For me, college football is one of those things in life that gets the "pizza pass." You know, the old saying that "even bad pizza is still pretty good." Well, that's college football. Even a bad weekend of college football is still pretty good, because, hell, it's college football!
Well, this past weekend certainly put my theory to the test, as we were dealt a college football dance card that fell somewhere between a Little Caesar's and a DiGiorno's on the "Pizza Scale."
Consider the following:
* ESPN's College Gameday, the network's signature Saturday pregame show, made it's way to Fargo, ND, to cover North Dakota State (defending FCS champion best known for knocking off what's going to wind up being a barely bowl eligible Kansas State in Week 1) under the guise of "giving some exposure to the little guy," (and trust me, it was hilarious how many people fell for it) when in fact if there was even one game in the SEC, the state of Florida, or in South Bend involving two ranked teams, they'd have been giving Fargo the dismissive "Do I know you?" treatment post haste.
* ABC carried two regional prime time games on Saturday night. Around half the nation (around half, more on this in a second) saw Kansas State travel to Austin to face the Longhorns. So you had the team who, in the last ten days, has fired their defensive coordinator and had a story leak about their regents approaching Nick Saban to replace their head coach facing off with the team that lost to North Dakota State. Both unranked, both terrible.
* In the other regional matchup, you had Michigan, fresh off a last minute home win over MAC slappy Akron (who would go on to lose this week to Louisiana-Lafayette), against Connecticut, who lost to FCS Towson State in Week 1. By fifteen points.
* There was one game all weekend involving two AP ranked teams, #5 Stanford hosting #23 Arizona State. Stanford would take a 29-0 halftime lead before yawning their way to a 42-28 win.
* There were three games involving teams playing as the biggest favorite in their respective school's history: UCLA (-44 vs. New Mexico State), Ohio State (-50 vs. Florida A&M), and Miami-FL (-59 vs. Savannah St). Ohio State and Miami covered the number by halftime, and UCLA covered by the end of the third quarter (slackers!).
* In fact, shitty games involving top 25 teams were the order of the day on Saturday. In the Saturday games involving only one AP ranked team, seventeen games in all, the favorites were favored by an average of 32.2 points. Favorites wound up going 9-7-1 against the spread. In games with a spread of 30 or more, favorites went 6-2 ATS.
So, yeah, this weekend was definitely going to test our tolerance for cold, stale pizza.
And test it, it did.
There were no upsets in the Top 25 (not that that should be a huge surprise, see above numbers). The closest thing we saw to moderately compelling in terms of final scores was Michigan's trailing Connecticut late in the third quarter 21-7 before scoring 17 entirely predictable, unanswered points to escape with a 24-21 win.
So did anything else happen that can allow college football to keep it's "pizza test" status?
Well, let's see.... * In the Georgia Tech and Georgia games this weekend, players from those teams wrote "APU" on their wrist tape, an acronym standing for "ALL PLAYERS UNITED" in protest of the NCAA's treatment (or, I guess, mistreatment, as it were) of college athletes. Apparently, the movement is being backed by the National College Players Association, which I frankly had no idea existed until I read this story. NCPA president Ramogi Huma said that the gesture has been discussed for months via weekly conference calls with players across the country. Also, the players will give the movement a social-media push by using hashtags #APU and #AllPlayersUnited.
MY REACTION: I am in full, unequivocal support of anything that gets athletes a more suitable piece of the pie than they've been receiving. I'm not saying NFL level salaries or anything, but something that represents their role in the revenue boom over the last few decades more incrementally than the increased cost of a scholarship year over year.
Now, my thoughts on this APU story specifically...
First of all, the association has been discussing this gesture "for months"? It really took "months" to arrive at this gesture? Writing an acronym down on some athletic tape? I'm imagining months and months of conference calls, each with an agenda that has one line item: "Discuss acronym on athletic tape." I'm also picturing someone on the call proposing a flyover with some skywriting and Ramogi Huma saying, "Skywriting?!? Are you crazy?! That could take YEARS!!"
Second of all....Ramogi? That sounds more like the name of a really big deli sandwich than the head of a semi-visible, athlete-rights group.
Third of all, the only way I get behind this "APU" movement is if they make some t-shirts featuring Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, owner of the Kwik-E-Mart on The Simpsons.
Fourth of all, the only way the NCAA's archaic rulebook is significantly amended or done away with in a decidedly quick fashion is when players en masse stage a meaningful (read: financially impactful) protest or walk out. I mean it, like all of them, at once.
