Friday, October 31, 2008

Recovering from Disasters with Different Mindsets

Last night my wife and I watched the Weather Channel's "When Weather Changed History." This particular episode focused on the Great Chicago Fire. I was struck by the mentality of the people following the disaster. Instead of wallowing, they immediately went back to work to make Chicago a better city than it was before the fire. City father, William Ogden, at the age of 67, dedicated himself to fixing the problems that fed the flames. This despite his own home and belongings being destroyed, as well as the business that earned him his wealth which was destroyed in a similar fire storm in Wisconsin. Many of the residents returned to their burned down properties to clean the debris and immediately begin rebuilding. Young architect Louis Sullivan, saw an opportunity to establish himself and came to Chicago. He ended up designing numerous famous structures and earned himself the title "Father of Modernism." Chicago ended up rising from the literal ashes, all without the help of FEMA.

Contrast this with the attitudes which came out of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The focus was not on what the people of New Orleans could do to make their city better, but on what the federal government was going to do to solve their problems. Many people who could have provided needed services were turned away because they did not have proper FEMA credentials. Many New Orleans' residents, instead of going home and beginning to rebuild, were responsible for widespread looting. Many were also provided trailers (by FEMA of course), to give them temporary shelter until their homes were rebuilt. Most of these trailers are still being used homes, now nearly three years later.

Why mention this? This presidential election campaign has brought the argument from Senator Obama that capitalism and the desire to earn profits is evil and seeks to take advantage of the needy, while the government is good and desires to help people. Louis Sullivan, instead of being hailed as a hero for helping rebuild Chicago, would be denigrated today as greedy capitalist. Further, he would have not been allowed to help today, because government "experts" would be utilized instead. Our economy is in a rough state right now. Which method of rebuilding would you want? Chicago's, where the city became bigger and better? Or New Orlean's, which continues to be dependent on the nipples of the federal government and refuses to take their city to another level? If you choose Chicago, the choice Tuesday is clear, John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mid-Season BCS Bowl Projections

National Title Game - Texas vs. Penn St. (Alabama will lose at least once.)

Rose Bowl - USC vs. Alabama (Hopefully Mitch Dorger realizes the flaw in bringing the Big 10 back for more. Remember all the rumors about LSU last year before they backed into the title game, it might come true this year with Crimson Tide representing the SEC in Pasadena)

Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Boise State (Broncos earn another non-BCS conference berth)

Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. West Virginia

Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma vs. Ohio State (Buckeyes return to the site of BCS championship in '02 in a scenario that won't upset fans nationwide that they are back in a BCS game.)

Of course all this gets thrown off if Oregon State wins out, and thus earns the Pac-10 automatic Rose Bowl berth. In that case, here are my predictions for that scenario, which is becoming increasingly more likely. By the way, this could be disastrous for the Rose Bowl. The good news though would be Ohio State is not invited to a BCS bowl!

NCG - Texas vs. Penn State

Rose Bowl - Oregon State vs. West Virginia (Can I start sleeping now?)

Sugar Bowl - Florida vs. Boise State (Can Broncos save money by just having Florida bring both uniforms?)

Orange Bowl - Florida State vs. Alabama

Fiesta Bowl - USC vs. Oklahoma (in probably the best BCS bowl matchup)

Big 12 Conference: Clearly the Top Conference this Year?

The college football pundits nationwide have made a case that the Big 12 has surpassed the SEC and established itself as the top conference in the country this year. Who can argue with a conference which has at #1 Texas, #4 Oklahoma, #7 Texas Tech, #9 Oklahoma State, and #14 Missouri? (Using this week's BCS standings.) In my humble opinion, for a conference to truly establish itself, it must have a few key wins out of conference. So what are the big wins the top five teams in the Big 12 have won?

Missouri - Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, Nevada, Buffalo (none of them on the road.)
Oklahoma State - at Washington State, Houston, Missouri State, Troy
Texas Tech - Eastern Washington, at Nevada (evidently Nevada is trying to join the Big 12), Southern Methodist, Massachusetts
Oklahoma - Chattanooga, Cincinnati, at Washington, TCU

Clearly, all of these teams built their reputations on blowing out weaker opponents. Now they can go around and brag about having four teams in the top 15 because they have played no one, the strongest team on this non-conference schedule being TCU, currently BCS #13. Everyone hears about Okie State's great offense. They scored 39 on Wash St. Four Pac-10 schools have dropped 60+ on the Cougars. Texas has supposedly proven themselves by beating Oklahoma. Who cares? Oklahoma hasn't beaten a good team out of conference since George W. Bush was popular! Now obviously every conference has teams that play "gimme games." The Big 12 (and the SEC) though don't get the criticism the Pac-10 and Big-10 do for playing them.

