29 October 2007

Only Eight Left

(From BCS Guru)

With the avalanche of upsets coming to a halt, the 2007 BCS picture has become a little bit more clear following the release of the new BCS standings. Eight teams, each with no or one loss, still have a shot at reaching the BCS championship game in New Orleans. The rest of them are simply playing for a share from the big bag of money.

Before we get to the business at hand, the Guru would just like to say this: OK, so I gloated a bit after nailing the release of the first 2007 BCS standings. And this week, I had the top nine in the exact order ... but you're not gonna hear me crow -- because it's just so unbecoming.

And there's this little affair of a week ago, when I admittedly whiffed on a couple of projections, specifically projecting LSU to top Boston College for No. 2. The reason for those calculation errors is:

a) I had a bad case of flu while attending a wedding
b) My traveling laptop didn't have all the important data
c) I hurried so I can get to the next round of golf
d) The whole thing is just a scam: The Guru was just throwing darts on a board anyway

I could've picked one or all of the above, but I will instead blame the voters. The projection business is part mathematics and part psychology. While I can pretty consistently nail down the computer rankings, getting the human votes right is much, much harder. Think about it: Between the coaches poll and Harris poll, there are 174 potential voters, each with a mind of his own. They might do what's expected of a rational human being, or they might vote Troy as the 21st best team in the country, as one did this past week.

The point is this: I expected quite a few more voters to cast their ballots for LSU vis-a-vis Boston College, and they thought otherwise. And at this point of the season, the voters will decide everything. Yes, just like last year, when the voters mandated that there would be no rematch between Ohio State and Michigan, they will let us know whom they want in the BCS title game.

Right now, it looks like Ohio State and Boston College.

With mostly only conference games remaining for every team, it's unlikely that you'll see a seismic shift in the computer rankings if a team keeps winning. This is why November is the time to score style points. While computers are not allowed to use margin of victory in their formulas, the voters can freely interpret the meaning of the outcome of each game. Win impressively, you might siphon a few votes from your competitors. Win barely, you'll be punished.

For now, these are the resumes of the Elite Eight:

For sure, one of those teams will be eliminated this weekend, as Oregon and Arizona State clash in Eugene. The loser will not have a chance to play for the national title, and probably be out of the Pac-10 race as well. And then, on Nov. 17, two huge games involving the current Nos. 1 and 2 will either cement their places in New Orleans, or blow the whole thing wide open.

Finally, as promised, this is the Guru's take on Hawai'i: Not good, but improving somewhat. The Rainbow Warriors currently occupy the 14th spot in the BCS rankings, two below what's needed for a guaranteed berth. Hawai'i's computer rankings are 14, 26, 31, 33, 47 and 54. So far, the Warriors are getting no points in the computer ratings and it looks as though they might get just a tad at the end of the season.

So again, it will come down to the human voters. Assuming Hawai'i gets .100 in the computers, it will need to rank about a consensus eighth or ninth in the human polls to pull it off. It will test the willingness of human voters to put a team that so far has played the easiest schedule in all of Division I-A in the Top 10. To me, that seems unlikely.

Then again, if I can divine the intentions of every human voter, then I'm in the wrong business.

28 October 2007

A Distrubing Trend

(From BCS Guru)

The upset epidemic seems to have subsided. So to everyone's surprise, for the first time this season we will have the same top five teams -- in the same order -- for a second consecutive week.

The Guru projects that Ohio State will maintain its hold on No. 1 while Boston College will gain a little separation from one-loss LSU, idle this week, for No. 2. Arizona State and Oregon will stay at Nos. 4 and 5.

Now that the dust settles a bit on this turbulent season, we see an emerging picture, and that's not a pretty one. It's likely that Ohio State and Boston College, two teams playing in weak conferences -- the Big Ten and ACC, respectively -- will meet for the national title. Meanwhile, champions from the best two conferences, the SEC and Pac-10, will be shut out.

The Buckeyes' lone remaining tough game is their season-ending visit to Ann Arbor against Michigan, the only other unbeaten team in Big Ten play. Ohio State has built its resume by feasting on the absurdly mediocre Big Ten, which may end up with no other team in the Top 25, and the likes of I-AA Youngstown State, MAC teams Akron and Kent State and Pac-10 bottom-feeder Washington.

