Saturday, December 09, 2006

SMITH WINS HEISMAN. WORLD STILL EXISTS.

Troy Smith won the Heisman. In even more shocking news, Earth remained in orbit around the Sun. Grass is still green. The sky is still blue.


The Heisman. Surprise, surprise.

But do give credit to a guy who turned his life around and has led his team within one win of the promised land. Not that I hope he'll get there -- but give him credit for coming so close.

Friday, December 08, 2006

HOT COMMODITIES

Why doesn't Alabama go after Tyrone Nix? Everybody else has.

For the second time in as many weeks, the 34-year-old Nix said he was not interested in a head-coaching position for which he had been contacted. A week after removing his name from consideration at North Texas, Nix on Friday denied a published report that he interviewed for the vacancy at Tulane. ...
While Nix has spoken with Tulane athletics director Rick Dickson about the position, Nix said he has not had a formal interview and does not have one scheduled. ...
Nix has said repeatedly that he is not interested in the Tulane job. ...
Nix, in his second season with the Gamecocks, has drawn interest from at least three schools in recent weeks. Tennessee Tech officials reportedly asked Spurrier for permission to speak with Nix and Gamecocks secondary coach Ron Cooper, but neither assistant was interested in the Division I-AA school.

We can't keep him forever, but having Nix around a few more years would be nice.

Meanwhile, as expected, Stephen Garcia is coming to create a dynasty among college football, which he will rule from his throne on the roof of the Coliseum as Carolina cheerleaders feed him grapes hand-picked by Andrew Sorensen.


Hasn't thrown a college pass yet. Our hero.

ALABAMA: WILL HIRE FOR FOOD. AND $12 MILLION.

The Alabama coaching search went from coup to disaster today when Coach Rich Rodriguez, apparently discovering his soul while checking the mailbox this morning, decided to stay with his alma mater and "never gonna leave as long as they'll have me" job at West Virginia.

So, just to review:
1. Steve Spurrier.
2. Nick Saban.
3. Rich Rodriguez.
4. ????

This doesn't include the four or five other coaches who, as soon as their name showed up on the same sports page as Alabama, almost immediately said, "I'm not interested."

It seems that, to honor the school's 12 national championships, Alabama is going to attempt to be rejected by an equal number of coaches.

Part of it, I honestly think, is the complete and total unwillingness of a vocal segment of the Crimson Tide fan base to tolerate anything other than 10 wins and SEC title contention every year. They don't seem to realize that, as good a coach as the Bear was, he had one crucial edge that current coaches don't have: As long as he had the money, he could offer the scholarships. Now, there are limits, which means fewer top-notch players for the Tide and more top-notch players for their opposition. Alabama will never enjoy the same success that the Bear enjoyed. No team in college football ever will.

But if your expectations for the coach's results are unreasonable, your expectations for a coach are also going to be unreasonable. So instead of trying to strike out and find a hidden coach at a mid-major or at the coordinator level, Alabama has tried to buy off other teams' coaches. They're not the only guilty party in this regard -- that would be you I'm talking about, N.C. State -- but they are the most brazen offenders, offering the most obscene amounts of money.

Miami, meanwhile, a program who might or might not have tried to lure either Spurrier or Rodriguez to the sidelines and did go after Greg Schiano, decided to give defensive coordinator Randy Shannon a shot. In addition to adding another African-American coach to the NCAA Division I-A ranks, with the total now standing at six, it gives the program some continuity. But how Miami passed up Bernie Kosar, I'll never know.

To an extent, as an Auburn and SEC fan, I want Bama to come back at least a little. It's no fun when the villian isn't any good; nobody hated the Yankees in 1980s because they were just bad.


At least they had Don Mattingly.

One intelligent suggestion I saw on Bama message boards, whom the Tide faithful would probably never accept, was Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Stockstill. The school could remove the Croom whispers by giving Florida DC Charlie Strong a look. Larry Coker's a decent guy that might be able to put something together in Tuscaloosa, as long as he wasn't allowed to recruit his own quarterbacks.

But there's also a current head coach with SEC experience who might be willing to leave his job up Nawth...


Alabama head coach; that has a nice ring to it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

THE TRUTH ON ALABAMA COACHING SEARCH

A flurry of activity has led some to conclude that a deal between Alabama and Mountaineers HC Rich Rodriguez is imminent.

