This college football season isn't as crappy as people think
It's been an almost foregone conclusion as to who will play for the BCS Championship Game since the beginning of this season: Texas vs. Florida or Alabama. While the drama as to who will probably play for the crystal ball has not been extraordinary, that's no reason to write this football season off as dull or crappy. On the contrary, we've had some great drama and storylines which make this football season better than past seasons' and make us very excited for 2010. -- Lisa Horne
Three people in their darkest hours gave us light
Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich fought Ewing's Sarcoma and has been declared cancer-free by doctors. USC's Stafon Johnson's larynx was crushed in a freak weightlifting accident and he finally spoke for the first time in months. And UConn's head coach Randy Edsall, after learning about the murder of Jasper Howard, delivered a Giuliani-esque tribute that inspired his team to never give up, to treasure life and to learn how to cope with life's devastating blows. Edsall, Herzlich and Johnson all reminded us that important as college football is to fans, some things are more important.
Preseason polls made a mess of things
Florida was ranked No. 1 because they are the defending champs. Until they lose, they are the champions. No argument there. But when you have a team whose preseason schedule looks somewhat competitive -- based on perception by the pollsters -- and it turns out that most of the teams they played weren't what they were cracked up to be, you have a team that probably won't move down in the polls. And that's a flaw in the polls. If TCU or Boise State had been ranked No. 1 preseason, they wouldn't have moved down in the polls either. Preseason polls are all about perception, and polls should be based on performance.
Technology is spoiling our fun
Without Twitter, we wouldn't have found out so quickly that Notre Dame's private plane's tracking system was turned off on Flightware.com after the Navy loss. What? No possible rumor-mongering about which coach A.D. Jack Swarbrick might be wooing? No reports on Swarbrick taking to the air and landing in Gainesville? Norman? Cincinnati? (We're not saying. Just saying.) That's kind of taking the fun out of the coaching carousel, isn't it?
Some new rivalries to feast on
We all love the classic rivalries, but this year, some newer, more intense rivalries have shaped up to become classics. Notre Dame vs. Navy had been a long-standing, albeit one-sided affair, but with Navy beating Notre Dame at South Bend twice in three years, Navy isn't an automatic Irish "W" anymore. Stanford used to be an auto-win as well for USC, but Jim Harbaugh is 2-1 against the King of LA -- Carroll and Harbaugh won't be exchanging Christmas cards this year. Finally, what one game's drama wouldn't be complete without Lane Kiffin and Steve Spurrier bickering at each other like two high school girls?
The cupcake scheduling is finally getting exposed
For some time now, the SEC fans have defended their conference's cupcake scheduling by saying SEC games are very difficult and all of the teams "beat each other up." The "S-E-C" chants have been pretty quiet lately -- even their fans know their conference's teams don't look like world-beaters this season. Blame part of it on a lack of impressive wins in hyped games, but blame most of it on football nation and the media -- four cupcake wins out-of-conference and two cupcake wins in-conference to get bowl-eligible is nothing to brag about.
And these are our new rivalries?
Stanford used to be an automatic win for USC, but Jim Harbaugh is 2-1 against the Kings of L.A. Pete Carroll and Harbaugh won't be exchanging Christmas cards this year, and they may not exchange handshakes after next year's game, if Pete's memory serves him well. Then there's the drama between Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer. These two coaches are bickering at each other like two high school girls? Let's just rent "Mean Girls" and avoid all of this, shall we?
And the envelope, please
They had lingering questions of "Should they stay or should they go?" swirling around them as they entered the '09 season, but with two weeks left in the regular season, the questions have now been just about answered for three coaches. The Charlie Weis internship is a bust and his apologists have been silenced after his winning percentage was compared to Tyrone Willingham's. Bobby Bowden is facing retirement within a year, whether he wants it or not. And Joe Pa still has "it." We now have clarity: Pretty much done, probably done in one year and ... not done.
The time for the NCAA to address the officiating has come
While we aren't conspiracy theorists, this year might be a good year to take up the cause. Every week, an officiating crew makes calls/no calls that make us scratch our heads. Or hurl. Pass interference, personal foul, and late hit calls/no calls have all been under fire lately, not to mention unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Get rid of excessive celebration penalties, make pass interference a spot foul, and have judgment calls (ie- pass interference) available for a coach's challenge and you might have some happier fans. And different game outcomes.
Parity in college football has arrived
When classic over-achiever schools like Stanford and Duke are making noise in the BCS conferences, other schools can't hide behind their stringent academia as an excuse for mediocrity anymore. Meanwhile, football factories USC and Oklahoma are having a "down" year, and Florida State, Nebraska, Michigan and Miami are still trying to re-capture days of lore. Oregon, Stanford, Duke and Cincinnati are no longer "any sport but football" schools and Georgia Tech looks like the new darling of the ACC. Parity has invaded college football.
The Mountain West isn't a fluke
Utah's magical season last year wasn't a one-and-done year for the Mountain West. This year, the Mountain West's TCU looks better than last year's undefeated Utah Utes. The Horned Frogs' resume includes three wins over currently ranked teams -- Clemson, Utah and BYU. Texas has one (Oklahoma State), Florida has one (LSU) and Alabama has three (Virginia Tech, Ole Miss and LSU). The Frogs are also the only top-five BCS team to be ranked in both the top five total offense and total defense categories. So who wants to play them?