Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bureaucracies in collegeiate sports

I have been a sports fanatic since I was a wee little boy...and I say fanatic (and not just fan) bc I love sports. I love watching sports on TV, attending live sporting events, playing sports & especially talking with other such fanatics about sports. So when I say I love sports, its not something I take lightly. I pride myself on knowing a lot of random sports trivia, mostly current but some historic, and I take pride in "my teams."

Now there are rules for being a sports fan, and by my interpretation I currently follow them.

While I didn't grow up in a city with a professional sports team, Seattle was only 30-40 miles south from where I grew up. So naturally I gravitated towards those teams. For some reason (and its been so long I'm really not sure why but I think it had something to do with Ryan Sandberg being ridiculously awesome...or how even today I can remember him and how sweet he was at 2nd base) I'm also a huge Cubs fan. If you know me at all, you know this. Now I feel as though this still follows the Sports Guy's rules for being a true fan for three reasons: (one) I've always been a Mariner's fan, (two) the M's & Cubs are in the AL & NL (so until semi-recently (before inter-league play) I could root for both bc they could only play each other in the World Series and don't even ask me who I would root for then bc that's too traumatic to think about right now)) and (three) I started liking them so young (when they were terrible) that I can't be considered a "bandwagon fan." Now, at the moment I don't own any M's gear. I had several shirts growing up but grew out of them, and my interest did lessen after Griffey was traded. He was amazing to watch. I do own three Cubs hats, four to five shirts, a jersey (with no player name, but clearly not my own name) & now a sweet book by the fans/for the fans/something about the fans, which I'm excited to read (OMG I know...I'm going to read a book).

I've also been a HUGE Seahawks fan for pretty much my whole life. I remember thinking Steve Largent was the coolest man alive. I even remember this little Seahawks doll/toy I had. It was a Seahawk (or at least a Hawk or some kind of bird) that was grey, had a Seahawks helmet on, and had a football sewn to one of its wings to make it look like he was carrying the ball. Now I say doll bc it was soft and furry-ish and not hard plastic like a TMNT or a GI Joe (which I was never allowed to have...which is complete crap...bc every boy my age had them and now I will never know the joy that those combat toys brought to prepubescent boys across the world...damn!) Unfortunately I never made it to a game as a young boy, and it wasn't until last year that I attended my first game. It was great. We lost, but I still had a blast. I also went again this year and WE TORE ARIZONA A NEW ONE. That was even greater. So now I own a Tatupu jersey, two or three t-shirts, and a slick pullover fleece. GO HAWKS!!!

The last of my professional sports teams are the Sonics. I have always been a Sonics fan bc basketball was my favorite sport growing up. I have also been a closet Trailblazers fan bc one of my favorite people of all time (my great Aunt Dorothy) lived in Vancouver, WA, which is just across the Oregon border, and minutes away from Portland. When we used to visit her she would always talk about the Blazers, and even gave me a set of collectible Trailblazers glasses from Dairy Queen that I still have somewhere. Her favorite player was Clyde Drexler and so I too adored him bc I adored her so much. My mom even met him in downtown Seattle and went up and got his autograph. Then as I grew older and truly appreciated just how talented a player The Glide was, and his sportsmanship, I understood why my Aunt liked him so much, and why she got me to like him as well. Unfortunately, my Aunt Dorothy has since passed on, but she will never be forgotten, in part bc she instilled in me an even stronger love for basketball, but she also taught me how to play poker, which I continue to play and enjoy to this day.

Ok that turned into something else. Something definitely worth mentioning, but now back to the Sonics. Growing up I loved basketball. Played it. Watched it. Lived it. Growing up I wanted to attend Duke or UNC so I could play basketball at one of the elite schools. In jr. high however, I quickly realized I wasn't tall enough, big enough, or skilled enough to ever compete on such a high level. Oh well. Still had the Sonics. It was also about this time that they went to the Finals against the Bulls. Damn Bulls. We lost, but it was sweet to see my team do so well. This was also the time that I really started logging player names & random things. I remember Hersey Hawkins, the 3-point specialist. Sam "Big Smooth" Perkins, the lefty who shot 3-pointers without jumping. Detlef Schrempf, the foreign guy who was just wicked good. Nate "Mac 10" McMillan, all energizer bunny if you will. Kendall Gil was sick. Too bad he kind of faded out, but I remember liking him a lot. Then, of course, you had the big dogs...Gary "The Glove" Payton and Shawn "Reign Man" Kemp (now I could never remember if it was Reign or Rain...either made sense bc he was 'king' and reigned over everyone or bc it was Seattle and we get a lot of rain...I really don't know still). Payton was my favorite. I had his jersey. I loved his tenacity, his attitude of I know I'm smaller than you but I'm going to make you look so foolish, his big trash talking mouth & his stellar defense that earned him his nickname. I was especially happy for him when, as part of the Miami Heat in the 2005-2006 season, he finally won an NBA championship. He was never able to get one in Seattle, but he was one of those guys who deserved a title for how hard and how well he played. Kind of like how I would root for Reggie Miller (and the Pacers bc my college roommate was a HUGE Pacers fan) for the same reason. I also liked Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway growing up. He was just one of those players that you are drawn to and you don't know why. Had his Magic jersey. He was so sweet during those years with the Magic, with Shaq. I don't think he's won a title either, which is too bad.

