Cavalcade: College Football's Big New Problem

Cavalcade: College Football's Big Problem - It's only been one week, but a theme is already developing.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

September 2

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- 2013 Cavalcades 
- Aug 26 Josh Shaw, playoff talk, and there's a new network?  

Cavalcade of Whimsy
- Part 2 - Ten big things that mattered in Week 1 ...  

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … it would’ve been better, but Sark treated me like a slave in his office and I just couldn’t write for him anymore.

”You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!” … Now that we’re in a concussion-awareness age when one play and one hit could mean the end of a career, and considering all the pressure a major college football head coach is under to make sure a slew of 18-to-23-year-old doorknobs don’t jump off of balconies, remain eligible in the classroom, and play like pros on the field with limited practice time compared to the NFLers, yeah, a college football head coach probably isn’t doing his job correctly if he doesn’t come across as a complete and utter dillhole to his players at least 84% of the time.

Nate Silver projected that the next person who wonders if Florida State now sucks has a 139% chance of being a moron … I’m all squishy with excitement about the new playoff, too, but will everyone PLEASE STOP WONDERING WHAT EVERY MICROSECOND MEANS IN TERMS OF PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS. Look, four teams from the Power 5 conferences are going to make the four-team playoff. If you go unbeaten and win the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC championship, you’re going to get in. If you finish with one-loss and win a Power 5 conference title, you’re a mortal lock unless that loss was to someone sad. Two losses or more, unless you’re in the SEC, good morrow my good man. There. Those are your playoff implications no matter what anyone else in your conference does. Now go have a Fresca.

”What is this? You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don’t be that guy.” … I’ve perfected the art of watching games and channel surfing on my phone’s SlingBox app – and texting, and tweeting, and doing radio shows - while on a 20-mile bike ride in a desperate attempt to stave off the Football Season 15. Saturday morning was my one shot to get out before sitting in front of a slew of various screens for 48 straight hours, and I focused mostly on UCLA-Virginia before really getting into Navy-Ohio State. Along came a rider in full head-to-toe Buckeye gear with a bike helmet sporting the stickers along with a scarlet Ohio State bicycle jersey complete with the matching gray shorts. He wasn’t wearing headphones and he didn’t appear to have any devices on his bike.

It’s against the rules for anyone to ask a man what’s in his wallet, his computer’s cache, or his pants, and it’s also not right for one man to tell another man how he should root for his favorite team. However, if you’re going to be that guy who adores Ohio State football so much that you’re going to dress like Buckeye Superfan, DVR, schmeVR – Saturday afternoon was what you waited every day for since Tajh Boyd finished tap-dancing on your defense. How are you possibly able to do anything else but watch the opening game of the year as it’s happening?

”I'm not against half naked girls - not as often as I'd like to be.” … About ten minutes into the Texas A&M-South Carolina game, the name Kenny Hill morphed into Benny Hill. For the rest of his career, I demand that Yakity Sax be the music for every Kenny Hill highlight. However, I thought it to be poor form to repeatedly slap Steve Spurrier on top of his head after the win.

And no matter what happens, Karl Rove will deny that the team passing around the trophy actually won until he’s gets the final numbers on Ohio State … Imagine if MSNBC had the exclusive rights to be the only network televising Election Night 2016. Now imagine if MSNBC controlled about 85% of all the access and coverage of the process leading up to the election, including the primaries, the debates, the conventions and all of the candidates’ appearances and speeches. Now imagine if MSNBC had a massive financial investment and interest in Hillary Clinton, to go along with having most of the control of the message, the medium, and the access to information in terms of covering other candidates and parties. Now imagine that during the debates, aired exclusively on MSNBC, there were commercial breaks with ads for Hillary’s campaign, and during the broadcast, the moderator reminded you of future Hillary appearances all while a scroll/crawl was going at the bottom of the screen with almost all of the news about the Democrats and items pertaining to the party.

