End of the Year Musings

Well, another college football season has come and (almost) gone and given some of us everything we hope to see. The Gators hoisted one trophy and are about to play for another. Every quarterback in the Big 12 threw for 56,000 yards in the regular season and every one (so far) has had a lower passer rating in the bowl game.

Coaches are coming and going and players are making decisions about the NFL. Southern Cal, Texas and Utah are all converts to the idea that the winners of the four biggest bowl games should play it out, adding three amazing games to the college football season.

With all that to choose from we have more than usual for this special edition of the college football musings.

Chuck and Duck ----- Big 12 quarterbacks posted mind-numbing statistics this year, convincing some that their entire Heisman ballot should contain passers from that league. In six bowl games, however only Todd Reesing of Kansas has put up great numbers (27-35/313/4/1). The others have combined for 13 TD passes and 9 INT. that's not horrible but it gives more comfort to Florida fans than Oklahoma supporters in terms of the validity of the league's offensive numbers is concerned.

Coaching Carousel ----- Major college football took a step in the right direction by increasing to seven the number of black head coaches. While that is still a dreadfully low number all things considered it is progress. This is particularly noteworthy from the perspective that three back head coaches lost their jobs this year, but four others got opportunities. Early prediction: Charley Strong will be a head coach in 2010 with East Carolina, Memphis and UCF the strongest possibilities.

Here Come the Irish ----- Notre Dame's 49-21 win over Hawaii ended a pathetic run for the Fightin' Irish. It was their first bowl win since year one of the first Clinton Administration (1993). Jimmy Clausen passed for 401 yards and 5 TD and was immediately declared the fifth best QB in the Big 12 behind Tim Tebow. With a relatively weak schedule in 2009, a 9-win season and BCS bid may be in store. Anything less and Gator Nation can't start hyper-ventilating about those "Dream Job" comments.

Sure Looks Like a lot of Empty Seats ----- Perhaps there was no more common image this season than the sight of fans cleverly disguised as empty seats in many bowl games. It is long past time to get rid of conference tie-ins for bowl games and create a system for choosing more intriguing matchups that just might excite schools and their fans. I'll have a future column on this subject, but another thing that could be done would be "tier" bowl payouts to stop the financial arms race for ever increasing payouts. Ticket prices for mid-level bowl games are just out of control.

Pac-10 Power ----- Led by Southern Cal the Pac-10 conference was a perfect 5-0 this bowl season easily the best of all leagues. Pac Ten teams faced schools from five different conferences and beat them all by margins ranging from three points (Oregon St. 3, Pittsburgh 0) to 14 (USC 38, Penn St. 24). The Pac-10 did not face the SEC in this bowl season. All the more reason to change the system.

More Playoff Proponents ----- Every time you hear some dimwit insist there will never be a playoff keep in mind that every year more schools find a selfish reason to be more supportive of the notion. This year Southern Cal, Texas and Utah will happily join the chorus. You can no longer let computers decide who gets the shot at college football's biggest prize. Each of those three has a valid claim that they should be playing Thursday night rather than the Gators or Sooners and while I might disagree I must admit the arguments are valid. If we can figure out how to choose the eight best teams in the nation, why can't we let them add three games to the season and play it out after the bowls?

Third Down Conversions ----- If I were to choose one stat to be the key to the BCS Championship Game it would be this one. (Don't tell me turnovers; any idiot can come up with that!) Oklahoma is not used to punting much and neither is Florida. Both are used to having their way when they have the football. If either defense can stop two out of three 3rd down opportunities that could be the difference in this one.


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