National Football League
November 20, 2011
Draft King Analysis
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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In what was one of the crazier weekends in recent college football history, several teams vying for a potential spot in the BCS Championship Game lost between Oklahoma State on Friday night to Iowa State to USC holding on to beat Oregon in Eugene. I-A/FBS football's broken post-season is particularly revealed to be capricious and arbitrary in times like this, where there are a gaggle of talented teams trying to jockey into position for the BCS Championship.
Dan Wetzel's 16-team playoff system, as proposed in the fantastic book Death To The BCS, would be especially nice to have in this topsy-turvy college football season. But we don't have it, and now there is chaos and uncertainty that those supporting the status quo seem to actually enjoy, or at least cling to when their empty arguments fail to hold up in the face of any logical scrutiny.
The largest myth is that the regular season acts as a giant playoff, which Wetzel completely debunked in the aforementioned Death To The BCS, particularly when you consider that unbeaten Houston remains out of consideration despite their unbeaten record. Yes, I realize they are in a weak conference, but if Houston wins at Tulsa, they'll still at best end up being fodder for an SEC leftover in the Sugar Bowl. Houston vs. Arkansas as a potential Sugar Bowl game actually is rather intriguing, but as this weekend has shown, planning ahead too early can be a mistake.
If the regular season was truly a playoff system in and of itself then Alabama wouldn't be in the driver's seat to earn a BCS Championship Game berth. LSU's win over the Crimson Tide mattered... until other teams losing in unrelated games allowed them back into the mix.
One caveat about the BCS: it is actually better than the old system. I was at the January 1998 Orange Bowl game where Nebraska beat Tennessee and there was widespread frustration over Nebraska (locked into the Orange Bowl) and Michigan (locked into the Rose Bowl), both unbeaten, not having a chance to meet on the field. Without the BCS there wouldn't have been that fantastic USC/Texas BCS Championship Game, so it is better than the pre-1998 system. Unfortunately, that's faint praise at best. College football fans deserve better.
Thanks to my friend Carla for reminding me about the fantastic anti-texting and driving PSA (public service announcement) that Dexter McCluster did for Cellular South. If you haven't seen it yet, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. It's not exactly the woman in pink from T-Mobile's advertising campaign, but it has a certain low-budget appeal. I wouldn't recommend that McCluster plan for a career as a rapper once his NFL days are done, though.
If you missed the show put on by Baylor QB Robert Griffin III last night in Baylor's victory over Oklahoma, you missed a performance for the ages. We were stuck with LSU/Ole Miss here in the Nashville market (along with the nationally cleared USC/Oregon game) which meant no OU/Baylor for us... except via ESPN3. In a related note, distribution systems that cable TV and satellite TV providers have in place are becoming less and less important, particularly as internet streaming becomes more and more of a viable option for the American public.
But it's not how I saw Griffin that's the story -- it's instead the one man show he put on against OU's normally very stout defense. When I first projected Griffin into the 2012 NFL Draft first round in September 2011, I anticipated a reader backlash. Instead, not only was I promoting Griffin, but several other NFL draft-related sites were as well. I'm not the first person to have projected Griffin as a first round pick, but it's becoming more and more of a popular move, and rightfully so.
How impressive was Griffin? He might end up beating Stanford QB Andrew Luck for the Heisman Trophy for 2011, something that I thought would be impossible after Luck lead Stanford back from a 10-point second-half deficit to win at USC. But between the breakout TCU game early in the season and the career-defining showing last night, Griffin is in the Heisman mix with Luck, Alabama RB Trent Richardson, and other second-tier choices.
Not to be overlooked from last night was Matt Barkley's performance at the QB position for USC, with the Trojans going up 38-14 in the third quarter at Oregon. The Ducks rallied, ultimately falling a field goal miss short of forcing OT, but Barkley showed great poise in a hostile road environment. USC is on probation and not allowed to participate in either the Pac-12 championship game (which will lead to a very one-sided matchup in that game next month) or a bowl game.
There were some who made a big deal about Alshon Jeffery's leaping TD catch yesterday, as if he hadn't made such a play all year. And, while Jeffery's production hasn't been what some had hoped, I suspect that Jeffery jumping above a Mississippi State double-team in the end zone to make a game-winning catch has been overlooked by some. Jeffery has big-play ability, and I don't think him being downgraded in some mocks/listings will last. But, as always, we shall see.
Next time: the return of the Draft King mailbag!