The same can be said for Boston College, which until Thursday's dramatic comeback against Virginia Tech, hadn't played a ranked team all season. BC's non-conference slate consisted of I-AA UMass, Army, Bowling Green and everybody's favorite cupcake (yes, Charlie, I'm taking my shot now) Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma, three teams that suffered a last-second, gut-wrenching loss in conference play, might each end up 12-1 and not get even a piece of the national championship. Arizona State and Kansas, the only other remaining unbeaten teams (besides Hawai'i), might have a slim chance of making a move toward the end of the season. Their toughest games are still ahead.

In college football, schedule is everything.

The Guru's projected BCS Top 15: 1. Ohio State, 2. Boston College, 3. LSU, 4. Arizona State, 5. Oregon, 6. Oklahoma, 7. West Virginia, 8. Kansas, 9. Missouri, 10. Virginia Tech, 11. Florida, 12. USC, 13. Georgia, 14. Michigan, 15. Texas.

24 October 2007

Elimination Time!

(From BCS Guru)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Guru had a ticket for this Saturday's "Little Brown Jug" fight at the Big House. But because of a scheduling conflict, I will have to return home instead to tend to the WLOCP (Florida-Georgia, for those uninitiated). It's just as well after an astrocious exhibition of putting on the University of Michigan Golf Course this afternoon.

But hey, at least I severed the head of a Brutus tee on a 300-yard drive.

The rest of the college football world will be gunning for the top-ranked Buckeyes as well (say, that's what you call a segue!), starting with this weekend's game at Happy Valley. No. 2 Boston College also has a treacherous road game at Virginia Tech. It's possible, if not probable, that Hawai'i would be the only undefeated team left after this weekend. And we haven't even hit Novemeber yet.

With that as the backdrop, I now present you the Week 9 Guru's List:

GOLD -- Ohio State controls its own destiny, as does No. 2 Boston College. If the Eagles beat the Hokies this weekend and run the table, they will maintain their lead on No. 3 LSU, even if the Bayou Tigers win the SEC championship. The reason is simple: If the voters felt an unbeaten BC should be in front of a 1-loss LSU now, then that won't change if BC can get through the meat of its schedule unscathed.

SILVER -- LSU, Oregon and Arizona State. The Tigers will need help now that the pollsters have spoken. Ditto for the two surprising Pac-10 teams. Who'd thought that the top two teams in the Pac-10 at this point of the season would be somebody other than USC and Cal?

BRONZE -- Oklahoma, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Kansas are all playing for BCS bowl berths, if not necessarily a BCS title game berth. USC is now the most intriguing team, as the Trojans have the potential to return to the Top 5 should they run through the gauntlet (at Oregon, Oregon State, at Cal, at Arizona State, UCLA) undefeated.

This week's BCS Buster Games:

5-Star: Boston College at Virginia Tech (Thursday) -- The real test for BC begins with a visit to Blacksburg, as so far the Golden Eagles have been relatively untested. A victory will cement their standing as the second-ranked team behind Ohio State; a loss will expose the Eagles as pretenders.

4-Star: Ohio State at Penn State -- The Buckeyes also start the toughest portion of their schedule, as they will not face another team currently with a losing record. This game is particularly troublesome for Ohio State as it has lost four of its last five visits to Beaver Stadium and Penn State is 18-1 there over three seasons, and 5-0 this year.

3-Star: USC at Oregon -- The Trojans' slim national title hopes are flickering, and a win at Autzen Stadium is a must. In the Pac-10, this is where the schedule gets exciting, as the top five teams are finally playing each other. And four of those five teams, including those two, all control their own destinies.

2-Star: Cal at Arizona State -- Who would've thought that the Sun Devils would be unbeaten and possibly playing for the national championship, and not Cal? But despite their latest stumbles against UCLA and Oregon State, the Golden Bears are still a formidable force whereas ASU will be playing the other top four teams in the Pac-10 in the next four games.

1-Star: Kansas at Texas A&M -- The Jayhawks have gotten fat on very questionable competition, so this will be their first real test. Kansas has a very favorable Big 12 schedule this year, as it does not face either Oklahoma or Texas, so KU could get into the conference championship game undefeated.

