Posted on: December 5, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 5, 2011 3:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Throughout the 2011 season, our own Bryan Fischer has been skewering the vagaries and missteps of AP poll voters in his weekly Poll Attacks. And though it's sometimes said that the media poll no longer "counts," it's still the method by which half of college football's national championship, so, yeah: it counts.
However, since 2005 it does not count as part of the BCS standings. That job has, of course, been passed onto the Harris Poll, a body of 115 pollsters "comprised of former players, coaches, administrators and current and former members of the media who have committed to submit rankings for the top 25 college football teams each week." You can view the results of 2011's final Harris Poll here and looks at their individual ballots here (both links PDF).
And looking at those results and ballots ... yeesh. How many things are wrong with this picture? Let us count the ways:
1. Oklahoma State ranked sixth ... three times. We won't wade into the "Alabama vs. Oklahoma State" debate here, but at least we can agree -- when looking at the Cowboys' resume before they drubbed Oklahoma and claimed the outright title of the deepest league in the country this year -- that the Tide and Cowboys should have been No. 2 and No. 3 in some order, right?
Not if you ask former Iowa administrator George Wine, former Notre Dame wideout Derrick Mayes, former Hawaii coach Bob Wagner, who each had the Cowboys sixth. Wine went with Houston, fresh off their 49-28 beatdown at the hands of Southern Miss, at No. 5; Mayes went with Mountain West runner-up Boise State fifth; and Wagner ranked Boise No. 4 and two-loss Oregon fifth. All together, 15 voters placed the Cowboys fourth or lower. (The good news, Cowboy fans? That didn't cost you the title game.)
2. Virginia Tech three spots ahead of Clemson. If the Hokies and Tigers had played a single close game, you could forgive voters for ignoring the head-to-head result, particularly this late in the season. But after Clemson's 38-10 slaughtering of Tech in the ACC championship game, the two teams played twice and both games were lopsided blowouts, one of them in Blacksburg. Yes, Clemson has one extra loss, but we'll attribute that to the Tigers playing a legitimate out-of-conference opponent like South Carolina as opposed to Appalachian State, Marshall, East Carolina and Arkansas State.
So how do you wind up with the Hokies 11th and Clemson 14th? How do former SMU quarterback Lance McIlhenny and former Troy Trojan Eric Mizell place the Hokies 12 places ahead of Clemson? We don't know.
3. Rampant bias. It's not quite as much of a problem here as it is in the Coaches -- where giving coaches like Nick Saban a say in whether their own teams go to the national championship game (or sneak into the BCS at-large pool) is probably the single most preposterous thing about the entire BCS system -- but bias is an issue in the Harris, too. For instance, as pointed out by our Bruce Feldman, former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer crammed all five SEC teams in the poll into his top 11.
4. Just plain silliness. Arkansas pounded South Carolina a few weeks back, remember, and they have the same record. So of course former Texas player Tony Jones has Arkansas 19th and Carolina 8th. Remember Georgia pummeling Auburn? The aforementioned Mr. Mayes has Aubun 18th and Georgia unranked. Michigan has the same number of losses as Wisconsin and finished second in its division while the Badgers won the league, so they clearly finish behind Wisky, right? No: three voters had it the other way round, with former Army player Bob Anderson having not just the Wolverines (at No. 13) ahead of the Big Ten champion Badgers (at No. 17), but the Michigan State team they just defeated. Oh, and all five SEC teams are in Anderson's top 9.
Of course, the BCS's real problem isn't the Harris poll itself; no matter how you construct a poll like this one, there's going to be strongly-held biases and blatant stupidities. The issue is that using a poll like the Harris (or Coaches, or AP) ensures that -- when the margin for error in selecting a playoff that includes only two teams is so thin -- those biases and stupidities are magnified and multiplied. Push the playoff to four teams, and it won't matter if a few outliers put the Cowboys sixth; reward merit over (purported) fan support, and no one will care that Virginia Tech gets so much benefit-of-the-doubt.
We don't hate the Harris Poll, really. But we do hate that college football's system for selecting a champion has to resort to putting something like it to use.
