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.

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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.

Live TV = Fun Mistakes

This morning, my coffee came through my nose when Lee Corso, the geriatric, fun-loving codger from College Gameday, knowingly dropped an “F-Bomb” on live TV when choosing his weekly headgear.

 

Corso apologized during the Nebraska-Michigan game and said “it won’t happen again.” Although, it’s not the first time Corso has dropped the F word on Gameday, doing so a few years ago when Cal and USC met up:

 

Part of the enjoyment of live TV is the possibility of seeing these personalities, so dressed up and usually well-mannered, become normal folks, even if just for a moment.

There are hundreds of YouTube videos of local television reporters screwing up, and of course, athletes sometimes say it on live TV because they’re not as groomed as the reporters on the air.

Chris Berman is a notoriously dirty man. Between the “You’re with me, Leather” story and the various other things we’ve heard from Mr. ESPN – plus, his self-importance and arrogance – just makes many of us dislike him.

Corso’s screw-up also allows us to post this video of Berman freaking out.

 

Random Pro of the Week: Todd Marinovich

Geez … where to begin on this one?

Sure, you could go with the star at USC. Or the first-round Raiders flameout. The drugs. The arrests. The flop of a career. The fact his father was a psycho. That Todd Marinovich never ate a Big Mac as a kid. That he’s a painter now.

How about that he is a Ginger?

Not only that, but he played on my two favorite football teams from my childhood – USC and the Raiders.

Needless to say, I had a mini-redheaded crush on Todd Marinovich.

The unfortunate thing was that as he was getting arrested, I was starting to read the newspaper on an everyday basis. When he was washing out in the NFL, I was cognizant of his shady character. I was no longer a kid who just cheered for a team or players. I was becoming a sports fan getting disillusioned with athletes that I had previously held in such high regard.

It was like living in Cleveland.

I liked Marinovich when he was at USC. He was Cali-cool. Claimed he surfed naked. That he was molded to be a quarterback. That he threw lefty and was the first QB I saw do that. I liked that he wore No. 13 and that he rocked a sweet redheaded mullet. As a Ginger, I liked that he was too. And he was successful.

Or so I thought.

Well, Mr. Peppery Nipples seemed to revolt against his overbearing father. (Whaaa?!) That Marv Marinovich (great name, by the way) put so much into his son becoming a quarterback that his son did drugs. In the locker room. He shot heroin, took painkillers, mixed a volatile cocktail of drugs into his body because he didn’t give a shit. (If you’d like, take a few minutes and read this exceptional piece in Esquire about Todd from 2010.)

It was around that time that I started to get so interested in sports that I would want to read a lot about them. I was subscribed to both Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated for Kids (huuuuuge difference in how sports are covered) and would religiously read the Sports section in the paper. I was more informed on sports than all of my friends.

Smile! You're in jail!

So, I knew exactly what was going on with Marinovich. Or Marijuanovich as he got to be known.

Marinovich’s career stunk. Too much pressure. Too many drugs to get away from the pressure. Too much revolting against The Man, which can easily be traced back to his dad.

It’s unfortunate. But in a way, it’s good. All kids need an athlete to let them down. It’s eye-opening. It’s more real that believing your favorite player is a good person when he clearly isn’t. It’s about pulling the curtain back a little bit and seeing what life has to offer. It sucks sometimes. Yet, it’s also an important lesson. I wish for all kids to have their own version of Todd Marinovich. Just to let them know.

Joe Paterno Leaves Penn State in a Messy Situation

While we have been celebrating Magic all week – and rightfully so – there have been some other issues that are going on over in Pennsylvania that must be addressed.

The issues surrounding Penn State’s football team are absolutely horrendous. What’s even more sickening is that people are blindly supporting Joe Paterno and the program that turned a blind eye to Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of young kids.

It’s difficult for us to understand how people can submit death threats to the assistant coach who alerted higher-ups about what he saw. It’s ludicrous for people to riot and want JoePa around because, ultimately, he oversaw what happened, knew enough about it to tell others, but didn’t stop it. After all, Sandusky still was allowed to work at Penn State and be around kids and use the football program as a powerful object.

While it’s awful about what happened, Paterno has needed to go for some time. He hasn’t been relevant as a head coach for at least a decade. Maybe more. He was a figurehead at best. A caricature at worst.

Yes, he is one of the greatest college football coaches in the history of the game, but we have one lasting image of JoePa.

In a game five seasons ago, Paterno lost control of his bowels and crapped his pants. Sure, it was a “flu bug.” That “flu bug” is also known as “old age” and “incontinence.”

Yet, somehow this lasting image we have of Paterno pooping his pants is oddly significant in a strange, roundabout way.

To use a sports phrase, Paterno “shit the bed” when it came to his program and his handling of Sandusky. He didn’t take the necessary measures and allowed his program to become stained – like a pair of underwear with skid marks on them.

So, it’s with his shit-stained hands that he leaves a program he built up in shambles – emotionally and physically. Rather than riding into the sunset, as he should have been allowed after such a great career, Paterno jogs into the sunset with a dirty set of drawers.

Utah State Was Not Appalachian State Or Memphis State

Utah State was just two minutes away from becoming the latest version of Appalachian State, circa 2007 and we were so ready to crow in that victory.

Alas, it was not to be. Sometimes the thrill of writing is changing your direction midway through your thoughts and being more pleased with the finished product.

Appalachian State shocked Michigan in 1997. (Photo by NY Times)

Here we were, ready to write about Michigan in two different scenarios – the Appalachian State meltdown and the last time the defending college football champ was upset came in 1998 when … yup, Michigan lost.

Following the RichRod era, Michigan has enough to worry about without us dancing on their graves.

Yet, as the TV switched from Auburn escaping and USC playing Minnesota, there seemed to be enough similarities of Utah State’s near upset to the first game in 1991 when little-known Memphis State knocked off No. 16 USC.

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