The first Monday in October brings the opening of the Supreme Court, the third Monday in October brings the first BCS poll, and the third Tuesday in October brings the first batch of e-mails complaining about the BCS. You can set your watch to it.
Actually, the complaints were fewer, which I take to mean that everyone understands this is like getting worked up about the Red Sox-Yankees playoff series on July 4. I don't know about you, but both playoff series are wreaking serious havoc with my work and my sleep. Let's just hope that the BCS proves as exciting as either LCS.
Have you noticed yet that this Saturday's games leave a lot to be desired? The top-25 matchups that exist are few and far between. Just don't write the games off yet. Look at it this way: there are fewer and fewer weeks in which the seven remaining unbeaten teams can be defeated, and history tells us that at least five of
them are going down. So pay attention.
In particular, pay close attention to Wisconsin-Northwestern, Miami-North Carolina State, Boise State-Fresno State. All three opponents are second-echelon bowl teams, and good enough, as the saying goes, on any given Saturday.
Lecture over. Let's click on some e-mail.
Is it possible that last year's results will play a factor in determining who plays in the Orange Bowl this year? For example, is USC being rewarded this year for being shunned from last year's title game, while Auburn is being penalized for its early 2003 flop? This certainly seemed to be the case with the preseason polls, and it looks like it may carry through to the bowl season.
Well, yes, but only in regard to the fact that the teams have to start somewhere, and when you're assessing them, you look at how good they were last year. No one foresaw Auburn coming together behind a seasoned group of talented seniors, and no one foresaw the effect that offensive coordinator Al Borges would have. But as I wrote Monday, it's early. I saw where Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg pointed out that the teams that have been 1-2 in the first BCS poll have never been 1-2 in the last BCS poll.
First, let me say how much I enjoy your column, and ESPN's coverage of college football in general. Regarding the initial BCS standings, last year's quality win bonus is gone, but apparently all of the computers take it into account somehow, and Miami's win over the B.W. (Before Wyatt) 'Noles is what's pushing them over the Sooners right now, at least according to my abacus. There's still plenty of football left to play this season. Next season however, I see the universe coming together in perfect harmony. Wyatt Sexton will start next year, allowing Bobby to redshirt Drew Weatherford (I think, redshirts don't necessarily have to be freshman year right?) to separate him and Xavier Lee. Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker will both return, the defense will return a large number of starters, including the whole linebacking corps (Ernie who?!). Bobby has always said he'd like to coach in the Rose Bowl ... isn't that where the BCS championship is next year? Hmmm. ... Anyway keep up the good work.
Ryan, you are the soul of optimism. I wouldn't write off this season just yet. But you make a good case for the 'Noles in '05.
Hmmm. The Irish beating Navy the way they should, demonstrates they are no longer in a reconstruction phase?
Recall the Stanford game near the end of last season. Notre Dame won by 50 points, only to be followed the next week by a 26-point defeat to a mediocre Syracuse team.
Want to rethink the conclusions in your article?
If Notre Dame can put away Boston College this weekend, then maybe I will agree with you.
The point, Jim, is that for the last two years, Notre Dame's inexperience and mistakes prevented the Irish from taking advantage of the obvious physical advantages it enjoyed over Navy. On Saturday, the Irish played smart football and let the Midshipmen make the mistakes. That's the sign of a mature team. I do agree with you about beating BC. Notre Dame hasn't done so since 2000.
Ivan -- I appreciate your view on Osborne's decision regarding Lawrence Phillips, and yes, his intentions were for the betterment of Phillips, as lost a cause he may have been. But to outsiders who saw it as a "win at all costs" issue, think again. Osborne had a whole stable of backs at his disposal, including Ahman Green. The four I-backs that contended for playing time with Phillips that season could have been starters at most schools that season. Osborne didn't keep Phillips to win, could have won without him. He kept him in an attempt to get him on the right course. Unfortunately, it was an exercise in futility.
The Ahman Green of 1995 was not the Green of 2004; Phillips' return galvanized the Husker offense.
Just wanted to let you know that I did like the story that you wrote about
the Navy streak and its ties to the military serving around the world. I am
a Sergeant in the Marine Corps who is at Camp Fallujah and am on my 2nd trip
out here. I would like those guys to keep in mind that Marine officers come
out of the Naval Academy too and that means that a whole lot of Marines are
pulling for Navy too!
Sgt Christopher Fikany USMC
Sarge, that one's on me. I should have included the Marines. My dad was a Marine, and if knew how to sign on to the Internet, he might get annoyed. Then again, the man is befuddled with a remote in his hand. Giving him a mouse would be an exercise in futility.
A win over Army still makes a season, even when Army is 1 and 10.
Larry G. Cox
Captain USNR (Ret) '60
Oak Brook, IL
And even when it's not. The Black Knights have two straight.
I don't know if you've noticed it or not, but a lot of these college faithfuls are crying up and down about how their team isn't getting the respect that they deserve. Heck, you did an entire piece on how LSU fans were whining about how the Tigers weren't being shown any love. As soon as that article came about, Auburn showed the nation why they are liable to be disrespected. I then noticed an Ohio State fan complaining on how the Buckeyes were the least respected in the nation. It just so happens that Wisconsin shut their traps. Georgia fans came close to flapping their gums too, but the Vols made sure that their mouths were stapled shut. As of right now (10-12-2004), there are only two teams that have a legitimate case of not getting the respect they've earned: Utah and Wisconsin. Though I am far from a fan of either teams, they do deserve better. I just hope that neither teams' fans start yapping about how the respect isn't there. It just seems like a death knell right about now.
Judging from my mail, fans are very sensitive to where their team is ranked, and they're all convinced that the media elitists don't respect them, especially the national media. What a fan sees as disrespect may be a writer's unemotional analysis. Or it may be this sinister plot that we have in Bristol against your team here.
What's the deal with no one even mentioning Iowa in the Big Ten race? I
know they looked less than impressive for the first four games of the season,
but they have improved every week, especially the offensive line. Their toughest games remaining are all at home. Drew Tate has looked great throwing the ball, and while the depth at tailback is pretty thin right now, they are still left with (in my opinion), the best running back they have, Marques Simmons. He runs hard and has speed to burn. All of this, and the defense is getting back to last year's form as well. All of this certainly isn't to say I'm guaranteeing a Big Ten championship by any means, but I think they deserve a closer look than they've been getting.
Cedar Falls, IA
Brock, when you lose 44-7 early in the season, and then lose 30-17 to Michigan one week later, it may be tougher to retain the interest of anyone not dressed in black and gold. By the same token, beating Ohio State 33-7 will retain anyone's interest. But before we even discuss winning at Penn State and at Minnesota, or beating No. 6 Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium on Nov. 20, the Hawks need Michigan to lose twice. That's a lot of ducks to get in a row.
Maisel Is Lame. I have a comment regarding the following that showed up in today's (Monday's) column about the BCS standings:
"To me, so much can happen," Alvarez said Sunday evening. "I know this, we've had a motto all year of going 1-0. We're going to have our hands full this week. Last year, we beat Ohio State and Purdue and we went up there (to Northwestern) and got beat."
UW didn't beat Purdue last year. I'm not sure if that is a typo in the story, or a misquote, but I thought I should point that out, just in case someone else doesn't.
I transcribed my notes incorrectly, Marcus. Barry Alvarez pointed out that the Badgers played Ohio State and Purdue in the two games before they played Northwestern last season, and then got beat by the Wildcats. Alvarez remembers good and well that Purdue beat Wisconsin last year. That one's on me.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at email@example.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel E-mails.