A Better System

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Fortunately, the BCS isn’t watered down with no-names this year. LSU,
Alabama, Clemson, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Stanford, Oregon,
Wisconsin, Oklahoma State: mix and match any of those teams in BCS bowls, and it
at least sounds good on paper. From a name standpoint, this year’s BCS is
outstanding.

It’s that way for a few reasons. First and foremost, West Virginia won the
Big East. As much as most of us, ummm, dislike WVU, they sound a heck of a lot
better than Cincinnati, Louisville or Rutgers in a BCS game. Secondly, Southern
Miss did the college football world a favor and blew out Houston. Third, Boise
State lost. When all three of those things happened, we were guaranteed some BCS
bowls that sound very good on paper.

We now see what BCS bowls would do if the rules didn’t force them to take
Boise State. The only people I ever hear talking about Boise State are the ESPN
people. Whenever I’m sitting at a bar, I never hear a comment like "Hey,
did you catch that Boise State game last night?". Instead, it’s more like
"Man, I can’t wait for the Michigan-Michigan State game." Sorry,
nobody except the talking heads at ESPN cares about Boise State unless they are
undefeated.

Newspapermen and ESPN guys complain about the BCS because it seems like the
little guy never gets a chance. In reality, the BCS has provided much more
access to the smaller conferences than any system ever did before. Did you ever
see Boise State, TCU or Hawaii in a big bowl game before the BCS came about?
Nope.

I’d like to see the big bowl matchups continue. There is discussion of the
BCS dropping the Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl and focusing
only on the #1 vs. #2 matchup for the National Championship. That would allow
those four bowls to form their own organization if they wanted (like the old
1990s Bowl Coalition, or the Bowl Alliance). If they don’t want to take Boise
State or Hawaii, they don’t have to. If they don’t want to deal with the Big
East, they don’t have to. There is no formal agreement to take the champion of
the big conferences (to make sure the Orange Bowl doesn’t get stuck with
Cincinnati), but there is an agreement to take no more than two teams from any
one conference, such as the current BCS.

What would be likely to happen is that the Rose Bowl would break away from
the other three major bowls and go independent, just like it was before the BCS.
That would leave three major bowls remaining to form their own organization to
try and get the best bowl matchups for the cities of Miami, New Orleans and
Phoenix. It’s possible that other bowls could join this group as well, such as
the Cotton Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl or Capitol One Bowl, but for now we’re just
sticking with the big three: the Orange, Fiesta and Sugar.

Let’s pick a random year (2007) and imagine that the BCS only did the #1 vs.
#2 game (which of course Jerry Jones would buy, and it would take place in
Cowboys Stadium). #7 USC would head to the Rose Bowl as Pac-10 (now Pac-12)
Champs, as would #13 Illinois as Big Ten runner-ups. The other three bowl games
are free to pick who they want, with no tie-ins. Here’s how the bowl games
actually looked that year:



2007 BCS Bowls


Date


Bowl


Matchup
Jan. 7
National Championship
#1 Ohio State vs. #2 LSU
Jan. 3
Orange
#3 Virginia Tech vs. #8 Kansas
Jan. 2
Fiesta
#4 Oklahoma vs. #9 WVU
Jan. 1
Sugar
#5 Georgia vs. #10 Hawaii
Jan. 1
Rose
#7 Southern Cal vs. #13 Illinois

Obviously we know that Ohio State and LSU would still be playing in the
National Championship Game, and Southern Cal and Illinois would be in the Rose,
but how would the other games stack up? Here’s a look at the pool of teams
available for the other four games, listed by BCS standings at the end of the
conference championship games.



Pool of Candidates for 2007 Coalition Bowls


BCS Rank


Team


Record


Other

3
Virginia Tech
11-2

ACC Champs

4
Oklahoma
11-2

Big 12 Champs

5
Georgia
10-2

N/A

6
Missouri
11-2

N/A

8
Kansas
11-1

N/A

9
West Virginia
10-2

Big East Champs

10
Hawaii
12-0

WAC Champs

11
Arizona State
10-2

N/A

We’ll go in this order of selection: Orange, Fiesta and Sugar. That’s based
on the Orange Bowl being the latest game, so they get the first pick. Remember,
there are no conference tie-ins.

Pick #1, Orange Bowl: Georgia. This is a no-brainer. Georgia finished in the
top five, they are from the SEC, and it’s not a long trip from Georgia to Miami.

Pick#2, Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma. Again, a no-brainer for the Fiesta. Oklahoma
is close, they are Big 12 Champs, and they will bring a lot of fans.

Pick #3, Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech. Is there any doubt who the Sugar Bowl
would pick? The Hokies have a proven history in New Orleans, they are ranked #3,
and they are ACC Champs.