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Auburn, BCS, Big Ten, Bob Anderson, Bob Wagner, Boise State, Derrick Mayes, East Carolina, Eric Mizell, Harris Poll, Hawaii, Houston, Iowa, Jerry Hinnen, Lance McIlhenny, Marshall, Michigan, Michigan State, Mountain West, Nick Saban, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Poll Attacks, Roy Kramer, SEC, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas, Tony Jones, Troy, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:04 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.
With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.
AP Poll Coaches Poll Harris Poll BCS
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)
Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Boise State
They don't play anybody is the familiar refrain when it comes to the Broncos but all they do win and win and win some more. They beat UNLV this week to remain undefeated ahead of their showdown against TCU. Their best win, Georgia, is set to win the SEC East and play in the SEC championship game and Boise State could have eight or more bowl teams on the schedule by the end of the year. I get that they'll always be the little guy but this year the little guy has a great team. If you can't recognize that, sorry.
Overrated: Virginia Tech
There are plenty of overrated teams in the top 25, but Virginia Tech at #10/#9 is right up there. They moved into the spot largely by default thanks to losses ahead of them. Their schedule is weak (non-conference games against Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall) and they struggled to beat Duke in their last game. The close win over Miami looks better in retrospect but scoring just three points on Clemson's defense at home does not. If they beat Georgia Tech they'll solidify their place in the top 15 but they really don't have a signature win and won't get one unless they beat someone in a bowl game.
A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.
Going to run into Wilner this week, might tell him how I almost put him in this section but went with Wolf instead. Why Wolf? He's the only person in the country that has Boise State #1. I like the Broncos, but there's no reason to put them as the best team in the country given what LSU has done. He also has Wisconsin unranked, Houston 19th, Auburn ranked #13 and Michigan State 12th.
What were you thinking? Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant
The Coaches put Virginia Tech ahead of Clemson, even though the Tigers own the head-to-head win. Desmond Conner, or the 13 other AP voters who ranked the loser ahead of the winner, did the same thing. The case can't be made to rank one ahead of the other considering 1) Clemson beat Virginia Tech 2) Clemson has wins over Auburn and Florida State while Virginia Tech's best is probably over Miami. Conner managed to rank the Hokies EIGHT spots ahead of Clemson, who he had all the way down at 17th. Goodness.
Tags: ACC, AP Poll, Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Clemson, Coaches Poll, Desmond Conner, Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, Gary Parrish, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harris Poll, Houston, Marshall, Miami, Michigan State, Pac-12, Poll Attacks, Poll Attacks Week 10, Poll Reactions, Scott Wolf, SEC, TCU, The Poll Attacks, UNLV, Virginia Tech, Week 10, Wisconsin
Posted on: September 6, 2011 4:28 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 7:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.
LSU. The Tigers were this week's big SEC winners in the balloting, moving from fourth in both polls to third in the Coaches and leapfrogging Alabama for second in the AP. It's something of a surprising move by the media, given that the Crimson Tide were hardly disappointing in defeating Kent State 48-7. But as long as you're not a Tide fan, it's a welcome one; the more voters are willing to pay attention to strength-of-schedule over rote preseason positioning and cupcake victories, the better.
But it's possible Les Miles will wind up wishing the voters hadn't noticed that was Oregon his team was whipping Saturday night. If Oklahoma falls to Florida State in two weeks and the Tigers survive their Thursday night trip to Starkville that same weekend, LSU could move all the way up to No. 1--just in time for a potential ambush at West Virginia.
ALABAMA. Tide fans will no doubt be livid at the media's LSU bump, but in the end, it doesn't much matter. The Tide will have ample opportunity to leapfrog the Tigers themselves this Saturday, when they travel to Penn State for one of the week's highest-profile matchups. LSU? They'll be busy getting a light workout against FCS Northwestern State, a team the Tigers have outscored 417-0 in 10 all-time meetings.
If Alabama can put together its own dominating performance against a name-brand opponent while the Bayou Bengals are off the radar, it won't be surprising if the Tide regain the No. 2 slot in both polls. (As for overtaking the Sooners, it won't happen for either team until at least OU's trip to Tallahassee; the margin in No. 1 votes seems far too wide still for either team to make the top slot without an Oklahoma loss.)