22 October 2007

Week 8 BCS Standings

(From BCS Guru)

DETROIT -- The Guru remains on the road. But here's the official Week 8 BCS standings. A follow-up on the latest development will be posted shortly.

21 October 2007

The Tigers Are Baaaaaaack ...

(From BCS Guru)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It took only a week, but it looks as though the LSU Tigers are right back where they were two weeks ago -- in the national championship hunt.

After last night's last-second thriller over Auburn, the Tigers should collect enough human votes, along with a stellar computer ranking, to edge Boston College for the second spot in the new BCS standings. Ohio State, of course, remains No. 1.

After BC, there will be a significant drop to Oklahoma. West Virginia, Oregon, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Kansas and Florida round out the top 10.

Despite their impressive showing against Notre Dame, the USC Trojans are still just outside of the Top 10. Let's face it, this horrible joke of an Irish football team is not helping anybody's computer rating, so SC will have to wait until next week's showdown at Eugene for a chance to reclaim a spot in the Top 10.

To recap, this is the Guru's projected Top 15:

1. Ohio State, 2. LSU, 3. Boston College, 4. Oklahoma, 5. West Virginia, 6. Oregon, 7. Arizona State, 8. Virginia Tech, 9. Kansas, 10. Florida, 11. Missouri, 12. USC, 13. South Florida, 14. Kentucky, 15. South Carolina.

(more to come Sunday night)

17 October 2007

Wiesy Does It

Dear Tournament Director:

I am writing to request a sponsor's exemption into your 2008 tournament. I am an accomplished golfer and my records speak for themselves.

In 2007, I played in eight LPGA tournaments for a total of 21 rounds. I quit in two of them for dubious reasons, but as ever helpful, I have pro-rated my scores for those two rounds to give you a more complete picture. So here it is:

My stroke average in those 21 rounds was 77.38. I shot 79 or worse in 10 of them, and failed to break 80 six times. In the seven tournaments where there were 36-hole cuts, I missed the cut three times and quit two more. I did manage to finish 84th (last) and tied for 69th (3rd from last) in the two events that I made the cut. If you looked at the leaderboard from the bottom, my year went like this: WD-1-WD-T3-CUT-CUT-CUT-2. Outstanding!

In the Ginn Tribute hosted by I Don't Have to Apologize to Annika, I quit after 16 holes after piling up a 78. I would've shot 88 or worse, thus causing me to be banned from the LPGA for the rest of the year, and I would've been last in the field, behind 15-year-old MacKinzie Kline.

I did it again at the U.S. Women's Open. For fear of finishing behind 12-year-old Alexis Thompson, I withdrew after shooting a 42 on my first nine in the second round. I was not going to make the cut anyway after an 82 on the first day.

Of the 41 LPGA tournaments I entered, I won zero, including 0-for-17 as a pro. Because of my ability to dominate the women's tour, I was invited to play in a number of men's events. I have played in 13 of them and made one cut, in Korea, for an Asian Tour tournament. And I'm 0-for-7 in PGA Tour events.

In my last five events against men, I quit (after 27 holes and 10 shots out of the cut); finished dead last (13 over the cut); dead last (14 over cut); last among pros and second from last (17 over cut); and 3rd from last (14 over cut). If you flipped the leaderboard upside down again, it looked like this: WD-1-1-2-T3. No wonder people think I'm the second coming of Tiger Woods!

In my last 35 rounds, I broke par twice. In my last 11 events, I made two cuts. I have not broken 70 in a year and a half; and my best rounds in 2007 were a pair of one-under 71s.

In my long and distinguished career, I did win one national tournament -- the 2003 U.S. Women's Public Links Championship. Since then, I have won nothing, zilch, nada, zippo, goose egg.

And now I have turned 18. Other girls my age have won a major (Morgan Pressel), rookie of the year (Angela Park) and multiple tournaments (Paula Creamer). But I'm the one who has a $10 million endorsement deal with Nike and Sony. Never mind that my 2007 earnings of $23,024 would've placed me 141st on the LPGA money list.

So how about it? How could you possibly turn me down? I've fired five caddies and two agents have left me over the last two years. And I don't really like to fraternize with the people who pay big money to play in the Pro-Am. And of course, I have no intention of ever trying to earn anything, let along going through Q-school to get my LPGA card.

Not if suckers like you keep giving me exemptions.


