Tagged with "LSU"
Preliminary LSU Thoughts and Dodger Blue Skies
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Football MLB ALABAMA ANGELS AUBURN CLEMSON FLORIDA FLORIDA ST. GEORGIA DODGERS LSU NEBRASKA YANKEES OHIO ST.

Preliminary LSU Thoughts

Iím fine with my team not being highly rated to start, but I still question the reasoning.

I guess people are forgetting that despite the #14 ranking to finish last year, LSU was one of the handful of top teams in the country for the third year in a row. The loss to Clemson in the bowl game was a matter of a highly motivated team playing a highly disappointed team. Iím not saying that it wasnít right for LSU to fall in the polls afterward, but that didnít mean that they werenít one of the best teams in the country. If Alabama had been slotted into the Peach Bowl (Chick-fil-A doesnít send me money, so Iím calling it what I want) against Clemson, that probably would have been a really close game too. When you are the national runner-up one year and you go down to the wire against a team like Alabama for what in all likelihood would have been a chance to repeat as SEC Champions, the Peach Bowl isnít something you get excited about.

Iím not saying LSU would have necessarily won the SEC (Georgia showed itself to be pretty much equal to LSU and Alabama despite having played none of the top three teams in the West before the SEC Championship game [SECCG]), but only very good SEC teams control their own destiny going into the SECCG. LSU was in that position in neither of its championship years; and of course in 2011, Alabama wasnít even in the SECCG.

An unfortunate aspect of preseason rankings is many voters (or random people who do preseason rankings) want to envision a team going undefeated. Thatís hard to do when you have to play the best four other SEC teams from last year (Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Florida) and TCU.

How many does Alabama have to play? Two. So itís possible LSU beats Alabama and still doesnít make the SECCG as a result of the rest of the schedule.

You might vaguely recall the fact that Alabama had an easier slate against the East last year too. The Tide played Missouri and Tennessee while the Tigers played Florida and South Carolina. It seems like the least that could have been done would have been to let LSU play Missouri this year.

LSU also had quite a gauntlet in 2011 and went 13-0 going into the BCS title game. And that was without a reliable quarterback, which LSU finally seems to have going into next year. Zach Mettenberger had some shaky starts early last year, but compared to Jarrett Leeís growing pains, his first season was a walk in the park. Had LSU not played Florida, the Tigers could have very well gone into the Alabama game (in which Mettenberger would have likely finished leading the team to victory had he been allowed) undefeated.

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Solving the SEC Scheduling Dilemma
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARKANSAS AUBURN FLORIDA GEORGIA KENTUCKY LSU MISS. ST. MIZZOU OLE MISS S. CAROLINA TENNESSEE TEXAS A&M VANDY

We are now more than halfway through the college football off-season. I hope everyone hasnít forgotten about me.

Iíve had a few minor things in other sports I wanted to write about in isolation, but I might do a bigger blog about other sports in the next few weeks.

To make the blog friendly to people who arenít avid college sports fans (or at least might not have been for the last 20+ years to the same extent I have been), I think some background is in order. Before 1992, the SEC was 10 teams and had been that way for nearly 30 years (after Tulane and Georgia Tech had departed in the 1960s). There were not formal divisions, but there were teams that traditionally played one another and other teams that did not.

I know more about LSU, so Iíll use them as an example. LSU has played Florida every year since the early 1970s, but fans would drive (or fly) past Auburn (who very rarely appeared on LSUís schedule) on the way there. The two teams of Tigers rarely met before the division system was implemented. (The division system entails playing every team in your division every year, and LSU and Auburn were placed in the same division, so they began playing annually at that time.) LSU has remained a permanent opponent of Florida despite being in another division, but since there is only one permanent inter-divisional opponent, LSU stopped playing Kentucky yearly, and Florida stopped playing Auburn yearly.

Until Missouri and Texas A&M joined within the last year, everyone seemed content with the system, which had been on a set rotation for about 10 years. The previous 10 years were operated with two permanent inter-divisional opponents, but this meant large stretches without playing any given teams of the four other teams in the opposite division. None of the teams seemed too traumatized by losing their #2 inter-divisional opponent, and I thought it was more exciting as a fan to play the other teams on a more regular basis.

The makeshift schedule that operated last year and will operate next yearĖand perhaps years into the futureĖis a ď6-1-1″ format. This means 6 divisional opponents (each division expanded to 7 teams when Missouri and Texas A&M were added), one permanent opponent, with the other 6 conference teams rotating to round out the schedule. This reintroduces the problem that existed under the 1992 to 2002 format with a number of teams rotating around one spot, except that now itís 6 teams instead of 4.

