Blog, tagged with Block of Granite
2024-01-09 08:40

And we have a new National Champion, congratulation to the Michigan Wolverine winning that title, the 1st since 1997.
Details on the game a bit deeper in the blog entry with the full recap of the game.

I did write this test in parts already in the forum, but I will put this in here again and modify it, or expand it, a bit.
When I started the text in the forum, my intention was not to write so many lines, but I did start it and one thing led to the next.
After finishing it, I thought, why did I not put it in the blog entry and put it into the forum? Well, the answer for the initial post is, I wanted to just write a short addition to my latest answer on the forum and it did grow and grow ...

So here is the initial post (changes only on spelling and grammar if I did detect it now, and the contract on the ACC runs to 2036):

I did think yesterday about the situation regarding Florida State and came to the conclusion that the ACC has a major problem now.

a) The conference was left out of the playoffs with an unbeaten Champion, because the people in charge to put the strongest 4 teams into the playoffs, agreed that this unbeaten Champion was weaker than the two 1-loss-Champs. That's a hard verdict, because it means, the conference is in total softer than the 4 others, or at least 2 of the others.

What does that mean in recruiting and career planning for a player in future?
If I would be TOP100 material, would I go to an ACC school or go to another conference with a Championship flavor? I think that's what happened with the transfer guys already, at least in parts.

b) Since the conference is marked weak, how many of the BIG money schools in it will tolerate that for some time? Will several teams join FSU regarding the marketing contracts and will then say 'bye bye' IF a court does eventually put a dent into that fail safe contract?

And as I said, if enough schools join FSU, the conference is taken over by the rebels, like the PAC-12 was this season and then those contracts are no longer valid, before they are ruled at court. That's likely the worst-case scenario.

c) If this all sticks and all teams HAVE to stay to 2036 something, what will happen AFTER that? Will the conference become so weak until then, because of recruiting and the rise of the BIG10, SEC and BIG12 that the ACC will NOT get the type of money the others got. THEN the exodus will start also, just later.

The only unknown in this whole thing is from my point view, how the 12-team-playoff-system of next season will affect the whole circus, because in best case we will have
- The ACC Champ
- The BIG10 Champ
- The BIG 12 Champ
- The SEC Champ
- At least one GROUP of 5 Champ, most of the time likely AAC, but you never know
- The rest filled with at-large based on strength

The PAC-12 is out of scope, except the teams do perform very well, since it is either in rebuild or demolition phase.

This season that could have been (but including the PAC-12 Champ)

Michigan, Washington,Texas, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oregon, Missouri, Penn State, Ole Miss, Liberty.

Then the team can battle it out on the turf and find a champion and every conference has at least a chance.

Now the addition:

Why is it they I did write it?

a) Most teams, basically all teams inside a conference, do play the majority of games inside their conference and have only a small number of games against teams from other conferences, usually 3 to 4 games out of 12. If you want to make an impression on your strength, you need either to play in a strong conference on your conference games or you need to play against teams from a strong conference in your non-conference games.
Who do define the strength of a conference?
Basically, the press and coaches by ranking the teams based on their results, every week. The idea is, that the mass of journalists do in total build a good representation of the level of strength of each team, at least TOP25 and those not making the list, but receiving points. Same for the coaches. That system is a bit flawed, since it starts with preseason rankings, which are just wish-thinking/projection at that time and is adjusted each week, after every gameday. The flaw is, that a team, which starts high and keeps winning, stays high, while a team starting low (or not on the list) needs forever to get on the list or to rise inside the list.
And then the new ranks are done by comparing the results with the rankings of last week and you can only rise fast if you beat a high ranked team. So, if your conferences is labeled STRONG, you find a lot of your opponents likely high on the list or in the list and beating them does help to rise or to keep the top level. If you are not labeled strong, you can beat whoever you like, you will not rise much, you rise only, because other do lose and sink.
That's mostly inside the conference.
Outside the conference, the same is true, but the number of games is even less and you can only make up to 4 statements. Winning here does help, sure. But if you are from a weak-labeled conferences you need likely seasons to rise to a relevant level, because you need that preseason rank to be high and you only earn that on the ranks you had the season before.
Example: UCF did win in 2017 every game, but played at that time inside the AAC, one of the top group of 5 conference.
They were not ranked for 1 month, then got slowly into the TOP25 and finished at #6 AP and #7 coaches after beating Auburn (ranked at #7 at that time prior the bowl).
Many wanted to see them in the playoffs, but their schedule was just too fluffy. Their non-conference games were not against good teams, and some were even canceled. If they would have played, say Georgia (finished #2 AP/coaches) and would have won against them or even would have lost in a close one, they would have risen big time, since the SEC is labeled strong, and Georgia was ranked very high. But with that schedule they had, there was no chance they would break the TOP4, even unbeaten. UCF did CLAIM National Championship by self-declaration, but nobody takes that serious.
Why I'm telling this?
Because FSU got snapped from the TOP4 and the reason can only be, that their schedule was labeled weak compared to the other TOP4 teams, of which some even had losses.
If you look at the schedule of FSU and compare it to the other teams, it's not THAT much different, if you just look at ranked teams and non-ranked teams. The major difference is that FSU did play inside the ACC and the others did of course not.
So, when they were left out of the TOP4, it was a degrading of ALL opponents of them, mostly ACC-teams.