SOUTH CAROLINA. The Connor Shaw experiment is over, but it may not have passed by without costing the Gamecocks some standing in the polls; Carolina was jumped over by Virginia Tech, overpowering winners over FCS power Appalachian State. Voters may have been punishing the Gamecocks for their slow Shaw-led start against East Carolina, one that led to a 17-0 deficit before a 56-14 gave SC a comfortable 19-point victory.
Frankly, we'll take a 19-point win over a potential Conference USA bowl team over a victory over an FCS team by any margin, even one as respected as Appalachian State. But the voters feeling otherwise hasn't done any real damage to the Gamecocks; they maintained their No. 12 spot despite the Tech preference, thanks to the Ducks falling all the way to No. 13.
ARKANSAS. Our personal opinion is that the Hogs are too low at No. 13 (Coaches) and No. 14 (AP), and having them ranked behind Oregon after the Ducks' relatively meek performance vs. LSU seems particularly shortsighted. But Arkansas also can't have any complaints about not moving up when their opener came against hapless FCS opponent Missouri State.
MISSISSIPPI STATE. The Bulldogs were another big mover for the SEC, leaping from 20th in each poll to 16th in the AP and 17th in the Coaches. That (and ranking higher than a Baylor team with TCU's scalp already on its wall) seems like quite a reward for beating a terrible Memphis team, but when you score 58 points and put up a school-record 645 total yards, some commendation is certainly in order.
FLORIDA. The Gators moved up four places in the AP and a full five in the Coaches to rank No. 18 in both--as with the Bulldogs, quite a bump for dismantling a Sun Belt also-ran like FAU. Teams like Baylor and South Florida have no doubt accomplished more. But even after the 8-5 disappointment of a year ago, clearly the Gators' cachet remains mostly intact. Then again, after seeing Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey run wild against the Owls, Florida's ceiling does seem high enough to justify a top-20 position.
AUBURN. The Tigers paid for their stunningly close call against Utah State by dropping out of the AP poll entirely, and slipping three places to No. 22 in the Coaches. On the one hand, this seems like a stunning amount of disrespect for a team that's won 16 straight games and won the national title less than nine months ago. On the other, the Tigers simply didn't look anything like a top-25 team against the Aggies, and when teams like USC (in the AP) and USF (in the coaches) remain unranked, at least they've got good company.
On top of that, only one more week will solve the pollsters' dilemma of what to do with the Tigers. If Auburn beats Mississippi State Saturday, it will certainly -- and justifiably -- return to both polls. If the Tigers lose, they will certainly and justifably be unranked in both.
GEORGIA. The Bulldogs naturally dropped out of both polls after their comprehensive defeat against Boise State; that they're still receiving a smattering of votes in each poll is surprising, and not particularly sensible. Beat Carolina, and the Dawgs can bark.
EVERYONE ELSE. Tennessee received a tiny handful of points in both polls. It makes sense, but they're getting fewer than Georgia; Montana or not, we'd still take the Vols' convincing W over the Dawgs' deeply worrying L.
Tags: Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Boise State, Chris Rainey, Connor Shaw, East Carolina, FAU, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Jeff Demps, Kent State, Les Miles, LSU, Memphis, Mississippi State, Missouri State, Montana, Northwestern State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Poll Reactions, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, TCU, Tennessee, USC, USF, Utah State, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
Posted on: September 4, 2011 2:50 am
Edited on: September 5, 2011 4:41 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1) Unproven UNC QB Bryn Renner answered doubters with a record setting day. Renner only attempted two passes during his freshman year, one of them fell incomplete. In his first career start on Saturday against James Madison, the sophomore quarterback once again only missed his receiver once. Unfortunately it was intercepted, but it was the only miscue in Renner's 22-for-23 performance against the Dukes. Renner's 95.7% completion rate set a new ACC record and was a big reason the Tar Heels were able to give Everett Withers his first head coaching victory.
