College Football 2013, Coming To A Close
I have been a critic of the uniform-of-the-week phenomenon in college football. What really gives me fits, though, is when the “alternate” uniform looks absolutely awesome. Or at least better than the “regular” one. A case and point, UCF’s regular uniform is nothing to brag about. Their alternate helmet, though, looks really cool The black and gold contrast is remarkably better than the gold-and-white. A couple years back, ECU adopted their alternate helmet on a permanent basis. UCF should do the same. Also, North Carolina State’s red helmet works a lot better than its white one, though I cannot put my finger on why, precisely, that is the case.
Speaking of UCF. It’s interesting to me that ESPN refuses their honor to be called UCF. Unless there is a reason not to, universities typically do get to be called what they want. UNC-Charlotte decided to go by Charlotte and has been called Charlotte ever since. The University of Central Florida decided some time back that it should be referred to as UCF on a permanent basis the same way that UCLA is called UCLA and Texas Christian University is called TCU and not Texas Christian. For whatever reason, ESPN continues to call them Central Florida in the long-hand. I suspect this is related to their rivalry with South Florida, which goes by USF and South Florida. Perhaps ESPN refuses to shift gears on Florida directionals.
In Louisiana, the battle goes on between Louisiana-Lafayette and the other universities in the state. Louisiana-Lafayette desperately wants to be called Louisiana and nobody else (Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, LSU, and Tulane) wants this for one reason or another. Legally barred from referring to themselves as the University of Louisiana (without the city modifier), they’re trying to be Louisiana the same way that UCF wants to be UCF for athletic purposes. The difference between watching a game run by ULL’s TV production network (RCN) and ESPN is remarkable. In the case of the former, you never hear the word Lafayette unless they are referring to where the game is being played.
Now, on to the stuff that people actually care about…
The big question is whether or not the SEC champion, either Auburn or Missouri, each with one loss, will leapfrog the undefeated Ohio State team to play in the national championship game against Florida State, assuming that Florida State wins. This, of course, assumes that Ohio State wins. I think that underestimates Michigan State, whom the networks are pretty much rooting against at this point.
My view is that the Big Ten is a ridiculously weak conference and has been for some time. When I ran my analysis a few years back, they were actually weaker than the Big East and even the Mountain West Conference by a few of my 14 metrics. And who can forget Ohio State getting embarrassed two years in a row by SEC teams. But you know what? I don’t really care. Ohio State wins, Ohio State should be in.
This is in contrast to my view in time’s past. The SEC burned up my good will when they got the SEC-only championship game a couple years back. I believed, and believe, that the SEC is the best conference in college football, but that only takes you so far. They get the tie-breaker, but they don’t leapfrog other major conferences. Including the Big Ten. With the possible exception of Florida, every team in the SEC is there because they want to be there. Every one of them except possibly Kentucky or Mississippi State could, probably, snag an immediate invite to the Big 12 or ACC if they were to ask. But they want to be in the SEC because it’s the best conference there is. Well, that has its cost.
Relatedly: Complain all you want about Boise State’s weak schedule, but they are in the best conference that will have them. Provided that they are scheduling the best games they can, penalizing BSU for their schedule overlooks the fact that they want to play a tougher schedule (and indeed signed on to a conference across the country to try to make it happen). On the other hand, Northern Illinois got their shot last year and did not do well. It is my hope that Bowling Green puts an end to their repeat. This is partly because I would like to avoid another Kiddie Table Bowl like the year they matched TCU and BSU.
In the unlikely event that FSU and Ohio State both lose, an Alabama vs Missouri championship game becomes someone likely because SEC and because nobody respects Michigan State. I can live with that easier than I can live with 2011 because at least those two teams didn’t play one another in the regular season. Even so, I must confess I am getting a kick out of the deck being stacked against the SEC to continue their streak as an antidote to the previous stacking in favor of. Any SEC school that has a problem with that should give the Big 12 or ACC a call. Yet I still can’t bring myself to root for Ohio State, so in effect I suppose I am rooting for either Auburn’s or Missouri’s inclusion.
After this year, of course, the question of “which two teams?” should play for the title is replaced by the question of “which four teams?” should. Which will prove every bit as successful at avoiding controversy of ties as would be moving first base to 89 feet instead of 90. One can imagine that with the current lot of teams, the SEC would be arguing that the four playoff teams should include Alabama, Auburn, and Missouri. Because as we know, the SEC is such a bulletproof conference that two mediocre Big 12 teams that tried to play in it (let’s say, hypothetically, Texas A&M and Missouri) would get their clocks cleaned week in and week out. (Yeah, that’s me still being bitter about 2011.)