I do not write this claiming the Big 12 is a poor conference. I believe they are a good conference, just not more elite than the others. Take the Pac-10's top four teams, and give them the OOC schedules of these four teams. Oregon State, by playing one of these schedules instead of going to Happy Valley would be a top 10 team having beaten USC. USC would have only one loss, to a top 10 team, and would be looked at as Oklahoma is now. California, instead of playing a road game that kicked off at 10:00 am Pacific time (the Maryland game), would only have a conference loss and be a top 15 team. Oregon, playing its third string quarterback would only have a loss to USC (and would not have played Boise State.) No one in Norman should be critical of that.

While the Big 12 conference games have been high scoring and entertaining, all college football fans need to evaluate those games with a grain of salt because until they step out of conference against a quality opponent, they have not proven they are better than any other conference. Recognition: Post on the Ohio State-Penn State game chosen as one of the best of the week

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ohio State vs. Penn State from the view of USC and SEC fans

Saturday marks what may turn out to be the championship game of the Big 10 this season. Looking at the upcoming schedule in the Big 10, this game may be even more important for people that do not want to see another Big 10 team in the national title game, namely SEC fans and USC fans. Look at this game from their perspectives.

For the SEC fan, they face the very real possibility that the national title game could feature an undefeated Penn State and the champion of the Big 12, thus leaving an undefeated or one-loss team from the SEC out of the title picture. It would very simple to make an argument that a one loss Florida, Georgia, or Alabama (should they lose) should go over a one loss team from any other conference. This argument can't be made though when there are undefeated teams out there. SEC fans know that if Ohio State wins Saturday, they are in a safer position of having a team in the BCS title game.

USC fans should follow this game for a couple of reasons. First, and most obvious, is USC's 35-3 defeat of Ohio State on September 3. Should it come down to a one-loss team being chosen for the BCS title game, the fact USC convincingly handled OSU will eliminate OSU from title contention. (Of course there will be the argument about teams from other conferences but that is for a later story.) The other factor involved is Oregon State. Oregon State lost at Penn St. 45-14, but then later defeated USC in Corvallis. USC fans (of which I am one) can argue all they want about the Penn State playing a weak schedule (both in and out of conference) but no argument will get a one-loss USC in ahead of an undefeated Penn State. The cheer of every 'SC fan this weekend should be "Go Buckeye's." (The Trojans better take care of business in Tucson though or its Holiday or Sun Bowl time.)

Now that USC and the SEC are united for once in hoping for an Ohio State victory, let me tell you why I see the Buckeyes losing to the Nittany Lions. It goes back to the USC-Ohio State game. Jim Tressel knows the only argument he can make for his one-loss team to go to the national title game is to show that his team is drastically different than the one that lost in the Coliseum. How is it different? Terrelle Pryor plays every snap at quarterback and Chris Wells is back at tailback. This is similar to what Arkansas tried a couple years back with starting Mitch Mustain after their opening blowout loss to USC and went 8-0 after that loss. The rationale being that the team that lost was significantly different than the team that is now winning.

So what does that have to do with this weekend's game against Penn State? It means the quarterback with the best chance of beating Penn State, Todd Boeckman will be on the bench. Boeckman has taken OSU to a title game and has the experience and poise to win big games. Instead it will be the youthful and emotional Pryor leading the team. Many OSU fans point to Boeckman's poor showing in the USC game as the reason to play Pryor. In reality all Tressel is doing is throwing Boeckman under the bus for that game. Boeckman never got into a rhythm because Pryor got all the short throws in the USC game while Boeckman was only making mid to long throws against what is arguably the nation's best defense. Its unfair for Buckeye fans to pin that loss on Boeckman's shoulders. Its also unfair for Tressel to take his senior quarterback and bench him so he can make a case for another national title appearance. This time though I'm afraid it will hurt his team against Penn State.

So how long will this USC-SEC unity last? Not long. Both will be back at each other's throats the next week to be sure, but how is this for an interesting thought? Penn State and Texas win out and play for the national title. Oregon State wins out and represents the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl. USC gets a BCS at large and goes to the Sugar Bowl and faces who? The SEC champion, whoever that may be.

USC fans and SEC fans would rather be in the BCS title game though. Go Buckeyes.