Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who's your daddy now?

The strangeness of this season just will not let go. Just when you thought you knew how it would all turn out, wham!

The LSU loss has serious repercussions for the SEC. Gone are any realistic hopes for a representative from the SEC in the BCS championship game with LSU's loss to Arkansas last night. With Mississippi State's win, the SEC now has at least 10 bowl-eligible teams and possibly 11 if Vanderbilt somehow manages one more win. With LSU now out of the BCS championship, that means only 8 SEC teams are sure to get a bowl bid out of the ten eligible. But with Georgia looking pretty certain to wind up with an at-large bid in a BCS bowl, there should be nine SEC teams fairly certain of a bowl bid.

South Carolina or Alabama are looking like the odd team out at the moment, but that could shift strongly toward the Gamecocks if the Tide gets it done in the Iron Bowl today. If both USC and Alabama win, I say 'Bama gets the nod. If both teams lose, I would like to say USC gets the bid, but truth be told, Alabama is a much bigger draw, and when $$ are at stake, you have to like the Tide's chances in that scenario. Also hurting USC's chances would be a 5-game losing streak. If the Tide loses and USC wins, the Gamecocks should go bowling with 'Bama sweating it out.

So what does LSU's loss to Arkansas do to the SEC other than change the bowl picture a bit? On the one hand, it adds to the perception that the SEC is just too strong a conference for its own good, and argues much more strongly for a playoff system if you are an SEC fan. If you are a Big 10, Big East, ACC or Pac-10 fan, you are happy with the status quo. From their perspective, its fun to watch the SEC eat its own, and you know you don't have to worry about schedule strength -- in the six BCS conferences, that is only going to be an issue if a team has a loss. An undefeated team an any of the six BCS conferences will almost always get to the championship, regardless of their strength of schedule.

So this year, after the latest LSU loss, we are left to wonder if the SEC is really all that strong, or if LSU is just not the team that they were cracked up to be. Strong arguments can be made both ways -- LSU has looked vulnerable on more than one occasion this year, and has played much worse in the second half of the season than early on. One could argue that LSU is just not worthy of a BCS championship berth, and absent a playoff system of some kind, we will never really know. But whatever the situation, LSU will not be the national champion this year.

Not much reax from the bayou bloggers so far, but Geaux Tuscaloosa has a post up, and he agrees with me that LSU has been regressing:

Yes, that was a very disappointing loss, but honestly, have we looked like the best team in the country lately? Not really. We just kept winning. No matter what happened, we just kept winning. Yesterday, we weren't able to do it.
Ryan Ferguson of Fanhouse thinks Les Miles' luck just ran out:
I've contended at times this year that Les Miles has been lucky rather than good, or more specifically, his talent has carried him when his coaching acumen has not.

Today, he finally ran out of extra chances. LSU fans will now likely send Miles to Michigan with their compliments.
The old saying is, "I'd rather be lucky than good." I can't really decide how much of Miles' success this year has been luck vs. good coaching, but it will be very interesting to see what happens in the aftermath of this loss. With Lloyd Carr being run out of Ann Arbor retiring after this year, Miles will almost certainly be Michigan's first choice.

David Ching at the Georgia Bulldog Blog comes up with a scenario where the Dawgs wind up in the title game with Ohio State:
Updating a post earlier in the week, Georgia now needs the following to happen to play Ohio State in the national championship game:
1) Georgia to beat Georgia Tech
2) Oklahoma to beat the Missouri/Kansas winner in next weekend's Big 12 championship game
3) UConn or Pitt to beat West Virginia
4) It wouldn't hurt for Kentucky to beat Tennessee, enabling Georgia to play LSU in the SEC championship game; Virginia to beat Virginia Tech on Saturday; UCLA to beat USC next weekend. These things might not be absolutely necessary, but would greatly strengthen Georgia's case should items 1-3 take place.
As wild as this season has been, I wouldn't be at all surprised if something like this happened. I really don't think the stars are aligned for an SEC team in the BCS championship, though.

From an Arkansas standpoint, it's hard to argue that McFadden didn't just make a statement for his Heisman candidacy. Heisman pundit notes the results of Friday, and tries to sort through the madness:
Is that the kind of game McFadden needed to get back in the Heisman race? Yes, but it is most likely too little, too late. If anything, his performance will shake up the final order of the vote and will probably knock Dennis Dixon out of the top three. But I don't think it is enough to win. Hence, it's possible that McFadden may become the first two-time runner-up since Charlie Justice of North Carolina in 1949.

Heh. Well, the one thing helping McFadden over Tebow is his upperclassman status. Arkansas has somehow magically pulled eight wins out of the hat with this upset, and despite HP's doubts that this is enough, I am not so sanguine. McFadden may well have done all that is required -- after all, Tebow wasn't enough to get the Gators a win in Baton Rouge, and McFadden got that job done.

Stephen at Razorback Expats had difficulty watching the game:
* Being a true Arkansan, I watched the fourth quarter and the overtimes with an almost overwhelming sense of dread. I could hardly look at the television screen. I just knew we were going to get our hearts broken - the only question was how. My pessimism faded somewhat when Felix Jones scored the two-point conversion in the third overtime; at that moment, I began to wonder if the football gods were on our side. says that both Miles and Nutt could be elsewhere after this season

Nutt, who will have his team in a bowl game, may not be back with the Hogs next season after growing unrest in Fayetteville, Ark. Arkansas officials have yet to confirm that, however, and firing Nutt may be a less popular move now.

Miles job is not in jeopardy, but there's been talk he could be moving after this season, too. Miles, who played at Michigan and was an assistant coach there, is widely considered a top candidate to replace Lloyd Carr as the Wolverines' head man.

One thing is certain -- Houston Nutt's tenure at Arkansas, whether it ends this year or not, has been a roller coaster ride for Razorback fans.

In the final analysis, it looks to me that, barring a miracle, the SEC is out of contention for the BCS championship. In the end, the SEC's top teams were either too weak or too numerous, depending on who you talk to, to get there.