Friday, November 10, 2006

Heisman ranting, Part Deux

I lamented a couple weeks ago about the erosion of the Heisman trophy, which no longer goes to the most outstanding player in the country, but instead now goes to the best player on the #1 team at the end of October.

Don't believe me?

Take it from this actual Heisman voter, as quoted by Heisman Pundit, the web's leading expert on the Heisman:

"[Troy Smith] had a slight stumble," acknowledged one voter. "But that doesn't take away from the fact that he's still the most electrifying player on the best team in college football."

Not "he's the most electrifying player in college football." No. "the most electrifying player on the best team in college football."

If even the voters are acknowledging that this trophy goes to the best player on the #1 team, then Quinn has already lost.

UNLESS, Troy Smith has a horrible game against Michigan, and Notre Dame beats the tar out of SC.

Then, MAYBE, Brady gets a legitimate shot.

However, the "journalists" on ESPN are still partaking in the premature coronation of Smith. Last night, former Buckeye Kirk Herbstreit was commenting on Brian Brohm's failure to perform in the face of Rutger's defensive pressure. He was searching for a similar example of when a top quarterback struggled against a defense.

You'd think that, after a 100 yard and 1 interception performance by Troy Smith just last week, he would be the obvious choice for comparison.

But, that might hurt Smith's Heisman hype.

Instead, he decided to go to the quarterback that hasn't thrown an interception since September 23, who is coming off of back-to-back 300+ yard 3+ touchdown performances, and whose worst game sill had an even touchdown to interception ratio.

That's right folks, when he was talking about Brian Brohm being uncomfortable in the pocket, he decided to use the one player that has been completely unflappable in the pocket, except for the first quarter against Michigan.

He even went so far as to claim that we'd seen that kind of performance "a couple of times" from Quinn.

Now, Quinn and the Irish deserve some criticism for the egg they laid against Michigan. But Michigan is arguably the best team in the nation.

Smith gets no criticism for laying an egg against Illinois. Southern Cal isn't hurt by losing to Oregon State. SEC losses don't even appear to count anymore.

I don't expect ESPN to be completely unbiased. As a matter of fact, I like it when sportscasters get fired up about their team. When I have a problem is when they systematically attack rival institutions without any rational basis for the attacks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Guest Blogging

For a little different perspective, my good friend and classmate Justin wanted to provide his insights on the prospects of the Irish playing in a National Championship game - here is his response:

I don't think we need all of the aforementioned to happen.

1. We need Florida and Louisville to lose.

Although FSU sucks this season, they have a legitimate shot at beating UF. UF
lost their best defensive player this week due to suspension, FSU has replaced
their QB (the replacement just killed UVa), and they are playing in

I’m not sold on Louisville. They will lose either to Rutgers, USF, or

2. We need USC to beat Oregon & Cal.

3. We need Michigan to beat OSU.

This leaves Michigan, Texas, Auburn, USC, and ND.

Fantasy Projections:

Michigan: NC game

Texas: UT finishes out pretty weak. Yes, they have A & M and the Big 12
championship game, but it's quite likely that they won't be playing a ranked
team here on out. Hence, they’ll be finishing the season on a low note.

Auburn: Very similar to UT. Auburn isn't playing in the SEC championship game,
as Arkansas has the SEC West pretty much wrapped up. So, similar to UT, they
finish the season w/o playing a ranked team, w/o much fanfare.

USC: See ND.

ND: If Michigan beats OSU, and USC beats Cal and Oregon, it sets up a big
showdown between SC and ND on Nov. 25. If we beat SC soundly – especially
considering that this is THE GAME of a holiday weekend – we finish on a very
high note.

The voters at the end of the season face a dilemma: Texas, Auburn, or ND.
Texas gets love from the USA Today poll. ND gets love from the Computer &
Harris. Auburn, not playing in the SEC championship game, gets little backing
from anyone (or anything). There is no way to project what the Harris and
Computer Poll will look like at the end, so little is gained by discussing
whether Texas or ND gets in over each other. That said, we will have a much
stronger SOS than Texas, have our only loss coming from the team playing in the
NC game, and will be finishing the season on a high note, in front of a large
audience. This could set up a perfect scenario for ND.

I know the abovementioned neglects a scenario where a one loss Arkansas wins the
SEC championship, or Rutgers finishes the season undefeated, but I just can’t
see either jumping ND if the “Fantasy Projections” work out. Maybe I’m na├»ve.

National title hopes

Last week, I conceded the national title chances due to pollster bias, and I stick to that, but for those of you that want to know what needs to happen for the Irish to have a shot, here it is, by BCS ranking:

1. Ohio State
Remaining games of note: vs. #2 Michigan
We need: Loss to Michigan
2. Michigan
Remaining games of note: @ #1 Ohio State
We need: Michigan to win - the bigger the better.
3. Louisville
Remaining games of note: @ #13 Rutgers, @ Pitt
We need: Loss to Rutgers
4. Florida
Remaining games of note: vs. South Carolina, @ Florida State, SEC Championship
We need: Loss in the SEC Championship; The 'Noles are down, and Spurrier can't seem to finish games this year.
5. Texas
Remaining games of note: Texas A&M, Big 12 Championship
We need: Loss to Texas A&M - the Championship game won't challenge them.
6. Auburn
Remaining games of note: Georgia, Alabama
We need: Loss to Alabama - Georgia is bad, but Alabama has a shot because it is a rivalry game.
7. Southern California
Remaining games of note: vs. #20 Oregon, vs. #8 Cal, vs. #9 Notre Dame
We need: Wins over Oregon and Cal, then a loss to ND.
8. California
Remaining games of note: @ #7 Southern Cal
We need: Cal to lose to SC. They won't be challenged by Arizona or Stanford, and don't have to play in a championship game. And a loss by SC dampens our game with them.
9. Notre Dame
Remaining games of note: @ #7 Southern Cal
We need: Just win, baby.
10. West Virginia
Remaining games of note: @ Pitt, vs. #13 Rutgers
We need: Win over Rutgers. We might be able to get by an undefeated Rutgers squad, but better safe than sorry. I don't see WVU catching us from behind.
11. Arkansas
Remaining games of note: vs. Tennessee, vs. LSU, possible SEC Championship
We need: 1 loss (to either Tenn. or LSU), then a win over the Gators in the SEC Championship
12. LSU
Remaining games of note: @ Arkansas, vs. Alabama
We need: Nothing - they have two losses. A win over Arkansas would be helpful.
13. Rutgers
Remaining games of note: vs. #3 Louisville, @ #10 West Virginia
We need: A win over Louisville on Thursday, then a loss to either Pitt or West Virginia.

Now, as you look at that long list of things we need to happen, consider that if just one of those things doesn't happen, we will need a tremendous boost in the polls to overcome it.

Now, I would expect a bit of a jump in the polls in the final balloting of the ESPN Coaches Poll, as the ND haters (like Spurrier) will have to move ND up into a reasonable ranking spot before their ballots go public, negating some of the bias.

Overall, however, I think we are on a collision course with the Sugar Bowl and a matchup with either Florida or Auburn.