Monday, November 3, 2008

The Case Against Penn State

It saddens me to say this, but I don't think JoePa should reach the BCS National Championship.

I believe Coach Paterno is a living, breathing and hobbling museum. The coach has been through more presidents than each of our esteemed writers combined, and has been around long enough to see antiquated offenses like the single-wing come back as "new fangled" offenses like the spread option. To walk a mile in his shoes is to see nearly every noteworthy thing that has happened in college football.

But Penn State should not reach the Championship game, even if they go undefeated, as they should with featherweights Iowa and Indiana on the penultimate horizon, followed by Javon Ringer's Michigan State Spartans.

Say again, an undefeated Penn State should not play in the National Championship.

To do so would be to leapfrog one (if not two) teams that only suffered losses because they played in much stronger conferences, namely the SEC and the Big XII.

The math is simple: Big 10 is weak, and the SEC and Big XII are strong. So a one-loss team from those stronger, better conferences should play.

Realize that the entirety of this article will be null, void and moot if Alabama and Texas Tech win out.

Determining one's strength of schedule is a delicate balance. When picking non-conference games, an athletic director wants to pick well-respected teams that they can soundly beat. Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, Syracuse, and Temple were the first four games of the season for the Nittany Lions. That's the Big South, Pac-10, Big East and the almighty MAC. Couple that with the overall weakness of the Big 10 this year, and you're looking at a really good chance to go undefeated. BCS voters and pollsters can recognize a stacked deck. Take this schedule two years ago, with Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, even Ron Zook's Fighting Illini? It'd be tough to deny. This year, not so much.

I have experienced the audacity of front-loading a schedule. Arkansas routinely pads its non-conference games and doubly routinely schedules its most difficult games towards the second half of the season. Whether it be led by Matt "Booger Sugar" Jones or Darren "Turf Toe?" McFadden, Arkansas could win a couple of games early on to gain a little respect, maybe even get a decent ranking, and by the end of the season blow it into an embarrassing bowl game appearance against scrub teams — and still manage to lose said bowl game. Front-loading can boost rankings, sure. But you sure lose a lot of that luster when your conference lets you down, as the Big 10 has done this year. Take notes from the SEC faithful: That's why it's good to pull for your conference, folks.

And don't look to wow any of the voters at the end of the season either. Iowa, Indiana and Michigan State. Penn State shouldn't just win strong. They should win Power Team Strong. Iowa and Indiana are a collective three and seven in conference play. Michigan State will be a tough game, with Javon "I'm the only player on my team" Ringer pounding the rock, but if Penn State is who they say they are, they should win.

Let's say you think, "Stovall, you jackass. Penn State definitely deserves to get in. Up yours, buddy." You may even not just think it, but actually verbalize it in an email, text message, or severed equine cranium in my bed. Okay, but let's think about just who you're shutting out.

You're denying the staunch defense of the SEC. No one is bigger or faster or stronger than in the SEC. Alabama has ascended to the top of the rankings based almost solely on domination up front. Those big boys can move awfully fast. And Florida? Just ask formerly No. 1 Georgia how good those guys are. Take Tebow out of the game, and you've still got a gaggle of spread offense receivers/running backs to push the ball. But in the SEC, it's all about the D.

You're denying the nuclear offense of the Big XII. Little old Kansas State's quarterback Josh Freeman is better than nearly every quarterback in the Big 10, save for Terrell Pryor and Daryll Clark. Think about the explosive receivers and the ridiculously explosive quarterbacks. McCoy. Harrell. Bradford. Daniel. Do I have to keep going? These guys put up ludicrous numbers. They've gone to plaid! And finally, someone else is figuring out what the SEC has been lamenting for years. When you play in a conference in which even the bottom dwellers can come up and whip you, that matters when it compares to other weaker conferences. Kudos to the Big XII. Getting through with one loss means you should get into the National Championship.

Especially if your loss isn't a conference championship. I would offer this as a solace to the Big 10, but there's nary a conference championship to be found.

