Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Annual Airing Of Grievances (Part 2)

Part one of The Annual Airing Of Grievances dealt with specific areas of the new college football playoff that I disagree with, or believe could be improved. Specifically, the biggest issues I have with the new system revolves around the number of teams in the playoff system, as well as the costly travel expenses that fans, and the families of players, will incur with traveling to multiple playoff sites.

My Dad used to tell me that anyone can sit back and complain, but if you want things to change, you have to be willing to step up and offer up reasonable alternatives. For years, I have made these suggestions about college football playoffs, but this year has some subtle changes. Let us begin.

Expand The Playoffs From 4 To 16: Here we go. How can it be a true playoff system that does not involve every conference champion? Yes, I am including conferences such as The AAC (Memphis) Conference USA (Marshall), The MAC (Northern Illinois), The Mountain West (Boise State), and The Sun Belt (Georgia Southern). Yes, even a team that won the Big 12 (Baylor) would get in. If you are the conference champion, you should get a shot at the title. Five at-large berths for teams, based entirely upon strength of schedule. The entire playoff field would be seeded, based entirely upon strength of schedule.

Home Playoff Games: And here is where we could help with those traveling expenses. Guess where the playoff games would be held? At the home stadiums of the higher ranked teams. Yes, instead of flying from New Orleans to Dallas, Ohio State fans could look forward to weekends in Ohio Stadium (possibly).

Stop and think about it – what is the one thing you hear about this time of year with teams fighting for a spot in the NFL playoffs? Home field advantage. Can you imagine fans of the New England Patriots flying to multiple playoff spots, then heading to the Super Bowl? So why should college football fans do that?

I can already anticipate some of the questions, so why not take care of them right here…

Would I eliminate games? As these are college athletes, yes, I would. Simply put, every team would begin Labor Day weekend, and would conclude by the final weekend of November (conference championships could be held this weekend). First playoff round of sixteen would be the first weekend of December. Second playoff round of eight would be the third weekend of December; as most schools have final exams the second week of December, this would allow for athletes to study this week.

Now we are down to the final four. We can have these games January 1st, at a college location of the highest seeded team. The national championship could be held at one of the designated bowl sites. In other words, fans could make a week out of it, versus moving from town to town, under the present system.

Aren’t you overemphasizing the playoff season vs the regular season? If a team knows that the only sure way to get a shot at the title is to win their conference, it kind of makes that every game counts mantra truly stand out, doesn’t it? Next question.

What about the other bowl games? What about them? They can continue, albeit outside of the playoff system. Next question.

How would this help players’ families, or fans, with travel expenses? Maybe it would not, but the possibility of home site games, versus multiple cities that require airfare, would seem plausible to me that this system would be a step in the right direction.

If you could change only one thing, what would it be? That’s easy. Considering how much money the college football playoff is raking in, why can’t the NCAA adjust its rules and allow for schools to assist families to be able to get to the playoff sites? I am not suggesting that the schools pay for a family’s hotel, but considering teams charter flights for coaches, administrators, and other university officials to get to a bowl site, why can’t they do the same with a flight for players’ families? And Coach Urban Meyer seems to be of a like mind on this issue with me…




Is my solution ideal? Perhaps, perhaps not. I do know that any system that does not recognize or involve every conference cannot truly call itself a true playoff. And above all other sports, college football has truly grown through the years because of the passion of its fan base – why not reward those fans, instead of trying to squeeze every possible cent from them?

My system is so practical, it makes complete sense why the NCAA will not implement it. Instead, I will console myself with a 12 Dogs Of Christmas Ale, and prepare myself for next season’s Airing Of Grievances. Best wishes to each and every one of you for a safe and happy holiday season.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

[TiqIQ] ~ Sugar Bowl Tickets 204% More Expensive Than Ohio State's Last Trip In 2010

TiqIQ contacted me via Twitter, asking me if I would post this article regarding the price of Sugar Bowl tickets. Considering my most recent post dealt with concerns over ticket prices and travel concerns, I figured this was something people would enjoy reading. Go Bucks!

