First, a comment from my buddy DH, about yesterday's BCS post:
"The issue isn't whether or not voters should evaluate new data, it's that they clearly have truly a truly astonishing lack of ability to retain data. If UM and OSU had played on the same day as UF-Arkansas, I think we'd be playing in the game. UM was clearly the better team in terms of execution and they were clearly playing a far superior opponent. UF's two ugly interceptions to UM's zero turnovers alone I think could make the difference. In fact, I think if the voters were simply forced to wait, say 7 days to vote, the results may well have been different. The fact that they vote literally minutes (at the most a couple hours) after seeing one team play profoundly biases the voters. It's like conducting a consumer study where a person is given a Pepsi and a Coke and asked to rate 'em. The person says, "Man do I like Coke better than Pepsi." Then a person is called in again two weeks later and only given a Pepsi. Now which do you like better? Mark down your vote here while you're finishing that up."
DH makes good points here, and it all points up the ultimate absurdity of what we're all reduced to in trying to determine a national champion.
OK - From around the radio dial yesterday:
1) Adam Gold, of 850 the buzz in Raleigh is, as I’ve said before, one of my favorite sports talk radio hosts. But, he did a poor to brutal job yesterday dissecting the BCS.
Gold thinks Florida was a reasonable choice for No. 2 and, as I’ve explained, so do I. Gold also asserted yesterday that for all those Michigan fans who feel they’ve been ripped off, the Wolverines can still win the national title. How? By beating USC while Florida beats OSU. Then, Gold, argued, AP voters could certainly move Michigan up to No. 1. The aforementioned DH told me that he’d heard John Feinstein say something similar on Monday. Let me be emphatic about this: there’s not a chance in 10,000 that that is going to happen. Gold (and Feinstein) are confusing the current circumstances with some prior circumstances, like those that allowed USC to win a share of the national title following the 2003 season. If Michigan were ranked ahead of the Gators in the AP poll then, yes, this would be possible. But, they’re ranked behind Florida. So, by what possible logic could votersflip theteams after bowl games in which the previous No. 2 went out and upended the consensus No. 1 team in the country, a team Michigan could not beat, by the way, while Michigan, already regarded as not quite as good as Florida by the voters, beat a two-loss team? This is a non-scenario. The controversy about the voting simply doesn’t change the fact that the voters believe Florida is the second best team in the country. If they beat the best team, there’s no serious rationale for deciding that they weren’t the second best team after all.
Gold also agreed with a caller who pooh-poohed the complaints by Michigan fans that they were being unfairly treated merely because their season ended earlier than Florida’s. The caller proposed this thought experiment – that if Michigan and OSU played in a conference championship game this past weekend, having entered that game as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, there is no way that, as of the end of the weekend, the voters would turn around and give them another shot to play each other. Now, this is a matter of opinion, but I think it’s dead wrong. If the voters believed those two teams to be clearly the two best in the country (as they did before the November 18 match-up), and the two played a close gameand no one else was that overwhelming, I think there’s every likelihood that there would have been a re-match. But, where Gold fell down here was in ignoring what happened to Oklahoma in 2003 – the team got absolutely waxed, 35-7, in its conference championship game and still made it to the BCS title game. Now, Oklahoma didn’t play K. State again (they played LSU and lost, which opened the door to a split championship) but that doesn’t make Oklahoma’s case better than the loser of the hypothetical match-up above: it makes it worse. In other words, there is a precedent for a team losing a conference championship game (and getting its ass kicked) and still playing for the title. In other words, there is simply no logical reason for the loser of the hypothetical match-up - which would have been to the team regarded as the consensus No. 1 in the country, especially if it were a close game – to be deemed a less worthy BCS championship game contestant than Oklahoma.