There is a proposal favored by LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina that the SEC forget about the permanent inter-divisional opponents entirely and simply move to a 6-2 format, six in your own division, two from the other division on a constant rotation. The Advocate newspaper reports that ďseveralĒ SEC coaches have said that the teams are split over whether to go that route or maintain the same format that is being used now (or perhaps a slightly modified version). I would think Florida probably leans toward 6-2 as well, given that the Gators probably place the same priority on playing LSU every years as LSU does on playing Florida every year, which is to say, they donít find it important at all. At least not as compared to a more equitable schedule. Missouri may also prefer it, but perhaps not as long as Missouri is in the SEC East. Missouri is not a natural match-up for Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, but it may make up for it a bit if Missouri can begin an annual series with Arkansas. (This has not been implemented yet under the current temporary format. Arkansas is still playing South Carolina, and Missouri is playing Texas A&M.) Texas A&M and South Carolina donít want to be forced to play one another every year as left-overs. South Carolina had been playing Arkansas, which didnít make sense historically or geographically either.

There is a third major option that no one apart from Alabama (specifically Nick Saban) favors, which is to move to a 9-game schedule, with two rotating inter-divisional opponents and one permanent one. There are a few problems with this, even though it seems to be where most of the other major conferences are going. It creates an imbalance where some teams will have 4 conference road games and others will have 5. It would also make it more difficult to schedule out of conference. It would also likely reduce the chances of an SEC team winning the national championship due to difficulties in remaining undefeated after playing 10 games against SEC teams (including the championship game) and due to the fact that the SEC as a whole (if not the individual team) may lack other quality opponents that establish how good the SEC is. A home game is not easily parted with in the SEC, given that football helps fund the other sports and in some cases even helps fund other university expenses. 100,000 seats, even if there is a weak opponent, can command a tidy sum of money.

Full blog, including map...

2012 College Football Final Top 25
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Football Alabama Cincinnati Florida Georgia LSU Notre Dame Ohio St. Oregon SEC Stanford Texas A&M South Carolina

The basic idea of my computer ratings is to be a better version of the BCS standings, where the focus is on the top teams and having the correct top 2.

For the first few years, my top 2 agreed with the BCS top 2 with the BCS Champion finishing #1 in my final rankings. That changed last year when I had Oklahoma St. #2 going into the bowls and then LSU stayed #1 despite the loss to Alabama.

Once again this season, my top 2 was different from the BCS top 2. I had Notre Dame #1 going in, but Alabama was down at #4, below Florida and Ohio St.

Some might scoff at Florida, which didnít even win its division, but neither did last yearís pre-bowl #3. Florida also managed to beat both LSU and Texas A&M, which Alabama could not do, and the Tide didnít even face one of the top 3 teams of the other division until the SEC Championship game.

As for Ohio St., letís face it: If they werenít on probation, they would have been in the title game against Notre Dame.

Since Iím about to paste my top 25 below anyway, Iíll give it away. Alabama did finish as #1 in the final rankings this year, the second year in a row my (completely subjective) preseason #1 ended #1. And if we were to look at the top 2 now, what happens? Rematch! Alabama should have to beat them again. It would be even better if they had to beat Georgia again though. In addition, Alabama should also have to travel back in time and beat Texas a second time in 2009.

Iíll be really annoyed if Alabama has a November loss next year and ends up in the title game again anyway, especially being that their SEC East opponents in the regular season will be Tennessee and Kentucky while LSU, for instance, will play Florida and Georgia.

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Alabama 4

2 Notre Dame 1

3 Ohio St. 2

4 Oregon 6

5 Stanford 5

6 Florida 3

7 S Carolina 8

8 Georgia 10

9 TX A&M 12

10 Kansas St. 7

11 Clemson 15

12 Florida St. 16

13 SJSU 14

14 LSU 9

15 Oklahoma 11

Continue to full blog.

2012 SEC Recap
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Football Alabama LSU Texas A&M. South Carolina Florida Georgia SEC Big XII Pac-12 Notre Dame Vanderbilt Ole Miss Miss. St.

Iím not happy about Alabama winning the BCS title (and finishing #1 in my ratings) and I still donít like the man at all, but Nick Saban has been pretty good about reminding people what it means to be in the SEC rather than pretending this is all about Alabama. He gave Georgia and the SEC credit, saying, ďWe got here by 5 yards ó Georgia was 5 yards from scoring [the winning touchdown in the SEC title game],Ē Saban said. ďItís a pretty tough league we play in. Weíre going to have to improve as a program to have the opportunity to play for a national championship again, because of the quality of our league.Ē

After, the LSU game, Sabanís opening remarks to the media included the following: ďLSU played a great game. They had a great game plan. They did a great job of executing. I think their quarterback played really well. There was a stretch there in the second half where they converted seven straight third down and five or moresÖ. This was a very physical game. Iím going to tell you that our guys are probably going to be as sore as theyíve ever been after any game.Ē It was obviously in part to give his team credit for winning despite this, but he acknowledged all during the following week that if anything he needed to keep a lid on his teamís self-congratulatory mood (he was smart enough to worry about what happened in the A&M game before it happened), so I donít think he was just patting himself or the team on the back with these comments.

