Yeah, we told you so.

Sometimes, I hate being right. The playoff selection process is so laden with bias and status quo that here at Somanystadiums we were able to fully predict the playoff field with all the “championship games” yet to be played.

Some things we knew right off the bat:

  • Alabama was in, win or lose. Even if the Tide had lost by 35, they were in under the “We want the four best teams” sentiment. The premise is fine if you have an eight field team where you can give a Power Five team a break for the one-off loss. However, it makes conference championship games meaningless. Bama has looked great all year so they were automatically in, win or lose.
  • Notre Dame was in, win or lose. This is all about the national team / east coast bias for the Irish. They are a good team, and at times, a great team. I would have given this spot to Texas A&M.  But, I have seen A&M play a few times this year and their case is only a little bit stronger. We are talking feet, not yards if you are looking for a football analogy. Nonetheless, I’d rather see the Aggies than the Irish. I think ND is going to get crushed by the Tide. Having already played them once, I give A&M a better shot.
  • Clemson had to win to get in. I think everyone knows they are heads and shoulders better than ND, but they had to prove it. They don’t get the old school, east-coast bias benefit that ND does today so a win was a must.
  • Ohio State was in the same boat, but only because they had played six games. To be fair, the Buckeyes have been winning with a lot of backups thanks to Covid-19 precautions. If Ohio State had rolled into the Big Ten championship 11-0, they would have gotten the east coast bias, beauty contest playoff bid. Of course, you could argue the Big Ten already gave them that gift when they changed the conference requirement rules. Like it or not, the Buckeyes did take care of business.
  • This left Texas A&M hoping for some upsets. None of which happened. Gig’ em next year.

As Bruce Hornsby sings, “Did you really think about it before you made the rules?” This is not the way it should be. The playoffs should be an eight team field team with the following fully transparent rules.

1) Power Five conference winners get an automatic bid.

2) Undefeated Group of Five conference winners get an automatic bid.

3) Remaining slots filled by Selection Committee ranking.

With that in mind, this is what it should look like.

  • Bama is still the number one seed and they get the Oregon Ducks, as PAC 12 champions. I hate that the Ducks get in over say a Florida or Coastal Carolina, but by virtue of winning their conference, they are in. If Florida had beaten Texas A&M, they would have been in a much different spot. Plus, this season is different and giving a PAC 12 team a shot would be a lot more inclusive. The PAC 12 winner would not be nearly as problematic if the USC Trojans had taken care of business in the first place.
  • Notre Dame still gets in with an at-large bid and the four seed based on the selection committee ranking (thank you very much east coast bias). Texas A&M gets the other at-large bid and comes in at five. Honestly, isn’t this the game you wanted to see anyway? It allows the arguments to be settled on the field instead of in a hotel conference room.
  • Clemson rightly gets the number two seed and would play the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The Bearcats are undefeated and won the American Athletic Conference. Congrats Group of Five, you wanted it, you got it.
  • Ohio State gets the third seed and will play Oklahoma, the Big 12 Champion. Is Florida better than Oklahoma? The selection committee didn’t think so, having put the Sooners one spot ahead of the Gators.

The big losers in my eight game scenario are the following:

  • Florida. The Gators looked awfully good on offense against Bama. It feels like they could keep up with anyone in a shoot-out. Again though, when a team loses three games, it is hard to feel too badly for them.
  • Coastal Carolina. Let me be clear, had the Chanticleers beaten Louisiana (Lafayette) in the now cancelled Sunbelt Championship, they would have rightfully knocked out Texas A&M, only because the committee rated ND ahead of them. However, since this is a purely hypothetical bracket. I would suggest the Committee put A&M above Notre Dame. This way, you would get some great regional games that feel very much like first round playoffs.  Coastal would play Clemson, OU would take on Texas A&M, and Cincinnati would play the Buckeyes. Plus, college football fans get the added bonus of watching Irish fans go apoplectic and wail at the injustice of it all. My work here is done.

I am not alone in my assessment of the challenges facing the current system. You know there are problems when even the NCAA poster boys at ESPN’s Game Day are bad mouthing the college playoff system. As an aside, it was not exactly a great year for Game Day. From the forced and tenuous connection between The Masters and college football to backdrops with no audiences, the show really never caught its stride this year. The Bear’s Bank segments feel like they have run their course. When your picks are hitting only half the time, it’s the equivalent of a Christmas Club savings account – a feel good endeavor at best, and wasting away money at the worst.

But it wasn’t just ESPN that struggled. Some of the weekends, let alone games, were unwatchable this year. I am not sure that is the fault of anyone, it was just the way Covid-19 impacted the season. Thankfully, the precautions, by and large, kept most everyone safe. Sadly, though, there were some outliers. With that in mind, please celebrate the holidays with as much care and responsibility as possible. Let’s make 2021 a better year in every sense of the word.

