The Confidential

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The Confidential’s College Football Top 25

Now that we are three weeks into the season, the time has come to start ranking all of the college football teams.  At this point, there is a solid basis to start fairly comparing and contrasting.  So here it is:

  1. Alabama.  At 3-0, the Crimson Tide has beaten two major programs in USC (badly) and Ole Miss (barely).
  2. Louisville.  While some teams have big wins, Louisville has only big wins, including a huge win over Florida State.
  3. Ohio State.  An argument for #2 could be made here, with a win over Oklahoma.  However, Houston has that same win.
  4. Houston.  See above.  Actually, given Houston’s win over Cincinnati, an argument could be made to slot them ahead of Ohio State.
  5. Clemson.  With a win over Auburn, only a pedestrian win over Troy hurts the Tigers.  This will resolve itself in short order, with games against Louisville and Florida State looming.
  6. Stanford.  With wins over Kansas State and USC, Stanford has only played good programs so far.  What else can you ask of the Cardinal?
  7. Michigan.  At 3-0, Michigan has not played anyone outstanding, but that win over 2-1 Colorado has to count for something.  UCF and Hawaii are certainly not FCS teams.
  8. Michigan State.  A win over Notre Dame is usually impressive, but it remains to be seen just how impressive.  With the only other win being Furman, Sparty can go no higher than #8.
  9. Washington. When your best win is Rutgers–who struggled early against Howard and narrowly defeated New Mexico–this is not going to get you far.  However, the Huskies have been dominant so far.
  10. Tennessee.  Style points are not there, but at 3-0 with a win over Virginia Tech anchoring things, the Volunteers sneak into the top 10.
  11. Georgia (3-0)
  12. Wisconsin (3-0)
  13. Texas A&M (3-0)
  14. Arkansas (3-0)
  15. Nebraska (3-0)
  16. Georgia Tech (3-0)
  17. Arizona State (3-0)
  18. Boise State (2-0)
  19. Florida State (2-1).  Losing to Louisville, and only Louisville, cannot be enough to be unranked.  Sorry.  Ole Miss has lost to FSU and Alabama, still that is two losses.  Oklahoma has lost to Ohio State and Houston–still that is two losses.
  20. Florida (3-0)
  21. Baylor (3-0)
  22. Miami (3-0)
  23. Central Michigan (3-0)
  24. West Virginia (2-0)
  25. Georgia Southern (3-0); Memphis (3-0); Indiana (2-0); Minnesota (2-0); Navy (3-0); San Diego State (3-0); South Florida (3-0); Toledo (3-0); Utah (3-0); Maryland (3-0); Wake Forest (3-0); Army (3-0); Western Michigan (3-0) (TIE–no undefeated team deserves to be left out of the top 25.. are we sure that Baylor is THAT MUCH better than Maryland or Wake Forest based on quality of opponents beat and 2016 only?  Of course not.  Only history makes us think that some 3-0 teams are better than others).

So there it is.  What do YOU think?

ORANGE You Glad We’re Not Playing Alabama

As this college football season comes to a close, so does the Bowl Championship Series (thank goodness, bring on the playoffs). In the final season of BCS bowl games, the Clemson Tigers will make the trek down to Miami to play in the Discover Orange Bowl, their second trip in three years.  The Tigers are looking to prove the naysayer’s wrong with a win against the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 3, 2014. The theme of this year’s Orange Bowl is one of redemption.

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The Overall Top 20, Confidential-Style

Perhaps you have been keeping up with our ACC top 10?  As it is now October, the time has come to take a look at the overall top 20.  We like the top 20 because it reminds us of the days when there were not bowl spots for 78 teams and a trophy handed out to every participant.  Don’t like our results?  Well, there is still a lot of time for things to shake out.  The top 20 does not look too atypical.  Here you go:

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Which School Will Win Their First College Football National Title, First?

UCLA, the home of over 100 national championships in multiple sports, just won their first College World Series for their first national championship in baseball. I imagine that served as the inspiration for a great question on the college football sub Reddit which asked which program will be the next to win their next college football national championship.

To come up with my top five choices to answer this question I used the information from College Football Data Warehouse, which lists the recognized national champion on a yearly basis dating back to 1869. Most people today go by the first Associated Press champion, which was Minnesota in 1936. Because I am going by the CFDW list I do not include a program like Stanford, who is recognized as the 1926 national champion.One thing to keep in mind here as well is the idea that this upcoming season will be the final year under the current BCS format. Starting in 2014 the College Football Playoff will kick off with a four-team playoff format, which will offer more opportunity for a couple of teams to make a realistic and viable championship run.