b) The sport is driven by 2 factors, money and the players. Until a few seasons ago, the deal was, the programs do invest the money in coaches and environment (with ridiculous results on luxury features and coaches contracts, since the money had to be spend), and the players wanted a good or great program to give them the best chance for a NFL career (for those having a chance) and the rest wanted education. But with NIL came to be, now money is also an issue for players and a conference making the playoffs makes more money than a conference not playing in the playoffs. For one those playoff teams will get more money from the playoff games and on top likely the TV contracts will be more interesting than of the others. More money means, better environment, better coaches and now also better players. That's the reason Texas and Oklahoma did jump to the SEC, USC, UCLA, Washington and Oregon did join the BIG10. Those conferences are labeled the strongest conferences. And the ACC got from my point of view with that FSU-ranking a degrade ON TOP. Could be a once-of-a-time-thing, but I think it was not, it was the start of a process, which result is not foreseeable.

c) If the contract of the ACC is bullet-prove and every team HAS to stay and not enough do join the bandwagon on changes or the contracts with the TV stations are too severe to break, what will happen in the next DECADE? Because that's the worst case. 10 years with NO changes in the ACC, while the SEC, the BIG10 and the BIG12 can adjust and rework their stuff.
Biggest unknown is the ACC TV contract.
As it seems, ESPN has an option to NOT prolong the contract from 2027-2036, but why should they do that? If they would cancel the contract, the ACC could negotiate a new one, and that would be more expensive, for sure, but likely not on the level as the SEC or BIG10. ESPNs cheapest option would be to use the contract to 2036.
And the ACC has NO right to cancel the contract and the teams are bound to give the ACC the media rights to 2036.
Means in worst case, a lot less money for the ACC until 2036. Getting teams from that period of less money back to top level will be hard. I could only imagine THEN top teams with a national brand leaving for on instant money infusion and a fast recovery, which would bring the ACC either on the level of the PAC-12 or any group of 5 conference.

The 12-teams-playoff system MIGHT mitigate the effects a bit, but I doubt it. Because if you look into the list I did setup for THIS season as mock-up, it's BIG10 with 3 teams, the PAC-12 with 2 teams, the BIG12 with 1 team, the SEC with 4 teams, the ACC with 1 team and 1 group of 5 team. But projected on NEXT seasons conference participation it's BIG10 with 5 teams, the SEC with 5 teams, the ACC with 1 team and that one group of 5 team.
Means, the 2 conferences BIG10 and SEC do get each 5 times the money out of the system as the ACC and also 5 times the recognition.
Sure, if the ACC team would make it to the Finale, then this shifts a bit, but that's a big IF.

Overall, as far as I can see this situation, the ACC has a problem.

And why is the FSU-players movement a problem on top?

Because from my point of view it shows that this problem did sink into the players heads, and they made the business decisions.
It will be interesting to see, where the bunch of players did land for next season.
That business decision is understandable but did by the bowl result now accelerate the impression of the ACC, being weak, on the field and off the field.