However, in a shocking development, Cock & Fire has learned that there is indeed a mystery candidate for the job with ties to South Carolina, and he will be offered the job tomorrow.


Roll Crimthon Tide.

"I'm very exthited about thith wonderful opportunity," Lou Holtz told C&F in an exclusive interview. "I've alwayth rethpected the tradition of Alabama, and thith is a great chanthe to revive yet another proud team from thome troublethome timeth."

Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore was enthusiastic about reaching a deal with Holtz.

"I've said all along that we were looking for a proven head coach with a proven record of achievement who can reach the level of excellence that all of us desire," Moore said. "Coach Holtz will do that for two years before leading the program into mediocrity and then leaving before NCAA sanctions come crashing down."

Holtz said he was already beginning to think of what could be done with the Tide's players.

"Imagine John Parker Wilthon running three conthecutive quarterback drawth," Holtz said. "It thould work beautifully.

"And if not, there'th alwayth the jump ball."


Not sure about this QB draw talk.

Holtz said he hasn't yet decided which potential all-conference running back he will chase away from the program with an inexplicable benching.

LIBERTY > INDEPENDENCE

Apparently, USC fans like liberty more than independence:

USC had sold 10,141 tickets to the Dec. 29 bowl against Houston in Memphis, Tenn., as of late Wednesday afternoon, according to sports information director Steve Fink. ... USC sold about 8,500 last year for the Independence Bowl.

Meanwhile, Stephen Garcia will make his much anticipated announcement Thursday. Will he come and singlehandedly carry South Carolina to the college NC and then to the Super Bowl??? We'll know soon enough!!!!


Will QB for USC, solve state's education problem, be governor on alternate weekends.

GATOR COMMITMENT TAKES MONEY; NOW IN CLEMSON'S SIGHTS

Imagine you're the athletics director at a Florida high school that is about to play for the state championship. Imagine you open the Miami Herald one morning and read this about your star running back:

Chris Rainey, Lakeland's star senior running back, told The Miami Herald he received sports jerseys and jewelry from a Lakeland clothing vendor in exchange for an autograph. He also said he received cash from an unknown elderly woman.
"I didn't even count it," Rainey said in a story published Tuesday. "When I walk around, people are buying me food, giving me money. I'm like, 'Damn, I'm glad I'm Chris Rainey. It's real nice to be me.'"

(HT: EDSBS, who gives the HT to half a dozen others)

Now, imagine the Miami Herald does a follow-up the next day reporting that said running back is under investigation by the Florida High School Athletic Association. What could be the worst possible sentence you could read in that follow-up piece?

"We stand by the reporting in the story," (Herald executive sports editor Jorge) Rojas said. "It's all on tape." [Emphasis added]

Upon hearing the news, Clemson began vigorously recruiting the Florida commitment.


Taking money from an old lady to play? That's our kind of RB.

HUH?

ESPN has some coaching news that's just, well, here it is:

Boston College coach Tom O'Brien has been hired as North Carolina State's new football coach, multiple sources close to the situation said Wednesday night.

((Shakes head vigorously))

Huh?

Why?


Getting advice from whoever told Garth Brooks to be Chris Gaines.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

HONORS FOR GAMECOCKS

No first-teamers this year, but second-team All-SEC players from South Carolina, according to coaches:

--WR Sidney Rice
--TE Andy Boyd
--CB Fred Bennett
--K Ryan Succop

I would think one or two of these would be first-teamers, but fair enough. None of them blew away in the statistics department...

Besides, Sidney Rice for Heisman in 2007. Start the campaign now.

WINTER OF BLOOD, 2006

Every few years, it's time for college football to go through a bloody ritual, with several coaches sacrificed to the unquenchable appetite of boosters and alumni.


Feed me!

This is one of those years. As of the end of Tuesday, Larry Coker, Mike Shula, Chuck Amato, John L. Smith, Dirk Koetter, Don Strock, Dan McCarney, Jack Bicknell, John Bunting, Darrell Dickey, Walt Harris and Chris Scelfo had all been let go.

And this year, the blood runs from the "top" (cough cough) of the college football world in Miami to Tulane, who is ... not the top. It includes coaches who were perhaps given too much time (Chuck Amato) and those given not enough time (Walt Harris).