So, which schools do I think are most likely to win their first national championship first? The first program on my list may be the easiest answer.

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While Fans Honeymoon, Louisville Releases 2013 Football Schedule

Louisville Football has only one more year of [insert conference name here] competition before entering the Atlantic Coast Conference.  While many fans would rather hit the fast forward button and quickly arrive to fall 2014 than sit through another lackluster conference season, the Confidential cautions those future seekers not to overlook the opportunity at hand.

Times of great change can be very exciting.  Remember back to the days of constantly surfing the internet for any update on UofL’s chances of getting into the Big 12?  Perhaps you were busy burning up the computer looking for a way into the ACC?  No doubt some of you were also keeping an eye out for SEC expansion news.  The last several years have been filled with a barrage of intensity, not to mention enthusiasm.

But don’t forget about the present just yet, my friends.  UofL athletics is still on its ACC honeymoon.  I don’t know about you, but at no point of my honeymoon did I ever wish for it be over.  The exhilaration of accomplishment can quickly transition back to mundane existence.  While memories of extravagant honeymoons can be easily summoned after the fact, we will never live in this existence again.

On Wednesday, the University of Louisville released its 2013 football schedule.  Most interestingly, the Cardinals have three bye weeks sprinkled throughout.  The most important bye appears in just the right place – the week before the season finale against rival Cincinnati.

8/31 Saturday Ohio PJCS
9/7 Saturday Eastern Kentucky PJCS
9/14 Saturday Kentucky Lexington
9/21 Saturday Florida International PJCS
9/28 Saturday Bye
10/5 Saturday Temple Philadelphia
10/10 Thursday Rutgers PJCS
10/18 Friday Central Florida PJCS
10/26 Saturday South Florida Tampa
11/2 Saturday Bye
11/8 Friday Connecticut East Hartford
11/16 Saturday Houston PJCS
11/23 Saturday Memphis PJCS
11/30 Saturday Bye
12/5 Thursday Cincinnati Cincinnati

If you’re looking at the schedule and letting out a huge sigh, you’re not alone.  The marquee games per se on the schedule are Kentucky, Rutgers and Cincinnati.  While Ohio, UCF, USF and Houston are no pushovers, there just isn’t too much substance for fans to celebrate in the 2013 season.

Alas, there will be no conference championship game as previously planned.  A ten-team league was formed when Boise State and San Diego State committed to the Big East, but their change of heart cost the league a season finale.

There has to be some good news about this schedule, right?  Well, if you consider the weak schedule as proper impetus to win every game and defend our BCS win, then yes.  If for no other reason, true fans should support the Cardinals as they attempt to end the pre-ACC days on a positive note.

I would love to wake up tomorrow to find Louisville and its athletic programs already members of the ACC and having kissed their shaky Big East days goodbye.  However, if that were the case, the honeymoon would be over and would soon become a distant memory.

It is only fitting that we fans wait for our future – it allows us time to reflect on our university’s rich history, athletic successes and academic trajectory.  Being wanted and feeling valued gives fans pride and a sense of being on cloud nine.  Frankly, I’m too comfortable for that sensation to pass.

May the honeymoon never end, UofL.

Signing Day, One Week Away… Predictions

We’re getting so close to “the big day”. If you’re a true college football fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. That’s right, the day your team signs its new recruiting class and fills team needs is approaching. Most of these high school signees, recruits, or soon to be local campus celebrities (whatever you want to call them) will represent your school on and off the football field for the next several years, so pay attention. As we head into next Wednesday, February 6th, also known to many as National Signing Day, we’ll peak at an early prediction to see how the current ACC’s top classes should stack up. Loads of blue-chip recruits are making final decisions next Wednesday. Let’s shake the magic eight ball and see what happens…

2013 ACC Recruiting Class Predictions:

1. Clemson (Currently 18 verbals, should make major noise on NSD. 3 of the top 5 recruiting battles left include the Tigers. Still in the running for blue chippers in DT Adams, DE Lawson, OT Crowder, and CB Alexander. Dabo has aces in the hole as usual; I’m calling it a top 10 class when the smoke clears. The Tigers like it near the top, may stay for a while with this class.)

2. Florida State (Currently 18 verbals, with stellar recruits on the line. While the Noles had a few recruits part ways over the last few days, they should easily make up ground with blue chip OLB Thomas, WR Cunningham, and possibly DT Bryant among others. Jimbo will make it happen once again, bank on a top 10 class.)

