Like it or not, college football is about to be pulled into the 20th century. With this week’s first Football Writers Association rankings, college football has let the computer age into the bowl evaulation process.
Oh, it won’t be official for another year, when the new Super Alliance is expected to use the rankings to determine its pairings.
But even now, as the season moves past its midway stage, people are paying attention to this new ranking, which combines the Associated Press writers poll, the CNN-USA Friday coaches poll, and a computerized ranking, weighing each equally.
Any sport using a poll to determine its champion is flawed, and even this new ranking has problems. For example, Jeff Sagarin’s computer ranks Penn State only 12th, because the Nittany Lions have played a weak non-conference schedule. Thus, Penn State is only fourth in the consensus ranking.
College football supremacy ought not be determined this way. In Division I-A football, the champion is determined by who people think is No. 1, not by who performs on the field in a playoff format.
It’s a stupid system, antiquated beyond belief. And let’s not hear about the integrity of the bowl system and how it’s good for college football. It is a joke, with teams barely above .500 bragging about getting a bowl berth.
Good for college football?
Bad teams. Bad bowls. Bad football. And television executives wonder why ratings are down?
And that’s at the bottom of the food chain. Even at the top, the system needs an overhaul.
Take this year. Right now, at least 10 teams could still win the national championship, but only two will get a chance to play in Miami on the night of Jan. 2.
The process of elimination will not occur on the field, but rather in votes of writers and coaches.
Who’s No. 1? Who’s No. 2? Who knows? Right now, the polls say it’s Florida and Penn State. And those teams can’t play each other, since Penn State, as Big Ten champion, would be committed to the Rose Bowl, and No. 1 Florida would be committed to the Orange Bowl.
Anyone who thinks a 16-team playoff wouldn’t generate more money and more excitement than a 100 Peach or Gator or Cotton bowls has his head in the sand.
Using computers as part of the rankings is a start in the right direction. But the plain and simple truth is that the polls - all of them - are relics of a system whose time has passed.
A sinking feeling
Penn State coach Joe Paterno has kept relatively quiet about his team being leapfrogged by Florida (after a 57-21 win over Louisville) a couple of weeks ago. “I just hope that when it’s all said and done we don’t have happen what happened in ‘94, if we’re able to get through what is going to obviously be an extremely difficult Big Ten schedule,” he said. That year, the Nittany Lions also were bumped by Nebraska during the regular season after both teams won.
The last time that Southern California, Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, and Texas were out of the polls at the same time was Nov. 7, 1960… . The last time Miami and Notre Dame were out of the polls at the same time was in the final regular-season poll of 1982… . Things are going well in the South for teams from Georgia and Florida. Florida State and Florida are a combined 9-0. Georgia and Georgia Tech are a combined 7-1.
Thrown for a loss
Supporters of Peyton Manning’s bid for the Heisman Trophy are having an increasingly difficult time making a case for the Tennessee quarterback. Here’s why: Manning is only the sixth-rated QB in the Southeastern Conference. Granted, statistics should not be the only measuring stick, but the Heisman is supposed to be based on what happens this season, not last or next, when Manning is in the NFL. Manning must make a strong second-half surge to be selected as the SEC’s first-team QB, much less as the best player in the nation.
Florida is No. 1 for a reason. Not only do the Gators beat the best teams in the country, but they absolutely hammer the lesser teams. Under Steve Spurrier, Florida is 43-0 against unranked teams.
This and that
The latest Sagarin computer rankings list four Mid-American Conference teams in the top 43 and only three Big East teams… . Every Bowden coaching in college football - Terry at Auburn, Tommie at Tulane, and Bobby at Florida State - has his team in first place in its league… … . UCLA has scored 172 points in the last three games, the highest three-game total in school history… . Here’s a clue as to why Colorado is struggling. A year ago, the Buffs averaged 29 points a game. This year? 13.2… . A sign of how bad things have been at Kansas: The Jayhawks are 2-0 in conference play, only the third time in 30 years they have started off that well… . Kansas State coach Bill Synder may have built the Wildcats program into respectability, but against Colorado and Nebraska, Snyder’s record is 0-16-1.
Fln Neve and his wife, Whitney, were among the fans in the stands at Oklahoma State last Saturday who witnessed up close and personal the Cowboys’ shocking runaway victory against Texas.
“I didn’t have very much fun at all. It was pretty miserable,” said Neve, a 1991 UT graduate. “My wife (OSU, class of ‘90) had a big time.”
Neve, however, hasn’t given up hope. And yes, regardless of his disappointment in the performance of his favorite college football team, he and Whitney will attend today’s Texas-Oklahoma game at the Cotton Bowl.
“I tried all week to get rid of my tickets and have been unsuccessful, so it looks like I’m going to go,” Neve said. “But to tell you the truth, I think the only hope we have is that Oklahoma is just as bad as we are.”
The grumbling of grads from each school has been evident. Texas alumni are weary of the roller-coaster ride of the John Mackovic era. Many OU graduates remain on the fence regarding second-year Sooners coach John Blake.
The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN - College football notebook CREDIT = Boston Globe Fort-Worth Star-Telegram contributed to this notebook.
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