Closing Out College Football
This weekend was the official end of the regular season for college football and tonight the whole world will be watching to see who the selection committee selects to play in the National Championship Playoffs. Since it is the end of the season I wanted to close out a few things, so that I can concentrate on hockey and baseball, while waiting for the Democrats' to start shooting at each other in January.
Speaking of the football playoffs and polls, I want to take a minute to give you my feelings on the polls for 2020 in college football. They made less sense than usual. And by that I mean they were ridiculous. I rarely even bother to look at them for the first three or four weeks because they haven't played enough games to get a feel for any team.
Once the CFP polls start rolling out it usually starts to make some sense, this year they had lost their minds from the start. Even NCAA stalwart Kirk Herbstreit knows this system is fixed for certain teams. Recently he said, "I can tell you who will be in the playoffs for the next five years. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and one random team that is having a good year." I've paraphrased what he said slightly, but his point is spot on.
Every year the same teams start at the top and stay there all year. Then to make matters even worse the team jockeying for positions below, are adjusted weekly in no particular sensible way. For example. Northwestern, with only one loss, beat down the Fighting Illini and gained nothing in the polls. Florida gets crushed by an unranked team and only drops one slot, with two losses. The Same for Georgia and Iowa State. Coastal Carolina for gods sakes is rated higher than Northwestern. Coastal Carolina?!?!?
If you hope the coaches and press have a better sense of who is who you would be wrong on that count also. Their polls are an even bigger mess than the committee's poll. Does anybody actually watch these games?
I have no idea who the final four are going to be tonight, but my guess is that Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Texas A & M are the teams. Which leads me to my next topic of discussion.
At what point did the SEC become the greatest college football conference ever created? Every year you can Sharpie in, that at least one team, from the SEC will be in the playoffs. Every talking head on TV, and radio, falls all over themselves when talking about this conference like they invented football. The SEC is no different than every other conference, they have two good teams and the rest will have an occasional good season.
It drives me batty that so many people believe the crap coming out of this conference about how superior they are to all others. They're so powerful that an ACC team has won the national title just as many times as the SEC in the past four years. The ACC! A basketball conference has just as many titles as the powerful SEC.
Conferences that are more balanced, like the Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12, etc., beat each other up all year while the two good SEC teams play junior college level teams and cruise to the playoffs. Meanwhile, the other conferences don't have undefeated teams, because the quality of competition is so strong, and it is hard to win every week. SEC my ass.
I'm not going to lie to you, I may be a bit biased, but yesterdays game between Northwestern and Ohio State was epic, unless you were a fan of NU. I promise you that everyone associated with Ohio State knows they dodged a huge bullet yesterday. If Northwestern can ever learn how to close out teams when they have them on the ropes, they will be a dynasty.
Yesterday they blew at least three quality scoring chances, that if things went the other way, would have led to a decisive defeat of the Buckeyes. And the Buckeyes know it. I rarely get crazy over a sporting event, OK, I always get crazy over a sporting event if my team is involved, and yesterday I was one more turnover away from another heart attack.
I know Northwestern had a wonderful year, and I'm happy and proud of what they accomplished, but they were so close to it really being a magical year. Now I have to worry that the Bears finally figure it out and call Pat Fitzgerald and offer him the head coaching job. It will be the only team he would leave NU to coach, and I feel they are going to offer it to him.
Speaking of coaches. The Fighting Illini, for the first time in 29 years, hired a head coach who actually knows what the hell he is doing. Bret Bielema was named the 28th head coach for Illinois football this weekend. Not since John Mackovic left for the Texas job, has Illinois had a head football coach that will bring the program back to glory.
It is hard to believe that this program could not attract anybody of Bielema's quality before this. From 1980 - 1991 the Illini, under first Mike White, then Mackovic, won two conference titles and had six bowl appearances. Prior to these two you need to go back 61 years to 1913 - 1959 when Robert Zuppke and Ray Elliot won 10 conference titles and five national championships. (The only national championships they've ever won)
It has been so awful at Illinois that the last coach with a winning record was Mackovic, 29 years! Bielema is a native Illinoisan who played at Iowa and coached Wisconsin to three Big 10 titles. He understands the league. He can recruit top players. I will be curious to see how he does with this team, and will be curious to see how long it takes him to realize the mountain he has to climb to make them competitive again. I wish him well.
Finally, my favorite part of college football, was and always, will be the pregame tailgating. I have had many great mornings and early afternoons of fun and food before games. A few times the fun was so good, I never went into the stadium, and instead stayed in the parking lot, and listened to the game on the radio.
The thing that makes college football superior to pro football is the pregame experience. The fans are friendlier, the food is simpler, and the excitement is greater. Everybody should tailgate before a college game at least one time in their lives. It is great.
So, another year is over. It was miraculous that it was even played considering the hurdles of Covid to overcome. Now we wait for Bowl season to begin, and then, around the corner, will be the NHL season, followed closely by the spring training start for baseball.
Have a great Christmas and New Year.