Now, it seems that the bloodletting is over, though it's conceivable that bowl games could end with another dismissal or two.

The key question is, which coaches will return? If the past is any indicator, several of these guys will just switch jobs. Smith to Stanford, for example, and Harris to Tulane. (I'm making this stuff up, so don't start any rumors.) Or somebody will go somewhere (wink wink, Rich Rod) and they will be replaced by someone from the above list. Larry Coker?

FOREVER IS FOR YESTERDAY

"I'm going to repeat myself as clear as I can. I plan on being the coach at West Virginia for the rest of my career if they'll have me. That's what I'm planning on doing. I don't plan on calling or talking to anybody this week. I don't plan on talking to anybody next week. I don't plan on doing anything but everything I can for West Virginia football. That's the end of the story. That's it."
--Rich Rodriguez, 12/1/06

TUSCALOOSA -- University of Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore met with West Virginia University coach Rich Rodriguez in New York City on Tuesday...
--Tidesports.com, 12/5/06

Insert punchline here:_________________


I don't plan on meeting with anyone -- except Alabama...

Monday, December 04, 2006

THE RANKS: The regular season wrap


Okay, let me explain something here, real quick: I'm judging based on the whole season now, because it's all over. So some teams, even if they were idle, could move up or down, based on how I assessed the season at the close. I also took a closer look at some teams' records as opposed to simply what they did last week. This is the closest I can come after a bizarre season to a satisfying Top 25. Again, I claim no responsibility for anything outside of the Top 25.


I give up.

Feel free to assail. (For Michigan fans: Only if you have something new to say.)

1 (Last week: 1) Ohio State: IDLE. One last game to go to prove they are the No. 1 team in the nation. But watch out -- Urban Meyer is good in the big game. Oh, and I have mad respect for Jim Tressel for abstaining from the final ballot. It should be a rule. I only wish I could abstain from Nos. 7-25.
2 (4) Florida: def. Arkansas, 38-28. Wow. Chris Leak kind of sort of redeems himself. Percy Harvin said, "Reservations for New York in December 2007, thank you very much." And the Gators made reservations for Tempe in January. A tough, gutsy win by a tough, gutsy team. Sorry, Michigan doesn't have a single win that compares.


Yes, Chris, you finally did it.