Michelle Wie

A Long Way to Go

(From BCS Guru)

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The 2007 season may very well turn out to be a make-or-break year for the current BCS system. If the trend of upsets continues, then the public clamoring for a playoff will become more intense. And if, at the end of the season, more than a handful teams have one loss and a beauty contest ensues to determine the participants in the BCS championship game, we'll hear a lot more about the imminent installation of a "Plus-One" scheme.

And don't forget, a split title is very much in the cards as well.

All that said, let's celebrate the story of the week: The University of South Florida Bulls, who rose to No. 2 in the BCS standings. A large public university in Tampa, Fla., USF only started its football program in 1997, as a Division I-AA entry. In 2001, it moved up to I-A. In '03, it joined Conference USA. In '05, it became a member of the Big East. Its meteoric rise is reminiscent of Miami's ascension to the top of college football in the early 1980s.

Will the Bulls' dream season end the way it did for the 'Canes in '83, when they defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for the national championship? Or will it end this Thursday with a loss to Rutgers? In 2007, anything is possible.

Week 8 Guru's List:

GOLD: Ohio State has the perch, for now. And the Buckeyes know how to stay there, having gone through the regular season unbeaten twice in the last five years, including last year. Ohio State plays in an admittedly weak conference and its non-conference schedule is nothing to write home about. Still, if the Buckeyes stay unbeaten, they will be in their second consecutive BCS title game simply on the strength of their poll numbers.

SILVER: South Florida, with a near-perfect computer score, will earn more No. 2 votes in the human polls as the season progresses. Boston College, with only one ranked team remaining on its schedule, will slip further behind an unbeaten USF team. The Eagles will need the Bulls to lose to get up to No. 2.

BRONZE: LSU, despite its triple-overtime loss to Kentucky, is still the best team in the nation and will start gaining on Boston College when USF siphons more No. 2 votes from the Eagles. However, the Tigers do not control their own destiny and will have to root for USF and BC to lose. Ditto for Oklahoma, which has an even more daunting task.

WAITLIST: South Carolina, Kentucky, Arizona State and Oregon.

HAWAI'I WATCH: Optimism from the Island's press aside, it's hard to see the Rainbows making it to a BCS bowl even if they mow down the remaining five opponents. Hawai'i's strength of schedule is awful and therefore its computer scores will be low. A year ago, Boise State had a lofty computer ranking of No. 7 to qualify for the Fiesta Bowl. This year, Hawai'i will be lucky to be in the Top 25 in the computer ratings. With no help from the computers, the Rainbows will need to be in the Top 5 in the human polls to achieve a Top 12 overall ranking. Not gonna happen.

BCS Buster Games for Week 8:

5-Star: Auburn at LSU -- A year ago, an Auburn victory prevented LSU from winning the SEC West and a rematch with Florida. This year, a victory by the Bayou Tigers is a must to take some sting out of losing to Kentucky last week and keep their national championship hopes alive.

4-Star: South Florida at Rutgers (Thursday) -- This is the biggest game in the history of South Florida's football program. Now the Bulls are no longer flying under the radar and the nation will be tuning in to see if they're for real. USF can win friends and influence people with a convincing victory over the Scarred Knights.

3-Star: Florida at Kentucky -- A basketball classic in other years, a football classic in this wild season. Can the Wildcats pull off back-to-back wins over the SEC's titans? Or are they still hung over from their delirious upset win over LSU?

2-Star: California at UCLA -- Two schools, one fight song (different lyrics, though). For years, the mothership is the football (and basketball) biotch of the powder blue gang of the Southern Branch. This time around, the Golden Bears hope they're making the first of two trips to Pasadena.

1-Star: Michigan State at Ohio State -- This rivalry is very much like the one between hammer and nail. Hint: The nail is painted green.

14 October 2007

The More Things Change ...

(From BCS Guru)

The BCS Guru web site began its existence exactly a year ago today. On Oct. 13, 2006, the Guru projected that Ohio State would be the No. 1 team when the official BCS standings were unveiled two days later.

It's deja vu all over again.

After Saturday's stunning upset losses by LSU and California, two teams ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the human polls, the Buckeyes will find themselves No. 1 once again when the first official BCS standings are unveiled Sunday.