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This year’s Sugar Bowl will deem one team worthy of entering the first-ever College Football Championship, and Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes will look to take the Alabama Crimson Tide for that honor on New Year’s Day. Alongside two of the nation’s top-ranked teams scheduled to play at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the game has also seen secondary ticket prices balloon since last season with its new semifinal formation and added incentive to advance.

According to TiqIQ, the average price for Sugar Bowl tickets is $481.32 on the secondary market, marking a jump of 70.9% from last season’s average of $281.56, when Oklahoma took down Alabama in the 80th annual game. The Crimson Tide will get a second opportunity on January 1, but will face a red-hot Buckeyes team that has won its last eight games following a Week 2 loss to Virginia Tech. The cheapest seat available to this year’s Sugar Bowl is currently listed at $211, 141% more expensive than last season’s get-in price of $87.50. The game will also be the most expensive of the major bowl games this season.

Ohio State will be up against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation when they battle Alabama in New Orleans, though their ability to climb the rankings after a slew of convincing wins down the stretch of the season has shown that this year’s Buckeyes team is for real. Ohio State will again rely on third-string quarterback Cardale Jones, who led an upset over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis last week as the Buckeyes rolled to a 59-0 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.  The team’s “next man up” mantra has been efficient all season long, with players stepping in to fill substantial voids both offensively and defensively and finding critical success on the field.

The losses of quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett seemed harrowing enough for the team to overcome, and additional losses to Dontre Wilson and Noah Spence also raised doubt in the Buckeyes camp. Each loss has been difficult, there’s no denying that, but the response of the team’s second (and third for Jones) tier of players has brought them all the way to the semifinal Sugar Bowl, where they’ll play their most expensive bowl game of the last five seasons. Ohio State last played in the Sugar Bowl in 2010 and saw an average secondary price of $158.48 against Arkansas, marking a 203.7% boost in price since their last Sugar Bowl appearance.

Ohio State will have to prove their worth against No. 1 ranked Alabama on New Year’s Day. The team shouldn’t find any issue in doing so, however, as they’ve consistently shown their depth and success week in and week out all season long.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Annual Airing Of Grievances (Part 1)

Festivus is one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, and a holiday we celebrate within our household. The Airing Of Grievances is something we routinely will do, before we commence with The Feats Of Strength.

Anyone who knows my passion for college football is well aware of my long-standing desire to have a college football playoff system. You would think that I would be tremendously satisfied with a 4-team playoff that begins this season, especially as Ohio State was seeded as one of the top four teams?

Wrong.

Yes, I am happy that there is a four team playoff. It certainly beats the old BCS system, and will help to satisfy the idea that college football will settle its champion by results on the field, versus being voted upon. But…

Even with this new system, with four teams better than two, have we truly improved upon the system? After all, the new College Football Playoff determined its four teams via a committee. Co-champions of the Big 12, Texas Christian and Baylor, were left out of the playoff mix. And we have not even addressed the other conferences that are being excluded (Spoiler alert – I will address how to handle those other conferences in part two. I hope that little teaser will bring you back to see how this could be handled.).

Another area that needs to be contemplated with the new playoff system is the financial challenges or difficulties that fans will have in trying to go to multiple bowl locations. This is something that I have addressed in the past, and the families of players are focusing upon this as well…

Here is a tweet from the mother of Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple…




Here is a tweet from the mother of Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee…




Here is a tweet from former Ohio State defensive lineman Matt Finkes…




And thanks to Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer for continually raising this point…




Let me spell it out for you in simple economic terms. Using expedia.com, I looked for flights from Cleveland to New Orleans (home of The Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1st, 2015), and from Cleveland to Dallas (home of The College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T on January 12, 2015).

Here is the price of a flight from Cleveland to New Orleans

CLE_NewOrleans

Here is the price of a flight from Cleveland to Dallas

CLE_Dallas

In case you were wondering about the price of Sugar Bowl tickets…




And I didn’t even bother looking into tickets for the game in Dallas. Please remember that I have not plugged in hotels or food, and I believe you are getting an idea about the financial implications of this new system for college football fans.

Are you starting to understand why I would include this new system under my Airing Of Grievances? Good. Tune in next week, and you will see my ideas on how this system could be improved upon in so many areas. Until then, start practicing for The Feats Of Strength…

Friday, December 5, 2014

The 2014 B1G Championship: A Game Of Blackjack?

