Alabama...

For what it's worth, this isn't actually true. Someone at ABC (I believe) can't count. If you count consistently, it's either 5-4 in favor of Alabama or 3-4 in favor of the pokes. In other words, about even.
posted by wierdo at 8:22 PM on December 5, 2011


I figure LSU has a home crowd, so Bama is going to get its rear handed to it.

If I'm not mistaken, the schools get an equal allotment of tickets. The Alabama fan base has a significant number that will travel to anything up to and including flying to Hawaii for a disastrous end to a disastrous season in 2003. New Orleans is just a half a day's drive and everyone loves bowl season in New Orleans. This is all to say, while LSU will certainly represent, I suspect the crowd inside the Superdome will be roughly equal. I wouldn't be surprised if the crowd outside the Superdome was equal as well. I know a number of Bama fans who will be going to NOLA without tickets nor any intention of finding any.
posted by ndfine at 9:25 PM on December 5, 2011


The BCS is way better than a playoff. All a playoff does is give undeserving teams a chance to win the championship. NASCAR does this with suspicious cautions, rules like the double-file restart, and the "lucky dog" given to the first car a lap down.
posted by republican at 4:34 AM on December 6, 2011


Like the OP mentioned, happened in 2006 when everyone over-estimated the B1G or Big Ten or whatever we call it.

I call it the "two little sixes" conference. Leaders and Legends? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Brian Phillips, on Grantland, has a great little rant about this.
Here's what I'll say about the BCS. Sure, you can get mad about it. And yes, as the most biased imaginable observer, I think OSU should have gotten the nod over Alabama, instead of falling short by the slimmest margin in history. But being angry at the BCS for producing unfair outcomes is like being angry at the weather for producing rain. (...) The BCS isn't cursed by dark magic. It's just stupid. It would have been unfair for Alabama to get knocked out, too, and then a whole different group of people would have been angry.

The BCS is a crippled, arbitrary, desperately inadequate system. It produces bad outcomes almost all the time because it's designed to produce bad outcomes almost all the time, because there's no way not to produce bad outcomes as long as college football continues to treat "playing games" as a second-tier method of judging quality. (emphasis mine - eriko) Online, it's gotten kind of fashionable to argue that really, the BCS is fine, because every means of selecting a champion in sports has one flaw or another. That's fair enough.
The next sentence, though, really nails it:
But at the risk of muttering the obvious, there's a reason that a lot of college football fans are clamoring for a playoff, while exactly no college basketball fans are clamoring for a weighted poll aggregator that distributes teams into discrete but hierarchically related single-game postseason pairings.
posted by eriko at 5:42 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I'm not mistaken, the schools get an equal allotment of tickets.

Both schools will get an equal allocation, but that number of tickets are only part of the equation. Many tickets will go to corporate sponsors and other people not formally associated with either school, and the majority of those people will be LSU fans. Alabama will travel well but there will still be far more LSU fans inside and outside the Superdome.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:52 AM on December 6, 2011


The BCS is way better than a playoff.

Unless you are somehow paid by the BCS system, or a fan of [insert undefeated team from any season who would automatically win the championship without winning a bowl] you are probably the first person I've seen or heard say that. Every other NCAA sport has a playoff or national championship game. Every other football division besides I-A has a playoff. Most states have high school playoffs and state championships for most sports. There are only a few major sports worldwide that don't have playoffs. Cricket generally doesn't have playoffs. Many motor sports don't have playoffs.

Many soccer leagues don't have playoffs and just use the regular season record, however, in most soccer leagues every team plays each other. There's no way to have every college football team play each other. In the cases where soccer teams can't play every other team, such as the World Cup or UEFA Cup.... they have a playoff!

The BCS is a pile of crap and everyone knows it.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps it's crap, but it didn't send a team that lost to an unranked opponent to the championship game over a team that didn't, so it can't be all bad.
posted by wierdo at 3:37 PM on December 6, 2011


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