Renner's opposition will get much more difficult as the season goes on and teams get to prepare for the first-year starter, but that's where he will be aided by a two-headed rushing attack that also looked sharp on Saturday. Redshirt senior Ryan Houston and redshirt freshman Giovani Bernard both returned from injuries just in time to combine for 125 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Combine their success with the reliable Dwight Jones receiving, and the quarterback position no longer looks like a question mark in Chapel Hill.
2) The ACC at least has the capability to put up big points - Of the ten ACC teams with a game under their belt, eight teams scored at least 29 points with the entire conference averaging AVERAGE points on the weekend thus far. Granted, only Wake Forest and Boston College played teams from an AQ conference (both lost) and six of the conference's opponents were FCS teams, but for a conference that has been criticized at times for a lack of offensive talent it was a nice change to see some points. For Clemson it took awhile before Chad Morris' signature offense got clicking, but the 31 second half points were testament that it is capable of wearing down a defense. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech's 60+ point performances can be attributed to a combination of their opposition (Appalachian State and Western Carolina) and some explosive playmakers. North Carolina and North Carolina State both piled on late TD's against their FCS opponents, and Florida State's defense contributed as much as their offense in the Seminoles' 34-0 shutout of Louisiana-Monroe.
3) FSU's greatest offense might be their defense. Speaking of Louisiana-Monroe, the Seminoles had a matchup advantage over the Warhawks as soon as the teams hit the field. But that fact should not take anything away from the impressive performance from the Florida State defense. ULM's offense was held to just 191 yards of offense and despite 39 rushing attempts, the Warhawks could not collect more than 99 yards. Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine were physical in the trenches while the Seminoles' back seven, led by safety Lamarcus Joyner, swarmed to the ball to stuff Warhawk receivers when quarterback Kolton Browning tried to utilize under routes on third downs. In fact, Florida State's ten third-down stops were a key in keeping ULM's running game from gathering any kind of momentum. The coaching staff will be focusing on Charleston Southern, but I'll say it: that kind of defensive performance will be needed if the Seminoles want to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma on Sept. 17 in Tallahassee.
4) Georgia Tech's offense shows explosion, and more of the same bad habits. Paul Johnson's first two seasons as Georgia Tech's head coach had 9+ wins both seasons and an ACC title. So there was no surprise that Yellow Jacket fans were concerned with 2010's 6-7 finish that included dropping five of their final six games. One of the reasons Georgia Tech struggled down the stretch was trouble holding onto the ball. No FBS team lost more fumbles than Georgia Tech (20) in 2010, and they ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin. So while there was plenty to celebrate with the offensive performance in the season opener, there are also plenty of red flags.
The Yellow Jackets totaled 662 yards of offense, the most for any Georgia Tech team since 2000. Tevin Washington had more passing yards in the first quarter (148) than any quarterback had in an entire game during the 2010 season. Stephen Hill's four catches for 181 yards provided support to claims that he was set to be the next great Georgia Tech receiver in the line of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. But Georgia Tech still fumbled the ball six times, luckily only losing the ball twice. Thursday's season opener showed Georgia Tech fans that this offense is dangerous. They can be dangerously good, but also dangerously destructive if they can't fix their turnover issues.
5.) Maryland - Miami - The opening weekend in the ACC wraps up on Monday night when Miami visits College Park with a shortened roster to kick off the conference schedule. It will be the first game for new head coaches Al Golden and Randy Edsall, and I'm positive we will have plenty to learn about both squads. Keep it here at the Eye on College Football for all your ACC coverage.
Tags: ACC, Appalachian State, Boston College, Brandon Jenkins, Bryn Renner, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, Clemson, Dwight Jones, Everett Withers, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Giovani Bernard, Kolton Browning, Lamarcus Joyner, Louisiana-Monroe, N.C. State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Paul Johnson, Ryan Houston, Tank Carradine, ULM, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Western Carolina, What I Learned
Posted on: September 3, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: September 3, 2011 4:30 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
VIRGINIA TECH WON. The Hokies fell victim to FCS James Madison in Blacksburg last season, and certainly were not going to let history repeat itself on Saturday with Appalachian State in town. Virginia Tech took only 47 seconds to force a turnover and get running back David Wilson into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. That would be the theme of the day as the Hokies rolled to a 66-13 victory. Wilson made his first game as a starter count, picking up 162 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
WHY VIRGINIA TECH WON: Big plays and winning the turnover battle. The Hokies forced a fumble and three interceptions while not turning the ball over once. Cornerback Jayron Hosley was stellar in the return game, picking up 97 yards on punt returns and setting up the Virginia Tech offense with great field position.
