USC and Pac 10 Make Their Case for Playoff System

Posted: January 2, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in Sports

Mark Sanchez sideline

 

Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who passed for 413 yards and four touchdowns, is all smiles along the sidelines during the fourth quarter Thursday.
The Pac 10 went 5-0 this bowl season. Yes, what many have called the “Weak 10” etc. Here’s a recap:

 

– Arizona “upset” BYU

– Oregon “upset” Okl. State

– Oregon State “upset” Pitt

– Cal beat Miami

and finally…USC embarassed Penn State, which makes it twice this year that they have demolished a “Big” 10 foe, manhandling Ohio State earlier in the year.

Needless to say, we need a playoff. There were a bunch of 1 loss teams that all can make a case for being in the BCS “Championship”. I feel for Texas, Texas Tech, and Alabama as well. Texas lost to Tech on a last second pass, but beat the Sooners and they are out. Alabama fell to Florida on a final drive for their only loss and they are out, while Florida lost to Ole Miss for their loss and they are in. Unfortunately much has to do with timing, etc and a whole lot of other complicated factors.

Some questions that should be asked in determining who the best one loss team is:

– Who did they lose to? Where?

– Who did they beat? Where?

– How many gimmes did they play? Where?

When you apply that to all of the 1 loss teams listed, you can make a case for and against everyone at the same time.

Here is a system that will leave no doubt….Playoffs.

I would advocate retaining the current bowl system, buy modifying it as follows:

– Use the BCS determination for the best 10 teams in country irregardless of Conference and pit them together in the existing BCS bowls, matching 1-10, 2-9, 3-8, 4-7, 5-6.

– After the initial bowl season is complete, have another week of AP and Coaches polled. My rationale is that the bowl season offers the best analysis on who the better teams in the country are. If a #1 Oklahoma were to struggle in victory versus #10 Ohio Stae, etc, that would play into the voting. Their would be no guarantee, however, in the polls, that the 5 winners of the BCS bowl games would go on. This would just be another week of voting as usual.

– Have the BCS then determine the best 5 teams based on the new polling, computer data, and a revised streghth of schedule based on outcomes from the entire bowl season.

– Of the top 5 remaining teams, the #1 seed would get a bye, while providing a quarter-final matchup of 2-5 & 3-4. Those two winners would meetup in the semi-final with the winner proceeding to play the #1 seed for the championship. This would add 4 more games and 3 weeks worth of games to the existing schedule. 

Now there are some concerns with such a model.

– Will fans travel the country for the initial bowl season when they know their team may go on further? Likely not as much…resulting in lower attendance for the initial round of bowl play. People only have so much money. I love bowl season because their is a finality about it. You know its the last game for your team and can bid farewell to seniors, etc. 

– SOLUTION: The 2-5, 3-4 quarter final, and subsequent semi-final, and subsequent final versus #1 will all be played at the highest seeded home stadium. This means that as a USC fan, I might be willing to travel somewhere to see them play in the initial bowl knowing that they may be playing at home later on, thus not requiring another trip somewhere. Now what if USC advances and has to play at the SWAMP in Florida for a quarter-final game? I may not attend, BUT I WILL SURELY BE TUNED IN. Imagine the Ratings. I think the ratings would be good for all games during the bowl season. Anyhow, Florida would have a stadium full of crazed fans as they should have. 

Anyhow, I can go on and on with this stuff, both pro and con, but count me in on some sort of playoff system. While their is a finality and glory to seeing USC win the Rose Bowl, there is no finality on who deserves to be the champion.

Here is an article from Bill Plaschke making a case for the Trojans being considered as a possible AP champion – 

Bill Plaschke

 

USC saves its best for last and deserves a reward

 

Fifth-ranked Trojans can still win an Associated Press poll national championship.
Bill Plaschke 
January 2, 2009
You saw it, you vote it. 

In the wake of a monumental Rose Bowl scrubbing Thursday, the challenge now lies with the rolled-up sleeves of the Associated Press poll.

USC cannot win the Bowl Championship Series national title, but the fifth-ranked Trojans can still win an AP national championship.

After a breathtaking Pasadena afternoon marked by streaks of cardinal flying over lumps of white, couldn’t they?

Unless something more inspiring happens in the final week of the bowl season, shouldn’t they?

You say crazy. I say, they just beat the crew cuts off a sixth-ranked Penn State team that was one point from playing in the national championship game, a 38-24 victory that didn’t feel nearly that close.

