Sam Burnham, Curator
So the Big 10...er...11...14...whatever...has cancelled their fall season. They say they’re looking at a possible spring season, you know, like the USFL or XFL. Shortly afterwards their hippie cousins in the PAC-12 made the same announcement.
No one who grew up before the BCS should be surprised. These two conferences used to be locked into the Rose Bowl and therefore could never play a power from another conference for a true national championship. If they could stay away from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, or Clemson, they could put together a strong season and claim a national championship. That’s the only way Southern Cal, Ohio State, or Michigan ever won one.
So the SEC, ACC, and Big 12(10) are saying they are going to play. Notre Dame appears poised to participate in the ACC for a season. Most of the mid-majors have cancelled. Divisions II and III have been all but cancelled by the NCAA. There will be no FCS Playoffs. So there will only be big money ball this fall.
The intriguing turn has been from schools like Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa. Players are coming together to say they want to play. Penn State Head Coach James Franklin tweeted out a statement declaring his commitment to “exhaust all options” for his players who want to play.
So what options do they have? These are perennial powers. Iowa is seeing a resurgence of their program. It should be noted that Minnesota and Illinois really need to play. The Gophers and Illini had great seasons and a layoff and the transfer portal could destroy that momentum. Do you temporarily join another conference? Do you form a temporary conference of your own? Does Nebraska just wander home to the Big XII for good? There’s a small window of time to answer many questions.
Before the zealots come running out screaming about “science,” ACC medical expert Dr. Cameron Wolfe says the season can be played safely. Also consider that active players are constantly under the care of trained medical staff. Team doctors and athletic trainers are always evaluating the overall health of players. There is no medical plan on Earth that can compete with what is provided for NCAA athletes. Players will be safer in season than they could ever be with the season cancelled.
if you really care about equality, you want this to succeed. It’s unpopular but just proven reality that football pays all the bills for athletic departments nationwide. Without football, all the other sports, including women’s sports, are broke.
The season is closing in. It’s going to look very different than it has in the past. Fit the teams in who want to play and let’s make this happen. The players want it, the coaches want it, the fans want it, the science supports it, and the country needs it. If you’re scared, say you’re scared. If you’re not, play ball.
We arrive at the end of the season and present our season finale of the ABG Poll. Our voters have unanimously chosen LSU as National Champions. We also received a consensus at #2 with Clemson reaching that position on all ballots. The voters appear to have been impressed with the bowl performances of Georgia and Oregon. Oklahoma? Not so much.
One item of note, we’d like to welcome Appalachian State to the Top 10 for the final poll. Congratulations on a great season, Mountaineers.
In closing, thanks to all the poll voters who keep this evil, vindictive, crazy, wild and wonderful poll going each week.
1) LSU 50 (5)
2) Clemson 45
3) Georgia 36
4) Oregon 30
5) Ohio State 29
6) Alabama 17
7) Penn State 16
8) Florida 14
9) Appalachian State 10
10) Oklahoma 9
also receiving votes: Minnesota 6, Notre Dame 6, Cincinnati 3, Oklahoma State 1, UCF 1
Curator Sam Burnham
It’s time to have a serious discussion about the CFB Playoff. Through all the uproar and the protestations, and complaints about if the correct four teams were chosen or if the playoff needs expanding there’s one overarching absolutely true fact that everyone needs to come to grips with. That truth is this simple: the awful, rotten, flawed process we have right now is as good as it will ever be.
Sure we’ve had Chris Fowler, among others, wondering aloud, on air, what would have gone differently had Oregon been in instead of Oklahoma. The truth is that nothing would have been different. If you can’t beat Arizona State, you have no business playing LSU in the Playoff.
I kicked over a hornet’s nest full of butthurt Bama homers who were whining about “Bama fatigue” keeping them out of the Playoff. The truth is, Alabama had 0 quality wins this year and had no business is the playoff. The were eliminated. Period.
Had Georgia beaten South Carolina they could possibly have made the playoff but the truth is they didn’t beat South Carolina. While they’re probably the 4th best team in the nation they’re not a playoff team. Period.
We have the playoff in place because the old bowl system could always manage to narrow the competitive field to three teams, but rarely just two. LSU having to share a national championship with an inferior Southern Cal team was a low point. An undefeated 2003 Auburn team who didn’t even get a shot at Oklahoma or Southern Cal would have beaten either easily. Southern Cal wound up vacating that championship for cheating. What was needed was a “plus 1” game that would help weed out two of those final three. The regular season and conference championship games have already eliminated the rest of the teams at that point.