Tree

 

 

 

That kid, Sermon,  from Ohio State is a beast

 

Rivalry Week 2020

If there was ever a year that you’d say a Hokie is a Turkey, it would be 2020. The only thing the Hokies have to be thankful for is that they don’t have to play Clemson until next week.

This week is normally one of the best weeks in college football. There’s nothing like rivalry week to bring out the best in teams. Alas, Covid-19 has claimed this weekend, with several traditional rivalry games not being played.

Typically, Thursday is for the NFL. Unfortunately, we’re getting the brussels sprouts (Houston versus Detroit) and lima bean casserole (Washington versus Dallas) of Thanksgiving games, with the stuffing (Ravens versus Steelers) relegated to Sunday leftovers. Thankfully, the NCAA has responded with University of New Mexico (0-4) versus Utah State University (0-4). Mmmm, creamed onions anyone?

Friday’s slate improves if you were looking for an excuse for not putting up the Christmas lights. ISU at Texas and ND at UNC should prove to be watchable. If you must get out of the house, there’s still tickets available for UMass at Liberty, although they are bit pricey.

Liberty is a dry campus but I hear that Falwell’s tailgate is jumping. Just ask for the signature drink, “The Pool Boy”.

ABC’s big game on noon EST is PSU at Michigan. Hmm, anyone up for Maryland versus Indiana? The Iron Bowl is still a thing this year, but does it count with Saban watching from his den? Well, maybe he can catch up on his Aflac paperwork. If your family Thanksgiving was cancelled, you still have a chance to get Covid-19 . There’s going to be a super spreader event at College Station this weekend as the Texas A&M hosts LSU. Wear those masks Aggie faithful.

 

Source as of 11/25, 4pm CST: Time.com

Enjoy the dark meat,

Tree

 

 

Week 7 Gig’d ‘Em

Last week’s games were pretty good, but it is clear that College Football is better with the BIG 10 and PAC 12 than without. Thankfully, there’s only one week to go until the BIG 10 season kicks off. It is hard to believe the PAC 12 doesn’t kick off until November 7. From the polls to the playoffs, this whole season should just carry a big asterisk. Look, this season is a welcome diversion but it is hard to consider it a valid one. The inconsistency in schedules and the high number of cancellations make it even more difficult to assess who the best teams are. It doesn’t make the eventual national championship meaningless, just diminished. With that, some random thoughts on last week games before I weigh in on this week’s slate.

Last week’s games:

  • I still don’t know if the Aggies are for real, but upsetting Florida is a step in the right direction.
  • I find Gus Johnson hard to listen to. He is constantly shouting, often trying to make drama where there is none. He also has a tendency latch on to one theme throughout the game. For a minute during the OU Texas game, Johnson almost had me convinced Ehlinger could walk on water. Look, Ehlinger had an inspired game, but the fairy tale ending that Johnson was crafting was ruined when the QB threw a game ending pick. And for once, Johnson was speechless. 
  • VT – UNC game mildly entertaining. Not sure how good UNC’s offense really is. Beating up 3rd string walk-on DBs isn’t exactly impressive. I should known since I was one.
  • You have to wonder if Orgeron at LSU is distracted with personal issues. The Tigers don’t look like themselves. Missouri beating LSU was certainly a surprise.
  • I have been keeping a close eye on the stands because I still hope to catch at least one game this year. In general, the adults have been social distancing but not the students. I wonder what that is going to look like in three weeks
  • Auburn got a gift on the fumble call on the clocking of the ball. Felipe Franks was something else for the Hogs. The Tigers were very lucky to win that game.
  • The rockhead move of the week was George Pickens from Georgia spraying water on the Tennessee QB on the sidelines. It wasn’t malevolent but it was stupid. 
  • And no, Miami is not back. They are better, but Clemson still handled them.

Week 7 Games

  • There’s already been two great Sun Belt games. The locations of the schools may not always be easy to get to, but the teams are entertaining. Trust me, I have been to both Arkansas State (pre Waterfall) and Troy. Still, the Sun Belt is the Fun Belt.
  • Even with Saban out with Covid-19, Georgia at Alabama should still be a great game. Finally a prime time game worth its slot.
  • Don’t complain LSU and Florida for having your game postponed. Houston plays BYU this weekend. It is their second game of the season.
  • The best game of the day may be Army at UTSA. If not for Covid, I would have strongly considered driving over to San Antonio to watch that game live.

Again, not the meatiest tray of games this weekend. Still, it is better than nothing.

2019 Year in Review

2019 is in the books. It was a good year despite some personal challenges. I hit eight stadiums with a couple doubles helping to smooth out the schedule. I had originally planed to hit ten, even possibly eleven games. Not unlike other seasons, by the time November came around I was running out of gas. Accordingly, I cancelled the last trip of the year to Chicago. It did not take much to convince me not to go. I mean Wisconsin in November is not exactly a big draw, walleye and cheese curds notwithstanding.