You say, what about the lousy Pacific 10 Conference? I say, the conference is 5-0 in bowl games, and if the quality of the neighborhood mattered a month ago, it should matter now.

You say, what about the four one-loss teams ahead of USC? I say, if Texas and Alabama both struggle in bowl games, and if the national title game between Florida and Oklahoma is a dud, nothing will be as impressive as this.

I’m guessing nobody will beat a higher-ranked team worse. I’m certain nobody will dominate another one-loss team more.

It was 31-7 at halftime, the Trojans gaining nearly twice as many yards with nearly three times as many first downs.

It was 38-14 early in the fourth quarter, the Trojans outgaining the Nittany Lions, 497-280, before using the rest of the game to celebrate.

It was receivers open from here to Miami, it was linebackers hitting with a sound you don’t hear much in the Big 12, it was the sort of swaggering energy that would feel right at home in the Southeastern Conference.

It was Joe Paterno looking as lost as I’d ever seen him, saying something about an opponent I never thought I’d hear him say.

“I think Southern Cal has every right to say they’re as good as anybody else in the country,” he said.

It was Pete Carroll looking as happy as I’d ever seen him, saying something that he hasn’t believed until now.

After offering respect to the teams playing for the national title, he then said, “I don’t think anybody can beat us. This is a terrific finishing program. We can play ‘D.’ We can throw the ball if we have to. We can run the ball if we have to. We’re just really, really hard to beat right now.”

They are really hard to beat at the end of every season, but, aside from the BCS national title victory over Oklahoma, this may be Carroll’s best finish yet.

Give him a month, he’ll make a memory. Hand the championship to the team that is playing the best at the end, and the Trojans arguably could have won six of the last seven national titles.

In November, Mark Sanchez was being questioned as a quarterback and leader.

On Thursday, after accounting for all five touchdowns with four passes and a run, he stood on the famed band ladder and listened to fans literally beg him — “One more year, one more year” — to stay for his senior season.

“It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this place,” he said later. “I don’t think I can do it.”

A month ago, Damian Williams was a promising receiver without a 100-yard game or a Mike Williams-type moment.

On Thursday, he had both, catching 162 yards worth of passes, including the trend-setting first touchdown when he simply ran away from this poor outmatched safety named Anthony Scirrotto.

“Playing on this kind of national stage, this kind of win should say a lot,” Damian Williams said.

Playing in a fourth consecutive Rose Bowl against another Big Ten tomato can, I thought USC would be bored. Instead, the Trojans bored, directly into the psyche of the overmatched Nittany Lions, hitting them with Kyle Moore jabs and Kaluka Maiava crosses and more speed than you find on the Glendale Freeway at midnight.

“You could see it right away, they were really caught off-guard, they don’t see a lot of this in the Big Ten,” said linebacker Brian Cushing. “Even in the first quarter, they started getting tired.”

Playing in a no-win situation in their first virtually meaningless game in a year, I though USC would be restless. Instead, the Trojans were relentless, scoring 24 points in less than a dozen minutes in that second quarter, sending Penn State running.

“I remember coming to the line and hearing one of their coaches shouting to the defensive backs, ‘Back up! Back up!’ ” recalled receiver Ronald Johnson. “Those guys just bailed.”

At the end of a season in which many suspected that USC has the ability to be the best team in the country, the Trojans finally acted like it.

There was the USC team bouncing on to the field in an impromptu celebration — with nearly two hours left in the game.

There was a touchdown ball being grabbed and pumped and paraded down the sidelines — by Carroll.

This was so crazy at one point, all of USC’s demons disappearing, all of their potential roaring, that Carroll claimed an unnamed football executive called the officials at halftime and ordered them to give his team a 15-yard penalty if they didn’t halt the sideline celebrations.

“I was going to get the penalty called on us just so we could get a penalty called on us for having too much fun,” Carroll said. “I forgot.”

Will the journalist voters forget?

They shouldn’t. They didn’t forget when USC won the Associated Press vote and split the national title after the 2003 season. They never forget when they have a chance to stick it to the BCS.

Voters now have less reason to hold the loss against Oregon State against USC, and no reason to hold their lack of fulfilled potential against them. 

Once again, the Trojans have waited until their final kick to show their best stride. Once again, it is more powerful than anything anybody has shown until now.

You say, isn’t it too late? I say, it never is.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

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