Now, imagine if the one network that aired the College Football Playoff and the national title game was also in deep, deep, deep, deep, deep with the best conference and the top teams in a sport that determines a tournament field based solely on judgment and perception.

One thing became extremely apparent in the first week of the 2014 season – too many are going to fall back on a lazy and erroneous narrative that a four-team college football playoff will all of a sudden make things more fair, when the opposite is potentially true.

At least with the BCS, a third of the formula was based on hard numbers and data, and now, even with the new playoff, it’s not possible for a team to earn its way in the same way college basketball teams can. Now it’s 100% ALL about opinion.

It’s all about whatever the 13 playoff committee members think and believe, it’s even more of a beauty contest than ever before. That means perception and packaging are everything, and ESPN is selling the sizzle along with the steak.

Considering the SEC is the best college football conference in college football, watching SEC games is unavoidable, which means you have to watch ESPN’s coverage on the SEC Network, which means you’re going to be bludgeoned by SEC propaganda.

That means if you’re a Utah State fan, you weren’t just competing with Tennessee in Knoxville, but also a broadcast that was geared towards an SEC slant.

That means if you were a Wisconsin fan watching the game against LSU on ESPN, you sat through a ceaseless array of promotions and ads pumping up the SEC Network and how great it and the league apparently are.

That means that even if you were watching Texas A&M play South Carolina in an SEC vs. SEC battle, you were inundated with “this is what it’s all about” and “the atmosphere is special” and “this is as good as it gets” type of comments which only furthered the brand.

And it could all backfire in a huge way, at least theoretically, in terms of whether or not the right four teams are in the playoff.

Remember, with the College Football Playoff committee jomb simply to be to pick the four teams they think are best, it’s in no way out of the realm of possibility that the ftop four in college football this year are all in the SEC. Even if they really and truly are, considering the backlash from all the other fan bases and from a skeptical media, good luck trying to sell America on an inaugural four-team playoff with Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and Texas A&M – for example – even if all are worthy and even if all of their losses end up coming against each other.

Can’t happen?

If a committee decided on who the best four teams were at the end of the 2011 college football regular season, unbeaten LSU and one-loss Alabama – to LSU – would’ve been the top two seeds. In practicality, Oklahoma State would’ve been in along with Oregon, however, 2011 Arkansas had two losses – at Alabama and at LSU. There would’ve been a very, very reasonable fight for the SEC to get in three teams, and it could easily happen this year if the politics of the playoff weren’t in the equation.

But I digress.

If Week One was any indication, this whole ESPN/SEC marriage coming at the exact same time a playoff is kicking in puts college football in a tough spot. If there’s a question mark between a two teams for one or two of the playoff openings, even if the committee is representative of all the different interests in college football, what’s going to happen if the tie goes to the SEC.

He actually stinks for about 58 minutes, but Tessitore and Spears carried things until the show went into the prevent with just under two minutes to play … I want to rip. I need to rip. But fair is fair – Tim Tebow might sound like a 12-year-old girl, but he’s a terrific talking head desk analyst. He’s engaging, he has a point, and he’s stunningly insightful for the role he has to play. He’d be even better if he didn’t have to spend half the pregame show poking Finebaum with a stick to make sure he’s still breathing.

The Big Ten Network is testing whether or not the league should expand and add University College Dublin to help open a new market … The Big Ten likes to talk about its reach, but this is a bit much. Too lazy to do any real research, I’ll just say that no conference has ever played two games in the same college football weekend from a further distance than Penn State vs. UCF in Dublin, Ireland, the night after Rutgers beat Washington State in Seattle 4,518 miles away.

Keeping with SEC tradition, started by Bear Bryant, of marrying college football with Finnish trance … Part 1 would’ve been better, but Kenny Hill drove right down the field and took my crowd right out of the column even though – stunningly - the oonce-oonce-oonce of “Sandstorm” didn’t have its desired effect. 

- Part 2 - Ten big things that mattered in Week 1 ...  

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