A kind reader, pointing out the obvious as kind readers often do, noted that my selections for the current college football bowl season have been something less than scintillating.
“I could do better than that by flipping a coin,” he claimed, which isn’t true, since flipping a coin is how I came up with this dismal record in the first place.
There is still time for redemption, however. Yes, if I can correctly forecast the winner of Monday night’s national championship game between mighty Florida State and upstart Auburn, all will be forgiven. That’s how this football forecasting business goes. You’re only as good as your last prediction.
And with upsets ruling the day in the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl, my last few predictions have left me begging for mercy.
All of which explains why I wasn’t selected for a spot on the prestigious committee that will choose the four participants in next year’s first-ever Division I college football playoff.
Had the playoff been this year, I’d have strongly considered Stanford, Baylor, Alabama and Ohio State, all of which got hammered in the last few days.
Stanford, of course, should have beaten Michigan State but for some boneheaded coaching decisions not befitting that fine university’s high academic standards.
I realize the Stanford head coach makes probably three times what the university president does — and at least twice what I do — but when your team is trailing, 24-17, with under 5 minutes to play and faces a fourth-and-5 at the opponent’s 17-yard line, you do not, under any circumstances, kick a field goal.
Before the kick, you needed a touchdown. After the kick, you still needed a touchdown. A successful field goal at that point in the game was virtually meaningless. Which is why Stanford lost, 24-20.
Washington State, whose coach also makes three times what the university president does, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by refusing to simply “take a knee” in the game’s final minutes, electing to fumble three times instead.
Now, Wazzu doesn’t have the same high standards as Stanford, but it is allowed to compete in the Pac-12 conference where it is expected to understand when victory is at hand and take appropriate measures to secure that victory.
Not only have I suffered through some horrendous coaching decisions that seriously hurt my forecasting record, I also had to endure “replay” officials who can’t get the call right even after viewing it 115 times while the game grinds to a halt.
Worse yet, when the fate of a certain play is about to be kicked upstairs to the replay booth, the official in charge announces to the world “The previous play is under further review.”
Which is a perversion of the language, given that the previous play had not been reviewed in the first place, so how could it now be under “further” review?
This so drives my friend Curt crazy that he finally broke down and wrote a pointed letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert that begins “This really has to stop.”
Curt goes on to say “Why are your football game referees saying ‘After further review, the play stands as called (or is reversed.)’ Please tell me when was the first review done? How can there be a ‘further review’ when there wasn’t a review in the first place? There was only the call on the field that initiated the review.”
Curt further screams “If you are scripting your officials to say this, then change the script. Your guys sound like uneducated dolts. If the officials are winging it, then get a memo together and send it to them and straighten them out. I’ve heard this nonsense for the entire college season and it is really annoying.”
You tell ‘em, Curt.
But I’m avoiding the subject at hand, which is Monday night’s championship game and my one final chance to escape pigskin purgatory.
As the only undefeated team in the country, Florida State is heavily favored. Auburn is only a year removed from finishing dead last in the Southeastern Conference, where it didn’t win a single game. Let the rout begin
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org