The biggest truth opposing expansion is that no one should have to sit through a blowout just because more teams might theoretically have a chance to win. Oklahoma didn’t belong there this year (or any of the other years they’ve made the playoff) but the rules say four teams have to go. So we got a miserable bloodbath game that no one honestly enjoyed. It’s silly and unnecessary. Adding more teams to the playoff will water it down, create more blowouts and meaningless games. Expansion might create more pomp, more spectacle, more fireworks, but it will add no substance, no practicality, no real competition.
Football is not basketball and it is foolish to think we can recreate March Madness in December. It’s an apples and automobiles comparison. We don’t even need to try. Let’s make the most of the system that is in place, realize that the regular season eliminates teams every week, and be realistic about our fandoms. Yes, you love your team but if they aren’t LSU or Clemson, they’ve been duly eliminated. Period. Better luck next year.
For Bowl Week we pick one great bowl game to watch and also break down the semifinals.
This will be the last poll taken until bowl season is complete and we crown our national champion. This week we have a lot of teams receiving votes but no Lagniappe Group due to low vote totals in that group.
We have our four playoff teams selected. We expect this to be the same four selected by the CFB Playoff Committee. We are less certain that they will have this same, which is to say correct, seeding.
We also have some some bold statements on behalf of the American Athletic and Sunbelt Conferences. The Mountain West and Conference USA get mentioned as well. Memphis, Appalachian State, Boise State, and even Florida Atlantic have been impressive this season. It’s easy to snark at their schedules but are they really much weaker than some of the others in the poll? Give these guys a chance on a larger stage this bowl season.
Here’s to a fun and exciting bowl season!
The ABG Poll
1) LSU 48 (3)
2) Clemson 45 (1)
3) Oklahoma 36
4 Ohio State 35 (1)
5) Oregon 25
6) Memphis 18
7) Georgia 17
8) Baylor 16
9) Appalachian State 13
10) Auburn 7
also receiving votes: Boise State 6, Utah 4, Florida 2, Florida Atlantic 2, Wisconsin 2, Miami-Ohio 1
Sam Burnham, Curator
Conference Championship Weekend has quite the history of upsets and crazy happenings. We go into this weekend every season with expectations of what will happen and who the four playoff teams will be. But it seems like every year that something happens.
What happens is due to one of my favorite factors of the sport. This is the thing that makes college football the greatest sport on Earth.
Go back to October 20th of last season. The undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes roll into West Lafayette, Indiana for what should have been a routine drubbing of the Purdue Boilermakers. What happened instead was an entire campus, inspired by a terminally ill student and Purdue super fan, Tyler Trent, encircled the Buckeyes and best then in every aspect of the game. On paper, Purdue wouldn’t have beaten the Buckeyes one time out of ten. On that night though, there was nothing the Buckeyes could have done differently. No matter what, they were going to lose that game.
Intangibles are the building blocks of upsets. You never know when a favorite is going to show up flat, when an underdog is going to play like a champion, when a particular defensive scheme is going to foil a particular offense. This game has a depth that goes beyond talent, size, strength, and speed. It’s a magical thing when we look back at Flutie’s “Hail Mary” or Joe Pa’s Nittany Lions shutting down Miami to win the national championship. There’s that Statue of Liberty that Boise State used to stun the Sooners and Cal’s unlikely kick return with some help from the Stanford marching band.
Do not dismiss the underdogs this week. Expect the unexpected. Something crazy will happen. It will impact the playoff. When it happens homers will cheer or cry and the rest of us will smile, Shake our heads, and thank the Lord above for giving us this greatest of all games. These are the moments we long for. This is why we love this game.
Headed into Conference Championship Weekend LSU still holds the top spot. They’ll face third-ranked Georgia in Atlanta on Saturday. Fourth-ranked Ohio State will be facing #7 Wisconsin in Indianapolis. And #6 Baylor will meet #8 Oklahoma in Dallas. The ACC Championship will feature #2 Clemson vs unranked Virginia. On Friday night #5 Utah will play #13 Oregon
That means a lot of crazy things can and probably will happen this weekend. This particular weekend always dishes out more than it’s share of drama as teams pull out all the stops to snag one of those four playoff spots. Upsets, funny bounces, close calls, we’ll see it all. We’ll be discussing that later this week in Curator & Coach. Stay tuned for that.
The ABG Poll
1) LSU 49 (4)
2) Clemson 42
3) Georgia 37
4) Ohio State 35 (1)
5) Utah 26
6) Baylor 18
7) Wisconsin 16
8) Oklahoma 15
9) Memphis 14
10) Florida 7
11) Auburn 6
12) Alabama 4
13) Oregon 3
14) Penn State 2
Boise State 1
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