I also want to give Gregg Doyel (who gave the Saban quote about Georgia here) credit for pointing out what an idiot he made out of himself earlier in the year.

I believe the Tide would have finished undefeated and possibly without the scares it had against LSU and Georgia had it competed in any other conference, and the same may well have been true had the Tide faced Notre Dameís schedule. Thatís not to say there wouldnít have been any close games, but I donít think there would have been the type of game that either the Tigers or the Bulldogs had against the Tide. I donít think Texas A&M was as outstanding as some think they were, but they beat Alabama because they got out to a 20-0 lead, and Iím almost certain that theyíre the only team in the country that could have realistically done that.

I just mentioned the three best teams that Alabama played this season (at least based on the games those teams gave Alabama), and it could have easily been any one of them in their place. Iíll further note that the Tide did not play Florida or South Carolina. So if the schedule and a couple other things had worked out differently, Alabama could have been the fifth or sixth team in the SEC this year. After all, thatís the spot LSU (at least according to the polls) ended up in this year, and we saw how close they were to Alabama on the field.

Continue to full blog.

Top Bowls to Watch and Other Reactions
Category: NCAA
Tags: NCAA Football Clemson Georgia Kansas St. Louisiana Tech LSU N. Illinois Nebraska Oklahoma Oregon South Carolina Texas A&M Wisconsin ULM

There are many more reminders of why this system needs to be put out of its misery than there are positives in the bowl match-ups, but there are four games Iím looking forward to.

Bowls To Watch

The only BCS game Iím even somewhat excited about is Kansas St. vs. Oregon (though the runaway offenses will probably become tiresome). Neither Texas/Texas A&M nor the Backyard Brawl worked out as bowl games. Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M should be a good substitute for the former though. That gets top billing in my mind for best non-BCS contest. The second and third choices are probably Georgia-Nebraska (CapitalOne [which you might remember as the Florida Citrus Bowl]) and LSU-Clemson (Chik-fil-A, aka Peach). But Iím still going to complain about LSUís treatment shortly.

A brief aside about the Cotton. Maybe itís because Iím not Texan, but I really donít understand why someone was going to veto Texas/Texas A&M. I get that Texas had its schedule set, and the non-conference schedule is also curtailed by the fact that the Big XII schedule is now 9 games, and they werenít going to bend over backwards to accommodate a rival who decided to go to the SEC instead. But how is any of that a reason not to play that rival in a bowl game, especially one with such historic ties to both programs? Just for spite someone had to put a stop to it?

I know the non-BCS bowls I mention all involve SEC teams, but the SEC has the best non-BCS teams. Clemson and Nebraska are two of the best non-champions. Nebraska would have easily been regular-season champions of a combined Big Ten (but got creamed by a Wisconsin team that didnít even really belong in the title game), and Clemson tied in the ACC Atlantic (the one with the only ACC teams worth a whole lot) with Florida St. but lost the head-to-head tie-breaker. Oklahoma actually tied for the Big XII championship but didnít get the Fiesta invite for losing head-to-head (not to mention out of conference to Notre Dame).

Seeing Red

Iím still annoyed that Northern Illinois was forced into a BCS game, but they still may be better than Louisville. I have never understood why they made it top 16 rather than top 12. Any undefeated team is almost guaranteed to be in the top 12, as will many strong one-loss non-major-conference teams. But Northern Illinois has played probably the easiest schedule in FBS. Theyíre in 2007 Hawaii vicinity with how bad it was, and we all remember how that turned out. And that was an undefeated Hawaii team. As mentioned, at least there is some solace in the fact that this system will be replaced.

Not that NIU is sure to be embarrassed. If North Carolina St. can beat Florida St., why not the Huskies? Iíve already mentioned Wisconsin by winning a game it didnít belong in (and actually doing the embarrassing in the process).

And Wisconsin is still an example of why you donít put the wrong team in a match-up, they can always win. Iím not saying the Big Ten had a choice here (I understand the probations of both Ohio St. and Penn St.), but it just didnít work out well for neutral fans here.

Full blog, including reactions to Louisiana teams' placements (or lack thereof).

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