Reality bites for Gators, whose BCS worries temper SEC joy Dec. 3, 2006 By Gary Parrish CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
ATLANTA -- All the interviews were done, all the questions asked. And so a few hundred reporters were sitting in a mostly empty Georgia Dome late Saturday night banging away on keyboards, trying to make sense of the senseless system that runs college football and creates more controversy than a bad WWE storyline.
That score combined with Southern California's earlier loss to UCLA had the gathered media debating, crunching numbers, trying to form an educated rationale as to whether Florida or Michigan should play Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game.
Everybody was looking at records against ranked teams and opponents' records against ranked teams, and then, out of nowhere, came the interruption from about 20 feet below the press box.
"Vote for Florida!" yelled the two young Gator girls, as pretty as they were enthusiastic. "Michigan had its chance! Vote for Florida!"
This is what it's come to for the Gators.
They are SEC champions.
They finished 12-1.
Yet still, here in Atlanta, the Florida faithful that comprised the majority of the 73,334 fans inside the Georgia Dome were unsure whether to celebrate or campaign, thanks to the fact that, of all things, voters in the Associated Press poll, coaches poll and Harris poll will decide Sunday whether to give us a rematch of the Nov. 18 showdown between Ohio State and Michigan or a showdown featuring the Big Ten champion against the SEC champion.
Urban Meyer, your thoughts?
"There are a lot of people making a lot of decisions out there, and this is a big one," said the Florida coach. "We're going to tell a group of young men that just went 12-1 in a most-difficult schedule ... that they don't have a chance to go play for a national championship?"
That's the kooky part.
Florida finished 3-1 against teams currently ranked in the BCS Top 25, compared to Michigan's 2-1 mark. The Gators' lone loss came Oct. 14 at Auburn, and though the final was 27-17, everybody at that game -- myself included -- recognizes Florida was merely a controversial Chris Leak fumble away from probably winning and avoiding Saturday's odd situation, where every quote about how wonderful it was to win the SEC championship was followed by how depressing it would be to not be allowed to play for the BCS national championship.
This is a great feeling," said Florida's Cornelius Ingram, who had six catches. "They've got to give us a shot."
But do they?
"Yes," said Florida's Jarrod Fayson. "Need we say more?"
If only Mike Slive was as confident.
That was the most comical part of this event, watching Slive hold a news conference in the press box at halftime, just after USC's loss had become official. He walked down a spiral staircase to a horde of reporters, smiled, then spent the next 15 minutes explaining how this downward spiral of a regular season wasn't necessarily the disaster it seemed destined to be.
As the BCS coordinator, Slive was diplomatic, pushing neither Florida nor Michigan while insisting everything would be fine because, well, because he coordinates the BCS and thus has no choice but to insist everything will be fine. But don't forget, Slive is also the SEC commissioner, a man paid to preach and push for the SEC, meaning he had to also explain why it would be "disappointing" if the SEC champion with one loss didn't play for the national title.
Like I said, comical.
Picture a man, a seemingly otherwise intelligent man, basically arguing with himself and talking in circles, trying to defend his system while simultaneously acknowledging it would be a seriously flawed system if it sent Florida to the Sugar Bowl. He would've been better off arguing the world is indeed flat.
"The question isn't, 'Do we have a good system?'" Slive said. "The question is, 'Do we have the right format?'"
I would tell you what that quote means, but I have no idea.
At any rate, Slive said the answer to the question of whether college football has the right format "may be yes," though he'll have a fun time convincing the SEC's championship coach -- his championship coach -- of as much if the BCS pairings don't, on Sunday night, deliver favorable results for the Gators.
"I have great confidence that the University of Florida is going to get that opportunity," Meyer said. "I really do."
Meanwhile, everybody else is just really confused.
Fantasy Football: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"
We know how this mess started, but how will it end? Dec. 3, 2006 By Dennis Dodd CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
PASADENA, Calif. -- His name is Tyler Ecker. If you want a reason why there might be a rerun in the national championship game, he's your man.
Think back two weeks to that Ohio State-Michigan game. The Wolverines' senior tight end caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 2:16 left. Henne then threw a two-point conversion pass to Steve Breaston.
It might have been the best come-from-behind loss in the history. The scores were the difference between a comfortable 11-point Ohio State win and a three-point "classic." The difference between, perhaps, knocking Michigan out of the public consciousness and stoking talk of a rematch.
Will an Ohio State-Michigan redo happen in the BCS title game after UCLA rocked the college football world here on Saturday?
"Who knows? Really. Seriously," said BCS guru Jerry Palm, the name we've come to trusts in situations like this. "It's not like I have a chart somewhere."
And if J.P. can't figure it out on the last day of the season, it is not to be figured out -- until Sunday night.
