BCS Title Game Leaves Everyone Wanting More

I’m not lying when I say this, but I fell asleep during the national title game on Monday.

It was that boring.

The snoozefest was only the type of game that a defensive coordinator or a football-loving person from the 1940s could enjoy. This game was better played on a grainy reel with the picture played on the wall and a bleary-eyed coach breaking it down. Ugh.

Yay! You bored all of America! Here's your crystal ball.

National title games are supposed to be exciting. This game was the equivalent of a pitcher’s duel with a bunch of errors.

Whether Alabama and LSU were the best two teams in the nation or not, a title game needs drama. The drama was whether LSU would cross the 50 or not. Yawn.

Give Brent Musberger credit, though, at least he didn’t pull a Kevin Harlan and get caught on camera saying how bored he was.

SEC, if this is representative of your type of exciting big game, you can keep it. What a title game – in any sport – needs is excitement, gut-wrenching coaching decisions, a couple of big plays and a player who elevates above the rest.

Sadly, looking back, there had only been one BCS title game that has had all of those factors. And I was there for it.

January 4, 2006. Rose Bowl. Texas 41, USC 38.

Excitement? With 79 combined points, including 32 in the final quarter, and five lead changes, plus one of the greatest game-winning drives in college history, yeah I’d say there was some excitement.

This guy was worth watching in a BCS Title Game.

Coaches decisions? The only reason Vince Young was able to play Superman in the final moments is because Pete Carroll went for it on 4th-and-2 only to see LenDale White get stuffed. Go for it? Punt? Run a different play? What would you have done?

Big plays? Yes. With Reggie Bush, Matt Lienart and Dwayne Jarrett, USC had all kinds of big plays – even when Bush tried to lateral the ball to a teammate after gaining 35 yards. Then, of course, there was Vince Young who combined for 476 yards of offense. The game set a ridiculous number of offensive records.

Finally, was there a player who became a star? Of course. As I wrote for the Dallas Morning News that day, “Vince Young is a Manimal.” He was a man amongst boys. He single-handedly won that game. He converted a 3rd-and-12 early on that drive, had a 17-yard pass for a first down, then dove into the end zone after an eight-yard run to clinch the game. No doubt he was an animal.

The best part of Monday’s sleeper? That LSU was held scoreless. That was the only high drama. No one wants to watch a field goal fest. How boring was each team’s offense?

Why do we watch football? To be entertained. We want to see big plays and a scoreboard lit up.

Especially in a title game.

NCAA, BCS, Please Give Us Back New Year’s Day

Dear NCAA, BCS Directors, TV execs and President Obama:

Like many Americans, I love January 1 bowl games (and sometimes, like this year, January 2). Sure, I’ll tune in to parts of Dec. 22-Dec. 31 games, but nothing rings in the New Year like gobs of college football.

From the moment my eyes open, adjust to the impending hangover from celebrating the arbitrary stroke of midnight, I look forward to a relationship with my couch and my remote. I know I am not the only one who feels this way.

Yes, a lot of people are upset at the BCS. Parts of me are too, but this letter is not about the computer system or the select conferences entitled to big money. It’s about how you have ruined New Year’s Day. All of you.

New Year’s Day was a combination of Christmas morning and the first weekend of the men’s basketball tournament. It was football on all day, on numerous channels, and with compelling storylines. It was about pageantry, bands at halftime, players overcoming challenges, teams overcoming conference foes, standings and geography being thrown out, colors in the stands and the joy of deciding where to spend my channel-surfing energy.

From top: The drama of the Rose, Fiesta and Sugar Bowls should have all been seen on one afternoon.

Because of television revenue and the NCAA cowering to television’s power, bowl games have been split into a ridiculous amount of teams (72 total this year) and the bowl season – especially this week – has been inexplicably drawn out.

The idea of New Year’s Day is to relax and flip between nearly a dozen bowl games, each (hopefully) with high drama that makes you choose a side and root like a loyal alum.