Behind Ohio State, the Guru projects South Florida will narrowly edge out Boston College for the second spot. LSU, despite its triple overtime loss at Kentucky, will be at No. 4, followed by Oklahoma, South Carolina, Oregon, Kentucky, Arizona State and West Virginia.

Of course, these projections hinge greatly on the Guru's ability to divine human intentions, which is way more difficult than deciphering computer formulas. If the voters in the coaches' poll and Harris poll decided not to follow the Guru's logic, then all bets are off.

That being said, there are a few certainties:

1) The rank of the unbeatens have dwindled to six -- Ohio State, South Florida, Boston College, Arizona State, Kansas and Hawai'i. Each of the six BCS conferences is represented, except the SEC.

2) Hawai'i, with the best chance to stay undefeated among the "Clean Half a Dozen," will still be outside of the Top 15.

3) LSU is not out of the national championship race, not by a long shot. Oklahoma also has played its way back into contention after wins over Texas and previously unbeaten Missouri. A handful of one-loss teams such as South Carolina, Kentucky and Oregon have re-emerged into the picture.

4) USC, however, is still on the outside looking in. The Trojans' less-than-impressive win over Arizona didn't help all that much. And Cal, after falling short against Oregon State, will also need a lot of help.

5) Ohio State, with a relatively benign schedule, has a very good chance at a return visit to the BCS national championship game. Its biggest remaining challenge is the Nov. 17 road game against the only other team unbeaten in Big Ten play. Dare we say it: Michigan?

Is it 2007, or is it Memorex?


1. Ohio State; 2. South Florida; 3. Boston College; 4. LSU; 5. Oklahoma; 6. South Carolina; 7, Oregon; 8. Kentucky; 9. Arizona State; 10. West Virginia; 11. Virginia Tech; 12. USC; 13. California; 14. Florida; 15. Missouri.

11 October 2007

The Countdown Begins

(From BCS Guru)

The season started with a blast, when Appalachian State took down mighty Michigan at the Big House. And it has continued in such dramatic fashion, with one upset after another, climaxing with Stanford's stunning win over USC last weekend. So when the first official BCS standings of 2007 come out on Sunday, they will bear little resemblance to the first unofficial standings we started the season with.

As the official standings start to roll out, the Guru's job becomes a bit more different, not to say a little more difficult as well. First, instead of publishing unofficial standings weekly, the Guru will now post projections every Saturday night, in advance of the official announcement Sunday afternoon. Also, the Guru will publish the official standings with color coding, offering important information to help you decipher the myriad of numbers that make up the BCS standings.

And as we started last week, the Guru's List will appear every Friday, like right now:

Gold: LSU will be in the national championship game if it wins out. Bar none. The Tigers shared the penthouse with USC for the first five weeks of the season. Now they have it all to themselves.

Silver: Cal or Ohio State? That's the question. While the Buckeyes are slightly in front, the Golden Bears, with a more difficult schedule and playing in a more difficult league, stand to benefit if they can manage to stay undefeated. Cal will beat out Ohio State should both teams finish unbeaten.

Bronze: South Florida, Boston College, Missouri, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Kansas and Connecticut are the only other unbeaten BCS conference teams. Some of those teams will play one another and knock each other out. And it's really difficult to see any of those teams go undefeated. For now, they're part of the elite "Clean Dozen Minus One."

Noticeably missing from the above list is Hawai'i. Yes, the Warriors remain unbeaten. And yes, after Friday night's game at San Jose State, they'll have to leave Honolulu only once (at Nevada) the rest of the season. But even if Hawai'i goes unbeaten, including a showdown win over Boise State, it might have a hard time getting into the Top 12, thus earning a guaranteed BCS bowl berth. Hawai'i ranks no higher than 30th in any of the computer ratings and as low as 76th (Massey). And human voters remain unimpressed with the Warriors' weak schedule (as low as dead last in Division I-A).

BCS Buster Games for Week 7:

4-Star: Missouri at Oklahoma -- One more loss, the Sooners are really done. But this game is more about Mizzou and whether it's ready to contend for the national championship. There might even be a rematch later, but OU will continue to own the Tigers, for now.

3-Star: LSU at Kentucky -- There are no easy games in the SEC, especially on the road. The Tigers had better not think too far ahead about next week's revenge game against Auburn, or UK might win this cat fight. In the end, though, LSU has too much to lose to let this one slip away.

