April 4, 2008

Passing the Time - Rating the Overrated

The other day, I had a particularly heated discussion with a particular Husker Kool-Aid addict that I know. The subject had to do with some of the rule changes taking place over the past few years in college football. When one thing led to another, it turned into a full-blown discussion on what is, and what isn’t great about college football. (His take was that NOTHING was wrong with college football. It is God's most perfect creation)

That got me thinking….

In an effort to be negative and hateful, (and since we obviously have the time) I think we need to delve into some of the unspoken ugliness that surrounds a sport that most of us have grown to love. (Or in some of your cases, lust after with the intensify of a 14 year old living next door to Jenna Jameson).

So with that, let’s talk about the 10 most overrated aspects of college football.

10) The Big 10 Conference
This one is easy. I realize that back in the day…when there were hardly enough decent teams to fill out a UPI top 20 poll, the Big 10 was extremely relevant. Michigan and Ohio State in particular have been built over time as some sort of super-human football factories, led for the most part by ESPN and an east-coast bias that doesn’t have the sack to travel anywhere outside of the tri-state area for stories.

Following close behind are a cavalcade of mediocre wannabes that include Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan State. None of which are horrible…yet none of which would probably be over .500 if they didn’t play each other during the regular season and just so happened to skip the possibility of a conference title game.

If all that isn’t enough, don’t forget it’s the Big 10 and their precious Rose Bowl tie that is the root of almost any and every bowl controversy ever created. Oh yeah, did I mention that they went out and made their own network so the cable customers of the upper Midwest could shell out extra dough to watch that dynamite Purdue – Eastern Michigan match up every September?

9) ESPN Pundits
I realize it takes somebody on ESPN’s payroll to actually sit down and talk about the games of the week…SOMEBODY has to do it...but is there any doubt that ESPN could do better than Lou Holtz, Todd McShay or Mark May? And yes, I realize that without guys like this, your Thursday and Friday evening would be full of talk surrounding this year’s WNBA championship. However, has anybody ever stopped long enough to ask a question that really needs to be asked….Are THESE the best guys ESPN could get to talk about college football? Hell, at least CNNSI had the sack to fire Trev Alberts for being a yammering douchebag.

Todd McShay alone has said some of the most idiotic shit every spoken into air in the history of man, and yet he CONTINUES to show up on shows introduced as, "ESPN College Football Expert" Todd McShay. Huh!? Says who? Todd's Mom? You fuckin suck Todd. Get a job at Menards and stop telling me that Alabama has as much talent as anyone in the nation. (Who probalby didn't lose to Lousiana-Monroe at home apparently)

8) “Mid Majors”

The NCAA basketball tournament has been great for “mid majors” and their reputation. However, in a more physically demanding sport such as football, there simply is no reason to believe that Hawaii or Boise State are as good as any of the BCS conference teams. Don’t get me wrong, these teams eventually pull off an occasional upset…much like the big fat egg OU laid in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago. But if you were laying down odds…just how many times in hell is Hawaii going to beat Georgia in pretty much anything but women’s volleyball?

David vs. Goliath is a great story for the NCAA tournament, and gives that event the flavor it needs to survive at the forefront of sports for three solid weeks. But in terms of football, crappy teams like Hawaii do nothing but take valuable pub time and bowl bids from teams who truly are good and deserve a real crack at beating a real team. Thanks a lot OU…99% of this is on you falling for a Boise State play that doesn’t even work on Xbox.

7) Spring Football
Don’t get me wrong…I completely understand the allure of spring football. A person can only take so much Red Sox vs. Yankees crap on ESPN, as the first wave of off-season boredom kicks in. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that since you’re dealing with 18-22 year old kids with nothing at stake, the effort isn’t quite the same as Saturday’s in the fall. I mean, it’s bad enough some people break down scrimmages as if they were real games. But is it really necessary to put a scrimmage on ESPN? You do realize that’s a team playing against their own backups don’t you? I don’t get it. I’ll never get it.

6) “Traditional Powers”
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess this will be the most controversial of my top 10. Why? Because my key demographic is people who believe that the only reason they lost last year was because there weren’t enough pictures of former all-Americans in their weight room. I know you don’t believe this…but you, Penn State, Alabama, Notre Dame etc are nothing but memories of a bygone area. Oh sure, when I was a kid, all of these teams were battling for a National Championship. But today?

Being a “traditional power” means absolutely nothing. Again, I don’t expect you to believe this..but trust me. Hell, look at the top 25 in the last poll of the year. LSU and Georgia…good teams but traditional powers? USC would qualify..as would Ohio State and Oklahoma. But how bout Missouri, West Virginia, Kansas, Boston College, BYU, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Hawaii, Illinois, Clemson, Texas Tech, Oregon and Oregon State?

