Posted on: January 7, 2010 9:01 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2010 10:56 am

BCS Champ Game

Postgame: Running and defense won another championship for #1 Alabama; and we got a pretty good game thanks to some timely offense and special teams play from #2 Texas.  Congrats to both teams and all bowl participants, especially all the BCS winners.  It's the most wonderful time of the year.  See you next August for the start of another run.

12:07 McElroy takes a deserving knee with :26 seconds left after a final turnover footnotes the game for the Tide defense.  This one belongs to Tuscaloosa!

12:02 37-21 as Richardson picks up a second TD and the point after is missed.  Some folks in the Longhorn crowd think this is running up the score, but not really.  Stranger things have happened to 10 point leads in less than a minute.  Todd Blackledge was the third member of the radio crew, doing a great job for that 15 minutes I missed on TV.  Meanwhile, Jaws is probably holed up watching NFL tape for the playoff games this weekend, what was I thinking, that he wasn't in his video bunker?
11:55 Well I caught the clinching TD by Ingram, after listening to the Anders-Upshaw sack - fumble on XM radio. Very cool that the Monday Night Football guys (Tirico and Gruden, not sure if I heard Jaws or not) were doing the radio feed of this matchup.  31-21 Alabama.  It's looking like this one's in the book.  The first national title of the new decade goes to the Alabam Crimson Tide out of the Southeastern Conference!

11:41 I have to go pick up my wife at the train station now.  Thanks to XM radio, I should be able to at least listen to the finish of this instant classic.  And then watch a replay later on ESPN Classic!

11:36 And what did we talk about earlier, that Texas QBs obviously are talented.  Shipley from Gilbert for 28 yards and a TD, the two-pointer is good and it's 24-21.  What a second-half for Texas.  Pressure on Saban and McElroy squarely to produce a game-winning drive or else the defense gets tested yet again.

11:30 Looks like a neutral-zone infraction gives Texas a first down and perhaps the lift they need to make it a one-score game.

11:26 Sacks are 5-0 in favor of Texas.  But they're still down 11 on the scoreboard.

11:23 THAT was a crunch on Richardson to set up a huge third and five and it's incomplete.  Texas holds 'em, but they are losing out to the clock now more than anything.  If there's one thing Alabama has been able to do in the second and fourth quarters so far, it's control the football.

11:19 Pass interference on Texas, and a good call.  I saw it as Brown shoving Maze.

11:14 Well, fourth quarter time and 'Bama still has a lot of work to do to put this one away.  Texas needs to keep winning the field position battle to set up shorter drives for the weanling Gilbert.

11:11 I like it when they paint the "G" at the goal-line at football stadia.  They used to do it for Steelers' games at Three Rivers Stadium. but not at Heinz Field.  I wonder why.  More fields should look like the Rose Bowl in general.  Also cool: LSU painting big markers for every five yards instead of ten.  Plus their Tiger Eye at midfield.  No wonder Vandy hasn't won there in like, what, ever.

11:08 Onsides kick! And the 'Horns have it.  A page from Saban's first-half playbook, sort-of, and now it's getting very, very interesting in Pasadena in the Citi BCS Title Game.

11:06 Alabama is letting Texas hang around here late in the third, and just like that Shipley rises to the occasion to make it 24-13 and we have ourselves a ballgame again!

10:57 My wife got on the wrong train (R5 wrong direction for those of you in Philly) home tonight.  So instead of picking her up at 10:49, it's 11:49.  Thus the delay and the one forthcoming later.  Chalk it up to happy hour with my sister and brother-in-law, among others.

10:42 Ingram is so good at getting the extra two-three yards after being hit.  It's one of many qualities that will make him a high NFL draft pick.  Oh yeah, he won the Heisman, too.

10:37 Brent and Herby doing a little lobbying for Kirby on that Red Raider job!

10:36 Flags beginning to slow down the proceedings in the early stages of the third quarter. 

10:33 Snow on the way here in SE Pennsylvania.  Man I wish I were in Pasadena, California right about now.

10:28 No McCoy tonight.  I spent part of halftime looking again at The Sporting News magazine preview of the game.  So much ink on Colt.  A shame we aren't getting the true game, but no reason at all to take anything away from Alabama's domination of the game since they stumbled in the opening minutes.

10:03 Hold everything.  What did I say at 9:12?  A defensive TD would happen for Alabama.  Sorry about the block pool reference.  I hope you had Alabama 4 and Texas 6.  And it is looking like a higher-scoring, blowout in favor of the Crimson Tide.  One has to wonder if Colt McCoy really could have helped stop this, well, tide. 

10:00 FG is the obvious call to go up 11.  It's still a one-score game because of the two-point conversion.  And now it's 17-6 and looking like that will be a halftime score for anyone in a block pool.  Hope you had 'Bama on 7 and Texas on 6!

9:56 I told my dad on the phone beforehand that I thought Alabama would win a close, low-scoring affair.  Not sure about the close part with McCoy in the dressing room getting examined, but it does seem to be a defensive-oriented game favoring the Tide.

9:52 Big special teams play as Alabama pins the 'Horns against their own goal.

