The debate of BCS versus playoffs
Fox Sports, which has the TV contract to do the BCS games through next season, has until today to submit its exclusive bid for the next four-year period (through the 2013 regular season).
Seattle Times colleges reporter
We can perform gene therapy. We can perfect elaborate microprocessors.
We just haven't figured out a way to separate Alabama, Penn State and Texas Tech.
As you might have surmised, this is your regularly scheduled treatise on progress toward a national college big-boy football playoff, otherwise known as Things That Move More Slowly Than The Mendenhall Glacier.
This week, everybody weighed in on the BCS, from USC coach Pete Carroll ("It stinks") to president-elect Barack Obama, who said he'd like to see an eight-team playoff.
"I happen to be one," insists University of Washington president Mark Emmert, "that thinks it's inevitable we'll have a playoff."
Maybe, but it's questionable whether that happens in the lifetime of Emmert's grandkids.
If you're into the debate of BCS versus playoffs, today is a small benchmark. Fox Sports, which has the TV contract to broadcast the BCS games through next season, has until today to submit its exclusive bid for the next four-year period (through the 2013 regular season) that the BCS fathers agreed on last spring.
Given the economy, maybe that bid doesn't blast the socks off the BCS wonks. And maybe somebody with the bankroll of Warren Buffett comes along and says, "Isn't it time ... ?"
Until then, it's a given that the BCS format is in place another five years, at least. The guess here is, it's going to take something cataclysmic, like an enterprising Middle Eastern oil sheik, to move the BCS unrest to a playoff.
Funny, but it's money that has helped back the controversy into the corner. It was money, in the form of the conference expansions of the 1990s, that drove the extra league-championship games. And it was money that motivated the NCAA to approve a 12th game.
The season stretched longer, the game got bigger, and presidents got gun-shy about the ramifications of a college football season on steroids (figuratively, of course).
Your garden slugs are thus moving faster than the playoff debate. This week, in a conversation with retiring Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen, I advanced every notion from the popular plus-one proposal to a 16-team pigskin-palooza, and he artfully gunned every one down like he was shooting skeet.
"You take that step [the plus-one, a title game after the existing bowls], you just keep going," he said. "You can't stop it. You're going to eventually head to a playoff."
Something like an eight-team bracket, maybe?
"You can't do it politically," Hansen maintains. "We already had to go to the U.S. Senate to face the pressure from the [non-BCS leagues], to get into the BCS more frequently."
So the playoff advocates have to hope, perversely, for a crisis. In 2008, that would be something like (a) prospective one-loss teams from the SEC (say, Florida and Alabama) getting left out of the title game (it was the SEC's push for a plus-one that was rebuffed); or (b) Penn State going undefeated and getting snubbed or; (c) somebody from the Big 12 South not making its league title game but going backdoor and making the BCS championship.
Emmert referred to "illusory arguments" against a playoff, things like a long season growing longer, missed class time, etc. He sounded hopeful.
"I'd like to be one having shaped that [the playoff evolution], rather than having it shaped by others," he said. "A plus-one model might be a way to move in that direction."
Who's at fault?
Thursday brought sociologist Richard Lapchick's annual study of the racial and gender makeup of the Football Bowl Subdivision schools (Division I-A), from the presidential level to coaching staffs.
"Overall," wrote Lapchick, "the numbers simply do not reflect the diversity of our student-athletes. Moreover, they do not reflect the diversity of our nation, where we have elected an African-American as president for the first time."
Lapchick notes that with the ousters of Tyrone Willingham at Washington and Ron Prince at Kansas State, the number of African-American head coaches has shrunk from six to four.
Here's one disconnect, articulated before in this space: There are only 38 minorities among 255 coordinators, three in the Pac-10: DeWayne Walker and Norm Chow of UCLA; and David Shaw of Stanford.
Because coordinators form the logical pool of candidates to be promoted, don't head coaches — and by extension, their bosses — have to share considerable responsibility for the deficit among head men?