WHEN VIRGINIA TECH WON: This game felt like it was going to be over in the first quarter. ASU's first four offensive possessions went like this: fumble, three and out, three and out, three and out. Virginia Tech wasn't doing a ton offensively early in the game, but the field position battle and big plays put this out of reach early for the Mountaineers.
WHAT VRGINIA TECH WON: Confidence. Even though it was Appalachian State, the Hokies needed a big win to ease the doubts surrounding the 2011 season. Wilson proved he can be an every down back, Josh Oglesby looked solid in the reserve role, and a handful of receivers contributed to the passing game. Defensively they forced turnovers and put pressure on the quarterback. The only question mark still lies at the quarterback position. Logan Thomas did a good job managing the offense, but was still a little out of sync with his receivers.
WHAT APPALACHIAN STATE LOST: You schedule games like this knowing there's a possibility of getting blown out. You could argue it is a little embarrassing for a program that recently started discussing the possibilities of a jump to FBS, but other than that no harm here for ASU.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Just the before the game, CBSSports.com's Sean Bielawski reported that Frank Beamer has signed a contract extension that carries through the end of the 2016 season. This is Beamer's 25th season with the Hokies, and his 241 career wins is second among active coaches behind Joe Paterno.
Posted on: September 3, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: September 3, 2011 2:49 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Ah, sweet, glorious football. There's nothing quite like the first football Saturday of the season, when the days are warm, so are the nights, and you're liable to catch a major sunburn on half your face if you're sitting in the north or south part of the stadium. Lots of great games and great weather on tap today. All times are eastern.
Akron at No. 18 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Low 90s, clear
Utah State at No. 23 Auburn, 12:00, Auburn, AL: Low 90s, clear
Miami (OH) at No. 21 Missouri, 12:00, Columbia, MO: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Kent State at No. 2 Alabama, 12:20, Tuscaloosa, AL: Low 90s, clear
Appalachian State at No. 13 Virginia Tech, 12:30, Blacksburg, VA: Upper 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 6 Florida State, 3:30, Tallahassee, FL: Upper 80s, partly cloudy
Chattanooga at No. 10 Nebraska, 3:30, Lincoln, NE: Mid 70s, storms
South Florida at No. 16 Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IN: Upper 80s, mostly cloudy, storms
Minnesota at No. 25 USC, 3:30, Los Angeles, CA: Lower 80s, clear
San Jose State at No. 7 Stanford, 5:00, Palo Alto, CA: Lower 80s, clear
Florida Atlantic at No. 22 Florida, 7:00, Gainesville, FL: Lower 80s, partly cloudy, storms
Missouri State at No. 15 Arkansas, 7:00, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 80s, clear
Louisiana-Lafayette at No. 9 Oklahoma State, 7:00, Stillwater, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy
East Carolina at No. 12 South Carolina, 7:00, Columbia, SC: Mid 80s, clear
Tulsa at No. 1 Oklahoma, 8:00, Norman, OK: Lower 90s, partly cloudy
No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia, 8:00, Atlanta, GA (Georgia Dome): Mid 70, partly cloudy
No. 3 Oregon at No. 4 LSU, 8:00, Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium): Whatever temperature Jerry Jones says. But outside it will be in the high 80s
Late night kickoffs
Colorado at Hawaii, 10:15, Honolulu, HI: Upper 70s, showers
Tags: ACC, Akron, Alabama, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Chattanooga, Colorado, Conference USA, East Carolina, FCS, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida State, Football Weather, Gameday Weather, Georgia, Hawaii, Jerry Jones, Jerryworld, Kent State, Kickoff Weather, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, LSU, MAC, Miami University, Minnesota, Missouri, Missouri State, Mountain West, Nebraska, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, San Jose State, SEC, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Sun Belt, Tailgate Weather, Tulsa, USC, Utah State, Virginia Tech, WAC, Weather Updates
Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 3:10 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
First, the facts: Michigan has agreed to play Appalachian State as the Wolverines' opening opponent of the 2014 season. Yes, this is the same Appalachian State that became the first-ever FCS team to beat a ranked opponent when they beat, yes, Michigan the opening week of the 2007 season.
