Monday, July 25, 2011

SoS and Who "Deserves" a Shot.

Is what's good for the Bronco good for the Hokie?

The court of public opinion can be a hard place to make your case in the fickle, oft-hypocritical, and usually doublethink heavy world of college football. We can say one player is Heisman-worthy one week, dismiss him two games later, and give the trophy to someone in NYC who ended up with worse stats. We hold entire conferences in high esteem even though one of their members could very well be the worst BCS conference team. We do this while also dismissing and insulting entire other conferences even some of their members are genuine, top-10, BCS caliber teams. We even say everybody's got a shot, then we shut the door on them. And, once they convince enough people to give them access, we want to punch their ticket blindly, not really weighing everything that might have gone into their 12-0 record. It's with that in mind that I want to talk about recent trends and strength of schedule.

Five or six years ago, a mid-major didn't have a chance to get any BCS bowl invite, much less THE BCS championship game. Well, a few years of Boise State success later and we now consider the Broncos true contenders if they make it through their week one qualifier (Oregon in '09, VA Tech last year, and UGA this season). But why? We have overcompensated for the mistreatment of mid majors by almost codling them now. Certainly they were unfairly kept out of big games in the past, but is the correct response to auto-punch their championship ticket in the preseason just so we have to scratch out their name after a late loss? I don't think so. But the millions have shifted and now it's just a taken for granted opinion and as long as the Broncos make it through week one, it's theirs to lose in a weak conference slate.

The Poster-Boy for Mid-Major Respect
Meanwhile, we see a BCS conference team play a weak out-of-conference slate and we start lighting the torches in July, actively trying to keep them from a high-ranking or positive momentum. Virginia Tech plays about as soft as an ooc sked as anyone can and message boarders have already taken up the flag to dismiss the Hokies as pretenders because of it. But how can we approve of this while holding the door open for the likes of TCU and Boise State? In the end, the Hokies will still play a harder schedule of games than anyone from the WAC or MWC, even the respectful teams like Boise who are trying to break the mold.

Let's take a look.

Neither one's a real murderer's row, but that's kinda my point.
No matter what you think of the ACC, it's still tougher to play through unscathed than the Mtn. West. Think about it; yes, Duke is a pushover, but even the Blue Devils would be favored over Wyoming and New Mexico. It's also far more likely to have a season finally catch up to you in a tense moment at Bobby Dodd Stadium than in front of 12,000 rowdy CSU Rams fans. And, even if the Hokies cruise, they still have a championship game to play, and that's mighty big stumbling block.

Now, before I get called out otherwise, I am NOT advocating that Virginia Tech is better than Boise - the Broncos took care of that last season. And I am NOT saying VA Tech's schedule is truly that difficult. I've just been thinking about what triggers our willingness to accept some teams compared to others. And, yes, I know, SoS comparisons have huge flaws of their own; technically, Boise's opponents had more wins in 2010 than Tech's did...but we have to consider what earned those W's out west and if those teams are truly superior to some of the L's these ACC teams pick up. I guess what I'm dealing with here is the true depth of the schedule wat should qualify as a sked that earns a team a spot in the BCS title game? I think we would all say an SEC schedule is proof enough of belonging, even a Big-12 or Pac-12 dancecard. But, we hesitate when we think of the ACC or Big East. I'm not necessarily saying that this is inherently wrong, I'm just saying that IF it's wrong, then why is it OK to give Boise a hall pass? Could they have beaten Oklahoma in '06 if they'd played a Big-XII schedule all year? If they beat Georgia in week one, could they really make it through seven more SEC games and a title game unscathed?

How is this Georgia team really supposed to be measuring stick of greatness?
 Honestly, this post is not really as concerned with Boise and Va Tech particularly as much as it's about the thoughts behind how we perceive teams. It's just that heading into 2011, these teams are great examples. The Hokies play App State, ECU, ArkSt., and Marshall before an ACC slate and we're supposed to treat them like also-rans, but Boise plays a mediocre SEC team coming off a 6-7 year and a  loss to UCF and they're supposed to receive serious consideration for a title shot.

I guess all I'm asking for is a little cognitive dissonance. But, then again, the world of college football is not known for that - and that little spice in the always adversarial dialogue just might be one the things that makes the sport so great.

1 comment:

  1. What will end up happening - and maybe what needs to happen, even if it is problematic for college football as a whole - is for a team like Boise State to go to the BCS Championship game, lose, and then not be voted for unless there is a LEGITIMATE reason for it. And if Boise (or whoever) happens to win that game, then...I don't know.