“Rain Man, let’s play some cards…”

In the aftermath of Ohio State’s 42-28 victory in THE GAME, the speculation among Ohio State fans, as well as the national media, was this burning question – how could Ohio State possibly expect to win the 2014 B1G Championship without star quarterback J.T. Barrett?

The speculation is not without merit. After all, Barrett was the leader of the Ohio State offense, and a possible Heisman Trophy candidate. Backup quarterback Cardale Jones has played sparingly throughout his Ohio State career, and will be making his first career start against one of the top defenses in college football when the Buckeyes face the Wisconsin Badgers.

More importantly, Ohio State’s defense has not played well down the November stretch run. Against Michigan State, Minnesota, and Indiana, all with talented running backs, Ohio State gave up substantial yardage on the ground. But against Michigan’s Drake Johnson, the Wolverines’ third-string running back, giving up 74 yards, only added fuel to the fire of concern. Now Ohio State will be facing Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (2230 yards) and Corey Clement (830 yards). Oof.

Here are the three areas I will be focused upon as Ohio State and Wisconsin kick it off at 8pm EST on FOX…

1. The Ohio State Rush Defense Against The Wisconsin Offense: If Ohio State cannot slow down Wisconsin’s running game, it will be all over for the Buckeyes. Co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Chris Ash must figure out a way to slow down Wisconsin’s Gordon and Clement. Look for Ohio State to put eight men in the box, leaving the cornerbacks on an island with Wisconsin’s receivers one on one. It is a daring and risky strategy, but it may need to be done to keep Ohio State in the game defensively. Rotating interior defensive linemen will be critical to keep Ohio State’s defensive linemen from tiring out. A cause for concern will be if Wisconsin can continually line up on first down, then on second down hear, “2nd and 3.”. That could spell doom for the Buckeyes if Wisconsin is in perpetual short yardage plays throughout most of the night.

2. Ohio State Cannot Be Conservative On Offense: Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer made a statement about new starter Cardale Jones – “It’s his show, he’s got the keys to the car,”… Coach Meyer and Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman will be working overtime on how to best tweak the offense for Jones heading into this game, focusing upon the areas and plays that Jones handles best. If Ohio State tries to simply run the ball, down after down, predictably and conservatively, Ohio State will lose this game. A possible strategy with Jones on passing plays could involve a moving pocket, using quarterback waggles and bootlegs that will allow Jones to get out of the pocket and hit an open man, or simply run for positive yardage if nothing is open. Again, Ohio State needs to focus upon what the offense can do with Jones at the helm, and emphasize that getting the ball into the various Buckeye playmakers is the way to win this game offensively. Letting Jones play with no holds barred can only boost Jones, and the team’s, collective confidence. And that leads me to…

3. Winning The Psychological Battle: Ohio State is in great shape here. At his customary press conference on December 1st, Coach Meyer was audibly surprised that Ohio State was the listed underdog to Wisconsin. For a master motivator such as Coach Meyer, the media simply gave Coach Meyer one more button to push on his team. Coach Meyer can truly play up the disrespect angle of the national media, and should have his team ready to go at a fevered pitch when the game begins. And if Ohio State wins over Wisconsin, my guess is Coach Meyer will look into the television cameras, pointing out how Jones did what was needed in only six days of preparation; how much better would Jones be able to play with nearly a month’s worth of preparation, as in preparation for The College Football Playoff?

Prediction: Up above, I used a blackjack reference, as I believe this game will be relatively low-scoring, as well as I believe the first team to hit 21 points will win. It won’t come easy, and it may not be enough to impress The College Football Playoff committee, but I see it Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 17.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Thank you again for showing all of us how it should be done..."

Everyone has seen the tremendous display of sportsmanship by Michigan QB Devin Gardner after Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett was injured last week in THE GAME. (Photo below, courtesy of theozone.net)


Below is an image of a letter from an Ohio State fan sent to Devin Gardner, thanking him for his display of sportsmanship.  As a proud father of three children, I thought this display of sportsmanship was something worthy of praise.  This letter truly nails it.  Best of luck to Devin Gardner in his future pursuits, wherever they take him.




Ohio State Video

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