With Hawaii being one of the two opening games of the season, I convinced my wife this was the year for an island vacation. We were off to Hawaii for a week where she grudgingly agreed to go to the Arizona v. Hawaii game. Little did she know it would turn out to be one of the highlights of week. It was a 45 – 38 win for the Rainbow Warriors that came right down to the wire. It was one of the best games I have seen live. The good times continued up until a stringy haired surfer dude busted the window of our rental car in search of my wallet. Mahalo brah?!?

A couple weeks later, it was the Illinois – UConn game for Labor Day weekend. It was a sloppy game but it was still very entertaining. I was visiting my great friend Bob so I knew I was going to have good time regardless of the game. However, the UConn experience was just about right. The only downer of the weekend was a dismal experience at Gillette Stadium where the Steelers suffered a beating at the hands of the Patriots. I take solace in the fact that it was probably the highlight of the Patriots season. A loss in the Wildcard round? How do you like those apples?

But, I digress. After a couple of weeks off, it was time to see the number two team in the country. Alabama was playing host to Ole Miss in what was sure to be a blowout. It was close for about a quarter before Alabama opened it up and started scoring at will. The only consolation was that we had great seats in the shade (thanks Morgan). With all the history at Alabama, a visit to Tuscaloosa should be on your list, but with lowered expectations. The hallowed SEC has more than its share of dogs. This, along with Saban’s complaint that “no one will play us”, means Bama’s home schedule has more cupcakes than a 3rd grader’s birthday party. Early the next morning, I left my car at the Atlanta airport and flew home. The following Thursday night, I flew back to Atlanta and then made the long drive down to Mobile to see the South Alabama Jaguars host the Georgia Southern Eagles. To say I was not excited about this match up would be an understatement. I was dreading this game. I could not get anyone to go with me and I was going to Mobile. To my surprise, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The game was great, going two overtimes before Georgia Southern pulled out the win. And, Mobile had a great laid back vibe, almost like a chill New Orleans.

After such a great experience, I was looking forward to visiting UAB. The program had made great progress coming back from the dead. It was a feel good story I was looking forward to participating in. Instead, it was a debacle of epic proportions, from terrible tailgating, to weak play by the Blazers, finished by a soul crushing hour and half weather delay. I had had my fill of jorts and with my mandatory half of a game in the books, I was happy to put Birmingham in the rear view mirror.

After another break, it was time for a great northwest doubleheader. It was not my first time to Oregon, but it was my first time in the fall and I was impressed with the beauty of the state. I would say I had a good time everywhere but inside the stadiums I visited. It is always hard to blame the home team for a blowout win, but watching the Ducks run all over the Buffs (final score 45-3) got old after awhile. Of course, I did blame the Oregon State Beavers for laying an egg (final score 52-7) when the fifteenth ranked Utes came to town. But that weather – wow, what great fall scenery.

The year was wrapped up with a visit to South Bend to see the Hokies take on the Fighting Irish. Often held up as a must see destination for college football, Notre Dame did not disappoint. It was a weekend’s worth of fun with nary a drunk frat boy killing the buzz. Had the Hokies not choked away their seventeen point underdog upset, it would have been a perfect weekend. It marked the fourth game this season that came down to the wire. I couldn’t ask for much more.

And with that, here are the 2019 Stats:

Games and Teams

Total Games Attended: 8, up 2 from 2018

Best Team Seen: # 5, Oregon, far better then prior year’s Michigan (#14).

Final AP Top Twenty-Five Teams Seen: 4 versus 3 in 2018 (Oregon, Alabama, Notre Dame, Utah)

Worst Team: 4 – 8 Ole Miss, (#5 in the Bottom 10). Also making the list: UConn and South Alabama. I continue to excel at seeing some of the worst teams in the country.

Best Game Seen: Notre Dame 21 (#20) – Virginia Tech 20, 9/2/18. – Maybe not an Instant classic, but close.

Worst Game Seen:  Utah 52 – Oregon State 7 – Absolute blowout.

Bowl Game Teams Seen: 8 ( and 4 won their bowls). It was much better than last year where only 2 won.

The Players

College Award winners seen: One, Outland Trophy (Best Interior Lineman): Penei Sewell, Oregon, one more than 2018.

All Americans: 11  A great year with plenty of help from Alabama.

The Stadiums (of 2019 visits)

Best Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana. A must on any college football fan’s bucket list.

Worst Stadium: Legion Field, UAB, Birmingham, AL. – Thank god they are building one on campus, because it was a dump with lousy customer service as well.

Best Game Day Experience: Notre Dame (but we had a suprisingly good time at UConn as well). Pricey for sure, but the tradition, ohh the tradition.