Now to the last recap of the season.

The FIFTH and FINAL SET OF BOWLs on Monday, 8th of January 2024.

Monday, January 8
College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T
As already written at the start, Michigan won the game, and it was unfortunately not the close thriller as we all wanted.
Michigan started with a 1st drive, went far, and sealed the drive with a long, big play run for a Touchdown.
The Huskies defense did not look good on that play, and it was like a bad sign for the remaining game.
Washington had a long drive after that initial scoring drive, but had to kick a field goal, which did show another aspect of the game, which became crucial, the Wolverine defense.
Next Michigan drive and with 2 big plays and 2 regular ones did the Wolverines score again a rushing-TD (on one of those big plays), so at that point, 14:3 Michigan.
Huskies with 3-amd-out, gave Michigan the ball with a punt and on the next play was Michigan again able to have a BIG run, but was stopped at the redzone.
Quarter ended and Michigan had to settle for a field goal, which was the 1st time Washington had shown a sign of strength against that Wolverines offense. 17:3 Michigan.
Huskies on the move, went to mid-field, but on 4th and 7 did the WR/QB connection fail and a what-could-have-been-a-big-play turned into a turnover on downs.
But now the Washington defense became better and stopped Michigan fast, the Huskies offense still with problems had to punt a bit later and when Michigan went again down the field, they were stopped at 4th and 2 in that area were a field goal is risky and a punt makes not much sense.
So, Huskies ball again, this time a long drive, and finally they scored a TD to close the gab a bit. 17:10 Michigan now, which was also the score at the half.
The 1st play of the Huskies in 2nd half and Michigan did intercept the pass with a big effort by the defender.
Lucky for Washington, Michigan did get only a field goal out of that drive a bit later. 20:10 now.
And Michigan was also unable to hold the Huskies out of scoring range on the next drive, so Washington did score a field goal also. 20:13 Michigan.
Yes, at that point it was close, but there was always the feeling that Michigan had the upper hand and Washington did desperately try to catch up.
Next few drives ended all with punts, so we jump into the 4th quarter.
Michigan got the ball and had a big play on passing, added some more yardage and at the end did another longer run seal a TD, to lead 27:13.
Washington now 2 scores behind, got the ball and on 4th and 13 at Michigans 30 yard line was the long pass intercepted and returned almost to the Huskies endzone.
Two plays later, Michigan did score again a TD and had the game secured with the final score of 34:13.
On the next drive did Washington try to do something but was stopped and of course did Michigan then run down the clock for the win.
Overall the Huskies did never look like they had a chance.
Their defense gave up more than 300 yards on the ground and offense did not even match that number in total and on top came 2 crucial turnovers.
The Michigan Coach, Jim Harbaugh, did finally win a Championship in his 9th season with the team, which was of course the reason he was brought in with a hefty contract at that time.
As far as I know, the sign-stealing-affair is still ongoing as investigation by the BIG10 and the NCAA, so there might come more consequences on this issue.
I don't think the Championship will be stripped away, as it happened for example with USC in 2004 (they had to vacate the BCS / coaches title, the AP-title did hold on), but with the NCAA you never know and it will heavily depend, whether evidence shows that the program was deeply involved, or not.
Harbaugh also was suspended for 3 gamedays at the start of the season for recruiting violations, which might bring in also more punishments later.
I don't think this all will taint the title severely.
Jacks BOWL Score: 27-15

With this review, the season is over, and I can have some rest.
I don't know why, but I did write a lot more this season, which took some toll, so I'm happy the season is over.

I hope you enjoyed the entries, thanks for reading!

'Til next time

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2024-01-04 09:20

Oh man, this is just an embarrassment for the whole sport.
I will write down some details about the Georgia-FSU-game here, since it is just the spearhead of a development, which effects almost every team.