3 (2) Michigan: IDLE. You feel bad screwing them like this. Really. They had a great run. But they're not getting punished for being idle per se. They're falling because Florida finally proved Saturday that the Gators are the better team. Or at least as good. And a tie goes to the team who hasn't already had a chance. And who has the intangibles.
4 (8) Oklahoma: def. Nebraska, 21-7. What if? What if there hadn't been such a bum call in Oregon? Then Oklahoma would have been in the NC discussion. They should have been. They shouldn't have ended up in Tempe, but they should have been in the conversation. So they get rewarded.
5 (6) LSU: IDLE. Look out. This is a monster team that could very well hang 40 on Notre Dame when man-monster JaMarcus Russell drags four defenders as he makes a picture-perfect throw to the endzone. Having two losses, as talented as they are, is another argument for why doing what Florida did in the SEC deserves to be rewarded.
6 (5) Wisconsin: IDLE. Another victim of the post-season review, as Oklahoma and LSU leapfrog them. Yeah, Big Ten fans will gripe that I'm systematically screwing their teams for the SEC. But that's nonsense. I'm reviewing the whole records of teams where I have qualms. And Oklahoma completed its season, and ended up being better in my estimation than the Badgers.
7 (2) Southern California: lost to UCLA, 13-9. Ding, dong, the witch is dead! What's that about the best conference in the nation, Sagarin? Really? The one whose champion lost to UCL-freaking-A? Kudos to Karl Dorrell and the Bruins. And don't be alarmed if you get flowers signed, "Thanks a bunch. Urban." Or a text message.
8 (7) Arkansas: lost to Florida, 38-28. Gotta give USC-West the head-to-head here. But the Hogs still did better than I and all but a few foresaw. They had a great season this year. Next year, with seasoning, Arkansas could be the favorite for the SEC crown. If they avoid the injury bug.
9 (15) Auburn: IDLE. Again, I'm giving Arkansas the edge on the head-to-head. Yeah, Auburn had a disastrous game against Georgia. But they beat what is now the No. 2 team in the nation, and a look at their schedule leads one to believe that the Ugha game is the exception instead of the rule.
10 (13) Louisville: def. Connecticut, 48-17. Putting up points is what the Cardinals do best, and they've done it all season -- except the second half of the Rutgers game. Again, what might have been. But you have to dock a team for being in the Big East, who are still a BCS conference because of an accident of history. Still a solid year, though.
11 (10) Texas: IDLE. The more I look at them, the uglier those two late-season losses look. Sorry, this team doesn't deserve to be in the Top 10. But, really, who thought they would be after losing Vince Young. This is a team to be dealt with next year. A return to Arrowhead should be penciled into the schedule. But don't use ink yet.
12 (9) Tennessee: IDLE. Um, this is the answer to those who might say I relentlessly moved the Big Ten down and the SEC up. Here, the Vols take a tumble because they just come out looking not as good as I thought they were. But a consistent Erik Ainge could cause ten kinds of trouble for the SEC East next year.
13 (11) Notre Dame: IDLE. Again, the more I look at them, the less impressed I am. Granted, it was still a good season. But take the name off the school, look at the record and tell me you would put this team in the Top 10. I'm still not sure they're not overrated here. Charlie Weis will have his years. This wasn't one of them.
14 (14) West Virginia: def. Rutgers, 41-39 (3 OT). Ah, but for the losses to South Florida and Louisville, Rich Rodriguez' (former?) boys would have won the Big East and been in the middle of the NC discussion. But they lost focus at critical moments. Something for Bama to consider? Really, the Moutaineers hold this spot by a slender lead.
15 (16) Boise State: IDLE. I will give this team a Top 10 spot if they manage to win the bowl game. But I'm sorry, you have to have some stout out-of-conference games to get a high ranking from the WAC. A game against a slumping Oregon State team early in the season isn't quite enough to move them up higher.
16 (12) Rutgers: lost to West Virginia, 41-39 (3 OT). Did we overhype the Scarlet Knights? Maybe a bit. But consider their only losses were a fluke to Cincinnati and a nail-biter to West Virginia, and you have to say Rutgers had a great year. Too bad their "reward" is the Texas Bowl. But a preseason ranking next year could lead to great things if they can beat the teams they need to.
17 (20) Wake Forest: def. Georgia Tech, 9-6. Maybe this is, at times, a Florida-esque team, winning even if it's ugly. Or maybe they need to try not running the peacock in the red zone. But, any way you slice it, Wake Forest had a season no one saw coming. And if they can pick off Louisville in the Orange Bowl, who knows where they might end up?
18 (17) California: def. Stanford, 26-17. At some point, you have to wonder if Tedford is ever going to get it done. The stars line up, he has the talent, and something happens. In this case, there were the implosions against Tennessee, Arizona and USC-West. Maybe the Golden Bears are destined to be also-rans in the Pac-10.
19 (18) Virginia Tech: IDLE. Say what you want about Beamerball, but it gets the Hokies into the polls every year. Kudos to a VT team that got it done without a Vick.
20 (22) Texas A&M: IDLE. Franchione saves his job with the big win over Texas. But he'll have to start doing a bit more next year and the year after if he wants to keep it long term.
21 (NR) Boston College: IDLE. Looking back at it, the Eagles had a good year. And the win over BYU looks more impressive as the Cougars move up the polls. So I'll bump BC onto the poll but not into the Top 20. Seems fair.
22 (23) BYU: IDLE. This is one of those teams where you wonder, "If they were in the Big East..." "If they were in the ACC..." But they're not. So we'll never know. But this seems to fit.
23 (21) Nebraska: lost to Oklahoma, 21-7. Still could be the turnaround year for Callahan's boys. We'll have to wait and see. But a good season nonetheless.
24 (24) Oregon State: def. Hawaii, 35-32. Talk about a team that looked good going down the stretch. The Beavers are looking good enough for their coach to be mentioned for the Alabama vacan... Oh, never mind. That's not an honor.
25 (25) Hawaii: lost to Oregon State, 35-32. Why didn't I drop them. Because they lost to the No. 24 team by a FG. Yes, it was at home. But you would expect the No. 25 team to narrowly lose to the No. 24 team.

