Monday

I'm back, OU/Texas, & Plax


Hello again everybody...

Okay, I've got some housekeeping to do. First off, apologies for never getting that Thursday/Friday column up. I got so into the R&R-ness of it all that I never got around to it. I know how disappointed you all must be.

So to clean things up: the 10th edition of the ST Top 10 College Football Poll goes into the hopper. Not an enormous loss since I wasn't able to get all the ballots collected anyway. And there simply weren't any Week 14 Picks, so no post-mortem today.

Luckily there's plenty to talk about. Oklahoma officially slipped ahead of Texas in the BCS which means that they win the 5th tiebreaker in the Big 12 South, so the Sooners will play in the Big 12 Championship game, giving them the inside track to the BCS Title Game. Is that right? Is it fair? I'll discuss. Then it's the latest installment of "Pro Athletes Behaving Badly" as I discuss Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself. So never mind the Thanksgiving hangover, let's get to it!

"Naw man. Don't worry. This thing ain't loaded. Watch thi....."
- Plaxico Burress, NY Giants WR


Okay... I made that up. But would it really surprise you if something like that was said, really? More on that in a bit.

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First up today it's time to talk Big 12 South drama.

Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech all finished 11-1 on the year with identical 7-1 records in conference. And since each holds a victory over one of the other three, the final tiebreaker is the team with the highest BCS ranking. That turned out to be Oklahoma.

So is that right and is it fair?

First of, yes, I think they got it right. Texas Tech got smoked by Oklahoma and struggled against Baylor this past weekend, so I think it's pretty clear their third amongst these 3 teams. Texas beat Oklahoma, but lost to Texas Tech and has been slightly above average since then. Oklahoma lost to Texas on a neutral field, and since then has averaged 59.5 points per game including topping 60 in their last 4 straight.

Let me make this clear, I don't like the BCS and I don't think it's a good system. But it is the system we've got, and by that system Oklahoma has the best resume. Their 1 loss was to a Top 3 BCS team and they've got the most impressive results outside that game.

But that leads to the second question: is it fair?

No, of course it isn't. Texas did everything it needed to do except win on the road in one of the more hostile environments in the conference. And the team they beat head to head has the inside track to the National Championship game ahead of them?! How can that possibly be fair?

What it is, is the latest example of the inadequacy of the BCS system. Technically we already have a playoff. The BCS formula churns out two teams who then "play off" for the National Championship. But when you limit a playoff to two teams, it's inherently flawed.

College football teams schedule their own non-conference games, ergo it's virtually impossible to compare the season results of an Oklahoma with that of say, Alabama. Their schedules are completely different. How can we objectively evaluate those two teams relative to each other then?

You could have them play each other in a playoff. In the end, that's the only answer to clusterfraks like this. I don't see it happening for a while at least. But if we keep having seasons like this where worthy teams get left out, then maybe pressure to create a true playoff system will reach critical mass.

Maybe.

Next up, Plaxico Burress. Oh my.

The alleged story is, Plax was out at a club on Friday night with a teammate when he fumbled the weapon he was carrying while getting a drink and "accidentally" shot himself in the leg.

Problems abound for Mr. Burress.

First of all, the wound wasn't serious, and Plax was discharged on Saturday. And when he was taken into custody today on weapons charges, witnesses reported that he wasn't walking with any marked limp, so it looks like nobody was seriously hurt.

So why was he arrested? Well documents show that Burress had a gun permit in Florida. Unfortunately, that permit expired in May, and wasn't renewed. And even if it had been renewed, New York doesn't recognize out-of-state gun permits, so Burress was carrying illegally regardless.

But didn't the club have security staff? Yes they did, and they allowed Plax to bypass the metal detector, because they knew he was packing, and hey, he's Plax!

Surely the hospital reported the incident, right? No. Plax checked in under an assumed name, and even though staff members recognized him, they never reported the injury to police.

Yes, Mr. Burress is in all kinds of trouble.

But there's another question in all of this that I think is more important than the whole "athletes behaving badly" bit.

Is there some justification for pro athletes carrying weapons for self-protection?

I think you could make a strong argument that there is. Ideally, they'd hire bodyguards and let professionals handle the weapons.

But setting that aside for a moment, I think it's obvious that pro athletes have become targets for robbery and assault.

You need look no further than the tragic events surrounding Washington DB Sean Taylor who was shot and killed when he stumbled upon a group of guys robbing his house.

But he hasn't been the only victim. Recall this past June when Oakland WR Javon Walker was robbed and badly beaten in Las Vegas. Or this past summer in Chicago when NBA stars Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry were robbed in their homes.