So wow. I was going to go off on the BCS..the Bureaucracies in Collegiate Sports...I mean the Bowl Championship Series...and how college football is driven too much by money and stubbornness that values money & tradition over good football. Got a little off track with the pro teams and Sports Guy's greatness (hence the link to his rules) and forgot why I started this. So....let's-a go mario!!! (HA HA...you have to love mario...you really do...if for some reason you don't then you are so much of the suck...not liking mario is as un-American as liking Manu Ginobili, ice dancing or the WNBA)

Moving on to the BCS...the Bureaucracies in Collegiate Sports...err...the Bowl Championship Series. Boo...well sort of. (on a side note...i use "..." a lot. i know. i can't help it. i fell in love with them some time ago. i could use a comma, and occasionally i do...but the other is so much more enjoyable to use. i don't know why. why i use them. or why they're fun to use. but i do it. and if you don't like then tough. the end...of that side note.) I found out some interesting things about the BCS within the past few months, which helped me understand why BCS conference schools (Pac 10, Big 10, Big 12, ACC, Big East, SEC...and I think that's all) aren't up in arms as much as everyone else in college football seems to be. Again its about money. The BCS guarantees money to each conference as a whole, with each team in that conference getting the same amount of money. Different conferences, and even smaller conferences and I believe some D-IA & D-IAA schools, get different amounts. So the SEC as a whole may get $2.5 million, while the Pac-10 only get $1.75 million...but each school in each division receive an equal share of that money. So each Pac-10 would get $175,000 and each SEC school would get $208,333 or so. So from that angle, and the fact that non-BCS schools get money too, the BCS is good for college football. People don't want to talk about it, but college football teams need to make money in order to stay "in business" and stay competitive. Its true. It would be nice if everyone could just play and money didn't matter, but that's never going to happen so let's stop living in this made up, idealistic fantasy land. Deal? Deal.

Now what I don't like about the BCS is everything else. Sort of. Again sort of. Yea. Damn it all. Ok so there are some other rules that many may not know about. The big BCS bowl games at the end of the year have a small amount of structure and rules that have to be followed...

-the #1 team and the #2 team will play in the National Title game (duh)

-no more than two schools from any conference can play (either by selection or by being in the top two) in the BCS bowls...this came in to play this year with Oklahoma, Missouri & Kansas all from the Big 12...it came down to Kansas or Missouri...Missouri got the shaft despite being ranked #1 going into the Big 12 title game (which it lost, and which it was the underdog as the #1 ranked team in the country...go figure)...Kansas proved it belong by beating the highly favored Va Tech Hokies, and Mizzou won too so who knows if the right choice was made.

-If a school from a non-BCS conference finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings, then they are guaranteed a BCS bowl berth...this was the case this year with Hawaii and last year with Boise St...too bad Hawaii got pummelled by Georgia, unlike Boise St which took down Oklahoma last year in one of the most exciting football games ever...that hook & ladder play on 4th down was sweet enough but to follow that up in OT by going for the 2-point conversion (to go for the win instead of kicking the PAT for to force another OT) and perfectly executing the statue of liberty was UNREAL...simply amazing.

So the BCS does have some rules. This year showed us why non-BCS teams don't belong, but Boise St proved that doesn't always ring true. This year also showed us that the system isn't perfect (yet again), but is there really any other way of doing it? Think about some of the bowl winning teams this year...like FAU, East Carolina, Kentucky & Michigan can all end the season on a high note. By being champions of something. Kentucky was ranked #2 at one point, only to drop several games late in the year, but they won their bowl game are now the Music City Bowl Champions. Good for them. And Michigan who was ranked #5 at the start of the season, then lost to unranked (but eventual D-IAA Champions for the THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR) Appalachian St. to start the season, and dropped from the rankings, then lose to Oregon the next week...but pulled the season together, only to lose to Ohio St at the end of the season for the fourth straight year...but did beat 12th ranked Florida & Heisman winner Tim Tebow (the only Sophomore to win the award) to win the Capital One Bowl. Way to go Wolverines.

