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Archive for November, 2011

And now, the REAL season begins

Let me let you in on a little secret that was force fed to me. They say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Well apparently that’s not so true for a jacka… er… donkey, because after 4 years of working for Rivals, I finally drank the cool-aid I had resisted for so long.

The real battle in college football is won off the field.

It’s won in two places: The coach’s office while he’s evaluating high school talent and in the living rooms of those talented high school players when the coach is trying to convince him to come to his college.

The reality is that 9 times out of 10, if you look at the recruiting classes of the 3 years prior years, not counting the kids who came in that spring (so for 2011, you look at the kids who were signed in Feb. 2010, 2009 and 2008, and exclude (since so many redshirt) the kids who were signed in Feb. 2011), you’ll know a lot about how that team is going to perform that fall. I did some “star counting” using the last 3 years model and here’s what I got:

2011: 7-5 (185 stars in prev. 3 years)
2010: 5-7 (200)
2009: 8-5 (208)
2008: 9-4 (225)
2007: 7-6 (203)
2006: 10-3 (218)
2005: 8-4 (181)

Now stars aren’t perfect. When compiling the list I saw some real duds (the worst: Kevin Bemoll was a 4-star in 2005, but only played in 3 games) and some significant over-achievers (Tim Nixon, Erik Robertson, Thomas Decoud, Alex Mack, Robert Jordan, Justin Forsett, Mike Mohammed, Josh Hill and Kendrick Payne were all 2-stars), but as far as getting an average how how much talent is on a team, it’s as good a metric as any.

And looking at the record for those years, there’s an obvious correlation. Outliers aside, when the Bears have around 200 stars we’re looking at 7-5 kinda seasons. When they’ve got 215 and higher, that’s when we’ll have special teams. Of course there are some under-performing years like 2010 when the Bears had 200 stars and did worse than both 2005 and 2011 where the star count was in the 180’s.

Some of that over and under-achieving has to do with how many under ranked players there were in the past recruiting classes (or those duds too), but of course on the field does still count for something. Having no meaningful backup QB when your starter goes down will hurt a lot more than the stars could show by themselves (since it’s only one player).

Next year the star count will be 197, so the Bears are getting back on track after the drop-off in the 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes that has hurt us in recent years. Perhaps the Bears will over-perform and we’ll rise from 7-5 to a higher level, but these stats suggest we may be looking at another year of middling bowl eligibility next year.

However, and getting back to the original point of the post, if Tedford can match his star counts from last year in February, we’ll be at 215 in 2013. If he can do it again in February of 2013, we’ll be at 228 in 2014. That’ll be the most the team has ever had under Tedford.

But he’s got to get out on the road and get those “stars” (in real life we call them players). The coaching staff is out there as I type this, in living rooms across America, trying to convince fickle 17 year olds that Cal is the school for them. They’ll be doing this on and off for the next 3 weeks before the bowl game, and then hit the road HARD after the bowl game.

Luckily this year Tedford and Co. have a much better story. The new stadium opens next year. The SAHPC is brand new and awesome. The team is getting back on track and finished on a hot-streak. It will really help to have a big win over a big name team (Texas, anyone?) in the bowl game.

So far he’s got four 4-stars and fpir 3-stars. A recruiting class is made up of 20 or so kids and Cal will need at least six more 4-star kids and of the rest, almost all of them must be 3-stars. A 5-star or two would really help. But that’s not it, as I’ve written in the past, part of what makes a good class is the balance. So he can’t just go out and grab stars. He’s got to get the right kids who both play the positions he needs to fill and who are closer to gems than duds (this is where star counting breaks down).

From what I’ve read, there are a lot of 4-stars out there who still have interest in Cal (28 with medium interest or higher, according to Rivals) and at least one 5-star is in the mix (Shaq Thompson, SydQuan’s younger brother, is considered likely) with 6 others with some interest still. So there’s still the potential for a very good class.

But the truth of the matter is RIGHT NOW is one of the most important points of the season. Tedford and Co. will need to impress a lot of kids between now and the middle of February if he’s going to have the team he needs to make a run at the Rose Bowl in 2013 and 2014.

UPDATE: Getting all sorts of uncaught comment spam on this post so disabling comments.

Which one of these is not like the others?