Since a decade seasons or so, it became common to skip a bowl game as senior or junior, if the player decides to go for the NFL draft.
The BUSINESS decision is clear, skip the bowl, avoid a bad injury, which might cost you several spots or which will lead to no career at all, hence the loss of millions of dollars.
The COMPETITIVE decision is, that your team gets a shift in team chemistry and strength. Sometimes it does make a team better, since the backups are more motivated and WANT to play, often it does make the team worse, since the players was for a reason the starter and has high hopes for a good draft position.

Since a few seasons on top of that draft-movement the transfer movement came on top. Players decide to transfer, since they don't see a future in the team as starter and most of the time you need to be a starter to get a NFL career. Or they move, because the coach does change, or the coach did not fulfill his promises. A very new reason is money from the NIL-marketing, which gives you the chance to make serious money already on college level.

Florida State, the team which did whine since 4 weeks it was left out of the playoffs as unbeaten team, felt disrespected on that decision day and what did the players do? They skipped the bowl, in big numbers. The 2 top QBs, 2 top RBs, the top TE, 2 top WRs, 3 top DLs, 2 top LBs and 3 top DBs did either skip for the draft or decided to transfer. In total the team went down from the Championship game to the bowl by 29! scholarship players. That's a massive drain of talent and strength.

The curious side of this is, Georgia did not have that kind of problems. Several seniors did play for Georgia and no wonder did Georgia win big in the Bowl.

Prior the bowl there was still some news, that several of the FSU players decided to play did claim National Champion, if they would be the lone unbeaten team. Well, nice try Guys! For one, I would have loved to see the full-strength FSU team playing the Bulldogs. That would have been the chance to show everyone you would have belonged into the playoffs and the team would for sure has made a leap in the ranks, of they would be the lone unbeaten team. I believe they would still have lost the game, but that's just speculations.
For two, if they would have won, regardless the team situation, I still believe they could only CLAIM National Champion as UCF did a few seasons ago, since in worst case the #4 team Alabama could have won the playoffs and would have beaten TWO highly ranked teams on his way, so I think they would be National Champion, period.
For three, you guys HAD the chance, but your teammates did left you dying, so be mad on THOSE and those remaining did play soooooo bad, even with ONE MONTH of preparation, that the team suffered the worst defeat EVER!

So please, FSU, stop whining and get your team fixed.

In general, those kind of situations will happen more often, even with an 8 team playoff setup, since DRAFT and NIL will just not go away and that will mean, the BOWLS beside the playoffs, and even those IN the playoffs, will get some power shift, once the players made up their minds.

And you can be sure, several of those will NOT make smart decisions, since that was the case already with the early draftees and will just escalate with the NIL situation on top.

Now to the games.

The FOURTH SET OF BOWLs from next Saturday, 30th to Monday, 1st of January.

Saturday, December 30
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#11 Ole Miss vs #10 Penn State

The Penn State defense had too many holes and Ole Miss was able to use those too often.
At 1st it did look like Penn State would get buried, but the Lions did have a good 2nd quarter and did cut the deficit to 3 points at the half.
Then the 3rd quarter did happen, and the Penn State offense was unable to anything, while Ole Miss did score more points.
Down by 14 they had finally the chance to at least score something, but the field goal try was blocked and from there the game was done.
Ole Miss scored again and then managed to keep Penn State away often enough to win the game 38:25.
A big season for Ole Miss, again a disappointing season for Penn State, even they had a good one, but just the final details were not enough to get MORE.
Jacks BOWL Score: 20-13

TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Auburn vs Maryland

I cannot describe how disappointed I was, when I did read the final score.
Maryland had won, 31:13.
Auburn lost the 1st quarter 21:0!
After that the teams did struggle through the remaining game more or less on the same level.
It seems the Auburn team, which did ALMOST win on the last gameday against the later crown SEC-Champ Alabama was just a one-night-phenomenon and the REAL Auburn team did show up again, which struggled against a mid-level-BIG10 team big time, even with 1 Month of preparation.
Congratulation to Maryland, I hope you can build on that and get finally a team together which makes the BIG10 interesting again.
Auburn is in rebuild mode, let's see, whether the current coach gets this done in his 2nd or 3rd season. The 1st season was rubbish.
Jacks BOWL Score: 20-14

