Tag Archives: Arizona Widlcats

The New Era of College Football: The Haves Trump The Have-Nots

The evolution of college football has created a new reality. Thanks to the college football arms race in facilities, fan support, and money as well as the nascent playoff system, there are two types of college football programs:

  1. Those that have a chance to win a national championship
  2. Those that have no chance to win a national championship

There is no migration between the types of programs. You either have a chance to win it all or you don’t. The rich teams get richer, everyone else treads water or drowns.

While there are two types of college football programs, there are three types of college football fans:

  1. Those fans who correctly recognize that their teams have a chance win a national championship
  2. Those fans who correctly realize their teams have no chance to win a national    championship
  3. Those fans who incorrectly believe their team has a chance to win the national championship, when in reality, they have no chance.

No convinced? Take a look at the following videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVC3UziHeGk and this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU4NXtu2T5E.

These are, theoretically, facilities for college students. But we all know what these really are. Recruiting tools to draw top athletes to Texas and Texas A&M. These are “in-kind” payments to players who are ostensibly amateur athletes.

I have no doubt that the other programs with a chance to win a national championship have (or will soon have) facilities on par if not better than these. We all know the names of these programs – Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, Clemson, Florida State, & Oklahoma. You could probably add Oregon, Tennessee, Notre Dame and a small handful of other programs to this list, but that’s it. No other programs have a chance.

It is not shocking for fans of programs like Virginia, Wake Forest, Duke, Boston College, Vandy, Kansas, and Northwestern that they have zero chance to win a national championship…ever. I think the fans of these programs understand that they will never have facilities like Texas or Texas A&M. They will never compromise their integrity to the extent that the contending programs must to get the numbers of top players needed to compete for a national championship. Fans from these programs and many more like them realize their role in the world of college football. They are fodder for the teams with a chance to win it all. They can have successful seasons and win bowl games, but they will never hoist the national championship trophy. Maybe that’s okay. The point of college, after all, is to educate young minds, not win national championships. College athletics is supposed to be entertaining, so if you recognize your place and revel in reaching the heights of success within the boundaries of your possibilities, college football is a great deal of fun.

What might be shocking to the vast majority of the fans of programs not listed above, is that their teams also have no chance to win a national championship. None, zero, zilch, nada… they just don’t realize it. Many programs fit this description…we can all name these programs with perpetually frustrated fans who mistakenly think they are on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of college programs – Virginia Tech, NC State, UNC, West Virginia, Michigan State, South Carolina, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Iowa, Kansas St, and Arkansas among many others, have no chance to win a national championship. Unfortunately, their fans think they do.

Think about how excited fans of these programs are when they land a big-time recruit. A 5-star or high 4-star kid who is a “can’t miss” prospect. There are high-fives all around and dreams of winning the college football playoff. The sad reality is, the teams that have a real chance to win it all, get at least a half a dozen of these players – every year. Not one per year or every other year like the wannabe programs. So the teams with a real chance to win it all have 30 or more can’t-miss players on their teams. The wannabe teams might have 5.

None of this is lost on the best coaches in the industry either. Do you think Nick Saban is going to leave Alabama to coach Northwestern anytime soon? Urban Meyer going to Wake Forest? Which programs have huge donor bases that make space-age locker rooms possible? (hint: it’s not Duke and it’s not Virginia…nor NC State or West Virginia) The best coaches go to the programs with the biggest donor bases that pay the biggest salaries & fund the best facilities, which draw the best talent…and so the cycles continues.

Like gambling in Vegas, the college football game is rigged. Over the course of any season, there will be exciting times when wannabe teams beat the odds and score big upsets. But over the course of a full season (including the playoffs), a single wannabe program cannot beat the system. There are too many 30+ mega-recruit teams out there, getting better every day and one of those teams will win the national championship every time. It’s why house wins over time in Vegas. The swanky trappings of the Bellagio are not there because gamblers go home winners. The odds favor the house, so it always wins. The system favors the top programs, so they will always win.

