Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Talking heads put Saban in no-win situation on Coaches Poll vote

Nick Saban was the only SEC coach who separated his Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oklahoma State Cowboys by more than one spot on his USA Today Coaches Poll final ballot. Saban ranked LSU No. 1, followed by No 2 Alabama, one-loss Stanford at No. 3 and Oklahoma State at No. 4. When the ballots were made public yesterday, the news set off a firestorm of media criticism and even caused radio talk show host Paul Finebaum to jump on the bandwagon with the following Tweet:

image Finebaum then joined fellow talking head and BCS ignoramus Tim Brando on the latter’s radio show, where the two went on and on with a tongue wagging tsk-tsk session taking Saban to task for trying to manipulate a system in which he had only one ballot.

By the way, Tim Brando fancies himself a fiscal conservative, having appeared on Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel on FOX News and elsewhere running his yap about how evil the BCS is. But Brando, like many sports media talking heads, doesn’t understand that the BCS is just free market capitalism at work.

But lest I digress too far, back to the allegedly nefarious and darkly underhanded deeds of Nick Saban.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not Mack Brown, smilin’ and dialin’ coaches and media members and brazenly politicking for votes to get his team in the BCS National Championship. This is a coach with skin in the game, but choosing the one-loss Stanford over the one-loss Oklahoma State is an easy argument to make for anyone voting in the poll.

Hell, my ten-year old daughter could make a case for ranking Stanford ahead of Oklahoma State. Stanford’s only loss was to the BCS’ 5th ranked team, Oregon. Oregon too would probably have been ranked ahead of Oklahoma State, except the Ducks have two losses—one to top ranked LSU and another to a USC team that, if eligible, would be a Top 10 team.

Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State. Where’s Iowa State ranked in the AP, USA Today or BCS standings, y’all? Go find’em and come back. We’ll wait.

According to the argument put forth by Finebaum, Brando and all the other talking heads, Saban gamed a system—a system in which he had only one vote—by ranking a better one loss team over an inferior one loss team. And as the argument goes, the only reason he did that was so that the inferior one-loss team would be denied the chance to play LSU for the BCS National Championship.

It is a specious argument and people like Finebaum, Brando et al should know better than to buy into it.

The debate should never come down to whether Alabama or Oklahoma State was the better one-loss team. The debate is whether Oklahoma State or Stanford deserved to be ranked No. 3. Saban and four other coaches gave the nod to Stanford, which was clearly the better team based on the quality of the opponent responsible for their only loss. It’s really very easy. If my 10-year old gets it, why the hell don’t Finebaum, Brando and all the other tongue waggers?

Saban is in a no-win situation with the media. He’s being castigated because a solid majority of coaches and Harris poll voters wanted a rematch, and his ballot was consistent with the consensus. His option was to rank Oklahoma State over a more deserving No. 3 Stanford and risk losing a shot at the title and an even worse media firestorm. That’s not happening in the worlds of 10-year olds or grownups.

The only reason he’s being singled out is because his team benefits from an outcome over which he had very little influence. That he had any influence at all may not sound fair to you, but that’s just too bad. Who told you life was supposed to be fair? A journalist?

Exit question: Do you think Nicholas Lou Saban gives one flying fook what people think of his ballot choice?

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ColorOfGrey said...

That's what makes Alabama different as a culture------Texas I'm sure heard a lot of the same arguments 2 years ago when there were six (yes, six) undefeated teams in the league.

Alabama's leaders could respond to this argument as "it's us against the world," just like tOSU and Auburn do.

Instead, Alabama listens and moves on, but most importantly they do so as a culture.

Let the facts and the data speak for themselves. They did. Done. Let people complain, that happens every year.

But this year, perhaps more than any other, it's pretty amazing what the Crimson Tide have done and what they have been through. I haven't heard any mention of that in the last 2 weeks. Alabama fans could complain that people forgot what we have done this year, or how the tornado brought leadership out of our team and how much the football alone has helped heal, or how AJ McCarron has the best QB stats in the SEC, or how the Coaches All-America team has 5 Alabama players (OkSU has 3), or the individual success of so many players, kids, young men doing what we all absolutely love watching them do, and the Alabama culture could cry about it.

But they don't. They're explicitly told to not react that way.

And you they seem to be listening.

Nick Saban is a great leader, and he knows football. Everyone knows that. Saban picking OkSU 4th doesn't make me question his motive more than it makes me think about why he might be right. It's too bad they wouldn't talk about that.

Regardless, the bottom line is you have to remember, that's Finebaum's M.O.----to stir things up. I don't know if he's being honest or just trying to make radio people want to listen to, and I don't care-----he does get people to listen, and it's entertainment. I can't stand it for the commercials and the callers, so I literally only listened one time this year (when he was supposed to break some big news, and didn't) but I simply didn't enjoy it.

The weird part of it all is that Alabama "had their chance," but if they had capitalized on that opportunity, we'd still be in the same position----LSU vs Alabama in the BCS Title Game. I'm surprised nobody has said that in the media----it's almost like they are doing the "us against the world" dance for Alabama because Alabama won't do it themselves.

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