Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your “National Champion”

All Hail the Utes

When the curtain comes down on the 2008 season, only a single team will remain undefeated – Utah. And that Utah team just dismantled Alabama for the Tide’s second consecutive loss, an Alabama team that was ranked number 1 for much of the season.

Utah outgained Alabama 349 yards to 208 on route to a 31-17 victory that – to use the old cliché – didn’t even look that close. Utah players were in ‘Bama’s backfield all night, and the Tide looked slow compared to the Utes.

This was against an Alabama scoring defense ranked 6th nationally surrendering only 13 points per game, even after the 31-20 loss to Florida. In that effort Alabama gave up a similar 358 yards to the Gators, but gained 323 and led for most of the game. Utah’s performance against Alabama was far more impressive than Florida’s, and Alabama never led the Utes.

Utah can add the win over Alabama to their regular season win over Oregon State – the same Oregon State that beat USC. And while their Mountain West schedule was not the nation’s toughest it wasn’t the worst either, and Utah ranks 33rd nationally in strength of schedule per the NCAA, 9 spots tougher than Southern Cal’s rank at 42.

In other words how can thoughtful people consider USC the “best” team when Utah ran the table and beat the team that beat USC, with a tougher schedule than USC?

Likewise my own Gators find themselves in the “national championship” game largely on the strength of their win over Alabama. Utah looked markedly more impressive against that same Alabama team than the Gators did.

I'll be looking forward to the logic stretching that goes on to convince us that Utah doesn't deserve top accolades. The "system" must be protected, no matter how obviously flawed it has become.

The powers that be have an interest in protecting next Thursday’s game as the “national title game”, but I don’t. Barring something amazing in the Florida – Oklahoma contest, my final BlogPoll vote for number one will be Utah.

Update: Coach of the Year my arse.


Trader Rick said...

Pretty lame reasoning, Mergz. You've reached a new low.

Mergz said...

Don't hate the voter, hate the system


Anonymous said...

Actually, Florida faced an undefeated Alabama team, healthy and playing all of their first string offensive line. It wasn't exactly the same team or the same mentality.

Anonymous said...

And I might add, to the comment above, that we were thin on the defensive line and missing Percy. I don't see any reason to denigrate the Gators accomplishment.

The Guru said...

I agree with Mergz, Utah should be No. 1 in the AP poll. The Gators will get "theirs" in the BCS.

The whole thing is a sham anyway. There really is no such thing as a "national champion."

Anonymous said...

Did Utah beat the #1 team in the nation last night? No.

Did Utah ever play the #1 team in the nation this season? No.

Florida will play the #1 team in the nation for the second time on Thursday. Florida deserves it more than Utah.

Florida's schedule is the second-toughest in the country. Utah's? A measly 33rd.

I'll congratulate them on beating an obviously disenchanted Alabama team, but there's no way Utah could play 8 SEC teams this season and come away undefeated. No chance in hell.

Henry Louis Gomez said...


The "we beat #1" argument is ridiculous. It's like when the TV announcers say a team has beaten 5 top 25 teams but 3 of those teams have dropped out of the top 25 since. What matters is that they played the same team the Gators did and won more convincingly.

Now on the SoS, I agree. The Gators had to run a gauntlet that Utah did not. But that's kind of the whole point of this blog, to destroy the idea that there's a legitimate national championship in big time college football.

I tell you that Utah gives me more pause as an opponent right now than Oklahoma.

KG said...

Yes, I much prefer the days when a BYU team could win the National Championship simply by going undefeated rather than a once beaten Washington or Florida team. Those were the days of true national champions.

When it simply becomes a matter of going undefeated then teams need to be smart and start playing cupcakes exclusively in their non-conference schedules. Chances are that no matter what your BCS league that you'll have at least 3-4 good games to put on your resume.

Simply by virtue of their schedule a WAC or Mountain West team has less "big games" on their schedule to get up for. It's the same type of scheduling that worked so well for FSU and Miami when they were independents. You had a half dozen games that you could sleep walk through and 3-4 big games to get up for.

Utah is probably a top 10 team but there's a big dropoff after the top 3 teams this year. Could Utah beat Florida, USC, OU or Texas in a title game? Sure, they have a shot on any given day. Could they go through a BCS conference undefeated and THEN beat a Florida, USC, OU or Texas?

Those odds are considerably less. Maybe they deserve the chance to lose in a playoff format but that's the way it goes. Much in the same way I think it sucks that New England got left out of the playoffs but don't really think they could have won the Super Bowl given their personnel limitations this year. The Pats and the Utes are one and the same. It doesn't take anything away from their accomplishments, it just goes to prove life isn't fair - I hope that doesn't shock anyone out there who thought otherwise.

DolFan 316 said...

WHAAAAT?! You mean life isn't fair? No WAY, dude! :)

But yeah, even a diehard SEC supporter like me has to admit the Utes (what the hell is a "Ute"?) have as righful a claim as anyone else for the championship. Such as it is.

Anonymous said...