BCS Directors, you guys are leaving us with unfulfilling match-ups (really? no Boise State?! no Houston?! despite both being top-10 teams?!) and then unfairly treating us to these games eons after New Year’s Day.

What about playing every bowl game worthy of mention (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Gator, Capital One, etc.) on New Year’s Day, like you used to? Then, a day later – maybe even two – play the national championship game. Use the momentum of that flurry of bowl games to build up to the finale like a fireworks show. And, Mr. President, didn’t you say during your campaign you’d like to create a playoff? Well, under your watch that hasn’t happened and the bowl system has gotten worse. I guess, based on everything else that has happened in your term we shouldn’t be surprised.

Look, don’t have five or six bowl games, then space them out, one at a time, until we forget why the hell we were even interested in the first place. We want multiple games on at once. Let us decide what to watch. Or, heck, even make it like the first round of the hoops tourney – stagger game starts on separate channels so we can see everything happen at its own pace, so long as every game is played on one day.

One of the greatest national title games of the BCS era – Texas and Vince Young vs. USC and Reggie Bush – was played on January 4. Not January 9 like it will be when Alabama and LSU square off this year.

By the time we realize there is a bowl game still being played on January 6, we have forgotten and focused on the NHL or college hoops or the NBA or the NFL playoffs. We have stopped caring. New Year’s Day is to college football what alcohol is to removing a coed’s inhibitions.

Please return it to that.

Roberto Alomar and Yorvit Torrealba: The Spit Hits the Fan

Referees, umpires and officials are all human, we must remember, in the sense that they are prone to mistakes, too. Yet, we demand much more perfection from them than in most any other position in sports.

If a quarterback throws an interception it could be the receiver’s fault, a good defensive secondary, a leaky offensive line, a pass rush that force a bad throw, or a miscommunication. All those options – and more – can cause a crucial mistake.

A bad call from an umpire is examined and reviewed and hardly ever is human error mentioned in the analysis. It’s labeled as a “bad call” in the booth and fans are subjected to that opinion and then hold it as fact.

That athletes then react in crazy, emotional ways with plenty of histrionics does not aid in fans understanding that umps, too, can be prone to a misjudgement here and there.

MLB backup Yorvit Torrealba took things to an extreme when he open-handed slapped an umpire in a Venezuelan game, causing a 66-game ban which closes out this winter season and all of next year’s. Take a look:

 

Good.

There is no place for that in any sport. Yes, soccer players complain more than any other professional athlete, but rarely are they the ones chasing a ref off the field. It’s usually the hooligan fans. Officials in any sport are never rewarded by any coach, player or fan.

We’re not here to defend officials – they’re the ones who agreed to the job knowing full well what could be anticipated.

But Torrealba’s indecency is never what they signed up for.

Nor is Roberto Alomar’s infamous spitting incident in 2001, when he spat on umpire John Hirschbeck in argument of a call.

Thankfully, what we’ve learned between then and now is to be tougher on those athletes that cross the line.

You know what Alomar’s penance was for spitting on another man – an act so heinous it is possibly the most degrading form of treatment between humans? Five games. Yup. Not even a week’s worth of baseball.

This was not long after Steve Howe had been reinstated an unfathomable eight times for constant drug use, and it was around the boom of The Steroid Era when baseball turned a blind eye to exploding muscles, statistics and hat sizes.

Maybe because of Alomar’s loogie and the resulting laughable suspension that was widely criticized, other leagues might have figured it out.

If we want humans to continue to be involved and perform at a high level, we must protect them.

Otherwise, we’d have to sit through entire games managed by robots and instant replay, slowing every possible exciting moment of sport to a standstill.

Christmas Memories: 1990 Donruss Complete Set

Before the price of a pack of baseball cards blew through the roof and outpriced any kid with a buck, me, like any other young kid from my generation, spent a fair amount of time and money on baseball cards.

One year, every time I went to the store, I purchased a pack of 1990 Donruss cards, the awful-looking red cards with cursive writing of player’s names on the top. They might have been some of the ugliest cards in the history of the cardboard manufacturing business.