FALLING OUT: Georgia Tech looked horrible again...

ON THE BUBBLE: TCU just doesn't have the wow win...Houston and South Carolina could be playing for one of the bottom slots...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

SOUTHERN CAL TO AVOID ROSE BOWL

Pete Carroll announced today that he will have a new goal for his Southern California team next year: To avoid the Rose Bowl at all possible costs.

"We just can't afford to have another game like that," a stunned Carroll said after his team lost to UCLA, 13-9, in what was arguably the upset of the year in college football. "I mean, we can't continue to uphold the illusion of a championship-worthy program if the Rose Bowl continues to expose us as the also-rans that we are."


Dwayne Jarrett and his team are headed to ... Pasadena?

"Anything, really," Carroll said. "Heck, I'd rather go to the Insight Bowl than come back here."

Carroll was then told his team was likely to play in the Rose Bowl again Jan. 1.

"What? Dear Lord," he said. "Is the Alabama job still open?"

Twice in the last year, Southern Cal has entered the Rose Bowl with the national championship -- or at least a spot in the game -- on the line. Both times, they've come up short.

Part of the Southern Cal defeat Saturday can be chalked up to the appearance of a fleet-footed quarterback named Steve Yo... oh, no, can't be him. Well, maybe it's Tim Te... no, he'd be in Atlanta. Well, some fast white guy.


Can somebody name this quarterback? Or at least tackle him?

Oh, and there were the Southern Cal receivers par excellence, only without the excellence. And really without the par.

And the utter inability to find the end zone, or anything near it, on a consistent basis.

"Are you sure we can't play the Rose Bowl in, like the Coliseum? Or some other fair, neutral site?" Carroll asked. "I mean, it's just best if we never come back."

GEORGIA TECH DOES IT AGAIN

If the theme of the day was “Finally,” Wake Forest was the first to be able to take advantage, getting its first ACC championship since -- since 9-6 scores were seen as not unusual instead of the result of sloppy play on a rainy day in Jacksonville, a town that is a lot like Charlotte -- no one knows why such a nondescript town should host any major events. But somehow it does.

In any case, the game showed Georgia Tech in all of its brilliance. The Jackets’ most productive plays through the air were “pass interference left” and “pass interference right.” One question: Why are you interfering with receivers when the opponent’s quarterback is Reggie Ball? Don’t you just let him thrown the ball into the first row and watch Tech revel in the glory of consecutive three-and-outs?

Ah, but Reggie would be Reggie. The Jackets moved inside the Wake Forest 35 on one drive, and as fourth down came up and Tech decided to go for it, Brad Nessler mused that the play was “not much of a field position gamble.” Ball promptly threw an interception, proving that, with Ball as QB, every play is a field position gamble.

And the Georgia Tech play-calling is still Gailey-riffic, even if Chan himself isn’t in charge. On third-and-one, you run ... a reverse?


A third-and-one reverse? Brilliant!

Down 9-6, Ball trots out and throws a long ball -- incomplete. He throws another long ball -- incomplete. He ... runs out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage?


Running out of bounds on third down when you’re trailing 9-6? Brilliant!

Wake Forest, meanwhile, continued to try to take advantage of its peacock offense. A peacock wants you to look at its exotic plumage and become scared. Because, when it comes down to it, a peacock can’t really hurt you.


Nice to look at, but it shouldn't scare you.

But then, in the second half, on one drive, something interesting happened. Wake started calling normal plays. Oooh, an I-formation! And then they got in the red zone ... and went back to the peacock. And had to kick a field goal. Again, the peacock’s pretty to look at. But unless you’re an edible seed, it ain’t going to hurt you.

So Louisville, try to crack down on the peacock and you can beat Wake 48-24, with all 24 points coming on field goals. And West Virginia ... just get out of Georgia Tech's way, really. With Reggie Ball and Chan Gailey in the mix, there’s no way they can fail to blow it.

BETTER LIVEBLOGGING, PLUS PLANS FOR COMING DAYS


EDSBS did a much better job of liveblogging the BCS selection show. Plus, they got the times in the right order. I'll get used to this liveblogging thing eventually.