See any Penn States, Notre Dames, Alabamas or Nebraska’s in there? How about Florida State or Miami? For some reason, you people feel your helmet alone should win you 9 games. Hell, with the exception of USC and Oklahoma…even the BEST a “former power” can hope for is a formerly “ho hum” 9 win season that will get you nothing but a trip to a mid-level bowl that nobody gives a rats ass about. (And last time I checked...you aren't USC or Oklahoma. Not even close)

5) The Spread Offense
It seems like every 5-10 years or so, somebody comes up with an excuse as to why “non-traditional” powers succeed in college football. It happened with BYU in the mid 80s. It happened with Houston during the Andre Ware years. And now, it’s happening in the Pat White and Chase Daniel era. The spread is just this generation’s version of something quirky that pundits and announcers can hang their hat on to explain their shitty predictions. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Missouri and West Virginia weren’t good teams last year because they ran the spread. They were good because guys like Pat White, Steve Slaton, Martin Rucker and Jeremy Maclin decided to go to school there. Think Oregon is some premier offensive juggernaut because they have wacky uniforms? Uhh…Dennis Dixon may have had something to do with that..and it didn’t have anything to do with how many tight ends he had lined up.

4) College Gameday
Am I the only one who gets bored with College Gameday in about 2 seconds? Yes, I know they’re on campus and people are yelling. I know the big redneck guys with giant buckles, big hats and their twangy banjos open the show and it signals the start of the football day. But have you ever really sat down and intently watched that show? Does anybody realize it’s the same show pretty much over and over? OK, Corso is going to make a wacky pick. Chris Fowler is going to have some feel-good story about some guy who’s mom was run over by a train or whatever. Desmond Howard will answer some insanely idiotic question sent in by some hayseed from Kentucky.

Think about it…the whole thing is really about kicking off the weekend…but am I the only one who gets bored with the whole shtick? Am I the only one annoyed that they don’t spend more than 2 minutes on any single game, and even then…they tell you something that every other ESPN talking head has mentioned 500 times during the week. Not saying it isn’t a nice little program when nothing else is on but Dora and Thomas the Tank Engine. But this is a perfect example of something that gets way way way more credit than it deserves.

3) Recruiting Services
You know my stance on this. Much like College Gameday…recruiting hype serves a nice purpose when nothing else is going on. But packing into your Hyundai and driving 13 hours to watch some 17 year old pick your school’s hat up to the clapping of his coach and 3 of his closest relatives…you may have taken this too far. Hell, just look at the entire Blaine Gabbert saga from last year. Let the damn kid pick a school. What the hell are the odds that ANYBODY could live up to the hype of 400,000 middle-aged men in faded Dockers…wasting their company’s hard earned payroll? Once again, by itself..not a bad idea. But no way can you have an overrated list without recruiting hype.

2) Playing a tough non-conference schedule
Don’t get me wrong…I love a nice USC bloodbath over Nebraska in the non-conference. And yes, it’s pretty entertaining to watch some big-time game that doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. But blame this on the state of Kansas and the MAC champion Jayhawks. Mark Mangino and his prancing hawks showed the world that it’s absolutely idiotic to play anything less than 4 public scrimmages before your conference season works. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t agree with the practice, and I feel KU and their cousins from Hawaii have set back college football decades by completely mocking the system.

If a team is going to schedule patsies….then punish them for doing so. Is it completely necessary to reward them for having their toughest contest in the non-conference is a home game against Central Michigan? Are you serious? It’s not right, but playing a tough non-conference schedule under the current system is completely idiotic. Because of that, I officially forgive Steve Pederson for chickening out against Houston a couple of years ago. Play whoever you want and play them at home. Just win your conference games, and you’ll be just fine. (of course you may have a cholesterol level of 32,000…but your team will be just fine. (until they are exposed in front of a national TV audience after 2 months of close victories due to smoke and mirrors).

1) The Playoff Debate.
Don’t get me wrong…I think a playoff would be kinda cool. But until the ratings for bowl games decline..it will NEVER EVER happen. Because of this fact alone..it’s a complete and total waste of time to hear this 323,000 times a day during the season. (And yes, you can thank NU Chancellor Harvey Pearlman for killing the playoff system the last few years.)

But hell, even if the playoff system WAS passed…don’t you think the NCAA would find some way to screw it up? And don’t you think the corrupt bastards who run the bowl games wouldn’t have their say to ruin the whole thing as well? If something makes so much sense as this..wouldn’t it be safe to say it would be completely jacked up to the point that you wouldn’t even want it anymore.

