Sports column | College football championship still a ‘party for the rich’
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . The last time we checked in with the BCS college football title game, there were two teams from the same conference playing for the national championship. The championship was a rematch of a game played just two months before. And a team that finished in second place in the regular season (don’t believe them when they say college football’s regular season means something) actually won the national title. In other words, the BCS title game was a joke. That’s why it took athletic directors and university presidents a mere five months to come up with a four-team playoff after a decade of refusing to admit the BCS system was flawed. But don’t get too excited. This is just the NCAA’s way of shutting up the critics for another decade. Nothing really has changed. College football’s championship will continue to be a private party for the rich.
All we’ve heard this week is how strength of schedule is going to be the No. 1 factor in picking the four teams for the playoff. In case you are new to this college football thing, the phrase and#8220;strength of scheduleand#8221; is simply college football code for and#8220;if you don’t play in the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 or SEC, you are not invited.and#8221; They should just call it the E. Gordon Gee Playoff System. Gee is the Ohio State president who said that schools like Boise State and TCU don’t deserve to play for the national title because they play the Little Sisters of the Poor every week. The Nevada Wolf Pack is one of those Little Sisters of the Poor, by the way. The new playoff system is just a Big Brothers of the Rich tournament.
Florida International, coached by Richard Pitino, and Louisville, coached by Richard’s father Rick Pitino, have agreed to play a three-game college basketball series against each other starting this year. If a father and a son are willing to go against each other, what is taking Trent Johnson, David Carter and Mark Fox so long to put each other on their schedules? Fox, now at Georgia, and Johnson, now at TCU, have yet to bring their teams to Lawlor Events Center to play the Wolf Pack. Fox has been gone three years and Johnson has been gone eight years and is now on his third team since leaving Nevada. It’s time to end the silliness. The Wolf Pack is always crying about fans not showing up at Lawlor. Well, a game against Johnson and TCU or against Fox and Georgia would put 11,000-plus fans in the seats. Fox and Johnson owe it to the Wolf Pack, the school that launched their head coaching careers.
It seems like Boise State is having second thoughts about leaving the Mountain West. The Broncos are facing a Saturday deadline to formally withdraw from the conference. They can withdraw after Saturday but the penalty would triple (from about $2.5 million to $7.5 million). The Broncos are still looking for a home for all of their non-football (that’s Boise code for we-could-not-care-less-about-you) sports. Those irrelevant Boise sports are currently in the WAC and, as everyone knows, the WAC will be a Boys and Girls Club in a year or so. The Broncos’ football move to the Big East (starting in 2013) looks more and more like a mistake with each passing week. The smart decision is for the Broncos to remain a full-time member of the Mountain West.
It is nice that the 1992 men’s basketball Olympic Dream Team is being remembered on its 20th anniversary. But enough with the talk about that team being the greatest team ever assembled in any sport. Have we forgotten that Larry Bird could barely walk, that Magic Johnson was retired, that Christian Laettner was on the team, that overrated players like Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler and Chris Mullin were on the team? The team also included two guys that played forever in the NBA and never won a championship (Charles Barkley and John Stockton). It wasn’t even the best basketball team (the key word here is and#8220;teamand#8221;), let alone the best team in any sport.
The Dream Team signaled the end of everything that used to be great about the Olympics. U.S. Olympic basketball now is just a collection of selfish millionaires who are paid by their sponsors to play in the Olympics. Remember Michael Jordan and the other Nike robots covering up the Reebok logo in 1992? The Dream Team turned Olympic basketball into a month-long version of NBA All-Star weekend. It’s not even enjoyable to watch. It’s time to give the Olympic team back to the college kids. The biggest choke and disappointment in U.S Olympic basketball history, don’t forget, was with the 2004 version of the Dream Team. Wouldn’t you rather win silver or bronze with college kids that play hard than win gold with spoiled NBA millionaires who don’t break a sweat?
Don’t look now but Bryce Harper isn’t even the best player in the major leagues under the age of 21. That honor goes to Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Trout leads the American League in hitting and stolen bases. His batting average is 60 points higher than Harper’s, his on base percentage is 40 points higher and his slugging percentage is 50 points higher. Trout runs faster than Harper and is a much better defensive player. But don’t worry Harper fans. The honor of Best Player Under the Age of 21 will belong to Harper on Aug. 7. That’s when Trout turns 21.
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