In any case ... we'll do some weekend review-type stuff, then get into who South Carolina faces in the bowl and how they match up. Bowl previews begin right after that, since we have something approaching 96 hours before the bowls begin. Scintillating matchups like Greater Metro Tech versus the University of Somestate-Obscure City.

Lots of championship stuff coming up, since an SEC team is in.

Buckle in. Bowl season should be fun.

LIVEBLOGGING THE SELECTION SHOW

8:28 p.m. -- BA: Top 7 should be automatic. Arbitrary. Not because Wisconsin is No. 7 or anything.

8:27 p.m. -- Mike Slive: "We will continue to talk about the format." As long as the discussion doesn't include a playoff.

8:26 p.m. -- Kirk Herbstreit: The Gary Danielson of the Big Ten.

8:25 p.m. -- KH: Remove the numbers. Because numbers don't tell you anything about football games.

8:24 p.m. -- Back over to ESPN, where Lou Holtz is griping. My screen is now splattered with spit.

8:23 p.m. -- Is it just me, or does Charles Davis sound like his voice is changing.

8:22 p.m. -- The Rose Bowl, sponsored by Prozac. Because everybody really is out to get you.

8:21 p.m. -- The Rose Bowl. It goes last because it's on ABC. And both sides are disappointed. It's a bad game. Don't watch it. Because it's a bad game. Nothing to do with it being on the other network or anything.

8:19 p.m. -- So LSU plays Notre Dame. Who apparently will be coached by a rejuvenated Knute Rockne.

8:17 p.m. -- Let the grousing begin. Alvarez: "Obviously, the pollsters didn't want to see a rematch."

8:16 p.m. -- The layover's not a disadvantage. We have the kids in a hyperbarric chamber.

8:15 p.m. -- Thom Brenneman? He was calling Cubs games not too long ago. Which means he's now closer to a national championship than he ever was there.

8:13 p.m. -- "A bunch of guys went through a lot of stuff over the last four or five years." Like Ron Zook.

8:12 p.m. -- Florida cheers: Yeah, coach! Way to lobby!

8:11 p.m. -- It's Ohio State against Florida for the national championship. Urban Meyer is happy. Lloyd Carr is talking about Meyer's comments against Michigan. And those would be...

8:10 p.m. -- Over to ESPN. Kirk Herbstreit on Wake Forest: "How is this team winning games?" Answer: They're in the ACC.

8:08 p.m. -- Was Barry Alvarez up all night last night? He looks half-dead.

8:06 p.m. -- Man, Boise State is really glad to be there. Like, scarily glad. Oh, a nominee: Wake Forest against Louisville in the Orange Bowl. A pass offense versus the quintuple option.

8:05 p.m. -- Fifteen minutes in, and we've heard one bowl game matchup. Keeping milking it like this, and the cow is going to kick you in the head.

8:02 p.m. -- Second ratings stunt: Showing the nominees for the Pontiac game-changing performance of the year. Because, unlike the NC game, that will be remembered for a decade.

7:59 p.m. -- "That's why the BCS added a fifth game." No, they added a fifth game to avoid Congressional oversight.

7:57 p.m. -- "The biggest sports day in the history of the state of Idaho"? Like there's really any competition? And how sad is your life if you have time to gather in a football stadium to celebrate getting to the BCS. Hooray! We've been legitamized by a broken system based on 50-year-old journalists, 60-year-old football has-beens, and computer geeks who know nothing about football! But, really, what else is there to do in Boise?

7:56 p.m. -- Hope the guy in the middle, whose name I don't know, gets the laryngitis cleared up before he calls the game. Actually, who are any of these guys, except Barry Alvarez?

7:54 p.m. -- First ratings stunt: go backwards. Starting with the Fiesta Bowl matchup between Boise State and Oklahoma. Tip for Boise State: Practice the on-sides kick.

7:53 p.m. -- Alvarez is calling the game? That should be thrilling to the point of narcolepsy. And we'll get to hear all day how Michigan got screwed if Florida is in, or how it was the right decision if Michigan is in.

7:51 p.m. -- The selections are apparently in a supersecret suitcase being delivered by courier. And the intro shows us that ESPN isn't the only one specializing in sportstainment.

WHY FLORIDA SHOULD GO TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP


It's almost decision time for the BCS.

And if there is any justice in this world, Florida will beat out Michigan for the chance to play Ohio State.