3. Miami (Currently 13 verbals, also in the running with many studs. While the class is currently small, they pack a nasty punch. Still in it until the end for OLB Thomas, DT Bryant, RB Collins, and WR Coley all from the South FL football hotbed. Despite rough times with the NCAA, they’re making it happen. We’ll call it a U top 20-15 class)

4. North Carolina (Currently 18 verbals, looking to throw more on the pile. While most of their guys are already locked in, the biggest battle will be against Tennessee for WR North. North stays close to home, and UNC lands the big fish. They also have a shot at TE McNeil and ATH Summers to name a few. We’ll see Tarheel blue in the top 25 next Wed.)

5. Virginia Tech (Currently 22 verbals, already almost close to a full signing class before the fax flood gates open up. All of the current commits are 3 and 4 stars. Still heavy favorites for ATH Parker and possibly DE Bellamy. The Hokies will be on the cusp of reeling in a top 25 class).

Best of the rest:

6. Pitt
7. UVA
8. NC State
9. Syracuse
10. GT
11. Wake
12. Maryland
13. BC
14. Duke

If your personal rankings stack up a little different, leave a comment below and tell us why.

College Football Playoffs–Be Careful What You Wish For!

The period between the announcement of the bowl matchups and the crowning of the national championship is the season for many to clamor that college football is a failure and will be until there is a playoff.  ‘Tis the season for media personalities to jump on the populist bandwagon and complain about the evil BCS system.  The easy argument is that it is absurd that college football is the only sport without a playoff–and the NCAA has one at every other level of football.  But be careful what you wish for sports fans.  While a playoff may seem like an overdue necessity, the current college football system is simply awesome.  The Confidential thinks that football fans need to appreciate the beauty of the system, rather than looking for the few ways that it is imperfect.

As an initial matter, the current system WORKS!  The BCS system is designed to ensure that the #1 team plays the #2 team.  Well, it has always done that, right?  If you are excluded, it is because your team is ranked #3.  Maybe it should have been #2… but it was not deemed to be.

Yeah, there is often debate about who is #1 and who is #2, but isn’t that always the case?  If there was a 4-team playoff, the fifth place team would be excluded as the greatest injustice in the history of injustices every year.  Just think about this year… who would the 4 teams be?  LSU, Alabama, Stanford, and Oklahoma State.  Stanford and Alabama did not even win their conference division, much less win their conference championship. And what about 2008, where there were FIVE undefeated teams.  Who are you leaving out?

What about an 8-team playoff.  If 4 is hard, try figuring out 8.  If you went by BCS standings, you would have LSU, Alabama, Okie State, Stanford, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State, and Kansas State.  That’s right, no teams from the ACC or Big 10.  How do you leave out Wisconsin, the Big 10 champ at an impressive 11-2 record?   And so on.  Is it the major conference champions that qualify?  So a 7-5 Louisville or 7-6 UCLA would qualify just for winning their conference title, even though there are teams with much better records in their conference and, of course, outside their conference.  The deeper you go in a playoff pool, the smaller the difference is between candidates.  Is Michigan really worse than Kansas State?  Are you sure?  Really sure?  8 teams is just not enough.

Perhaps you think that they should have a 16-team playoff, just like the other divisions.  Now you are adding four weeks to the season.  The FCS playoffs have started and are already down to 8 teams.  Actually, the FCS uses 20 teams and started Thanksgiving weekend.  For a team like Albany, their 11-game regular season schedule ended on November 19th and they were eliminated before December.  They did not have a bye week.  There are no conference championship games.  Albany finished the regular season 8-3, but still qualified in a playoff for the right to go 8-4.  Is that what people want?  8-3 playoff teams?  Of course, in the round of 16, the top seeds all advanced to the next round anyway.  Despite giving the 8 teams the opportunity to pull an upset, none did.  This is not surprising, given that they just played a whole season to determine who the cream of the crop was.  All a 16-team playoff does is water down the regular season.  Having a bunch of 3-loss teams qualify does nothing more than render some regular season losses irrelevant.  You can still lose 1 or 2 more and make the playoffs, after all.

In contrast, the BCS system always pits #1 against #2.  Occasionally, the debate between #2 and #3 is such that a winning #3 might get some votes that belong to the winning #2.  But no matter who is crowned the champion, it is based on the performance of work from day 1 to the last day of the season. Even if you vehemently disagree as to who is #1 or #2, those are still great teams.