So cry all you want. It wasn't too long ago that a 14-0 Auburn was left out of the National Championship. These things happen. But to deny the stalwart defenses and the trenchant offenses of the SEC and the Big XII respectively would be a greater disservice.

Again I remind you, the entirety of this article will be null, void and moot if Alabama and Texas Tech win out. There would be your National Championship.


  1. That's all fine and good, but this is essentially more proof that a playoff is needed. I hate it when people argue over who should "get in." Last week very few people would have argued that TT was a better team than UT. This week, Oh TT is number 2, NC all the way. Here is the thing: nobody can definitely state who is deserving, and who is undeserving. If you actually want to take the SOS argument, then UT and Bama would be most deserving. (Assuming TT will lose in the next two weeks, I hope not) The other thing is that nobody takes into account the home field advantage. If TT played UT in austin would they come out on top, I dont know, but that is the inherent problem. Playoffs would award a solid regular season, but in the current situation a big 10 team that has been bangin for 6 months now has to play some spread team in Florida. Everyone likes to talk about SEC speed, but I'd like to see that speed shine at beaver stadium in the middle of december when its 10 fing degrees out. Furthermore, this whole situation ignores the teams who improve throughout the year. If you asked me who is the best 2 teams right now, it would be Florida, and Bama. Think about Georgia last year, they were on fire, and they get to prove themselves by playing Hawaii. Awesome. Oh and you don't think USC was one of the best teams last year? In summary it's pointless to make cases for or against some team, because ultimately some fucking computer who speaks binary, some coach who only cares about his team, and some d-bag sports reporter who has no idea about the game, will ultimately decide the NC. It's pointless to argue, it will continue for years, there is too much money involved. Even Obama couldn't change this bullshit.

    By the way good article, and I would agree for the most part.

  2. To quote ballyhooed sports columnist Harry King, "Home field advantage isn't worth crap."

    No real contender in the Big XII is out of it, and the same goes for the SEC, which means the Big Ten is out. I can't change the system, I can only comment on the current system.

  3. Home field advantage isnt worth shit?
    That's what everyone says. You've played the game so you know. Everyone has their routine. Remember how nice it is to sleep in your own bed? gone. Mom's PB&J's. Gone. not having to travel in a bus or a plane. Gone. Stadium you're comfortable with. Gone. Same time zone/weather/altitude. Sometimes gone. Hell, Coaches can't even look across the field and see the first down markers when they visit. Not to mention hostile crowds, refs, and the overall discomfort. people who say home field doesn't mean anything have never played. F-ing vegas considers home field. Some coaches even make their players stay in hotels during home games for the sole purpose of preparing their players for a road game itinerary.

    I wasn't attacking your article, like I said given the current situation the analysis was spot on and something I agree with. I was attempting to criticize the system. It's flawed and everyone knows it. I just get ticked when people start saying so and so is more deserving. The problem is that there are so many variables to consider that it's pointless to state Big state, and Sothern tech are the two best teams in the land. In a perfect world they could go on the field and settle the whole fucking debate. But that is not happening anytime soon.

    Again the whole system is flawed and come December we'll be having the same debate.

  4. Here here to the flawed system. But I think home field advantage is over rated. It's a bunch of guys playing a game against a bunch of other guys. Good teams win. The end.

    This system is broke, ya'll.

  5. PS - I hope everyone picked up the Power Team reference. I've been trying to slide one in for awhile now, and I'm just so happy it came to fruition. Remember kids, it's okay to juice for Jesus!

  6. I read an article the other day that said if a playoff or "Plus-1" system was implemented, the Pac-10 and the Big Ten would withdraw from BCS contention.

    I just think this goes to show that they know they cannot go up against year and year out the top teams from other conferences.

  7. Devin, it's about money.

    Stop watching ESPN.

  8. Null and void: Penn State loses to Iowa. Basically, this argument is all for not, while any argument that was made FOR Penn State now makes that person look like a fanny bandit.