This is not just conference pride. And it's certainly not personal preference -- Michigan is my third favorite team. Florida is a team I pull for from time to time -- and only when there's no chance for South Carolina to win the East. Such chances will probably be fewer and farther between beginning next season.

Yes, it would vindicate my putting the Gators at second in the preseason poll. But I don't think I'll ever live down buying into the Notre Dame hype and putting them at No. 1. So that's a small reward.

Ultimately, who you put at No. 2 comes down to whether you've decided to vote based on the wins or based on the loss.

Let's go to the schedules.

First, Florida:

Sept. 2 -- Southern Miss, W 34-7
Sept. 9 -- Central Florida, W 42-0
Sept. 16 -- at Tennessee, W 21-20
Sept. 23 -- Kentucky, W 26-7
Sept. 30 -- Alabama, W 28-13
Oct. 7 -- LSU, W 23-10
Oct. 14 -- at Auburn, L 27-17
Oct. 28 -- at Georgia, W 21-14
Nov. 4 -- at Vanderbilt, W 25-19
Nov. 11 -- South Carolina, W 17-16
Nov. 18 -- Western Carolina, W 62-0
Nov. 25 -- at Florida State, 21-14
Dec. 2 -- vs. Arkansas (Atlanta), W 38-28

Now, Michigan:

Sept. 2 -- Vanderbilt, W 27-7
Sept. 9 -- Central Michigan, W 41-17
Sept. 16 -- at Notre Dame, W 47-21
Sept. 23 -- Wisconsin, W 27-13
Sept. 30 -- at Minnesota, W 28-14
Oct. 7 -- Michigan State, W 31-13
Oct. 14 -- at Penn State, W 17-10
Oct. 21 -- Iowa, W 20-6
Oct. 28 -- Northwestern, W 17-3
Nov. 4 -- Ball State, W 34-26
Nov. 11 -- at Indiana, W 34-3
Nov. 18 -- at Ohio State, L 42-39

According to the AP Poll, which I chose blind without knowing which teams were ranked higher or lower, Florida in the course of the season defeated No. 4 LSU, No. 12 Arkansas, No. 17 Tennessee and lost to No. 10 Auburn. (If you want to go below the rankings, Florida also beat No. 26 Georgia and No. 34 South Carolina.)

Michigan, on the other hand, defeated No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 11 Notre Dame, and...and...and that's it. They lost to No. 1 Ohio State. (Going below the rankings, Michigan also beat No. 30 Penn State.)

So Florida defeated three ranked teams, two unranked but vote-gathering teams, and lost to the No. 10 team. Michigan beat two ranked teams, one vote-gathering team, and lost to the No. 1 team.

Whose loss is more impressive? Michigan, no doubt. But whose wins are more impressive?

Don't look at margin of victory. Why? Because how, exactly does one compare the bottom half of the leagues? How does Kentucky (7-5) compare to Indiana (5-7)? I would say favorably. But how does Alabama (6-6) compare to Minnesota (6-6)? Who knows? Did you watch all 12 Bama games? All 12 Minnesota games? I thought not.


Who could watch 12 games called by this man?

However, look at a key term: Bowl-eligible. How many bowl-eligible teams did Michigan beat? Seven, including two 6-6 teams and Central Michigan. Now, how many bowl-eligible teams did Florida beat? Ten, including two 6-6 teams and Southern Miss.

In other words, ten of the twelve times Florida took the field and "unimpressively" beat the opponent, they were playing a team that would end the season .500 or better. Seven of those times, it was against a BCS-conference team that would end up with a winning record.


No wonder he was always nervous.

One more myth I want to bust: Moving Florida ahead of Michigan would be punishing the Wolverines for not playing this week. Nonsense. It's impossible to judge a team that has not finished its season. Michigan did so two weeks ago. Now, Florida has finished its season. Now, we can compare the totality of the record. And I believe the overall records, which was arguably not more impressive than Michigan's until last night, now unquestionably is.

All this worrying might be for naught. The Los Angeles Times -- of all newspapers -- is reporting that a BCS source told them Florida was in the Big Game. He then reportedly went to feast on more American ideals. (HT: WATB)

For more on why Florida should go to the game, head over to Orange and Blue Hue and We Are the Boys.