College Sports in the Carolinas
Don't miss Al Myatt's
profile of ECU Chancellor Steven Ballard in the 2004
from the East
January 3, 2004
By Al Myatt
Forces of reality ganging up
WHERE TO BUY...
PAT DYE: Short on Tenure, Long on Impact
INSIDE PIRATE FOOTBALL
Tracking the Classes
NCHSAA & ECU: Smooth Sailing Again
HIGH HOPES FOR HOOPS
New Leader Takes Charge
SCOTT COWEN: Busting Down the Door
KEITH LECLAIR on ECU's Field of Dreams
BETH GRANT: Actress Still a Pirate
There was a time when the United States was characterized as the land of
opportunity. It was said that anyone could achieve their goals with enough
ability and hard work.
That's not true, of course, in college football.
If you play for Utah and perhaps Auburn, depending on tonight's outcome, it
doesn't matter that you had a perfect season. The Bowl Championship Series
system has excluded you from consideration for the 2004 national
Only in America.
Well, only in Division I-A do media, coaches and an alliance of six power
conferences essentially determine who will be called champion.
The BCS has been an improvement as far as acknowledging the need for a
national championship game to decide the issue of No. 1 on the field, but as
events during the course of its existence have shown, the concept needs to
be further refined in its implementation.
The plea for a playoff is nothing new but the plight of the Tigers tonight
re-emphasizes the point. They've been through the gauntlet of the grueling
Southeastern Conference unscathed and go into tonight's Sugar Bowl matchup
with ACC champion Virginia Tech without a chance to claim the big prize.
That's just not right.
College football needs to take the 11 Division I-A conference champions, the
best independents and a few at-large powers and start a 16-team playoff as
has been proposed by ESPN. The system could incorporate existing bowls and
even rotate the championship game between the few elite bowls that comprise
the BCS now.
The regular season would matter because of the importance of winning
conference titles. Strength of schedule would factor into seedings,
encouraging teams to take on non-conference challenges.
Playoffs work for Division I-AA, Division II and Division III in NCAA so,
based on those successful precedents, there's no need for college presidents
to make the case for players missing class time. Athletes in other sports
have more schedule conflicts with class time anyway.
Thank goodness there's a true champion in college basketball. Imagine the
disappointment and sense of injustice if NCAA hoops was decided by the top
two teams in a contrived formula playing one game a month after the regular
season for all the marbles instead of conference tournaments, 65 teams and
Apply the football mentality to baseball and you would have one game in
Omaha between two formula-generated teams. I don't like that either, do you?
Keep the parades but give me an NCAA Tournament in football and a true
Utah handed Pitt, a product of the BCS-aligned Big East, its biggest loss of
the season by far the last statement the Utes were capable of making on
the field in the current state of college football. Utah did all it could
but will receive no serious consideration for the national championship.
That's just not right, either.
LSU and Southern Cal split the national championship in the polls last
season exactly the situation the BCS was supposed to remedy.
The BCS simply doesn't work in terms of determining the best team in college
football and the Associated Press should be applauded for
removing its poll from the BCS
formula in the future.
The powers that be in college football the BCS, the NCAA, the bowls, the
coaches, the Division I-A membership and television need to move toward a
playoff system. It simply would be best for the game.
ABC had an interesting sound bite with Utah quarterback Alex Smith in the
early stages of the
Utes' 35-7 triumph over Pittsburgh
in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's night.
Smith was talking about grasping the concept of Coach Urban Meyer's offense
that combines a spread formation passing game with elements of the option.
The Utes have piled up some incredible numbers this season, not the least of
which is that unblemished 12-0 record.
Former East Carolina coach Steve Logan developed the same concept regarding
the difficulty of defending both the option and a spread passing style.
It's interesting that although former ECU athletic director Mike Hamrick had
his personal differences with Logan, he appreciated Utah's philosophy to the
extent that he named Utes offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to take over
the Nevada-Las Vegas program, where Hamrick is now AD.
Meyer, of course, is Ron Zook's successor at Florida and Utes defensive
coordinator Kyle Whittingham will step up to the head coaching position at
Utah. It should be interesting to watch talented Gators junior Chris Leak at
the controls of Meyer's attack.
"Defenses have to play assignment football against the option," Smith said.
And that creates potential matchup problems defending the pass. The concept
and its near flawless execution by the Utes proved virtually overwhelming
for Pitt on Saturday night.
Utah also made an aggressive philosophy pay off on defense. In obvious
passing situations, Whittingham does not rely on dropping back in a lot of
nickel and dime packages in coverage. He does bring a lot of pressure on the
quarterback, which resulted in another game-defining dimension against Pitt
A spread offense with option elements and an aggressive blitz package. It
looked like ECU, vintage 1999.
McManus makes pick
Although the BCS system has its problems as addressed above, it is what it
is and, admittedly, that provides a compelling showdown for this season's
Jerry McManus, who has served on the football coaching staffs of Steve Logan
and John Thompson at East Carolina, said he likes Southern California in its
BCS showdown with Oklahoma a matchup of unbeatens in the Orange Bowl in
Miami, Fla., on Tuesday night.
McManus favors the Trojans based on the presence of Norm Chow as offensive
"I have a lot of respect for Norm Chow," McManus said. "He's a heckuva
offensive coordinator. He's ahead of the curve and I think that gives
Southern Cal a little bit of an edge."
Send an e-mail message to Al Myatt.
Click here to dig into Al Myatt's Bonesville
02/23/2007 12:32:54 AM