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The Trickle - football edition

November 3, 2008 - Brian Ferry

When will it end...

As of this moment, I am tied for the lead in the Soothsayers thing published every Tuesday. Why? I don't know. How? A large portion of luck. Is it good? No, the pressure's starting to get to me. It's odd, more people stop me on the street or wherever and talk to me about those picks. I haven't been serious about following professional football for 20 years. Sure, I root for some teams and have a good working knowledge of the rules, but not of the relative strengths of the teams. I have never been serious about college football, beyond rooting (at various levels of rabidness) for Penn State. I'm afraid I know next to nothing about high school football. Marching bands I might be able to tell you something about, but not football.

I was just informed that I did VERY poorly this week. I went 2-7. Since the Monday night game is played after the page is laid out, it usually is not included in the picks. However, thanks to the devious Jon Sitler, that game was included. (Sitler also managed a 2-7 week with the help of a late change. Our deadline is Monday morning. He called Monday evening and changed from Texas to Texas Tech or he would have ended up 1-8.) If the Steelers win, I'll end up 2-8, but not lose any ground to the top four contenders (we all picked Washington).

There is good news. If I should happen to win this thing, I will petition to be allowed to take the exit-on-top road like Bob Patchen did last year. If I don't, perhaps I will survive my visit to Star Wars or the publisher's office, whichever comes first. Come to think of it, I suppose I'd like to live through the one that comes last.

Surprise rankings

I am a Penn State fan. I might not send them any money (I gave them a whole bunch once upon a time), but I give them my encouragement. I am a vociferous fan of the Nittany Lion volleyball teams, both of which have won national championships in the recent past. I also root for my alma mater at whatever other sports they may be competing in, including the high visibility football. A Penn State alumni money solicitation drive got its hands on my phone number and gave me a call on Sunday. Right before I flatly refused, they asked if I had heard that Penn State was now number 2 in the land. I told them I had not heard. Apparently, they hadn't either, because the first poll released following this weekend's games showed Dear Old State at number 3.

College football rankings.

Did I want PSU to be #2? You bet. Did I expect it? Yes, but I also thought Texas Tech already had a loss. Am I bitter? Certainly. Should Penn State be #2? There is the real question. I'll say no. Penn State should be #2 if there is a very reasonable expectation that they would be able to more often than not defeat, under likely circumstances, every team but Alabama (or whatever team is ranked #1). Do I think that's the case? No. (More on that later.) Should Texas Tech have been rated higher prior to beating Texas? That's a tough one. If their previous ranking reflected the voters' opinions that the team would lose to Texas, no. However, I doubt it did, because, if they had lost they would have dropped, probably precipitously, in the polls. What about Utah? Boise State? Ball State? Should they have been #s 4 through 6? No. Why not? I haven't seen them play, but I don't think any of them would be victorious more than half the time against, say, Florida, at a neutral site. So, the system is flawed.

The answer

College football needs a playoff. I don't even know what the opposing arguments are. There is a playoff system in the pros. There's a playoff system in high school. There's a playoff system for the lower levels of college football. There's a playoff system in every other collegiate sport. I don't care if it's 16 teams. Make it work. Eliminate the controversy (until undefeated #17 Ball State, or 7-4 #17 LSU thinks they deserve to be in the tournament). The first two rounds should include home games. The remaining games should be at neutral sites. (More on that later.)

Neutral site?

Do I think Penn State could beat Texas in a bowl game? No. Do I think Penn State could beat Alabama in the Cotton Bowl in January? Unlikely. Do I think Penn State could beat Florida in the Orange Bowl? No. Do I think Penn State could beat USC in the Rose Bowl? Maybe. Do I think those teams could beat Penn State at Beaver Stadium in January? No. Do I think those teams could beat Penn State at the Horseshoe in January? Unlikely. Is Penn State going to play north of the Mason-Dixon line in January? No way.

Win some, lose some (very badly)

I'm doing well in the Soothsayer poll. I'm doing quite poorly in the Warren Times Observer Laid Back (fantasy football) League. I think my quarterback scored me 1 point. The quarterback I left on the bench scored more than 20. So, I'm in the cellar there. For more on that, feel free to follow the Fantasy Oracle's weekly column, which appears on Saturdays.


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