Besides…with a playoff system, your non-conference home games against Peru State, Southern Utah and Western Illinois would be all for not. Good idea. Won’t ever happen. Stop talking about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you hate College Gameday, then you hate America.

You suck blogger man.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous corn blight said...

Hey, nice list. I'd probably move the Big 10 closer to the top because I live in it every day. Gee, that makes us kind of like soul mates of hatred, doesn't it?

You know if you did stuff like this more often, I wouldn't be plotting a horrendous end to you that involves too many bug parts in your vodka.

Shouldn't 'sideline reporters' be on this list? Wait, you really like them, don't you?

9:15 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

Sideline reporters is a good one, but I wouldn't call it overrated. Why? Because NOBODY likes them. Everything on this list is something that some (or many) people believe strongly in.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great list AJ--I agree that College Gameday is horrible. Personnally, I watch Dora. You learn more about college football there than you ever could listening to Lee Corso.

ESPN does really need to get rid of their entire herd of analysts. I would like to see Mark May go before anybody else.

I'm a Jayhawk fan that's written to you before several times. I agree with you about the non-conference schedule. Last year, I didn't think it would work out quite as well for KU as it did, but playing a tough non-con schedule is suicide in college football. One of the reasons college basketball is a superior game, in my mind, is that who you beat matters. In football, it's just did you beat somebody.

Have a good day, AJ. Talk to you later.


2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree that most people like a shitty, weak non-conference schedule. As a fan, I want to see how my team stacks up against progressively tougher teams as you approach conference play, rather than getting either
a) false confidence from laying the lumber to San Jose State
b) having your confidence crushed because you couldn't put away a patsy on your home field and are now left with the realization that you are probably going to get slaughtered in some of your conference games.
It's hard to blame teams for doing it because with the way the system is now, unless you are trying to establish your program, there's no real benefit to doing it if it leaves you out of the money at the end of the year.

That's why people keep screaming
Playoff! Playoff! Playoff!
but I agree with you there... not going to happen and if it does, it's not going to be what most people think it should be to solve the problem

3:00 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

Bob, although you and your team should be mocked...I certainly don't blame them for bilking the system. In fact, I'm of the opinion that Mizzou should drop Illinois, Wyoming and anybody else they can find, and go to the Bill Snyder school of scheduling.

If you're in a BCS conference and you've got enough wins...it really doesn't matter.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thomas the 'Tank' Engine" sounds like a good program compaired to Gameday.

Also, isn't "bilk" that Japanese shit that combines beer and milk.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate most of the ESPN college football analysts... especially Lou Holtz. There is a time when it's time to call it quits or let it go, and for Lou Holtz that time was over 10 years ago. I can't understand a word he says and find his "pep talks" irritating and annoying.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Husker Mike said...

Todd McShay did pick Kansas to win the Big XII North. Didn't look quite so bizarre in November as it did in August.

As for Hawaii beating Georgia...does the NCAA sanction surfing? In any event, I give Hawaii a little bit of a break; Michigan State backed out on Hawaii last spring, and the only team they could find to play them at that late date was Northern Colorado.

As for sideline reporters, they may not add much substance, but how could you suggest eliminating the institution that brought us Melissa Stark, Erin Andrews, and Jill Arrington

9:39 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

Touche Mike..although McShay is still a giant douche.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have this much time to spend on your blog, and are that obsessed about caring about 18-22 year-old men playing football in the off-season, you're not getting much pussy. It's time to take a long look in the mirror, AJ.

2:25 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

1) It's not a college football blog.
2) Thanks for the psycho-analysis. I'll bet your post-doctorial work was outstanding.
3) Every time some anonymous douche throws that out there...it's a small victory. Obviously it stings or you wouldn't only be here..you wouldn't comment.

Thanks for reading Mr. 2:25am on a Saturday night in April.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AJ--I forgot one thing I wanted to say earlier. Sorry about taking two posts.

The thing about college football that drives me most up the wall is that in 12 weeks the talking heads on television will begin hosting the 2-hour shows about which five guys will be invited to the Downtown Athletic Club for the Heisman ceremony. It annoys me that the Heisman is being talked about seriously before fall practices even start.

There is no way a kid can have a great year, come from nowhere, and win the Heisman because the voters decide who will win based on who did well last year.

If I had my way, any broadcaster who mentioned the Heisman before Halloween would be sentenced to 12 years covering ladies figure skating--another sport where they determine ahead of the competition that the winner will be one of a small group no matter what anybody else does.

Have a good day.


1:58 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

Good point Bob. I just don't understand how just because ESPN hire some douche like McShay..he's suddenly a college football "expert".

He's no expert, yet he has more power than all but maybe 10 people in the country.

