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join FSU, the conference is taken over by the rebels, like the PAC-12 was this season and then those contracts are no longer valid, before they are ruled at court.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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