2-Star: Oregon State at Cal -- A year ago, the Beavers handed USC its first conference loss in nearly three seasons. Can they upend another Pac-10 front-runner? Not in Strawberry Canyon.

1-Star: Louisville at Cincinnati -- The Cardinals' season is very much down the toilet. Now they want to drag down the unbeaten Bearcats with them. It's time to flush.

08 October 2007

No. 2? Buckeyes Have It

(From BCS Guru)

USC's upset loss to Stanford on Saturday produced a new No. 2 in the Week 6 unofficial BCS standings. Ohio State nudged out California for the coveted second spot, behind LSU, the near-unanimous choice as No. 1.

Trailing the Golden Bears by very slim margins in both the Coaches Poll and Harris Poll, the Buckeyes seized the second spot with their superior computer ratings. Ohio State's lead is comfortable though not commanding, but a wide gap opens between No. 3 Cal and No. 4 South Florida.

Boston College checks in at No. 5, followed by South Carolina, Missouri, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Oregon in the Top 10.

Two powerhouses' national championship hopes are in serious jeopardy after recent losses. USC, despite falling only to No. 7 in both polls following the Stanford loss, has dropped to No. 13 because of computer meltdowns. Oklahoma, No. 5 in both polls after rebounding against Texas, is at No. 12. Both teams will need a lot of help from teams currently ahead of them, particularly with the ACC and Big East each placing two teams in the Top 10.

The 2007 season's first official BCS standings will be unveiled next Sunday, Oct. 14. And barring any upset losses, the top of the standings should stay fairly intact. One trend to keep an eye on is the Richard Billingsley ratings, which act more like a one-man poll than a true computer-generated ratings system. For this week, 19 of his Top 25 results likely would've been discarded had all six computer ratings been available.

07 October 2007

The Fall of Troy

(From BCS Guru)

USC was living on borrowed time, make no mistake. That seemingly impressive victory over Nebraska was but a mirage because now we know the 'Huskers really weren't any good. The Trojans barely got by Washington, a team manhandled in the second half by Ohio State. And finally, the house came crashing down Saturday night against Stanford.

From 2002-2006, USC won more games and had a better winning percentage than anyone in college football. But Saturday night's loss likely marked the end of USC's dominance, a five-year period that produced two national titles, nearly a third, and no lower than No. 4 at the end of each season.

John David Booty will get a lot of the blame. It's now sufficiently proven that he wasn't a worthy successor to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. His off games resulted in Trojan losses. His most awful game came Saturday night, and gave us the upset of the season. (Yes, Michigan, you're off the hook for now -- and you can thank one of your own, Jim Harbaugh).

But the unraveling of the Trojan Empire actually began following the 2004 season, when offensive coordinator Norm Chow bolted for the Tennessee Titans. The 2005 USC team made it to the national title game, but a couple of play-calling mistakes, particularly the fourth-and-2 call with two minutes left in the game, cost the Trojans their third successive national title.

In 2006, the USC offense, after the losses of Leinart and star running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White, became more stale. In the shocking loss to UCLA, the Trojans were inexplicably impotent against a very average defense, producing only one touchdown. That loss prevented USC from appearing in its third straight BCS title game.

In the offseason, the offensive brain drain continued. Lane Kiffin, who had shared play-calling duties with Steve Sarkisian, left to become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Now it appears that he is going to be missed, as Chow was.

(Say this about Al Davis: He's pretty damn good when it comes to recognizing young coaching talent -- John Madden, Tom Flores, Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, and now Kiffin, who has the Raiders tied for first in the AFC West. Al's problems came when he hired old retread yes-men like Mike White, Joe Bugel, Norv Turner and Art Shell the second time.)

But back to USC. Saturday night's loss was further illustration that this program, once the gold standard, has slipped. And much of it has to do with the death of creativity on offense. I had predicted that the Trojans wouldn't go undefeated this season, and now I will add that this won't be their only loss of the year.

The Pac-10 will have a new champion in 2007. The USC Dynasty is over.

04 October 2007

Introducing ... Guru's List

(From BCS Guru)

You can't buy your way onto this list, but you can certainly play your way onto it. The Guru's List is the prime real estate in the BCS Universe, with some locations the choicest.