Ted Miller had a great comment about Utah’s loss to Colorado in his weekly what we learned post:

Utah, welcome to the Pac-12 way: Utah figured out that consistency is frowned upon in the Pac-12. The Utes, with their home loss to Colorado, figured out that it’s darn near required within the conference’s muddled middle that teams inexplicably face-plant at least once (or twice a year). So you have Cal getting bricked at UCLA, Arizona State throwing up on itself at Washington State, UCLA getting bombed at Arizona and Washington flopping at Oregon State. The Utes are typically great at home. Colorado had lost 24 in a row away from its home stadium. But logic doesn’t always rule in the Pac-12. The rule is inexplicable results are part of the conference’s annual tapestry.

I won’t beat a dead-horse about Utah, but I did want to look at the list of face-plants:

  • Cal loses to UCLA
  • ASU loses to Arizona
  • UCLA loses to Arizona
  • UW loses to OSU
  • Utah loses to Colorado

So the question is, which one of these is not like the others?

If you guessed Cal, you’re right! Cal is the only one who’s face-plant is to a team from the ‘muddled middle’. The rest are loses to the bottom group. Cal took business against all of the lower teams: WSU, OSU, Colorado. Cal didn’t play Arizona, so I guess that could still be in play seeing as how they were the team to knock off two of the ‘muddled middle’.

I think it says something about how the Bears are viewed. For that to be Cal’s flop, it means that Cal is on the top of the muddled-middle. I think UW is too, but that’s because they beat everyone else in the ‘muddled middle’, including Cal. Cal beat Utah and ASU, and lost to UW (the top) and also to UCLA (the flop). So it seems to me the right ordering of the teams is:

  • Washington
  • Cal
  • Utah
  • ASU
  • UCLA

(The bottom 3 are harder to differentiate, I debated putting ASU on the bottom but UCLA’s performance versus USC last night and their need for a waiver to be bowl eligible after losing to Oregon next week, had me drop them.)

Expect that to be the order of bowls picked next Sunday as well. After Oregon goes to the Rose and Stanford to the Fiesta or Orange, UW goes to the Alamo, Cal to the Holiday, Utah to the Sun, ASU to the Vegas and UCLA to the Kraft (if they get a waiver).

Instant replay issue: Using TV cameras

This is something I’ve thought of before, but it came back to my mind after reading a quote from a replay booth ref on CGB:

How many camera angles do you get?

it’s totally based on the TV crew. For Oregon/Washington I had 17 cameras. For the Big Game there were only 7. Replay officiating is based totally on an entertainment industry. Once I requested a goal line shot but couldn’t get it because that camera was busy showing crowd shots!

In other words, the replay official is dependent on whatever shots the TV crew gives them. I know this isn’t a big surprise to anyone, but I don’t think people have thought of the implications. TV crews are NOT impartial. Sometimes that’s explicitly obvious, such as Cal games that don’t get picked up by the Pac-12 contracts and the Cal Athletic department gets Comcast to put the game on TV. But it’s true of the media staff even when the game being broadcast by a supposedly neutral party. You don’t think the average cameraman and director who work games in the Bay Area are sports fans and tend to favor the local teams? Of course they are. It’s a big part of the reason they’re in that business, is because they are sports fans and they like to be at the games.

So what’s the result?

The result is that anything that might be controversial is going to have a lot of cameras on it and the producer in the truck is going to be working hard to getting all the right shots. For something that they’d rather not have reviewed, they’re already off taking shots of the crowd.

It’s not even purposeful or intentional, it’s just human nature. When I watch a Bears game and Allen is tip-toeing down the sideline, I’m going to be less likely to inspect every step as a fan of the opponent would, without even trying. When it’s the opposing team tip-toeing, my first question is going to be to want to see every step in slow motion, freeze-framed as each foot is on the ground.

I don’t know what the solution should be. I’m generally not opposed to instant replay (within reason) and I understand the cost issues with trying to have a second video crew who’s whole purpose is for instant replay. But at the same time, it seems to me to be an overlooked component of officiating. Maybe at a minimum requiring certain shots, like a camera on the goal-line that must be pointed at the goal-line at all times (or something similar) should be required. I don’t know.

But what we have right now doesn’t seem fair to me.