* I mentioned earlier that the Kansas State-Texas game was beamed to "around half" the country. Well, the truth is it went to about 36 percent of the homes in the United States on ABC. The other 64 percent got the broadcast of the Michigan-Connecticut donnybrook in East Hartford. I'm not sure what the rationale was behind the decision, as certainly the more compelling game going in from a competitiveness standpoint was KSU-UT (It didn't turn out that way, but still...), and the more compelling game storyline-wise was KSU-UT, what with the "reaching out to Nick Saban" mushroom cloud emanating from the UT regents this past week. Well, you know who else was a little dumbfounded by the decision by ABC? Kirk Herbstreit, who had analyst duties on KSU-UT. Check out the video on Deadspin, with some in-break satellite audio where Herbie openly questions why the game he was on didn't go to the larger audience.
MY REACTION: Herbie is right. My only disappointment with this audio is that we didn't hear Brent Musberger on the phone with his bookie getting a second half jammy down on Utah-BYU.
* In the long line of intern graphics screw-ups, here is the latest from a Disney family network somewhere (either ABC or one of the ESPN's):
— Andy Stegall (@IamStegall911) September 22, 2013
MY REACTION: A.J. McCarron is amazing!! That's OVER the length of an entire football field per completion!! He must be a Jedi or something! In fact, I think A.J. actually stands for "Anakin Jedi" and Dee Dee Bonner is a modern day Shmi Skywalker. And yes, this makes Katherine Webb a modern day Padme Amidala, and yes, I think I've said way too much....
* Finally, we get to the figurative exclamation point on every college football weekend. Indeed, you can't finish up the weekend without Mark May and Lou Holtz yelling at each other while Rece Davis wears a smock. I think this is supposed to be some sort of courtroom simulation, but the problem is if Coach Holtz (whom I love dearly, by the way) or May Day (whom I hate with the white hot passion of 1,000 suns) were actually trying to prosecute a violent criminal, I'm fairly certain the criminal would wind up instead with an all-expenses-paid vacation to Cabo.
Here is the latest edition, from Saturday night, whereby counselors May and Holtz argue over Alabama being allowed to retain their number one ranking this week after an admittedly lackluster 31-6 win over Colorado State. (Give it a look by clicking that link, for some reason embedding it isn't working.)
So, to recap, here are their arguments in favor of each of their respective sides:
COUNSELOR MAY: Alabama should retain number one ranking As best I can tell, Mark May's argument is largely centered around his stating as forcefully and condescendingly as possible some obvious and non-supporting facts like "because everyone has them number one in the nation" and "they know how to win championships" along with rapid fire blurting of bullet points like "past history" without any explanation of what that means exactly.
COUNSELOR HOLTZ: Alabama should be moved down in favor of Oregon Dr. Lou actually had a fantastic opening argument, as he contended that the rankings should be fluid and not even begun to be voted upon until midseason. Great points. He should have dropped the mic after his opener. But in his counterargument to May, Counselor Holtz started to get a little bit "76 year old man" unfocused and he started mixing Florida State into his argument: "Florida State is by far the most impressive team to me, along with Oregon." Judge Davis correctly dismisses FSU, citing the fact they've played Bethune-Cookman as his reason. Unfortunately, this upsets Counselor Holtz to no end, and an odd fixation with Pitt (FSU's Week 1 victim) emerges, as he cites the Panthers as, well, an actual decent college football team. Or maybe "mistakes them for one" is more accurate.
Anyway, Judge Davis takes all of the
babbling evidence into account and awards the argument to Counselor Holtz, the correct call as deciding otherwise would mean that Mark May has mouth breathed his way into a more logical thought than another living adult, and we all know this isn't possible.
Of course, Counselor Holtz unfortunately doesn't subscribe to the theory of "when you've won an argument, just shut up," as he decides to punctuate his victory with a sarcastic "Florida State doesn't have an impressive win, they only beat Pitt by 50!"
This elicits some uncomfortable, "we can't make fun of the old man" silence, as everyone (even May Day) realizes that Holtz might be thinking that Pitt is actually short for "Pittsburgh Steelers." Also, FSU in actuality only beat Pitt 41-13, which is 28, which is less than 50.
Poor Dr. Lou. And as if that weren't enough, this FSU that he deemed the most impressive team in the nation? He had them fourth in his rankings at the end of the show.
One of the teams they were behind was Alabama, whom he had just finished arguing five minutes before that was not as good as Florida State.
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My head hurts.
So yeah, college football tried to destroy my love for it this weekend, tried its best. But it was unsuccessful. Even amidst a sea of five touchdown blowouts, bad college football is still better than no college football.
I shall now pay homage to this past weekend by eating this half cooked Totino's frozen pizza for one.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.