Capital One Orange Bowl
#6 Georgia vs #5 Florida State

Here we have the game, I did write about at the top.
Georgia did win ... 63:3! The margin of 60 points is the highest EVER in ANY BOWL!
And that between #5 vs #6.
Shame on all the FSU players, who thought they were destined for a National Championship and bolted out, when the REAL contest started.
Jacks BOWL Score: 21-14

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
Toledo vs Wyoming

This must have been an intense game.
Wyoming with the send-off-game for their HC, led early by 2 field goals, but then Toledo did start playing and lead at the half 10:6.
The Cowboys did try their best on offense, but the Rockets defense was too good, scored even a Safety and when Toledo got the ball, they managed to score a field goal on top, now leading 15:6.
The 4th quarter started, and Wyoming had to punt, but stopped Toledo also and got the ball back.
They marched over the field and score a TD, still 8:30 left to play.
Now they needed a stop, but Toledo did eat down the clock.
When the Rockets were forces to punt from the Wyoming 40 it was still 4+ minutes left, but 94 yards to the endzone and roughly 64 for a field goal.
But Wyoming did get the yardage, play by play, went over the field, burned the clock down and when they did settle for a field goal with time running out, it was just a 24 yarder to win 16:15.
Jacks BOWL Score: 22-14

Monday, January 1
ReliaQuest Bowl
Wisconsin Badgers vs #13 LSU

LSU needed a lot of time, to get Wisconsin under control and if the Badgers would have played this way during the season, they would have won their division.
The Tigers were unable to score in the 1st quarter and on the other hand their defense was unable to stop Wisconsin.
When LSU finally got points on the board, only 6 minutes were left in the half, and they were 14 points behind.
They scored a TD and thanks to the missed field goal of Wisconsin on the next try did LSU score again to tie the game.
Still, LSU was unable to stop Wisconsin and allowed another Badgers-TD, were intercepted afterwards and only the greed of Wisconsin on 4th and 1, which stopped the Badgers drive, did prevent more points until the half.
In the 3rd quarter did then LSU score 2 Touchdowns but allowed still 10 Badgers points at the same time, so Wisconsin did still lead 31:28.
It went into the 4th quarter and suddenly both teams were unable to move the ball for a scoring drive.
When LSU finally got some yardage and a scoring drive together, it was only 3 minutes left, but they took the lead for the 1st time in the game.
Now Wisconsin had to act quickly, which is not their strength.
They were able to reach roughly the LSU 40-yard line, but down by 4 they needed a TD, so they did play 4th down and failed.
LSU did run down the clock and won 35:31.
Jacks BOWL Score: 23-14

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl
#17 Iowa vs #21 Tennessee

This went as expected.
Iowa did score NOTHING!
On the other hand, did Tennessee score plenty of times, so they did win, 35:0.
What a joke that Hawkeyes team did actually win their division ....
Jacks BOWL Score: 24-14

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl
#23 Liberty vs #8 Oregon

And another senseless matchup, which ended as expected.
Oregon won 45:6 and Liberty did manage only half of what Oregon was able to do and added 2 turnovers on top.
I do appreciate the rule to put in a group of 5 team into the new years bowls, but please ... s e l e c t carefully.
Jacks BOWL Score: 25-14

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Prudential
#4 Alabama vs #1 Michigan

I think this game did feature everything you want to see as a football match.
Both teams were on the same level, did score often, but none did dominate.
No turnovers in the 1st half.
Michigan did lead at the break 13:10.
The 3rd quarter stayed scoreless and did feature only defense.
Short after the start for the 4th quarter did Alabama carry over a long drive and finally score a TD to take the lead, 17:13.
That did start the final, more hectic, period of the game.
Michigan did punt on the next drive, Alabama did fumble and lost the ball, Michigan was stopped and missed a 49-yarder FG-try.
With the spectators on the fences did then Alabama manages to get a longer drive, but capped it only with a field goal. 20:13.
Michigan got the ball and marched over the field and ... scored a TD to tie the game.
With 1:30 left to play, Alabama got the ball and started a drive, but was forced to punt. The punt was set great, deep in the Michigan half, the returner did run backwards, even fumbled and the ball was recovered on the 1 yard line by ... Michigan.
Michigan had 30 seconds to score and not getting tackled inside the endzone. Their 1st run was for just 1 yard, and they then kneeled down to get into overtime.
Now the Wolverines did score within 2 plays a TD and put pressure on Alabama.
The Crimson Tide did struggle a bit on offense and when it was 4th and goal, the Defense of Michigan did step up one more time to win the game.
Michigan will play for the National Championship, Alabama can go on vacation.
Jacks BOWL Score: 25-15