As we begin the 2017 college football season, we could create a list of 18-20 programs with a chance to win it all. It would be the same list from 2016. The participants in the football championship will be from that list – with no chance for an upstart to crash the party. It’s like the list to get into the VIP section of a popular night club. Not on the list? Not getting in.

The downside of this could be that as more college football fans realize the game is rigged against them, fans will lose interest and the game’s popularity could begin to fade. Then again, Las Vegas doesn’t seem to be losing its steam and state lotteries continue to be wildly popular. Maybe the fans of the wannabe programs understand their fate better than they let on. Maybe they are like the lottery players, thinking that someone is going to win this jackpot, if I buy a ticket it might be me, so every season, misplaced hope springs eternal. Unfortunately, the odds of winning the Powerball are better than their team winning the national championship.

E-mail David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @dmrayner.

Legacy Lines – 9/25/15: Here Comes Conference Play

What an amazing start to the college football season. After the first few weeks, there have been upsets after upsets, teams flipping in the polls, and a ton of panic among some SEC teams, specifically Auburn and Alabama. Forget all that however, because we are focused on our Legacy Teams, and some must start their conference campaign today. While we have all heard about what’s going on in Tuscaloosa, it is important to note that they will play an easy team this weekend to get things together. Tennessee plays Florida in the swamp for what will most likely be a low scoring, ugly affair. Texas will their face rival Oklahoma State on ESPN, a game where nobody will be able to predict the score. But, for the Legacy Program game of the week, we go to UCLA vs. Arizona. A battle of ranked teams, this game is for sure to be a fun one to watch Saturday night on ESPN.

Before we jump into the thick of the preview for this game, it is time to highlight a little part of history between these two teams. We do this for historical perspective, but also because it makes the games a lot more exciting when you have that little extra invested in the game. Although these two teams are not historically rivals, that doesn’t mean that they like each other, and something is usually on the line when they play. For this week’s perspective, we need to travel back a year to November 1, 2014. On this day in history, the Wildcats were ranked 12th going in to face a 22nd ranked UCLA team that was on a downslide, and fast. At the start of the 2014 season, Brett Hundley and the Bruins were poised to win the national championship, or at least it was a topic of conversation. Two rough losses later, and they end up facing an Arizona team who was on the up, and was going to compete for the Pac-12 title. While it was anybody’s game, the Bruins ended up running and passing all over the Wildcats in route to a victory that would bring the Bruins’ season back from disappointment. Although the Wildcats would go on to beat the Oregon Ducks a couple weeks later, they never quite recovered from the loss. Now, with the teams ranked again, this game means a lot to both programs, and whichever team wins could become the front-runner for the Pac-12.

Now, we direct our attention to this year’s matchup. I’m going to tell you right now, this game will come down to the Bruin offense versus the Wildcat defense. The reason I say this is because the Bruins team will go as Josh Rosen goes. So far, Rosen has been the man, but he has really only played one decent team, BYU. Will Rosen be able to keep up his high level of play on the road, against Arizona in the Pac-12? I’m sure the Wildcat defense will have something to say about that. Someone else who will have a say in the matter is Scooby Wright III, if he get to play. He has been injured for the last couple weeks, but if he could play even at 80% for four quarters, advantage Arizona defense. If Josh Rosen can throw the ball well enough to get his receivers the ball in space, then he will have success, but if not, he will be in for a long night. On the other side of things, when we look at the Bruin defense versus the Wildcat offense, they are pretty much on equal ground. I do think the Wildcat offense has an advantage solely based on the fact that Myles Jack is out. He is the anchor of the Bruin defense, and without him, the Bruins could be in trouble. I think this game ends up being a close one, but I just don’t believe in the UCLA hype yet, and for that reason, I’m predicting a win by the Wildcats.

 

Best and Worst: Elite 8 Weekend

The NCAA Tournament is something made for television. There is drama, drama, oh, and more drama as the tournament progresses through the different rounds. This year has been no different than any other year for the NCAA. Here are some of the best and worst from the Elite 8 weekend.