HOWEVER!!!! I do not like how the rest of the teams are chosen for the four remaining BCS games. National title game gets the two teams who finished atop the final BCS standings. Now you can't argue with that system, but you certainly can argue how they ended up atop the standings. Like Ohio St. They don't play a conference championship game, and hadn't played since November 17th until last night. They didn't beat anyone ranked higher than #21 and lost to unranked Illinois, although they ended up being a pretty solid team this year. So after beating Michigan in their season finale, the Buckeyes were ranked 5th in the BCS standings. LSU was #1, but lost to Arkansas, then won the SEC championship, and ended up back at #2...but with help from the other three teams that were in the top five. Kansas was #2, but lost to Missouri who was #4. Missouri then moved into the Big 12 championship as the #1 team, but lost to #9 Oklahoma, who like I said, was favored. Weird. West Virginia was #3, then after the Kansas loss moved into the #2 spot. All they had to do was beat their rival, unranked Pitt (who was something like a 21 point underdog) and they'd be in the national title game. Nope. They lost. At home. 13-9. Wow. So #1 & #2 both just lost. And this was who was under them, hoping to be bumped up to #1 or #2...#3-9: #3-Ohio St (who does not play a conference championship, but was 11-1), #4-Georgia (who did not win the SEC championship, nor did they play in that game at all...Tennessee did, and lost, but was #14 at the time. FREAKING WEIRD), #5-Kansas (who did not play in the Big 12 championship but had only one loss), #6-Va Tech (won the ACC championship game, and while it had two losses...they came to then #2 LSU and then #2 BC), #7-LSU (just won the SEC championship game after losing to an unranked foe as the #1 team), #8-USC (who did lose to 41 point underdog Stanford & #5 Oregon, but was playing some of the best ball in the country at this point), #9-Oklahoma (who just beat #1 Missouri to win the Big 12 championship game). All these teams were either ranked high enough to where they could move up to #2 or had a serious case to make why they should "leap frog" so many other teams to jump into the #2 spot. At this point it was pretty obvious that #3 OSU was going to assume the #1 position after Missouri & WVU both lost.

(monumentally unimportant side note...the Seattle Storm, my city's WNBA franchise that was bought by the same people who bought the Sonics, has been sold to local owners and the team is staying in Seattle. DAMN! Wrong team is staying. Wrong team is leaving. This is blogworthy bc it was on the front page of the Seattle Times which was on the table while I ate my lunch. I thought to myself how many WNBA teams can I name? Here's what I got...Storm (Seattle), Mercury (Phoenix), Sparks (LA), Monarchs (Sacramento), Comets (Houston), Shock (Detroit), Mystics (DC), Liberty (NY), Sun (Conn?), I think there's a team in Minnesota and either Columbus or Indiana...so 10 or 11...now I'm going to check and see how many exist...13. I left off Chicago Sky, Indiana Fever (ha! I knew it), Minnesota Lynx (right again!) & the San Antonio Silver Stars (wth?)...I was also right about the Sun being in Conn...so all this means I know too much about the WNBA....who's "quick link" to get to their homepage from ESPN is located under the More+ tab at the far right...whereas the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, College Hoops, NASCAR, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, Boxing, AFL (wow ARENA FOOTBALL) are all listed on the main section...just goes to show how popular the WNBA is....not at all)

So the BCS mess ends up with #7 LSU jumping all the way up to #2, even though two short weeks ago they lost as the #1 team. Screwy. Well, LSU being in the title game was accurate. They came out a little slow, or Ohio St just came out blazing, but in the end LSU proved it belonged by crushing the Buckeyes 34-24 and being the first school to capture a 2nd BCS title since its inception in 1998.