The point is, one of the side effects to the enormous salaries pro athletes are now being paid, is that they have painted rather clear targets on themselves. Some athletes have handled said targeting better than others. If you understand that you can be a target, it's only smart to avoid certain places which could present a greater danger to yourself and those around you.

But it's still awfully scary to me that we've reached this point.

Remember when we were worried about athletes' roles as role models to kids? Now we've got to be concerned with friends and family being collateral damage when an athlete gets robbed.

I don't have any answers. But it's a problem that I think needs to be publicly discussed. Do you have thoughts? Post them below.

That's it for today folks. I'm back on Wednesday with more news and this week's DFTU. Until then, thanks for reading!

7 comments:

  1. You're never going to have a playoff in NCAA Football. The regular season in NCAA Basketball is trivialized by the Playoffs, and no one wants that to happen to Football.

    The BCS system is better than the old bowl bid/contract with conference system. If you want to argue with this, take the last year the contracts were in place, and use those terms, and see who would have played in those bowl games.

    Here's what you've got:
    * OU is 11-1 and has opponents with a combined record of 80-63 (if you take out their non-conference games, they have a record of 7-1, with a combined record of 59-37).
    * Texas is 11-1 and has opponents with a combined record of 85-59 (if you take out their non-conference games, they have a record of 7-1, with a combined record of 60-36).
    * OU played 7 teams with winning records.
    * Texas played 6 teams with winning records.
    * Considering ALL the teams they played in common: KU, TT, OSU, Baylor, TexA&M, and each other, each has a 5-1 record (with OU losing the head-to-head), with OU having a 321-183 PF-PA (average margin = +23), and UT having a 235-135 PF-PA (average margin = +17).

    Ok, now, here's the scenario I'm most interested in: Florida edges Alabama by a field goal. OU just barely beats Mizzou... Does USC or Florida leapfrog over Texas, or does the BCS force an OU-UT rematch as #1 and #2?

    Considerations:
    1. Computers have OU and UT as #1 and #2 already, a weak win by OU is not likely to move UT in their algorithms.
    2. USC is computer ranked 8th, any kind of win over UCLA is not likely to change that much.
    3. Florida is computer ranked 6th, a win over the Tide might make a significant difference.
    4. Human voters are dumb, and will probably try to vote to prevent this (this is known as collusion, and is illegal in most places).

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  2. I've never understood that argument. Shouldn't the post-season be more exciting than the regular season? Isn't that the point of having a post-season?

    Sacrificing the credibility of your national champion for the sake of preserving some nebulous "meaning" to the regular season seems backwards to me.

    But that's just me...

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  3. When you only play 12-13 games a season, it's like a round-robin tournament. But you're only seeding for a single elimination playoff.

    Oh, and you don't get to play every team, so scheduling patsies for your out of conference games is a Bad Idea(tm).

    And no, the playoffs don't have to be more exciting....because the regular season IS the playoffs. You live and die by the game at hand: Badgers vs Gophers, Huskers vs Buffaloes, Midshipmen vs Irish, Gators vs Seminoles. THIS is the reason we play, not to set ourselves up nicely in some 3-seed somewhere.

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  4. Eh...

    Not sure I buy it.

    But we're allowed to agree to disagree!

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  5. OK, OK, OK who cares about the BCS system, I just want to know if it's true that Plaxico got his name because he was concieved in the backseat of a Plymout while parked at a Texico gas station????

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  6. I thought that was the conventional wisdom?

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  7. I have to agree more with Lon. Football is king in this country when it comes to sports, but they do not play enough games to prove who is the best of the best. The Big 11 will never give up the money of 6 mediocre bowl games...or the SEC, or the Big 12, etc.
    Everyone is ripping the Big 12 for this tiebreaker based on BCS ranking, but can you imagine the brouhaha(always wanted to use that word) if the tiebreaker winner was Texas Tech? or more realistically if Texas won the Tiebreak but Oklahoma was ranked higher?
    I think the best reasoning for a playoff is so we see the teams while they are still in the habit of playing every week. When you stop playing football for 4 weeks before a bowl game, it can be a tossup on who will come out prepared.
    I also believe that if a playoff ever happens, I'm sure the Big 6 conferences will require that they each get at least 1 team in, but I hope (wishfully, I know) that ANY undefeated team MUST be included. Everyone loves to argue that they want to see it settled on the field, but they are the same people who dismiss the dream seasons of Boise State and others. The other football divisions have at least a 16 team playoff. It is possible.

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