Finally, in complaining about the system, Gold made the legitimate complaint that BCS conference schools don’t play each other enough. One consequence of this fact is a lack of common opponents, making cries about apples to oranges comparisons even more legitimate. But, Gold also asserted that Florida and Michigan had no common opponents this year, which is untrue. Michigan opened its season against the SEC’s Vanderbilt, which was also on Florida’s schedule. It’s not a big deal, but that fact has gotten plenty of discussion, and Gold whiffed on it. It also would have been a data point against his defense of Florida, given Vandy’s apparent belief that Michigan was the better team.
I hold Gold to a high standard because he’s good. I think his desire to promote an agenda yesterday (that Michigan fans had no case), got in the way of his doing his best work.
Didn’t I complain recently about all these people blathering on about the BCS? Guilty as charged.
2) I caught a few minutes of WFAN while in the car yesterday evening while Mike and the Mad Dog were on the air, just in time for a discussion of quarterbacks. The topic had been, I believe, where Peyton Manning rates all time. Russo puts a ton of stock on post-season performance, so he’s not a big Manning fan. In any event, a caller called in and asked the two what they thought of Bradshaw versus Namath. And, for the next two minutes, what listeners were treated to was a disquisition on Namath (and Bradshaw) that is Mike and the Dog at their best.
What they do better than anyone else I have heard on the Sports Talk radio medium is bring a depth of knowledge, including an ability to make historical comparisons that you really learn something from.
Francesa was all over this one. He started by proposing that Namath was hard to evaluate because his peak was so short, and said he was like Bill Walton in this regard (a great comparison that even the Dog paused to complement him for). Francesa and Russo agreed that one could not say that Namath had a great career because he was just hurt too much and faded too quickly. But, Francesa recalled that Bear Bryant once said that the two best athletes who ever played for him at Alabama were Ozzie Newsome, the great tight end, and Namath. Francesa also pointed out that Lombardi called Joe Willie the greatest quarterback he ever saw. As Francesa pointed out, it’s hard to top the opinion of the Bear and Lombardi. On the other side, Francesa and Russo dissected those Jets teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s, notingthat while Bradshaw had great players around him, so too did Namath. And, furthermore, that Bradshaw’s toughness, his four super bowl rings, which included huge offensive performances in his last two super bowl wins – 66 points total against Dallas and the Rams – was pretty tough to argue with.
It was sports radio at its best – spontaneous, but highly entertaining, informative and clearly thought through. Russo’s a flawed thinker and Francesa has his annoying biases and limitations. But, Russo has an absolutely ridiculous photographic memory for games and situations going back years and years, and Francesa has a range of knowledge that is hard to match. They never indulge in cheap talk about women, and while I don’t share their politics (to put it mildly – and they do stray to politics at times) – they stick to talking about the games on the field more than any other sports radio tandem.
3) Finally, Mike and Mike had Bill Walton on for a segment yesterday. Walton often drives me nuts when he’s calling games. He is offers a unique blend of some real insight into how the game is played with the most infuriatingly self-satisfied crap about playing the game right way that you’ll ever hear. But yesterday, he had free rein to talk about his love of music, especially Dylan and the Grateful Dead. The world’s tallest red-headed Dead fan said he’d been to 650 shows and only regretted that he hadn’t been to thousands more and talked eloquently about why the music moved him so. It’s clear that his avid concert-going is a family affair, as his long-time wife Julie is a full partner in the endeavor. Walton was decked out in a tie-dyed t-shirt, as if the point about his tastes wasn’t obvious enough. And, Walton ranged from one favorite topic, the Dead, to his other favorite topic, John Wooden. He recounted how during practices, Walton’s Bruins’ teammates would interject Dylan lyrics into Wooden’s coaching instructions, and that the angriest Walton ever saw Wooden get was when he bubbled over one day, screaming “I don’t care who the hell this Die-lin guy is.” Apropos of the Bobby Knight controversy a couple of weeks ago, and the claim that Knight hits his players as a kind of public service to America’s soft and indulgent parents, Walton noted that Wooden never really raised his voice, and never went beyond saying things like “jiminy cricket” if he was upset about something.
In any event, it was a fun change of pace.