The rest of the BCS bowl matchups are chosen out of the top 18/20/25...i think its 25 in the final BCS standings by committees from each bowl game...or the representatives of the bowl game...whoever. One bowl had to take Hawaii, so that pick was already gone. I guess the process goes somewhat orderly (not sure how order is decided) in that (for example) the Sugar Bowl picks a team, then the Fiesta, then the Orange, then the Rose, then back to the Sugar and so on. Well the Rose Bowl wanted to keep with the Pac-10.Big-10 tradition and took USC (fine. good, deserving pick) and then Illinois (huh what? sure they played well, but cmon...they can't keep up with USC...and they didn't...shame on the Rose Bowl). Kansas/Va Tech ended up being decent bc the underdog Kansas won. West Virginia/Oklahoma proved exciting bc WVU kicked the you-know-what out of Oklahoma (who's something like 1-6 in BCS bowls under Bob Stoops). And, although I was totally pulling for Hawaii to pull off the upset and show it belonged (darn), Georgia pretty much handled them like a 5th grade bully picks on a 1st grader. It was almost like Hawaii was so excited to be in such a big bowl game that they forgot to actually come ready to play...at least that's what I heard bc I didn't watch any of these games. That's why I don't know which bowl picked which teams bc they were all such boring matchups that I didn't care at all to watch. Exciting regular season that is forgotten bc the postseason sucked so hard. NCAA football you deserve a swift kick in the crotch for botching what could have been an OUTSTANDING group of BCS bowls...off the top of my head I would've rather seen the following: Kansas/Missouri rematch (only two big 12 teams, so sorry Oklahoma your track record gets your booted. ha!), Va Tech/West Virginia (exciting offense vs. tough defense...err that's backwards), USC/LSU (OMG that would've been amazing)....hmmm Hawaii/Georgia? Maybe if Hawaii came to play...I'll admit this was the one game I was psyched to see...then didn't know when it was on and was glad I missed it. How about Mizz/Hawaii & Kansas/Georgia? Sure. Screw Oklahoma. Or pit them against LSU or USC in the title game. Or Georgia. Doesn't matter now...its all over and I feel cheated.

Exhale. That was WAY MORE than I intended to talk about. Meh. Like I said I freaking love sports...or arguing how they got screwed up. In other collegiate sports news, March Madness (WOO HOO!!!) is just around the corner....and by that I mean its only two months away. The NCAA got it right with college basketball. I have finally decided to root on the Huskies for good. Growing up it was back and forth between UW & WSU because I had some many different people in my life rooting for each. And as a young, impressionable boy it was easy to sway my allegiance. At one point I was a Cougar football fan, and as a result a Drew Bledsoe fan. I had his Patriots jersey along with Payton & Penny. (Yikes! I owned (wait still do bc I found another Bledsoe jersey) a Patriots jersey...not once but now twice. Damn. In the words of...(either TMQ or Bill Simmons (aka the Sports Guy) who is from Boston but realizes how much everyone hates his Patriots) someone far smarter than me...I own a "Cobra Kai Yankees" (aka the Patriots) jersey). But now I am a Husky fan because my roommate went there and because I now live in Seattle (I was a bigger Cougar fan in Spokane, where I went to school, bc they were closer and bc I could more easily attend games...which I did)...indefinitely.

Hmmm. Ok so here is my outlook in sports for the next week, month, quarter & year: Go Hawks, go Men's Husky Basketball, go Jake Locker & Husky football, go Sonics (yikes...as per Sports Guy's rules I can choose a new team once they leave...seeing as I have this former, repressed love for the Trailblazers (and seeing former UW star Brandon Roy plays for them) I think my new team will be Portland...yea...Portland), go M's (sign another proven starter please...not another Carlos Silva...and please trade Sexon or remove his head from his ass), go Cubbies &....die Yankees, Patriots, White Sox, Cougars, USC, Ohio St, the Storm & the rest of the WNBA.

Hope you enjoyed that...or at least learned something new...or were able to kind of, partially, in a strange sort of back-asswards (yes i know that's wrong) kind of way follow some of what I was ranting about. I love sports. And picking on my team...or talking trash about them is like beating on/up my little brother...nobody but me can do that...bc ultimately I love them no matter what. So for the time being, cheer on your NFL team if they are still standing, root on your alma matter as they approach March Madness (or if you went to a D-III school like me, then choose a D-I school based on the Sports Guy's rules) and above all, hope for good, clean games that not only give you your desired outcome, but entertain you along the way (except the Patriots (sorry Sports Guy)...I hope you get your perfect season shoved right down your throat by Jacksonville this weekend).


(sorry for the extra return lines...can't figure out why its doing that...if its doing that for you...um...neat...i like cheez-its)

1 comment:

Barecca said...

W. O. W. I have no other words. That was.....LONG! *Whew*