Yet, as a kid, you don’t really think about that stuff. You are only looking for either a) your favorite player; b) players on your favorite team; or c) the most expensive card in the pack so that you can tell your friends you have, for example, the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card.

All summer long I spent the 50 cents (yes, I remember it was two for a buck at Target!) on the packs of those Donruss. I think mainly I kept buying that brand because I bought a few packs the first time and figured if I buy more, I can get the whole set.

Needless to say, I ended up with a lot of red repeats and never made it to getting the entire set.

That is, until Christmas.

My mom’s boyfriend at the time brought over gifts and he brought one long, rectangular box that had my name on it. I saw it and said, excitedly, “A set of baseball cards!”

“Is that what you think?” he said.

“Yes! I know it by the shape of the box.”

“Oh,” he replied, “I’m sorry, Matt, that’s not what it is.”

Turns out he was a damn, dirty liar because it was a set of the 1990 Donruss cards and when I opened it I got extremely excited. I had my own set of baseball cards! (As any kid who bought cards on the reg will tell you, having a complete set gave you all kinds of bragging rights on the playground.)

As a kid on Christmas, getting a set of baseball cards seems cool, but after about 10 minutes of looking at them, the fun is gone and you wish you had gotten a toy or a video game or you just move on to the platter of Christmas cookies.

Think anyone these days gets excited to get a Bud Selig card?

Most deflating was when I took the box of cards upstairs and put them in my closet next to all my other cards and I saw dozens of scattered red 1990 Donruss cards sitting there. A whole summer’s work was taken care of for less than $10. Now I had far too many of those eyesores.

I never sold the complete set to a card dealer (have you seen any around lately? No? That’s what we thought. Card dealers preceded the newspaper business in overfunding and underselling) and I think I gave them away to a friend of mine in college who was still card-crazy by the time women and alcohol changed my interests. That, and the fact that I was 21 and didn’t really care about collecting cards anymore.

Turns out, the set of cards is only $11 now. So, what an investment that turned out to be!

Christmas Memories: RC Radskate

“He’s a totally radical skating machine!!”

How could you not want one?

As a Southern California kid, skateboarding was something I was familiar with and although I owned a skateboard, I wasn’t very good at it. Yet, through the wonders of T&C Surf on Nintendo I wanted to skate. Or at least, I wanted a toy that could skate.

Enter RC Radskate.

 

I wanted this remote-controlled skateboarder so bad. Why? I don’t really know, but he was at the top of my Christmas list and the list ended after RC Radskate.

Maybe it was being fooled by the above commercial and thinking RC Radskate could do crazy flips or something other than the one move they show three times! (at the 0:12, the 0:22 and 0:29 marks) in a 30-second video.

So, instead of shaking presents, I chose one present under the tree and started peeling back the wrapping paper, little by little, at the connecting corners. I did this every day. It was like my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas.

Damn you, RC Radskate

Finally, about a week before Christmas, I struck the mother lode. I had pulled back just enough wrapping paper to see what it revealed.

I saw that the box said “RC Radskate” – I had gotten what I wanted.

There are several cruel things about finding out your No. 1 gift before Christmas morning. First, you don’t get that unbridled joy – like this here – of opening gifts on Christmas. It’s been taken away.

Second, I think I pissed off Santa Claus, or God, or some other karmic being.

Yup, RC Radskate totally sucked ass.

He would skate about 10 feet and the batteries would pop out from underneath the skateboard. You would try to do moves and he wouldn’t do anything. The one spinning move shown all over the commercial made the batteries pop out at a lightning-fast rate.

I was crushed. And, I felt it was my fault. That cheating on my present-opening caused RC Radskate to suck.

We took him back to Toys R Us on Dec. 26 (yeah, like there would be no one there – that was a bad choice!) and most people in line had the defective piece of crap that was RC Radskate.