9:50 Scoring note: Nolan Brewster's recovery of the Texas kickoff early in the game is simply a kickoff return, not a fumble recovery.  Think of it as a long onside kick.

9:46 I thought before the game that the 'Horns would need to win the east-west speed battle and plays like that by Whitaker prove that.  Of course, that man Arenas is right there to take away the momentum.  Ole' mo' has shifted, once again, as coin-toss man Keith Jackson used to call it.  And again, after the short kickoff, Saban's defense bends a little, then comes up with a huge stop and a turnover.  Should be a steady dose of Ingram now.

9:42 Right up the gut of the Texas defense and Richardson's speed takes him in for the second Alabama touchdown of the quarter.  14-6 for #1 and they are starting to look like it.  Amazing how important it is for your defense to hold teams to FGs?  Now Saban doesn't look like such a risk-taker, does he.  The man simply trusts his defense.

9:36 I'll bet that not too many sports fans thought they'd be hearing the surname Arenas this often in a sporting event so soon after the NBA player's suspension; just further irony that McCoy's replacement is Gilbert!

9:34 A 34-yard punt at 9:34 ET/6:34 PT...hmm, may be something to that? 

9:26 Umm, and now Gilbert is hurt, so we'll see if Texas has a plan C!

9:25 The long-yardage situations won't help the McCoy-less offense at all.  There obviously wasn't a plan B tonight.  I just hope we still get a good game out of it.

9:23 By the way, I'm eating some Trader Joe's fare tonight.  Spinach pie that's excellent, but the real highlight is this bacon-cheddar-fig pizza.  Yeah, I know, but don't knock it 'til ya' try it.  Mmm.

9:21 Ingram untouched.  P-A-T good and it's 7-6 for #1.

9:17 As the 2nd quarter commences, it appears that the Crimson Tide offense might be the first to hit paydirt.

9:12 I think the Alabama defense will score a TD before the night is out.  Starting to just feel that way.

9:06 Three 'Bama possessions before ABC got to introduce the Texas defense.

9:04 In the other sporting event of note tonight, Bobcats 57 Knicks 55 with several minutes remaining in the third period at MSG.  'Bama headed into Longhorn territory.

9:02 Colt McCoy leaving the game won't help Texas, mostly from a leadership standpoint.  I'm sure Gilbert is talented--to be a Texas QB, one would have to be.

8:58 Wow, the turnover has put Texas in prime position to go up by two scores.  But the Tide again bends without breaking and they trail just 6-0 after two Longhorn possessions in Alabama territory.

8:52 Really should have passed on 2nd and goal.  And here comes the kicking team.  Advantage Alabama.

8:48 Oh my, earliest Masters commercial ever. And very subdued.  Not CBS-like at all, but very ESPN.  The Green Jacket guys can't be happy about the Tiger situation.  That's something that hasn't come up yet, really.

8:46 The Longhorns appear faster on both sides of the football early.  But like a lot of championship fights, which this game was compared to in the ample pregame discussions, by whom, who knows, and it was probably more than once.  Anyway, in a lot of fights, a guy will use up too much early and have nothing late.  If Texas keeps playing at this speed, they will need to get a big lead or have a lot left in the tank.  Because the Tide won't quit.

8:43 Looks like taking the ball was a bad move by Saban; and the fake punt was actually a good call, but ball extremely underthrown, as will happen with a punter throwing a football instead of kicking it.  I thought Nick would win the coaching battle and still do.  Because he knew what he was doing when he won a title at LSU.  I don't know, maybe it's the Vandy in me, and the fact that this is Watson Brown's brother trying to win a second title at Texas, but it always seems like Mack is winging it.  Maybe that's a good thing, it sure works for him whatever it is.

8:40 Brent's stat about 'Bama O-line no holding in 34 quarters says more about SEC officials than their line.

Pregame: Great coin-toss moment as Keith Jackson talks to the captains about the famed Rose Bowl field and tells them to "play the game of [their] lives."

Posted on: November 14, 2009 11:44 pm

The Easiest Route to a College Football Playoff

Organize and boycott sponsors of BCS games.  It's that easy.  Maybe you already do not buy any Tostitos chips or perhaps FedEx is not your preferred overnight carrier.  There is only one place you can stick it to the NCAA and the major bowls, and that's in their wallets.  More to follow...
Posted on: January 7, 2009 12:37 am

Dr. Bowl Love, Or How I Became Anti-CFB Playoff

Cynics, Rebels, Contrarians, lend me your eyes: I am 100% for the college bowl system!