Good game to the Utes. Do u honestly think Urban Meyer would lose to Utah, come on. Alabama ran thru this whole year barely gettin by, Florida crushed every team there after a loss to an Ole Miss. Ole Miss smashed an overated Tech. You would say so did OU. But come on... Florida should be playing Utah so the SEC could put the Mountain West back in their place. Look at ur strength of schedule guys come on. U beat an Alabama team that everyone in the SEC knew Florida would rampage. Go Utes, Go Gators, but to the team who has pulled off the best win yet in the bowl games, that 92.4% of america said they were going to lose... HOTTY TODDY, Come on tech, this game wasnt at Lubbock, did u really think u had a chance...

Trader Rick said...

A Ute is an Indian, by the way.
Just because the system isn't exactly the way you want it doesn't make it invalid. Whoever wins Thursday will be the National Champions and recognized as such. You can crown whoever you want as YOUR champion, but it won't mean squat.
You have to play by the rules. If you want to change the rules, fine, go for it. But don't pretend they are not valid, just because YOU don't like them. That is anarchy, and beneath you guys.

Your play-my-way or I take my marbles and go home attitude just doesn't wash with us.


Henry Louis Gomez said...


With a 119 teams in the FBS, what are the chances that the actual two best will be playing on Thursday? It's a bogus championship. Don't compare college to the NFL where 12 of 32 teams make the playoffs.

Your idea that one team is better than the other and there's a drop-off, etc. is exactly what we're fighting. Subjective opinions from people with some stake in it (emotional or financial).

Anonymous said...

I agree with Trader Rick. I've always liked this website (and still do - along with HLG's other website) but there's no need to bash the Gators because the system is flawed. They've had a great season.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

How exactly did I or Mergz "bash" the Gators?

Anonymous said...

ok, maybe bash is a poor choice of words. However, I don't appear to be the only one to find the idea that the Gators are undeserving of their current position to be implicit in last to posts. Probably not the intention, but it doesn't logically follow that because the system has inequities that the Gators are undeserving of playing for a championship. In articulating the problems with the current system and the lack of opportunities provided to worthy programs, an impression was left (IMO, obviously worth what all opinions are) that this is the case. I probably don't need to disclose this, but I am insanely biased and don't like anything I perceive as a slight to the Gators, somewhat of an impediment I admit.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

So if the Gators were on the outside looking in then it would be OK to criticize this ludicrous system?

Please. If you want to read a blog that's a bastion of homerism over reason, I'm sure you can find one.

I probably don't need to disclose this, but I am insanely biased and don't like anything I perceive as a slight to the Gators, somewhat of an impediment I admit.

We're going to call it like we see it. Also, understand that nothing we say here affects what happens on the field or in the BCS board room.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I do understand that bloggers don't influence the outcome of football games, it's an intellectual stretch for me, but I've managed to grasp the concept. Thanks for that.

I think the system is ludicrous, I certainly never meant to imply that I endorsed the current system; all I was trying to say was that your comments seemed to imply that since the system is ludicrous, nothing that arises out of it has any validity I'm simply saying that by any standards the Gators had a great season.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

If you read the extensive archives of this blog you will see that it has always been our stated position that college football is broken because the "national championship" is based on claims. We have documented how Alabama claims national titles that the players on the field didn't even know they playing for because such a thing didn't exist. We have documented how the Gators can make claims to titles they currently are not acknowledged for.

We want the Gators to win on Thursday. We want to be ranked at the top of the AP and coaches polls. But that doesn't make the Gators "National Champions". The BCS is not the governing body of college football. That responsibility belongs to the NCAA which does not award a "national championship" in what was formerly known as Div. 1A. That's just a fact.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I ever said anything that disagreed with what you've just stated. I don't disagree, for the most part. For the third time, I'm simply saying that the Gators have had a great season. Playing in a game that clearly is not recognized by everyone as designating the best team in the country doesn't lessen the accomplishments of the participating teams. I've been reading this blog for a couple of years now,(I've never commented before) and I've always appreciated the analysis and commentary. BTW, I don't think anything I wrote in my comments indicated that I had no understanding that you didn't have an impact on the outcome of a football game. That was unnecessary. That being said, I'm sure I will continue to enjoy your commentary and analysis.

jj gator said...

Folks, there's one word that can put an end once and for all to all this childish bickering over who sould be the National Champion in college football's top tier - and that one word is PLAYOFF.

Anonymous said...

gators, will be awarded national champions status... sure it could be unfair to others, but guess what it is what it is. nobody chatting on here will change it. they'll be #1 in the nation after the game... truth be known NCAA doesnt place anyone, so if thats so. then nobody is ranked. and Florida is the same at the US college for the deaf and blind... come on... get a grip.... Go gators

jj gator said...

"Actually, Florida faced an undefeated Alabama team, healthy and playing all of their first string offensive line. It wasn't exactly the same team or the same mentality."

Umm, it WAS the same Alabama team who Florida beat that Utah beat as well.

Any given day rule applies, hon.