So the bleat goes on until then, when the final BCS standings are released at 8 ET. Fox, which bought the rights to the BCS this year, might have just hit upon something even more outrageous than Family Guy.
Coming up right after The Simpsons -- Watch the hilarity ensue when the national championship pairings are decided by a micron.
The question before you, dear voter, computer and big-bucks booster is this: Who is more deserving of playing No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS title game, Florida or Michigan?
UCLA's shocking 13-9 upset of No. 2 USC started a whole new discussion. One that hasn't been this shrill since No. 1 Oklahoma tumbled all the way to No. 2 in 2003 after losing the Big 12 title game by four touchdowns to Kansas State.
It proved again you can win in the BCS by losing. Nebraska lost its final game in 2001 by 26 at Colorado and retained its championship spot here at the Rose Bowl.
The Gators' only loss is to BCS No. 11 Auburn. The Wolverines finished the season with a 42-39 loss at Ohio State on Nov. 18.
Florida (12-1) at least played a game Saturday, winning the SEC championship by 10 over Arkansas. Is that enough? CBS certainly thought so as the SEC title game wound down. It did its best to, ahem, "inform" viewers of Florida's schedule strength.
Not that it would matter that The Rightsholder could boast having an SEC team in the title game. The Rightsholder is also The Employer, so we'd better drop the subject right now.
"Florida belongs," Meyer said. "The other team (Michigan) had a shot. We went 12-1 and I think the country wants to see the Southeast Conference champion against a Big Ten champion. I think that's what this is all about."
Consider that the Gators started the day a distant No. 4 in the BCS, as out of it as Lindsey Lohan after a night of clubbing.
A 6-5 UCLA then made a fraud out of No. 2 USC, creating an opening for the No. 3 Wolverines (11-1), who -- if they get to No. 2 -- could have qualified for the BCS title while passed out on the couch.
Which is only slightly weirder than staying No. 2 on Nov. 19 after losing the last game of the season.
Like we said, thank you Tyler Ecker.
Now it's up to, in part, the voters in the Harris and coaches polls. Florida is No. 4 in both polls, 86 points behind Michigan in the Harris and 40 points behind in the coaches.
"The best-case scenario for Florida is that they only have to be 29 behind in Harris and nine behind in the coaches," Palm said.
That is, if Florida is ahead in the computer indexes, which it wasn't coming into Saturday (No. 4 Florida, No. 3 Michigan). Who knows, indeed?
It almost sounds like a chance for more poll manipulation than on dollar beer night at the Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch.
We're pretty sure we know which way Roy Kramer will be voting. Kramer is one of the 114 Harris voters who not only created the BCS, but also is a former SEC commissioner.
Advantage, Florida? It might be growing.
"Lots of good plays, lots of big plays (by Florida)," said Harris voter Joe Biddle of the Nashsville Tennessean. "I give some credit to teams that play conference championship games because that's another step they've got to take. A rematch would be like the Big Ten Conference championship game."
Most Bruins didn't know a Gator from a surfboard after their biggest win in years. UCLA backup tight end Adam Heater was the exception. Heater was born in Columbus, Ohio. His father, Chuck, is the Florida cornerbacks coach.
"I told him we'll take care of business if they take care of business," Adam said. "It's a great day for the Heaters."
Which reminds us: After Ohio State over Michigan, who has a bigger victory than UCLA this season? The Bruins stopped a seven-game losing streak to USC, holding the No. 2 Trojans to fewer than 20 points for the first time in 64 games.
"I wish we were there," said UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said of the BCS title game.
One of the Bruins will be.
"SC fans were probably making their arrangements," said UCLA linebacker Justin Hickman, who is from Glendale, Ariz. "Glendale is getting ready for SC, but they're not coming to town, baby."
Who will be?
"It's not my decision," said Hickman, as he danced off into the night. "I mean, whatever."
It's not like the kid has a chart somewhere.
Fantasy Football: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"
dgan wrote:Both teams have a valid argument. The bottom line is that there is no clear cut #2.
My only problem with Florida is that the whole SEC thing is out of whack. While I believe they are the best conference, that doesn't mean the the winner of that conference is one of the top teams in the nation. I mean, you have all those ranked teams to begin with, then they all beat each other so they all have the "top 25 wins" stat on their resume. But you watch the games themselves, and my opinion is that they all play like top 10 teams - not like top 5 teams.
So, if your criteria is the best two teams in the nation go to the NC, I don't know how you vote for Florida. But if your criteria is that the 2 best resumes go, then you could. I think that is the argument. Florida's resume is better, but are they the better team?
Of course, as someone without a college degree, I have a natural tendency to think that a strong resume has almost nothing to do with how good you are at what you do. Watch someone do the job and see how well they do it and that will tell you more than numbers and names on a piece of paper - reward people for how good they are, not for how much fluff they can put on their resume.