When my mom asked the clerk if we could exchange RC Radskate for an RC Radder-skate, the clerk told her that a) no, because they didn’t have any more and b) everyone else returning them complained of the batteries falling out too.

Stupid toy makers in their underpaid sweatshops.

Let this be a lesson: Mildly shaking gifts is OK. Cheating on opening your presents gets you the karma police and RC Shitskate.

Chris Paul Non-Trade Further Proves the NBA is Rigged

Yes, we’ve all heard the rumors throughout the blogosphere and around the Internet (mostly made famous by Bill Simmons) that the NBA is rigged.

This guy fell through the cracks and shows the NBA is rigged.

It seems silly to think that a billion-dollar industry as successful (minus the constant work stoppages) as the NBA would not need to stoop to the level of The Miz and wrestling, but it’s also silly to blindly dismiss the conspiracy theories.

Start with the Knicks getting Patrick Ewing in the draft way back in 1985 in the very first draft lottery ever; then consider the NBA telling Michael Jordan to go away for two years to resolve his gambling; or the Lakers defeating the Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals on some eyebrow-raising officiating; then the proof of crooked ref Tim Donaghy.

Of course no one talks about how after the Donaghy scandal the league was in serious trouble as some of these above allegations might all of a sudden hold some water. So, what needs to happen? Well, the marquee teams with a long history between them, need to meet in the Finals. Sure, the Celtics and the Lakers brought every fan back and David Stern swept the Donaghy scandal under the rug.

What brings up new evidence of Stern acting like Vince McMahon again is when he did not allow Chris Paul to go to the Lakers. Wait a second, you might be saying, adding the game’s best point guard to one of its best teams would further enhance Stern’s affinity for one of his marquee franchises.

However, think about this … If Stern didn’t hold as much power as he does, he wouldn’t have vetoed the trade. If he wasn’t this master marionette controller, he wouldn’t be pulling all these strings. Over and over and over. His move was completely unprecedented and it further shows how powerful he is as Big Brother watching over everything.

You really think Dwight Howard wants to go to the Nets? The Nets?! No, they just need a big, happy, smiling star of the game when they move to Brooklyn next year. You don’t think Stern knows this?!

It’s not as if the Lakers were giving up spare parts. They were giving up one of the best big men in the league and the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

With this so-called competitive balance, Paul remains in purgatory in New Orleans and then he can sign wherever he wants Stern tells him to.

You can’t trust the NBA because you can’t trust David Stern.

Angels Fans Hope Albert Pujols is Not the Next Mo Vaughn

Let’s hope that any Angels fans jumping up and down in the sheer thrill of adding Albert Pujols did not sprain their ankles.

They could be forgiven if they did, since it was a sprained ankle that unraveled the last big contract that the Angels doled out to a slugging first baseman.

Granted, Albert Pujols is not Mo Vaughn. He’s in much better shape and he’s a much better hitter.

However, similarities can be made. Vaughn was signed as a veteran middle-of-the-order slugger to help balance a team that was young and talented and had postseason aspirations (if not in 1999, then in the immediate future). Placing Mo Vaughn around guys like Troy Glaus, Tim Salmon, Garret Anderson and Darin Erstad in the batting order seemed like it could carry the team far.

The farthest those hopes came was the distance between the field level and the bottom of the visiting dugout.

On Opening Day after Vaughn signed a five-year, $80 million deal to put on the periwinkle, he chased down a foul pop-up on the season’s first batter. As he approached the visitor’s dugout, he slipped and slid into it, severely spraining his left ankle in the process.

The injury seemed to nag him all season – and was a crutch for folks not believing Vaughn lived up to his millions. He did hit over 30 home runs and had over 100 RBI in each his two years in Anaheim, fans expected the world – or the World Series – and they didn’t get it.

Vaughn only played two seasons as an Angel, missing the entire 2001 season due to injury, and became a lightning rod for the team’s continued failures of reaching the playoffs.

Of course, we’re not wishing the same ill on Pujols or the Angels. We’re just making a correlation.

Be careful what you wish for.