So here are totally random but still relevant bullet points on this bowl vs. playoff deal:

  • We don't have a God-given right to consensus, national champions in every athletic endeavor imaginable (and especially in those where 100 or more teams all over the map make up the overall field).
  • Bowls weren't started to determine champions.  They were started as "chamber of commerce" initiatives in warm-weather locales to encourage snow-bound pigskin devotees to follow the sun for a vacation.  And secondly to give deserving collegiate football programs a reward for a good season.  And many of the bowls are part of larger festivals like the Orange Bowl and others have college basketball games, parades, tennis tournaments, etc.  They are sources of civic pride and commerce and now tradition in places with established bowl games.  Seasonal employment and tourism are increased.  These are all good things. 
  • TV revenues and bowl payouts help college athletics as a whole.  One simple way to say this is that there wouldn't be a whole lot of scholarship athletes in "Olympic Sports" at the college level without these revenues.  Remember, it used to be acceptable to say "non-revenue sports" when referring to college field hockey, soccer, fencing et al.
  • Are there too many bowl games?  I don't know and I don't like answering questions with questions but I will to annoy you, so maybe a better question to ask first is: "Are there too many division 1 football programs?"
  • OK, I'll admit it, I'm a Vanderbilt Commodores grad and fan.  So without the glut of bowl games, I probably wouldn't have been able to spend my New Year's Eve celebrating our 'historic' win with fellow alums in Nashvegas.  But the long drive back North to my current home got me thinking a lot about the bowl system and what it means to us, the alumni of programs that, let's face it, are probably never going to sniff this elusive "national" title.  OK, from the pure football perspective, it is a month of practice that otherwise wouldn't have been available.  And an additional national TV appearance in a semi-exclusive window (while most games are on in their own window, the Music City Bowl on ESPN and the Sun Bowl on CBS were overlapping a bit).  And I wouldn't be shocked if this exposure from a bowl game can really do some intangible things for a college football program.  But moreover, the non-football benefits.  A galvanized alumni for sure.  I mean, I've heard from some long-forgotten friends in this last week.  It's been great and I can only imagine that the University will capitalize on this both from a financial and spiritual/emotional standpoint.  And bowl games will also attract all kinds of students to a school, not just student-athletes.  There's bound to be a few HS students sitting at home watching ESPN on New Year's Eve Day, saying to themselves, hmm, Vanderbilt?  or even hmm, Boston College?  Tearing all of this up for the sake of some still-fictitious "national title" would be a real harm.
  • Isn't it better when 34 teams get to finish their season on a high note instead of one team, assuming the playoff all but eliminates the importance of the bowl system?
  • Conference titles are what teams really aim for.  Ask Steve Sprier.  He'll tell you the South Carolina Gamecocks goals, same as they were when he was with the Florida Gators.  Win our division, beat all our rivals, win our conference championship.  And if we do all that and we're blessed with a shot at whatever they call the national title, then bye golly we'll do our best to take advantage of that wonderful opportunity.
  • And regarding the above...if you are an alumnus or alumnae of a school that has a football program, odds are you care more about beating your rivals and doing well in your important league games than you do about some polls and computer picks?  I know I do and I think deep down most agree.  I viewed the bowl game as a reward, a chance to celebrate and have a good time and gather with fellow alums and good Vandy fans.
  • I have a hunch that some people that really have this hang-up with a playoff and a clear-cut, objective way to reach a "national champion," may not have even gone to a school with D1 football and really just want this playoff because it's how it's done elsewhere.  I started this off by saying we have no right to clear-cut champions.  Ambiguity is okay, and healthy, in fact.  And when you have so many teams, it's impossible no matter how you plan it.  Even the basketball tournament has flaws in the selections, seedings, automatic qualifiers and assignment of regions.
  • Moreover, football kind of has it perfect in the NCAA from a publicity standpoint.  How many people do you think say they are college basketball fans but don't really even watch a game in its entirety until Tournament time in March? Seriously, I'll bet there are more than a few.  Casual fans don't even know college basketball is televised until mid-March!  On the other hand, the college football regular season is in itself a de facto playoff.  Most CFB fans are tuned from August to January, and the really insane ones follow recruiting all year round!  From the national-title picture, a loss in the last week of August or first week of September, and you may be out.  Lose again and it's pretty much thanks for playin', holmes.  So in essence, there's almost more drama and suspense without the playoff, than there would be if we had one.  But it takes a bit of a leap, some against-the-grain thinking and a lot of devotion to college football Saturdays throughout the fall to become a follower of this philosophy.  But once you do, trust me, playoff won't even be part of your vocabulary

Sean Walker's 52-yard catch helps set up Bryant Hahnfeldt's second FG of the first quarter. (AP)

  • Lastly on this subject, ask anyone who's a Vandy grad/fan, or Florida Atlantic Owls, or Rice Owls or Iowa Hawkeyes or Mississippi Rebels, among many other schools this bowl season and they will tell you this is why we like it just the way it is.  There are compelling stories among the players, coaches, families, alumni, students, faculty, staff and general communities of all 68 competing colleges and universities in the 2008-2009 bowl games; and also in the 34 host cities and communities.  The bowls and their committee members provide the forum to tell all of their stories and add to their lives in more ways than most people would think to know.  To sacrifice all of this for the sake of satisfying the public's misguided outcry for what ultimately is a bogus national title seems kind of selfish and narrow-sighted.  And we all know what happens when the general public is appeased anyway: they get what they want and still cry for more.  I mean, if a playoff happens--shudder the thought that it does--there will almost certainly be calls that team(s) were left out and it still isn't fair.
  No one ever guaranteed us that anything had to be fair, folks.  If there is one thing that college will prepare you for in life, it's that.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or