Easiest Stadium to Get To: Reser Stadium, Oregon State. Navigating Corvallis was easy and there are multiple tailgating options along the way.

Hardest Stadium to Get To: Aloha Stadium, Hawaii – I mean it isn’t exactly a quick trip from anywhere.

Best Concessions: Aloha Stadium, Hawaii. Plenty of variety from local vendors.

Worst Concessions: Ladd Peebles, South Alabama. No souvenir cup.

Best Souvenir: Oregon, A ton of free little flashlights

Worst Souvenir: UConn, $31 for a hat? I think not.

Best Cup: Oregon, but Notre Dame was not far behind

Worst Cup: UAB, but at least they had a cup. Shame on you Hawaii and South Alabama.

The Costs

Total Season Spend: $4,800 ($3,500 ex mileage) not including Hawaii which was really a vacation as well; Ave per Game: ~$600 (ex mileage ~$433) down nearly $100

Most Expensive Ticket: Colorado vs Oregon – $50 actual (Stubhub) with a $80 face

Cheapest Ticket: Alabama – Free!

Average Ticket Price Paid: $25 (up $8 over previous year)

Average Savings on Tickets over face: $14 saved per ticket

Miscellaneous

Miles Driven: ~2,300  vs prior year 2,400

Miles Flown: ~16,000 (Hawaii, Albany (to UConn), Atlanta, Oregon, Chicago)

Two Game Weeks: Two – South Alabama / UAB; Oregon / Oregon State

Best Fans: Oregon. The guys around me were a lot of fun.

Worst Fans: UAB, but to be fair, they weren’t too bad.

Most Pleasant Surprise: South Alabama- Mobile was really pretty cool.

Most Unpleasant Surprise: UAB, I now have a new worst stadium.

2019 was also the year of AirBnb.

 

 

Touchdown Jesus here we come

We are off to Notre Dame this week to see the Hokies take on the Fighting Irish. I have had this game circled since last year when when we picked it for our group trip. Of course, it did almost get erased a couple of times like when V. Tech nearly lost to Furman. With a number of “perils of Pauline” type wins and rotating QBs, the Hokies somehow have managed to right the ship and come in at 5-2. Notre Dame is also 5 – 2 but had been in the top ten all year until last week’s blowout at Michigan dropped them to number 16. Nonetheless, the Hokies are still getting 17 points this weekend and despite my best judgement I am picking them. Before I go into my other picks, some thoughts on Week 9 in FBS College Football.

  • No reason OU should complain about that onside kick call. It was the right call and it should have never came to that.
  • Nice upset of the Longhorns by the Horned Frogs, but ugh, those TCU uniforms. Rough week for the sartorial crowd between those uniforms and the perennial worst band uniforms sported by Texas.
  • Wisconsin did not show up against Ohio State. Not much fight in those Badgers
  • Gophers looked good in their gold helmets. I can’t say much about their actual play as their opponent was Maryland. We will find out soon enough if they are real when PSU comes to town. I bet Game Day gave that game some consideration, but given they were just at Penn State they made Memphis their choice this weekend.
    • The PSU tight ends are very good by the way.
  • Ohio State’s Chase Young is a beast. Four sacks, five tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles. 
  • Auburn LSU didn’t feel as close as the score was. LSU was in control the whole time.
  • Love the UNC helmets, but not the navy blue uniforms.
  • SMU escaped with the win against Houston. They are going to have to step it up against Memphis if they want to stay undefeated.
  • The American Athletic Conference is a good conference – end of discussion.
  • Pitt defense chokes on the last Hurricane drive. Coach Pat Narduzzi let that game get away.

Some great finishes with the 3:30 EST games. It was one big finish after another and I was able to rotate them all through on the big 65″ silly in the Man Cave. Five TVs may seem like overkill, but it was well worth it last Saturday.

  • Navy gets the big kick to beat Tulane. I assume all the midshipmen got a weekend pass. Nice work by a true freshman kicker.
  • Couldn’t be happier for Mac Brown with that last second win against Duke.
  • Texas Tech tried to do too much – Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

As for the remainder of my picks, Tulane kept it close and Utah easily covered. Clemson just rolled over Boston College – so much for getting 35 points. And, Temple just let me down. Other random thoughts for the games this week.

  • Bargain of the week: Marshall vs Rice for $2
  • Watch out Illinois, Rutgers won last week against Liberty saving the Big 10’s reputation in the process.
  • Wofford gets $360k to play Clemson. I think the Tigers got off cheap.
  • Based on the remainder of Oregon’s schedule, the U Dub Huskies are their last hurdle to the PAC12 championship.
  • Remember when Miami vs. Florida State was “can’t miss game?” It is now one to avoid.
  • I think every UNC game I have seen this season has been exciting. I don’t think the UVA game is going to be any different.

That’s all I got, enjoy the games this weekend.