Pick #4: Orange Bowl: West Virginia. Do you think WVU fans would show up in
Miami to watch their Mountaineers play a top five team? For sure.

Pick #5, Fiesta Bowl: Arizona State. The Pac-10 runner ups are just outside
the top 10, and the game is played just minutes from Arizona State’s campus.
This is a no-brainer.

Pick #6, Sugar Bowl: Missouri. The Sugar Bowl could have selected Kansas or
Hawaii, but Kansas was flattened by Missouri to end the season, and Hawaii isn’t
going to sell any tickets.

We’ll unimaginatively call this group of bowls the Bowl Coalition, and the
2007 matchups would have looked like this:



Fantasy 2007 Bowl Coalition Matchups


Date


Bowl


Matchup
Jan. 3 Orange #5 Georgia vs. #9 West Virginia
Jan. 2 Fiesta #4 Oklahoma vs. #11 Arizona State
Jan. 1 Sugar #3 Virginia Tech vs. #6 Missouri

Ummm … yes, please. I can guarantee you that the Orange Bowl would have
loved Georgia vs. WVU in 2007 over VT vs. Kansas. The Sugar Bowl would have
preferred VT vs. Missouri over Georgia vs. Hawaii. The Fiesta Bowl would kill
for Oklahoma vs. Arizona State. All of those games would have been sellouts, and
people would have enjoyed the matchups. When your least interesting matchup is
#3 Virginia Tech vs. #6 Missouri in the Sugar Bowl, that’s a good thing.

Why no conference tie-ins? It’s simple. Technically and legally, the bowls of
the Bowl Coalition can select the champions of any conference they want. If the
Sugar Bowl wanted to pick unbeaten WAC Champion Hawaii over #3 Virginia Tech,
the ACC Champion, then they are free to do so. However, we all know they aren’t
going to, because Hawaii isn’t an attractive option. So when Senator Orin Hatch
starts to complain about the champs of the small conferences not getting an
equal opportunity, then he can be told to tell those schools that they need to
do things to make themselves more attractive to the bowls (i.e. get some fans
who will travel, and become a better TV brand).

And of course, in the years West Virginia doesn’t win the Big East, none of
those bowls are going to touch Cincinnati or Rutgers with a 10-foot pole. Those
are the years we could see a TCU or Boise State possibly make the bowl
coalition.

The problem with the current BCS is that it’s stuck somewhere between a
"fair" system and a bowl system. The only thing that needs to be
"fair" is the #1 vs. #2 matchup. The bowl system was never
"fair". The bowl system was created to generate economic opportunities
for big cities in a time of year when they otherwise wouldn’t be making as much
money.

People argue that the BCS system doesn’t work. That’s incorrect. Teams that
are ranked #1 and #2 in the BCS play each other every year for the National
Championship, and that didn’t happen every year before the BCS. On the other
hand, the BCS actually hurts the rest of the bowl system, because of tie-ins and
too much access to the smaller conferences. I think it makes complete sense for
the BCS to drop the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose Bowls. They wouldn’t catch as
much flak, and those bowls could help themselves by being free to select the
teams they really want.

I think it’s a win-win for everyone: the fans, because they will have better
opportunities to travel to see good matchups; the players, because they will
have better opportunities to play in exciting games; TV, because more people
will watch games that sound good on paper than Georgia vs. Hawaii; the cities
themselves, because exciting matchups generate more ticket sales.

The same Bowl Coalition model can even be used if a Plus-One system is
implemented as well. If the top four teams in the BCS play a tournament for the
National Championship, then the Bowl Coalition would still have had attractive
matchups in 2007.



Fantasy 2007 Bowl Coalition Matchups


Date


Bowl


Matchup
Jan. 3 Orange #5 Georgia vs. #15 Clemson
Jan. 2 Fiesta #8 Kansas vs. #11 Arizona State
Jan. 1 Sugar #6 Missouri vs. #9 West Virginia
*Assumes that a Plus-One system was in place, featuring #1 Ohio State
vs. #4 Oklahoma, and #2 LSU vs. #3 Virginia Tech

Those are still some very good matchups, three likely sellouts and plenty of
TV viewers.

I actually think a Plus-One BCS system, along with a Bowl Coalition with no
conference tie-ins, would be great for college football. It accomplishes a lot
of goals:

1: For everyone who wants a playoff, there ya go. Finish in the top four, and
you’re in.
2: For the bowls, they are free to pick anyone they want, and they should get
better matchups.
3: Better matchups for the players.
4: Better matchups for the fans, which leads to more ticket sales and better TV
ratings.

I don’t see many drawbacks of a system like that.

VT Basketball: Time for a Shake Up?

