|Ohio State Reprises the Role of College Football's Washington Generals|
Today's first order of business is to congratulate the LSU Tigers on their BCS Championship Game victory last night. And today's second order of business is to wonder exactly how much snickering we should be doing at the expense of the Big Ten.
Truly, the Buckeyes don't have anything to be ashamed of. They lost to a very good LSU team last night, and for a Big Ten team, the Buckeyes are a pretty decent squad. Making it to consecutive BCS Championship games is something to be proud of, as long as you note that they got to this one by mowing through a pathetic non-conference schedule and a weak Big Ten. It's still something to be proud of. Probably.
Granted, fans of rival teams and conferences might not frame it that same way when they mention it, but I guess that's just the price you pay for being ... well, pretty good.
(Also on Today's List: So, what exactly did LSU win last night? ... June Jones doesn't so much take the SMU job, as he runs screaming away from the Hawaii job ... This Roger Clemens thing is getting so weird ... ESPN desperately wants another Anthony Smith situation ... and we honor LSU's White Hammer, Jacob Hester...)
It's somewhat unfortunate for Buckeye fans that their shamings have to not only be so convincing, but they also have to come in front of the biggest possible audiences. I sort of feel bad for them ... two years in a row now, they've had very good seasons, but all anyone's going to remember is that, in the last game of the year, an SEC team turned them over their knee and gave them a thorough paddling.
It's almost like the BCS uses Ohio State as a tomato can boxer, present only to make another boxer look good on his way up. They look impressive, and they've got an inflated record that the TV people can promote ... but at the end of the day, they exist only to take a beating so that everyone can marvel at the fearsome nature of the other team.
|LSU's Prize? The Lou Holtz Award for Achievement, Plus Warm, Fuzzy Feelings|
So, what exactly did LSU win last night? I'm hesitant to call it a "National Championship," since it wasn't a competition that was open to everyone in the nation. If we're insistent on calling it a championship and prefacing that with a geographic location, we'd pretty much be limited to the Baton Rouge/Columbus Championship, and that doesn't sound too prestigious.
We could call LSU "the #1 team in the country," and that would be accurate, at least in terms of where they're actually ranked. Chances are, they'll be ranked #1 in all of the major human polls, so calling them "#1" would be justifiable. I'm concerned, however, that it might imply that they're actually the best team in the nation ... and while that might be true, I've certainly not seen proof of it.
They lost two games, just like USC, Missouri, and West Virginia. Kansas is still sitting there with 1 loss. Ohio State still only has 2 losses, and Hawaii has 1, but I think we can all agree that it's best for all involved if we eliminate Hawaii and Ohio State from the "best team in the country" discussion.
So, that's what we have ... LSU, USC, Missouri, West Virginia and Kansas all with two losses or fewer, and no reason to believe that LSU beat a better team in their bowl game than did USC, West Virginia, Kansas, or even Missouri (arguable, sure, but even the biggest Big Ten supporter would have to agree that the SEC looks like the far superior conference at the moment).
The best thing to call LSU is probably "The BCS Champion," and that's satisfying on one level, as pretty much everyone knows that the BCS is an absurd system and does not actually crown the best team in the country.
Two things concern me about that, though ... 1) Too many people might confuse "BCS Champion" with "National Champion," and that's not entirely accurate; and 2) Most rational people generally hate the BCS, and LSU doesn't deserve to be affiliated with something so loathsome.
I think the best thing to do, as long as we have this heinous system, is to just agree that there is no National Champion. Instead, we'll just give the winner of the BCS Championship game a big trophy, call it something like, "The Lou Holtz Award for Outstanding Achievement in College Football," and just let everyone decide if they want to be happy or unhappy about their seasons.
It will be a little like T-Ball in that sense. There will be no concrete winners or losers ... just feelings. A team's reward at the end of the season will be how they feel. I never really thought of it that way before ... maybe college football is just really evolved, and the rest of us haven't caught on yet.
|SMU, You Say? I Guess the Local Porno Theatre Wasn't Hiring ...|
June Jones led a program with a spot in the BCS, a Heisman candidate and the love and adoration of an entire state ... not to mention the fact that he got to live in Hawaii. What magical offer, you might wonder, was enough to lure him away from this perfect little oasis?
I'm sure it wasn't easy for Jones, and I'm sure he still loves the state and the people ... but with this decision, he might as well have taken out a full-page ad in USA Today that read, "Head football coach at Hawaii is the worst damn job in the nation, and I'd rather hand wash the floors at a porno theater that's open only to customers with HIV."
No disrespect to SMU -- well, actually, I suppose I can't pull out the "no disrespect" line after comparing your head coaching job to infected adult material mopping -- but in what way is that a decent job? They just went 1-11, and 0-8 in Conference USA ... they've had exactly one winning season in the last 18 ... they haven't been in a bowl game since 1984 ... and they serve as a constant reminder of why the NCAA calls it the "death penalty."
This is what your head coach chooses over you, Hawaii. If that doesn't send a message to anyone Hawaii might pursue as the next head coach, I don't know what would.
It's an unbelievable hire for SMU ... they didn't just hit a grand slam with this one, they broke DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak by hitting a grand slam in 57 consecutive games. That that program got that coach is unbelievable.