But all that isn't what I was going to say...I just got off track there. What I wanted to say is how many voters are going to vote differently because they know what the computers are going to do? Michigan can finish #2 in the polls and the computers could still drop them to #3, putting Florida in the NC. Is this going to affect how people vote? I don't see how it couldn't. And is that REALLY what the BCS was intended to do? To have voters altering their votes to try to manipulate the computers?
You just totally contradicted yourself there buddy. The SEC IS the best conference and any team that can survive is the toughest and most deserving to be in the national title game. I think your methodology is a bit out of whack.
Michigan has earned the right to play OSU in the National Title. I am not knocking FLA but first off Michigan lost one game to OSU by 3 points in OSU. FLA lost at AUB. Not that AUB isn't a great team but OSU is much better. I also think that Michigan has the best chance at beating OSU, they only lost to Ohio St. by three points in OSU, in a neutral site I would like to see that. Also their defence didn't play well against OSU so I could see another great game if they play each other in the National Title. Someone said earlier that FLA is higher then Mich in the polls. ESPN says that Michigan will still be ahead of FLA in the BCS in the polls, they report that it will come down to the writers. And I agree with them saying that anyone who votes against a rematch should not vote, if they feel that FLA is better then that is alright, but if they are voting for FLA just because they do not want a rematch they should not vote.
HskrPwr13 wrote:Dgan's last paragraph is what gets me wondering about the integrity of the polls.
First, Michigan shouldnt have kept the no.2 ranking based on the fact that no one before has ever kept the no.2 ranking after being beaten. This is a screw up by the voters.
Second, I thought USC shouldve been no.2 after the Michigan loss. It struck me as odd that it took a win over a team Michigan had already destroyed, while Michigan was idle, to get the pollsters to rank USC ahead of Michigan. I thought if voters thought USC was the better team, they should ranked them accordingly the week prior. This is now a second screw up by the voters and one has to start wondering about the integrity of the voters.
Now, If FLA gets moved up passed Michigan, again, after Michigan has sat idle, the BCS needs to take the human polls and flush them. This is not a slight against FLA. But how can you have seen something from FLA, who was at #4 while Michigan was at #2 two weeks ago, that would make one think that now Michigan has to fall below FLA? If FLA was better than Michigan after FLA squeaked by South Carolina and Michigan lost to OSU, then why werent they ranked as such? OK, another week goes by, Michigan sits idle while FLA whoops Western Carolina. Michigan is still ahead of FLA in the polls. Now Michigan sits idle again and FLA beats Arkansas. So now you've been convinced that somehow FLA is now better than Michigan? Sorry, aint buyin it. If FLA moves ahead of Michigan, it is completing FRAUDULENT, regardless of whether you as a fan feel that FLA is better than Michigan, and visa versa.
Not sure I'm following you here. Most people thought Arkansas was going to walk all over Florida, so UF essentially dominating 54 minutes of that game means that in those people's eyes, Florida is a lot better than they thought they were. And while I agree Michigan probably should've dropped after they lost, same kind of thing with USC. I could see the voters thinking "well Michigan still beat ND by a ton, no way USC is that good." And then "oh wait, they did it too and their other wins are more impressive also." And I'm so tired of hearing about how close the OSU/Michigan game was (not referring to your post hskr). I'm willing to bet that if you asked people whether the OSU/Michigan game of UF/Auburn game was closer 90% of the people out there would say OSU/Michigan, even though to anyone that watched both games that's not even an argument that can be brought up.
The Big 10 as a whole has just irked the hell outta me with their awful scheduling this year. No conference championship game and Wisconsin and OSU don't even play each other. Wasn't it just a year or two ago that people were saying Iowa would win the Big 10 because they didn't have OSU or Michigan on the schedule that year? Honestly at this point even as a UF fan I could care less about the whole "Michigan didn't even win their conference" argument because the Big 10 championship is a total farce half the time. I'd be willing to wager that the majority of the time most people that aren't Big 10 fans don't even know who won the Big 10 from year to year. They always seem to be missing a crucial game between the teams at the top. If any conference needs to get off their butts and put together a conference championship game it's them, yet they sit idly by.
I didnt realize most people thought that way about that game. Wasnt FLA the favorite? Your points are fair and accepted. I do think that pollsters are too knee-jerky though at the end of the season. As a group they seem to fall into paralysis by analysis. Bottom line, if youre a voter and you vote FLA no.2 because you really beleive that they're the second best team, then fine. But if youre voting the other way to manipulate the system to avoid a specific matchup, then that is fraud. If FLA jumps Michigan, my thought will be that this its fraud and not that somehow FLA proved something. Nothing more than my gut feeling.