Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dear Mr. Herbstreit,

From: Henry Gomez
Subject: The BCS and being objective
Date: January 18, 2007 3:03:04 PM EST

Dear Mr. Herbstreit,

I recently heard your post-game analysis of the BCS Championship on 1460 The Fan and wanted to comment on it.

During the run-up to the BCS CG it seems to me that you simply dismissed any argument that didn’t coincide with your preconceived notions. When confronted with factual arguments or logical reasons in favor of Florida you waived them off and instead engaged in a much more subjective judgment of the situation. Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about from an interview you did with a Detroit sports radio station WXYT:

"Here's the problem I had; I get paid to actually watch college football, from noon to 2 a.m. I watch every game there is, and I do that for 15 straight weeks. I'm in a position where I can make an opinion on more than, well right here on paper, it says Florida beat six top 25 teams, I don't care. I don't care. I've watched Florida every week. Congratulations, 12-1, that's amazing. But am I going to penalize Michigan because the Big Ten is awful this year? Absolutely not. I don't care that they beat Notre Dame and Notre Dame is terrible. I don't care that they beat Wisconsin and we don't know how good Wisconsin is. I saw them play against every team this year.

People can say look how [Michigan] played against Ball State and look how they played against Northwestern. They were bored. The difference between that and Florida [is that] Florida was actually trying when they played and didn't execute against Georgia and Vanderbilt, and didn't execute against Kentucky and other teams they played.”
So you readily acknowledged the truth in the arguments that some observers made for Florida but dismissed them because they didn’t square with your personal feelings. You presumed to know more the average fan and even your colleagues because you watch a lot of football. You also presumed to know when one was team “bored” and when another was “actually trying”. How you could surmise that from watching a game on TV is something that is hard for me to understand.

Now that the game has been played you claim that you can’t look at individual decisions or match-ups in the game because they were inconsequential. You allege that, instead, the game was decided because the Gators played with “their hair on fire” and because they were more “motivated” and “focused”. Of course there is no objective way to measure any of these factors. I understand that emotion certainly plays a role in college football but to use such intangibles to completely account for the outcome of a game seems a bit na├»ve for an “expert”. Of course the problem is that since you didn’t attempt to use any objective measures before the game, using them afterwards would mean that you were wrong. It’s much easier to say that OSU that lacked “focus” and “intensity” than to admit that perhaps Florida was simply the more talented and better coached team. I submit to you, sir, that a closer, more objective look at the regular seasons of these two teams would have at least given you good reason to believe that Florida not only deserved a shot at OSU but that they would be competitive in the game.

I also think you were very unfair to your colleague, Gary Danielson, when you accused him of having been pressured into carrying water for Florida by his bosses. Again from your WXYT interview:
“When I was watching [the SEC Championship] that they put that graphic up, the only thing I could think of was that the coordinating producer would force them to do something like that to kind of destroy any credibility they'd all built over the years, just obviously by standing up and talking about an SEC school.”
It’s as if you completely disregarded the possibility that Mr. Danielson actually believed what he was saying. Presumably he watches as much football as you, is he not entitled to have a different opinion and voice it on the air just like did? For the record he told the same Detroit sports radio hosts that interviewed you that he didn’t know who the two best teams in the country were and that no team should be anointed. If Mr. Danielson is a “shill” for the SEC because he laid out a strong and convincing case for the Gators then aren’t you more of a shill for the Big Ten since you were trying to do same thing for Michigan but without the benefit of tangible evidence?

Your record in discerning which teams are better than others is dismal judging by the wild variations in your AP ballot over just the final couple of weeks of the season. For example in week 13 you had not only OSU and Michigan ahead of Florida, but also Arkansas and West Virginia. That ballot looks laughable now.

We all know the BCS is an imperfect system but as long as we have to live with it, don’t the fans deserve to know that the teams that are selected for the championship game were selected based on a more credible and logical criterion than “because Herbie said so”? It turns out that Herbie is just plain wrong a lot of the time.


Henry Gomez
Saurian Sagacity


Gator Duck said...

Way to give Herbie hell Henry!

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Great letter! Please let us know if he responds.

Dr Sak said...

Good job Henry!

I just want to point out to Kirk that by watching that many hours of football times 15 weeks doesnt qualify him as a bone-a-fied expert. I mean I watch a lot of TV on surgery so does that make me qualify to operate on someone? I think not.

Ryan Ferguson said...

Right on, Gomez!

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis of the situation.