You knew that. Which is why after the facts comes the opinion: this is the single dumbest scheduling decision we can remember, and the most craven one since Indiana sold out one of their own Big Ten home games to play at a "neutral site" full of Penn State fans.
Why is Michigan hosting the Mountaineers such a colossally horrid idea? Let us count the ways:
1. For weeks upon weeks leading up to the game, the talk surrounding Michigan won't be about the team's expectations for the new season or the Wolverines' star players or Michigan's Big Ten chances; it'll be about that time Michigan was ranked No. 5 in the country and lost to Appalachian State.
2. Viewers tuning in will no doubt hear much about the game they're watching, but they will hear just as much about the time the two teams played before and No. 5 Michigan lost to Appalachian State.
3. Even if Michigan wins, the story following the game will be "Michigan beats Appalachian State, not like that other time where they were No. 5 and lost to them." And if the game is close? "Michigan narrowly avoids losing to Appalachian State, like they already did that other time. Remember that?"
4. If lightning does indeed strike twice and the Wolverines lose, forget all the All-Americans and national titles and conference championships and tradition and everything; for any college football fan under the age of, say, 27, Michigan is now The Team That Loses to Appalachian State.
5. It's not possible for Michigan to earn "revenge" against the Mountaineers. The former is one of the most storied programs in college football history. The latter is an FCS program (a good one, mind) that, if they're lucky, might land in Conference USA the next few seasons. 30 Michigan wins can't equal the impact of one of Appalachian State's in the "series," much less the single one Michigan will likely earn in 2012. To suggest the Wolverines can "even the score" with Appalachian State is to also suggest the two programs are somehow equals, peers.
So why on earth would Michigan agree to a game that by its very existence -- "Michigan! Appalachian State! Round 2!" -- can't help but make that suggestion? Because people will watch. Because people will talk about Michigan. Because people already are talking about Michigan, and the game's just been scheduled. (You're reading this post right now, aren't you?)
Nevermind that the talk is about arguably the ugliest, lowest point in Michigan football history. Nevermind that viewers will be tuning in to watch Michigan play in the designated role of dumb overrated Goliath to the Mountainerrs' band of merry Davids. Nevermind that the rewards for winning are minimal, the cost of losing incalculable.
Nevermind all of that; it's free publicity, tons of it, and from what we can tell Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon truly believes there's no such thing as a bad version of it. He doesn't mind if you haul out all of those old 2007 tomatoes all over again, really--just so long as it's Michigan you're throwing them at, he's happy.
A postscript just to prove our point: doesn't this post feel incomplete without video of the Mountaineers' victory in the Big House? Yes, yes it does. So here you go:
Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 5:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Despite the best efforts of the Worst ... Offseason ... Ever, it appears the 2011 college football season really is on the verge of getting underway. Your latest evidence? The Sports Illustrated season preview is on its way to newsstands, featuring five regional covers that look something like this:
That's the South Carolina/Alshon Jeffery version, but also available will be covers featuring (left to right), Stanford's Andrew Luck, Alabama's Trent Richardson, Nebraska's Jared Crick and Oklahoma's Landry Jones.
Much of the initial Internet reaction has focused on Jeffery looking, ahem, not quite as svelte as Gamecock fans might like, but the much bigger issue (no pun intended) is that Jeffery's on the cover at all. SI has been producing their multi-pronged regional covers since 2005, and in those six years the fortunes of the teams that have appeared there have been up-and-down, to put it politely. You might even say that these regional covers seem to be ... you know ... cursed.