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl
#3 Texas vs #2 Washington

And the last Bowl of this set.
Another great game, having all you want for a Semi-Finale.
The 1st half was very exciting, with both teams playing good football, just one turnover, which was crucial, and the rest just stop or scoring.
Overall did Washington get the lead 3 times with 3 TDs and Texas did score 3 times a TD also and tied the game at 21 at the half.
The crucial fumble did happen on a punt return, where Texas did punt and the Huskies returner lost the ball and Texas recovered in ball in best field position, setting up one of the TDs to tie the game, at that time at 14.
The 3rd quarter was all Washington. Texas was fumbling after a Huskies TD and giving the Huskies the chance to pull away with a field goal. 31:21 at that time.
Texas did fumble again after another Huskies FG, but at that time did Washington then just punt and now did Texas finally get their things together and started scoring again.
They scored a TD to cut the deficit and limited Washington to another field goal. 37:28 now.
Texas got the ball and made it to the 7-yard line of Washington but failed to get into the endzone and settled for a field goal. 37:31 for Washington.
With more than a minute left the onside kick did fail, but Washington was stopped early.
At 41 ticks left did Texas get the ball back and tried to get a TD.
Several plays did fail, but 2 big plays did bring Texas to Washingtons 12-yard line.
The final play was 4th and 11 on the Huskies 13-yard line with 1 tick left.
The ball went into the endzone, and the Huskies DB did bat that ball away to reach the National Championship game with a final score of 37:31.
Jacks BOWL Score: 26-15

And that's all, except the final game, the game everyone did wait for since start of the season.

The FIFTH and FINAL SET OF BOWLs on Monday, 8th of January 2024.

Monday, January 8
College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T
#2 Washington vs #1 Michigan

@NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Played in the stadium of the Houston Texans this season.
The best 2 teams face off against each other, again.
Well, at least that's the marketing message.
The truth is the winners of the 2 semi-finales do meet here and in some seasons, those were not the 2 best.
I did skip the year naming on the name of the bowl (it had 2024 in it), since at least it does confuse ME.
This is the championship for the 2023 season, played in January 2024. It should not name 2024 from my point of view, but nobody listens to me, so I scrap the year.
Since starting the CFP-Series, the record of winning is (year is the season, not the date of contest) Ohio State (2014), Alabama (2015, 2017, 2020), Clemson (2016, 2018), LSU (2019), Georgia (2021, 2022).
That makes at 9 games, 6 titles for the SEC, including a 4-game-winning streak for the conference.
This season we have for sure NO SEC team winning, so the streak will break.
It's the 1st time since 2014 that no SEC team is in the game and as 2014, we have the PAC-12 Champ against the BIG10-Champ (in 2014 it was Ohio State winning against Oregon).
In the old days, that kind of matchup was reserved for the Rose-Bowl, but times have changed.
Michigan in favored in this game by 4.5 points, which is a lot from my point of view.
Granted they did take down the SEC Champ, that has to be respected.
I would have said the line should be less, since Washington did prove to find ways to score, and their defense did step also up big time when needed.
The key to the game will be the Michigan Defense against the Washington Offense.
If the Wolverines can stop them, often enough, the game will be all Michigan, because they will likely be able to score plenty of points against the Huskies on offense.
But if the Washington Offense can control the pressure as they did against Texas, then the Huskies QB, Penix, will have time, can shoot, can run and then the game will be a shootout and small errors can become game deciding.
I pick Michigan, since they did look a bit more solid, but I expect a close game, and I would not be surprised, if the Huskies can upset Michigan.
Wolverines win.

'Til next time

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