Here's a tale to rival Washington State's injury-caused campus tryout for a scout-team quarterback last month.
Memphis was in a similar position, having lost three quarterbacks, including WSU transfer Arkelon Hall. So during a bye week, coach Tommy West scoured the campus and his roster for emergency candidates. He came up with a guy who has been a Spanish tutor for some of his players, who is married, has one child and another on the way, and has an early-morning part-time job as a UPS driver.
He's Adam Mallory, who last played at O'Dea High School, then took a mission to Mexico for two years and became a Memphis student majoring in education. He's the son of former UW player and assistant coach Rick Mallory.
West told The Memphis Commercial-Appeal that Adam "is a decent thrower and smart as a whip, a brilliant kid."
He added: "He's not quite in the best of shape. He's about in the same shape I'm in."
And what's more ...
• Nebraska coach Bo Pelini admits he has to smooth his aggressive edges, some of which surfaced after his team was throttled by Oklahoma, 62-28, tying a Nebraska record by allowing 49 points in the first half. After a reporter questioned why he wouldn't allow players to be interviewed, Pelini snapped, "If you don't like it, tough."
• Speaking of Oklahoma, the next in a line of Sooners offensive coordinators to become a head coach might be Kevin Wilson. His unit has scored TDs on an amazing 46 of 51 drives inside the 20.
• The SEC headbanger of the week is unbeaten Alabama at Louisiana State, featuring the return of coach Nick Saban, and Louisiana product Luther Davis, who once committed to LSU but then switched to the Tide. Davis told reporters an LSU assistant called him a "traitor" and said his father almost lost his job because his boss was an LSU fan.
• UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel again used a booster-provided helicopter to beat L.A. traffic last week, buzzing from Palmdale to San Bernardino to Rancho Cucamonga. Says Neuheisel, "It's an expeditious way to get around."
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281
ASU 27, at Washington 10: Nothing to indicate UW's funk isn't worse than Sun Devils'
Arizona 52, at WSU 7: Not your father's Cougars on Dad's Weekend
at Oregon 28, Stanford 24: Cardinal, hopeful of bowl, will be likely underdog in final three
Oregon State 31, at UCLA 17: Two O-line suspensions won't help Bruins against Beavers' rugged defense
at USC 27, Cal 12: With Bears' QBs in flux, Trojans should have their way
Last week: 4-0. Season: 32-14.
Weighing in ...
A weekly snippet from one of the nation's fan message boards
From BamaMag.com, on how relations with Tennessee should thaw with the ouster of Vols coach Phil Fulmer: "I just hope the majority of us can set a new example of how to act in regards to this game, an old example of gentle men and women who favor the two most exceptional football programs in the history of the South. If that happens, it will be a more enjoyable game and series. We have the Auburn rivalry, and they are past hope ... "
South Florida's last seven losses dating to mid-2007 have come when it was favored.
Art Briles, Baylor coach, asked about Texas Tech's daring play against Texas in the final minute, throwing for a touchdown when a field goal would have won the game: "If you're going to Grandma's house and her specialty is cookies, that's what you're going to eat."
Pac-10 power rankings
By Bud Withers, Seattle Times college football reporter
|1||USC (7-1)||Defense so nasty, eats roadkill at training table|
|2||Oregon St. (5-3)||Last win at UCLA during Garfield administration|
|3||Cal (6-2)||With USC next, Tedford slept 14 minutes this week|
|4||Oregon (6-3)||Didn't finish wringing out uniforms until Wednesday|
|5||Stanford (5-4)||Crowd for WSU took 4 seconds to file out|
|6||Arizona (5-3)||Will just bring club team up to face Cougars|
|7||UCLA (3-5)||When buying groceries, Neuheisel just hops in 'copter|
|8||Arizona St. (2-6)||ASU wins, monthly magazines often arrive together|
|9||Washington (0-8)||But Sunday night to Monday morning, Ty's great|
|10||WSU (1-8)||Helmet-mounted telescopes to help find end zone|
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
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