I wonder if West Virginia didn't miss out by waiting just a little while longer to see if Jones was interested in their job.
|For the Scrapbook ...|
Ironically, one of these teams is called "Bath."
|Roger Clemens Records Phone Calls|
If you're a regular reader, you know how skeptical I've been of Roger Clemens' claims of cleanliness. I've mocked him every step of the way through the steroid accusations, and often in the least friendly manner possible. I thought there was as much chance that Clemens was telling the truth as there was that the Big Ten was the dominant football conference in the country.
This McNamee phone call, though ... has me at least considering that there might be some shred of truth to what Clemens is saying. More than anything else, it's just weird. It's not convincing, by any stretch ... it's just that it's so ... weird. I've really never heard anything like it. You can listen for yourself here.
McNamee sounds totally desperate, like he'd do anything to gain or regain Clemens' approval. Clemens sounds to me like he's holding things back and doesn't want to say much himself; he just wants McNamee to talk ... and I also get the feeling that Clemens knew he was going to play this phone call at a press conference later. It doesn't seem like McNamee knew that.
During the call, McNamee keeps asking Clemens, "What do you want me to do?", even saying at one point that he'll go to jail if Clemens wants him to. This seems to jibe with Clemens' claim in his lawsuit that McNamee only ever told investigators that Clemens used steroids because he was threatened with jail time if he didn't. Again, I'm not saying that I buy Clemens' story ... there are still a ton of things to remain skeptical about. But Roger's story did seemingly gain a tiny little bit of credence with the playing of this phone call yesterday.
It's going to be fascinating (if not also tedious) to watch this thing play out. The fact that Clemens went ahead with the lawsuit opens up a ton of new possibilities. I'm looking forward to this getting as weird as possible.
|ESPN Manufacturing Bulletin Board Material for the Patriots|
Breaking News: Jaguars defensive lineman Paul Spicer doesn't take back something he said months ago, and doesn't that add some spice to the already-important Jaguars/Patriots game this weekend?
Here's what Spicer said this morning:
"I don't regret saying what I said. I'm a man of my word. I always speak my mind and that's what I felt at that time."WOOOOOO. INCENDIARY.
Spicer, of course, is referring to comments he made to the Associated Press back when news of the Spygate scandal broke. Those comments actually were news ... you know, months ago, when he said them.
Here's what he said at the time:
"Do like the NCAA and kick them out of the playoffs or something. Put them on probation; they can't go to no playoff games. Roger Goodell has definitely enforced some new rules. He's been hard on players. Now let's see how hard he's going to be with a team."Again, I stress that those aren't the comments that "made news" today. Spicer not regretting those comments is what made news today.
"This ain't news. I've heard it in the past. They finally got caught. The Patriots got caught. They're busted."
Why, you might ask? Well, here are some facts that might or might not be helpful in answering that question: Spicer made the comments yesterday morning on ESPN2's First Take, the story was one of the top headlines on ESPN.com (under the headline "Jags' Spicer gives Pats bulletin board material"), and the story is attributed to "ESPN.com news services." A certain trend develops there.
This is not, no matter how badly ESPN wants it to be, an Anthony Smith situation. Months ago, it might have been ... but Spicer didn't give any new ammunition to the Patriots.
Jacob Hester. It's hard to highlight one LSU player for the Yesterday's MVP hardware ... if last night proved anything, it's that LSU was a more complete and explosive team, from top to bottom. Everybody made plays. Early Doucet made plays, Richard Dickson made plays, and Matt Flynn was almost flawless ... but since he was the official MVP, we're going to go with Jacob Hester here.
The man I've affectionately called "The White Hammer" all year long ran 21 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. He wasn't a gamebreaker, but he was efficient enough to keep Ohio State paying attention to the ground game, allowing the LSU offense to get creative and do things through the air.
The other reason we're recognizing Hester is that he's a senior, and I don't know if we'll hear much more from him in the future. He doesn't really move laterally at all, which is a skill that most NFL teams look for in a running back. Hester just builds up a head of steam and finishes every run by lowering his head and plowing into someone. If he's going to play at the next level, he's going to have to put on some pounds and do it as a fullback.
But he performed well last night, he's had a fine career at LSU. We salute The White Hammer.
|Yesterday's Sad Sack|
The Denver Nuggets. No one's ever going to accuse the Nuggets of being a stout defensive team, but giving up 78 points in a first half? Even if it is to the Suns? A modicum of pride would not be out of order, Nuggets.
|For Those Who Admire the Female Form ...|
|The Evening's Agenda|
Deserving Of Your Full Attention ...
7:00, ESPN. College Basketball. Indiana @ Michigan. John Beilein continues his "Boost the Rest of the Big 10's Self-Esteem" tour.
Other Stuff ...
7:00, ESPN2. College Basketball. Wichita State @ Missouri State.
7:00, ESPNU. College Basketball. Bradley @ Southern Illinois.
7:30, VS. NHL. Avalance @ Red Wings.
8:00, NFL Network. NFL Replay.
8:00, CNN. New Hampshire Primary Coverage.
9:00, ESPN2. NBA Coast to Coast.
9:00, ESPN. College Basketball. Florida @ Alabama.
9:00, ESPNU. College Basketball. Georgetown @ DePaul.
9:00, Discovery. Dirty Jobs. Big Animal Vet.
9:00, CBS. The 34th Annual People's Choice Awards.
9:00, FOX. House.
10:00, Comedy Central. Chris Rock. Never Scared.
10:00, BET. What's In It For Us? Barack Obama and the Black Vote
10:30, NFL Network. NFL Replay.