But, you say, the playoffs are the only way to settle a champion.  Says who?  Look at basketball.  3 weeks of games and you get a national champion.  However, look at last year!  The 9th place team in the Big East, UConn, won the national championship.  Quick… name UConn’s regular season losses.  I bet you cannot even name how many they had.  They lost 9.  Even though they lost 9 times, they were still deemed the best team–the National Champion. How can that be?  The Cinderella stories of North Carolina State and Villanova were great, but nobody REALLY thinks that those schools were the best in the land.

Perhaps you are of the mind that the National Champion simply refers to the team that wins the post-season tournament, not the “best team.”  Whoever wins it all deserves praise.  But college football does not stop there.  College football sets out to crown a National Champion AND determine who the best team is.  In basketball, you play for 4 months to whittle the field down from 300+ to 68.  Of those 68, roughly 20 of them are not truly among the top 68 teams.  Even so , that leaves 48 that likely are the best 48 (especially if ignore that coach of the 12-loss team on the radio show circuit the morning after the bracket is announced and his team was #49).  You do all that, only to discard it and play a tournament.

Is the regular season just a practice for the Big Dance?  Nobody EVER says that about college football.  Lose to Iowa State in week 10, and it could keep you out of the national championship.  Perhaps you think that it is not fair to penalize a team who loses.  Well, every March, we penalize 67 teams for losing.  It’s a single-elimination tournament where every loss ends the season.  #1 seed?  Better beat Northern Iowa.  #3 seed?  Better beat Belmont.  And so on.

In football, the loss in September or November may or may not end your season from a national championship perspective, but it likely will.  At the very least, you lose control over your own destiny.  In college football, every September game is basically just like a first-round game of the Big Dance.  You have to win to stay alive.  Every October game is like a Round of 32 game.  Every November game narrows down to Sweet 16, Elite 8, and Final Four.  And, by the time the BCS bids are announced, you are down to 2.

But the football system makes up for it with bowl games for many.  Ask Pitt and Syracuse whether their weekend matchup of 5-6 teams mattered.  The winner got a bowl game, the loser went home.  Ask West Virginia whether its game against USF–a win that got them into the Orange Bowl–mattered.  It did.  And we know that West Virginia was watching Cincinnati beat UConn with glee.  Three regular season games in the worst BCS conference and they all mattered greatly.  If there was a 16-team playoff, would those games have mattered at all?   How many college basketball games in February matter?  Sure, for seeding.  A few bubble teams clashing to see which 10-loss team qualifies to be a 12th seed.  But merely days before the bracket is announced, those games largely do not matter.  Even in the worst conference, the worst team in that conference can win its conference championship and get a ticket to the Big Dance.  And notice how exciting those conference championship games are?  That television is compelling.  Because the games matter.  Elimination games matter.

And that is why the current football system is simply awesome!  Every game is an elimination game, from September to December.  Lose once, you are no longer controlling your national championship destiny.  Lose twice, you are done.  Lose three times, and your conference championship hopes dim.  Lose four times, you are looking at a mid-level bowl.  Lose five times, now you are looking at a late December bowl.  Lose six times?  You’ll be playing in mid-December.  Lose  seven times?  There is no post-season (except for UCLA).  Every weeks costs something measurable.

The NFL has a playoff system.  Yes, the NFL allows 12 of its 32 teams to make the playoffs.  The NFL is, like college basketball, more of a marathon than a sprint.  You can lose an NFL game in September, another in October, another in November, and another in December, and yet still finish 12-4.  No 12-4 team has been excluded from the playoffs.  Quite the contrary, there have been late season NFL games that are so unimportant that teams rest their stars.  You don’t see that in college football under the current system.  You might if there was a playoff.  Is that desirable?  Meaningless games at the end of the season?  Of course, unlike many other sports, Football is always single elimination.  The better team does not always win.  The 2010 Super Bowl was won by a #6 seed.  A college football playoff would do nothing more than weaken the import of that September win over your best OOC opponent.  A college football playoff would render that November win over your rival secondary.   Those games are mere tuneups for the playoff.

The day that college football goes to a playoff is the day that your team no longer has to try to win every game.  If a 10-2 team can make the playoffs, that’s all that teams need to strive to obtain.  Sure, a team will always want to go undefeated, but the pressure to do so will no longer be there.   At that point, college football will cease to be what it has been for all these decades.  All the Confidential can say is be careful what you wish for–sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

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