Without further delay, here it is:

Gold: Never mind the back-and-forth jockeying between USC and LSU for the No. 1 spot. If both teams remain undefeated, they will meet in New Orleans for the first Pac-10-SEC title game in the BCS Era. Add California to the mix as well.

Silver: These teams are one loss away from being completely eliminated from BCS championship considerations. However, they are very much in the mix for a BCS bowl bid -- Boston College, Oklahoma, South Florida, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Florida.

Bronze: It's a little early for a complete rundown, as 20-plus teams are still in contention to win their respective BCS conferences and thus earn a BCS bowl berth. The only non-BCS school currently has a place here is Hawai'i.

And for Week 6, these are the BCS Buster Games:

5-Star: Florida at LSU -- The Gators' loss to Auburn last week kept this game from being a Super Nova, but still, this figures to be the Tigers' toughest game of the season. A night game at Death Valley usually means, well, death, for the visiting team. The Gators' slim repeat hopes will hang in the balance.

4-Star: Kentucky at South Carolina (Thursday night) -- Is this where Kentucky's improbable joyride comes to an end? You'd almost have to say yes. Steve Spurrier is 14-0 all-time against the Wildcats.

3-Star: Wisconsin at Illinois -- Is there a less impressive undefeated team than Wisconsin? Don't think so. Tell you this much: No one is thinking about starting a fireronzook.com web site in Champagne right now.

2-Star: Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas -- Talk about a sudden fall. This went from potentially the second-biggest game of the week to just about an afterthought after both teams' stunning upset losses last week. OU has a lot more to be mad about, though.

1-Star: Ohio State at Purdue -- The Boilermakers made it to 5-0 by beating two MAC teams, Big Ten bottom feeder Minnesota and I-AA outfits Eastern Illinois and Notre Dame (oops, did I really write that?). Now comes the real test ... and it won't be close.

02 October 2007

Replay it Again, Sam!

There is a reason I have become less and less of a baseball fan. As I watched the riveting Padres-Rockies one-game playoff, it really hit me why that is.

I just can't stand a sport that accepts egregious (and correctable) mistakes by its officials as just "part of the game."

Matt Holliday most definitely didn't touch the plate to score the winning run, yet Tim McClellan, whose strike zone was shifting like a moving target all night, called him safe after, apparently, replaying it in his head for about five seconds. Oh, yes, Rockies fans point out that Garrett Atkins definitely hit a home run, not a double, so Colorado was owed one. Uh, but two wrongs don't make it right.

It speaks volumes to the officiating incompetence that in the biggest regular season game of the year, with six umpires (instead of the usual four) on hand, that they got two crucial calls wrong. Remember that baseball is a static game, no action of significance is taking place away from where the ball is. There are no linemen grappling for space in the trenches. No power forwards jockeying for position under the basket. No goalie hacking a winger on the shins to get him out of the crease.

Six umpires to follow one ball. Officiating in baseball is on the level of tennis, not like contact sports -- football, basketball, hockey. Yet the umpires get it wrong all the time at the biggest moments. Jeffrey Maier most definitely interfered with Tony Tarasco. Todd Worrell's foot most definitely was on the bag before Jorge Orta got there. Josh Paul didn't drop that third strike. I could go on.

But what you hear from those damn "baseball purists" was that "the human element" is part of the game. Yes, for the players. But for the officials, in any sporting contest, the job is to get it right and be fair. And if that involves using a replay system, so be it.

Football uses replay. So do basketball and hockey, and even tennis and golf! Yes, a game as tradition-dependent and archaic as golf uses TV replays to determine if a player had committed an infraction when that question is brought to light. And while replays are not perfect, they do eliminate a lot of mistakes when judgments are made in a split second.

Oh, but not baseball. Not ever. The fat, slow and ill-tempered umpires wouldn't have any of it, for fear that replay would expose them for the frauds that they are. Following a white ball with your eyes really isn't nearly as hard as running a 120-yard field with 300-pound big men rumbling around with their hands and feet tangled almost at all times. But if you ever listened to these arrogant buffoons, they'd try to convince you that's it's as difficult as nuclear science.

So there you have it. "The Human Element" will continue to make a mockery of what once was the national pastime. But I'll just watch football instead.