Seth Greenberg has been Virginia Tech’s basketball coach for the better part
of a decade, and the word we’ve probably heard him say more than any other is
"tough". Greenberg preaches toughness to his players, and in general,
the Hokies have been one of the toughest teams in the ACC since Seth took over
the program.

On Monday night’s Tech Talk Live, Greenberg criticized his team’s lack of
toughness in the second half in losses to Minnesota and Kansas State. The Hokies
held halftime leads in both of those games, but faltered down the stretch.

What stood out to me in those two games was Victor Davila’s poor performance
against Kansas State. The Wildcats got up early, and Davila got into foul
trouble. With Davila out of the game, the Hokies came back and took a first half
lead. With Davila back in the game in the second half, Tech gave up easy baskets
in the inside and were beaten 47-33 over the final 20 minutes.

Just take a look at the minutes per rebound numbers for Tech’s three post
players.



Rebounds per Minute, VT Post Players


Player


Yr.


Rebounds


Minutes

Mins.
Per Reb.
Victor Davila
Sr.

35

187

5.34
Cadarian Raines
r-So.

29

99

3.41
C.J. Barksdale
Fr.

21

84

4.00

Cadarian Raines goes the least amount of time
between rebounds, followed by
C.J. Barksdale (at right). Tech’s starter, Victor Davila, is well behind those two guys. I
think eight games against mostly solid competition is a pretty good indicator
that Raines and Barksdale are better rebounders than Davila.

I’m not here to blast on Davila all day, but his toughness and rebounding
haven’t improved over four years, and they are unlikely to get any better at
this point. With Raines a r-sophomore with great size, and Barksdale a very
talented freshman, I think those guys should be getting the lion’s share of work
on the inside. I’m not saying Davila shouldn’t play. He can still score when he
catches the ball cleanly. But this team isn’t about scoring. This team needs
rebounding help badly, and the more Raines and Barksdale play now, the better
they will be at the end of the season and in seasons to come.

I like Greenberg as a basketball coach, but it bothers me when he gets on the
radio and talks about how his team lacks toughness when he himself chooses to
start his least tough player at the most physically demanding position in
college basketball. If toughness on the inside is an issue, then start Cadarian
Raines, and then get C.J. Barksdale more minutes. I’d be willing to bet that
Virginia Tech’s rebounding numbers go up, and their turnovers would likely go
down.

As far as Dorenzo Hudson goes, Seth Greenberg said Hudson twisted his knee in
practice last week, and missed the two days of practice before the Kansas State
game. Hudson ended up scoring seven points, he was 3-of-9 from the field, 1-of-5
from three-point range, and three of his points came after the game was already
decided.



Dorenzo Hudson, Last Four Games


Opp.


FGM


FGA


3PM


3PA


Points
Oklahoma State
2

13

0

4

7
St. Bonaventure
3

10

1

3

8
Minnesota
0

4

0

1

0
Kansas State
3

9

1

5

7

Totals


8


36


2


13


5.5

That’s a terrible shooting percentage, and only 5.5 points per game is not
even close to the Dorenzo Hudson of two years ago. Right now, Hudson isn’t
contributing much. If it’s because he’s hurt, then he needs to sit down for a
few games and get healthy, because when he’s on the court that means someone who
is healthier and more capable of contributing is sitting on the bench.

I know the Hokies are a young team, but right now it’s their two oldest
players who aren’t producing. Davila just isn’t what the Hokies need at that
post position, and Hudson just isn’t producing, whether it’s because of an
injury or some other reason. I think it might be time to shake up the starting
lineup for a game or two.



Starting Lineup Recommendation


Pos.


Name


Ht.


Wt.


Yr.

G
Erick Green
6-3

185

Jr.

G
Robert Brown
6-5

190

Fr.

F
Dorian Finney-Smith
6-8

192

Fr.

F
C.J. Barksdale
6-8

232

Fr.

C
Cadarian Raines
6-9

238

r-So.

If Dorenzo Hudson gets healthy or starts playing consistently again, then he
is more than welcome to rejoin the starting lineup, because I personally prefer
to bring a freshman scorer like Robert Brown off the bench.

As far as Victor Davila goes, it’s tough to see him improving at this point,
so it’s time to start playing for the future on the inside. The table above
shows Virginia Tech’s likely starting lineup for the 2012-13 season. With an
NCAA Tournament bid unlikely this season, I’m ready to go ahead and get a one
year head start on building next year’s team.

Davila can certainly still play a key role. He’s a good defender when he’s
focused, and when ACC play rolls around Virginia Tech will need him. But the
upside or Raines and Barksdale warrants them getting more minutes, especially
when they are proving to be more productive.

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