6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the tough non-conference is a double edge sword.

Conference schedule are set into place almost 10 years ahaead of time as in what south teams you will play, etc.

kU took the advantage knowing they had a good team and wanted to get back to a bowl. Nebraska and K-state fell and they didn't play us till the last game.

I honestly think if you have a good team and you got a favorable conference schedule for a certain year, schedule shitty teams, even one from a BCS conference. Get 4-0, do well in conference, get media exposure and it will pay off.

Playoffs will never happen. plus-1 is maybe the best they will do because really only 4 teams are talked about in getting to a national chmapionship game, let them play each other.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Love your blog. I'm a huge Husker fan, which is why I enjoy coming here: you're a really great writer and you tell things like they are. Your blog ironically is the only place you can both a)read regularly about Husker sports and b) not have to wipe red Kool-aid off your screen.

There is a topic (that no one will discuss) in our fan base that drives me crazy right now, and I was hoping you'd evaluate it in a blog...Tom Osborne's supposedly non-existent ego.

You've touched on it but haven't gone after it and I think you should. I don't understand why no one else can see it. Nebraska football wasn't all about him for four years, and it bothered him. Ignoring the fact that his cronyism with Solich is what kicked us in the balls after his retirement in the first place, he undermined Pederson and Callahan for four years, and then the first chance he got he took power and immediately looked at two coaches that were connected to his legacy (Gill and Pelini)for the head coaching job, thereby refocusing the spotlight on himself. He was a great coach for us, but I'm so tired of him and his say-one-thing do-another-crap:

1) Campaign against porn because it disrespects women? Ride Lawrence Phillips and Christian Peter to glory.

2) Teach an ethics class at Creighton? Try to keep a gun away from the police when a player was in trouble.

3) Pretend you were happy in post-governor-election failure/retirement, and are just back to humbly help the huskers out? Soak up the glory and pretend things never fell apart when you snuck Solich past the previous AD.

4) Claim walk-ons were your key to success? Conveniently forget that walk-on successes were just as rare under you and that the walk-on program used to convince hundreds of kids to give up opportunities elsewhere to come stand on the sidelines for you so Jim Bob in Nowhere, NE can exclaim on Saturday, "Say, there's Mike's kid by the watercooler!"

5) Claim you aren't flipping the bird to Pederson--a guy you recommended for AD--by attending a separate golf tourney? Hold revenge rehirings of Barney Cotton, Turner Gill, and Doak Ostergard...the last of which you have to create a make-believe position for.

Basically, I'm one Husker that's not at all relieved that he's back in charge. I look at his actions and I see micromanagement, cronyism, and spotlight-seaking. Based on his actions with Solich then and Pelini now, I think Nebraska being about him is more important to him than Nebraska being successful.

If he was worried about Nebraska's success, he would have gone after a proven head coach. Instead he went after Bo Pelini, a guy whose defenses got raped by good teams when he was at Nebraska and then spent four years "building" his reputation as a DC at Oklahoma and LSU...two schools where the defenses were top ten and overflowing with talent before he got there thanks to Stoops, Saban, and Muschamp.

I'm nervous. As a fan I know I'm supposed to tow the official husker line, but I think our program is on the trash heap of history while Tom Osborne takes one last lap in the spotlight.

This deserves a blog. Thanks.


2:00 AM  
Blogger AJ said...

Thanks Brian. I appreciate you taking it for what it is...Not exactly serious, but not exactly light hearted either.

I'll look into your points further.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Husker Mike said...

Wow... looks like Brian drank WAY more Kool-Aid than he spit back over the last four years.

All I can say is... Wow.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Husker Mike learned some HTML


7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian speaks the truth. Husker Mike can't handle the truth.

Same post, different year.


7:21 PM  
Blogger AJ said...

PS - Sorry for the delay. Was at the Royals opener in KC today. New post tomorrow.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Thanks a lot OU…99% of this is on you falling for a Boise State play that doesn’t even work on Xbox."

Freakin Classic!

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do love College Gameday (football edition) because it's basically the beginning and end of my day after the shitty late Pac-10 game. A great CFB sandwich.

And if you turn on ESPN now, 50 bucks says you find NFL Live. Fuck, it's APRIL and baseball is in full swing along with NHL and NBA playoffs, but you get Trey effing Wingo telling you that the Baltimore Ravens may be interested in someone in the 6th round. Dammit!

11:28 PM  
Anonymous jedisooner said...

I'd rather eat cheese sticks than watch Gameday. Same o' crap every weekend, so it's good time to cut the grass.

Thanks for picking OU as a traditional power. I just wish we'd play like one in our bowl games. Maybe this year since we faster on defense.

5:57 PM  

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