Thursday, September 23, 2010

It just wouldn't be the holidays without the Eaglebank Bowl

The NCAA is acknowledging the reality that this may be the year of the Bowlpocalypse. With 35 bowls approved to be played, there have to be seventy eligible teams at the end of the season to fill all the slots. This year, thanks to things like USC being ineligible, that may well not happen. What to do about it? How's letting teams with losing records play in bowls sound? Even though the NCAA has vowed for years it wouldn't let that happen, it's now in play as a possibility rather than have a scheduled bowl wind up cancelled for lack of participants. The idea is ridiculous. This isn't some unexpected development or fluke season - it was already close to happening multiple times before they chose to add another bowl. Either there are standards, or there aren't. If 5-7 teams are now bowl worthy, then just abandon all pretense of the regular season being relevant and allow whoever wants to put together a game to make it happen if their wallet's big enough. If somebody thinks a 4-8 Ole Miss versus a 3-9 UCLA team in the Gateway Bowl in St. Louis three days before Christmas would make money, let them do it. At least it would be a clear cash grab and we wouldn't have to hear any more happy talk about "rewarding teams for a great season" with a trip to Detroit at Christmas.

What had been a surprising start for Tampa Bay took a turn for the worse with the news safety Tanard Jackson is suspended for the rest of the season as a result of violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. It's the second year in a row he's been suspended for this type of issue, and Jackson has acknowledged his problems existed before he was chosen by the Bucs. I've noted before here that I believe bringing in this kind of guy is a big part of why the team has gotten off track in recent years. Players like Jackson can't be counted on despite being talented, as Tampa Bay just learned again. Meanwhile, if this means the return of Sabby Piscitelli to a meaningful role on the Buc defense then they're completely screwed. Piscitelli couldn't cover a dead body with a sheet - he's as bad a player as I saw in any regular capacity in the NFL last season.

The good news for UNC football is that the status of two more of their players got resolved yesterday. The bad news is there are ten more with issues still lingering out there. One player received a six game suspension, the other four. In a remarkable coincidence, the same Chris Hawkins who just happened to purchase A.J. Green's jersey turns out to have been linked to Tar Heels cornerback Kendric Burney's trips to Las Vegas and Atlanta. Maybe they were looking at jerseys to buy? (Just like the Green situation and his felony cocaine trafficking charges, Hawkins says this is all a big misunderstanding. Of course it is.) UNC says it will appeal the penalties, because they can't count on that losing teams get to go to bowls thing happening yet.

It is entirely possible that the Big Ten this week is playing the worst slate of games in the history of any conference for a single week. The Chicago Tribune points out it is so awful that the game ABC selected for its 3:30 network slot features Ohio State as more than a six touchdown favorite. The best game anyone is playing appears to actually be Penn State hosting Temple. The folks on the Big Ten Network are going to earn their money trying to polish this turd of a Saturday.

Interesting game in college football tonight, with Miami at Pittsburgh. Neither team has actually beaten a D-1 opponent yet, but they're both supposedly favorites in their respective pathetic conferences. The Hurricanes have had twelve days to regroup after their dreadful offensive performance in Columbus, and now that Randy Shannon made all players get off Twitter they're claiming to be "more focused". Pittsburgh is the perpetually underachieving squad they always seem to be under the Wannstache. Someone has to win, although history tells us with these two coaching masterminds at work it'll be more like "losing less".


Patrick Swayze said...

Again, this is a complete oversimplification. The Bucs are where they are because of horrible, horrible drafting for more than a decade. Not because a former 4th round pick making $500,000 per year smokes weed. If you added Steven Jackson instead of Michael Clayton, Aaron Rodgers instead of Carnell Williams, and Patrick Willis instead of Gaines Adams to the team with Tanard Jackson, Aqib Talib, Jerrmay Stevens and all the troublemakers real or perceived, they'd still be a good team.

Patrick Swayze said...

Expanding on this, Jackson was the 106th player selected in the 2007. He signed a contract for 4 years ~$2 million, total. That's the perfect time to take a chance on a player with issues. The next 10 players drafted after him consisted of Antonio Pittman, Paul Soliai, Stephen Nicolas, John Bowie, Dwayne Wright, Daniel Sepulveda, Brian Smith, Marvin White, Leroy Harris, and Zach DeOssie. It doesn't get much better after that. Basically a whole lot of crap. So the Bucs took a chance and got a guy who would start 46 games in the next 4 years for practically the league minimum. Not the worst return on investment.

Heath Cline said...

We fundamentally disagree on this, Patrick, and will continue to do so. Who knows what player might have been drafted and developed at Jackson's position if Tampa Bay hadn't been "building" around a guy who couldn't be depended on? The Jets are trying to win with turds too - think it was worth it for them this week? Do you believe they're going to win big this year?

I agree with you that character issues are not the sole cause of Tampa Bay's downfall. To act as if they're a minor to nonexistent factor is to me shortsighted on your part.

Patrick Swayze said...

We have a great idea what player would have been picked there. Look at all the guys picked between Jackson and 5th round pick Greg Peterson (no longer on the roster). Look at all the Bucs' mid-round picks the last decade. Garbage.

My only issue with the turd/non-turd argument is people act like the turds drag down the non-turds and without the turds the non-turds would burn up the league. Unfortunately Tampa's non-turd roster is among the worst in the league, though finally improving a little. I wish the Bucs had a bunch of Pro Bowl choir boys, too. The biggest problem is they blew all the high picks where you hope to get Pro Bowl choir boys and the only ones who turned out to have talent were the risk/reward guys.

Heath Cline said...

You're making the false assumption that the guy who might have turned out better would have been drafted in that same year at that draft position. Maybe TB addresses the spot a year later in the draft successfully. Maybe they add a free agent who's a fit. There's no way to know, because they were relying on Jackson.

Patrick Swayze said...

Sorry, I see the fact that the Bucs had to trade the #4 overall pick from the 2007 draft for cents on the dollar, the #35 pick is out of football completely, and the #64pick is "as bad a player as I saw in any regular capacity in the NFL last season" as bigger problems than the #106 pick starting 46 games in 4 years and the getting suspended.

Heath Cline said...

Awful draft, no question. Hated the Gaines Adams pick when they made it, although Sears actually was a decent choice before pyhsical issues ruined his career.