But don't just take my word for it. Here's the year-by-year breakdown, with a tally of how many teams finished their cover season happy with how it played out:
2010: Boy, did SI pick the wrong year to spotlight defense in its preview coverage; Auburn and Oregon faced off for the national championship with the two most statistically generous defenses in BCS title game history. SI didn't do so hot picking out the right teams to feature, either; Alabama finished fourth in their own division, Boise State saw its most talented team yet finish the year in the Las Vegas Bowl, and Texas, of course, collapsed in a 5-7 heap. We'll be generous and give SI the benefit of the doubt on Ohio State, thanks to the Buckeyes' Sugar Bowl victory. Happy tally: 1 of 4
2009: This year, SI picked out four "party crashers" who would "shake up the BCS." Oops: this was the season the Longhorns and the SEC champion (be it Alabama or No. 1 Florida) seemed destined for their eventual title tilt by the end of September. Double oops: of the four teams picked, only Pac-10 champion Oregon earned a BCS berth at all. Ole Miss and Oklahoma State met in the Cotton Bowl after losing a combined seven games and finishing outside the top 20; Penn State finished a distant third in the Big Ten, having been blown out by both Iowa and the Buckeyes. Happy tally: 1 of 4
2008: SI did have the good sense to spend their final cover of five on Tim Tebow's Gators, the eventual national champions. But three of their other four were duds: preseason No. 1 Georgia lost three games, including routs at the hands of the Tide and Gators; Missouri plummeted from No. 3 to No. 25 after losing three in the regular season and getting drilled by 41 in the Big 12 championship game; and Ohio State was blasted out of the national title race via a 35-3 beatdown from USC, then lost the Big Ten title at home to the Nittany Lions. The Trojans' 12-1 Rose Bowl season wasn't half-bad, though. Happy tally: 2 of 5
2007: We're not sure curse evidence gets more compelling than SI putting Michigan's Mike Hart on one of its covers, then having the Wolverines lose to Appalachian State right out of the gate. But there's still USC losing to Stanford as a 41-point favorite, five-loss Arkansas finishing the season unranked (and with Houston Nutt fired), and Oklahoma laying a pair of colossal eggs against Colorado and West Virginia. In fact, it's only that Fiesta Bowl victory over the Sooners that keeps the Mountaineers -- themselves one stunning loss to Pitt away from the national title game -- out of the unhappy tally themselves. Happy tally: 1 of 5
2006: No less than six regional covers this season. Among the good calls, LSU finished their season with a dominant Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame and Ohio State rolled to a national title game berth. But the Irish never looked like living up to their preseason No. 2 billing, both Texas and USC blew shots at the BCS championship with inexplicable late-season losses, and though 11-2 wasn't a bad year for West Virginia, a pivotal upset at USF and the Gator Bowl wasn't what they had in mind, either. Since we're nice people, though, we'll give WVU half-credit and USC half-credit after their Rose Bowl spanking of Michigan. Happy tally: 3 of 6
2005: The first year of the regional plan was the best one for SI, as Vince Young and Reggie Bush both lived up to that "unstoppable" tagline on their way to the BCS championship game. Florida's Chris Leak, though, not so much; the Gators limped to third in the SEC East in their first year under Urban Meyer. Happy tally: 2 of 3
FINAL VERDICT: Only 10 teams out of the 27 spotlighted by SI's regional covers went on to have satisfying seasons--meaning a whopping 63 percent finished their cover year disappointed. And it's even worse in recent seasons, since half the happy teams came in the first two years of the regional approach. Since then, the ratio of successful-to-unsuccessful campaigns is just 5-to-13. Only twice in these six years have one of those 27 teams -- 2005 Texas and 2008 Florida -- gone on to win the national title.
There's only one word to accurately sum up those kind of results: cursed. Cardinal? Gamecocks? Sooners? Huskers? Tide? Consider yourselves warned.
Tags: Alabama, Alshon Jeffery, Andrew Luck, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State, Chris Leak, Colorado, curses, Fiesta Bowl, Florida, Gator Bowl, Georgia, Houston Nutt, Iowa, Jared Crick, Jerry Hinnen, Landry Jones, Las Vegas Bowl, Michigan, Mike Hart, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-10, Penn State, Reggie Bush, Rose Bowl, South Carolina, Stanford, Sugar Bowl, Texas, Tim Tebow, Trent Richardson, Urban Meyer, USC, USF, Vince Young, West Virginia