Best: The big team match-ups. When you go through a weekend where you have great team match-ups from major programs, it is a delight to watch. When Arizona took the floor against Wisconsin on Saturday, there was revenge on the Wildcats mind for their loss to them last year in overtime during the Elite 8 round. The Badgers, on the other hand, wanted to show that they were not an afterthought for people wanting to see an Arizona/Kentucky match up in the Final Four. I was one of those people wanting to see that match-up. I’m a Pac-12 guy, writer, and was wanting to see how the Cats would stack up against Big Blue, but to my dismay, it’s not going to happen. Wisconsin showed their prowess to shoot the three ball in the second half and simply couldn’t miss. They made 10 three pointers in the second half to break the backs of the Arizona Wildcats. It was truly a spectacle watching Sam Dekker and his mates in the back court drain three after three after three. Now, it’s Wisconsin’s shot at defeating Kentucky.

Notre Dame and Kentucky was certainly one of the best things of this weekend. Watching the Irish in a position to pull off another major upset in college sports was incredible. The Irish came to play, played hard, tough, made big shots, and kept the Wildcats off balance for most of the game, but we know how this played out. To beat Kentucky, you have to be up big, making them start to panic. That didn’t happen. Letting the Cats hang around and feel that they are not out of the game is something you can’t let happen. The Irish did and paid the ultimate price for it.

Coach Calipari. As much as he is looked at as a pariah in college sports, can people start recognizing what a great coach he is? Please. Some people will say “Anybody could win that talent.” Well, Coach Cal has figured out a way to get these high school All-Americans to come to Kentucky and play team ball. He gets them to put their own personal stats aside to benefit the concept of “team”. He does all he can to get them to “The League”, even has his own pre-draft camp, so GM’s can come in and look and drool over his talent. Calipari has figured out how to play ball in the one and done era of college basketball. If he’s only going to have them for a year, why not get the most out of them while they are at Kentucky? The players love him and have shown to be extremely loyal to him and the program. He does have baggage and a reputation that precedes him, but if people want to hang on to that baggage to condemn him, then they need to also recognize what he has done on the positive side since he’s been at Kentucky. That probably won’t happen, but there are always to sides to an argument. Don’t forget that college basketball fans.

Watching Kentucky dismantle West Virginia. Some may say that this game was over before it started, and they may well have been right. This game was a highlight reel from the get go. Blocked shots, lock down defense, lob passes for big dunks and basically the Mountaineers look like a freshmen high school team. West Virginia was not helped by the mistimed comments by their freshman point guard Daxter Miles Jr saying that they were going to end the Wildcat season. You don’t put bulletin board material out there for a team like Kentucky. They will want to make you look stupid, and that is what they did to West Virginia.

Worst: The Pac-12 not being able to get somebody to the Final Four. Now, in all honesty, the Pac-12 really had only one team that had a legit shot at getting there. Arizona. The Pac-12 was a down conference this year in basketball and getting a team in the Final Four would have been a nice accomplishment for Arizona and the Pac-12. The tournament is about match-ups and Arizona ran into a team that had too fire power for them.

Notre Dame had Kentucky, had them. I think the time out that they wasted at the end, should have been held onto like precious gold. The shot that Jerian Grant had at the end of the game could have been much better if they could have had a time out to use to set something a little better up. They had six seconds and that is enough time to get a better shot off than a double clutch fade away three pointer from the corner with Kentucky bigs running down the court with you. I’m not saying Notre Dame wins the game by having that time out, but they would have a chance at a better shot to win the game. One of those things about Kentucky being in many big games compared to Notre Dame.

In the end, there were many more positives out of this Elite 8 than negatives for fans, media, and anybody else to focus on. The Final Four has what everybody wants, big name teams from big name conferences. Watching Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, and Michigan State battle it out for the title will be something to watch for every college basketball fan.