UCLA goes for the stormtrooper look

Don’t tell Jason, but UCLA apparently didn’t realize how horrible the stormtrooper look was for the Bears (even though they benefited from it) because they decided to bring it for the USC game. They’ve decided to scoff at tradition, where both teams wear their home colors for that game, and go with a never before used look of all white, including the white helmet.

Not that it’ll matter either way, but UCLA is going to regret bringing out the stormtrooper look.

Comments re-enabled

For those who have tried to comment recently and were unable to, I apologize. WordPress did its really odd thing where the discussion settings revert automatically to a fairly restrictive policy. It reverted sometime between 11/5 and 11/15 and I fixed it today. Never have been quite sure why that happens. The worst part is I don’t notice it as it only affects people without a login to the site, so until someone says something, I’m oblivious. In any case, comments are now re-enabled.

Arizona State OTRH Podcast

After technical difficulties put the kibosh on the Big Game OTRH podcast, I’m back on track this week. In addition to ASU thoughts, you’ll hear about 7-5, the Pac-12 standings and bowl possibilities. Enjoy:

Utah fans gets their comeuppance

I’m not sure why it happened this way, but this blog has become the home of Utah bashing the last couple weeks as I’ve been ranting about how much they don’t deserve their lofty status in some people’s minds. Part of what got me riled up was not just what the pundits were saying, but the Utah fans, who were slowly becoming intolerable, acting as if their march to 8-4 overall and 5-4 in conference showed they belonged with the big-boys.

Well, they got their first real lesson about life in a big-boy conference yesterday, losing to lowly Colorado, the only team with only 1 conference win coming into the game and who hadn’t won a game on the road since October 27th, 2007 (that’s not a typo… 2007. For context, that’s two weeks after Cal was ranked #2 in the country and Kevin Riley made his most famous mistake of running for it without any timeouts). Looks like the players had been listening to their over inflated fans and forgot the #1 rule of big-boy conferences: EVERY team in the conference is good enough to beat you if you don’t come with your A-game.

So now they’ll be stuck in the middle of the muck, 7-5 overall and 4-5 in conference. And I find it necessary to remind everyone that they achieved that mediocre record by avoiding a beat-down from either Oregon and Stanford. Of the other teams in the muck in the middle (UW, Cal, UCLA and ASU) that will likely end the season either 7-5 or 6-6 and 5-4 or 4-5 in conference, they lost to all but one (UCLA). UCLA of course being that “impressive” win that showed how good Utah is.

That preamble is a long way of saying I couldn’t help but smile last night as I turned on the Cal game to find out that Utah had lost to Colorado earlier in the day. It’s always nice to see cosmic balance restored and fan bases with an over-inflated ego having to eat some crow.

Sorry, Utah fans, no Pac-12 south championship for you, despite the fact that everything you needed to have happen to the other teams is happening. All you had to do was win your game, but you got caught looking ahead and forgetting to take care of business this weekend. At some level, after I’ve finished smirking, I feel for you and empathize. As a Cal fan I’ve been there before (see UCLA circa 2011, 2007, 2005 and OSU, circa 2007, 2005). Take solace in knowing that I won’t be railing against you any more after your new-found humility.

More power ranking slights

The key observers of the Pac-12 continue to slight Cal… this is really starting to get under my skin. I’ll start with Wilner because I respect his analysis LESS (he’s got great investigative work, like with the Pac-12 contracts, but his team analysis stinks):

He’s got Utah 4th (beat them a month ago), UCLA 5th (lost to them, but they’ve been on a nose dive since losing to the Utah team we destroyed), UW 6th (lost to them a long time ago, but they just lost to the OSU team Cal destroyed), and ASU 7th (haven’t played, but recently lost to the WSU team we recently destroyed). Then Cal comes in at 8th.

I guess I could accept 6th behind UCLA and UW, seeing as how we lost to both, but then Wilner’s got a problem, because he’s got a tough sell job with UW losing to Oregon State last week and Utah being behind UCLA who they beat thoroughly. But seeing how ASU hasn’t beat anyone recently, how could Cal be behind them?

On to Ted Miller:

He agrees with Wilner and has Utah 4th, UCLA 5th, UW 6th, but at least has the decency to put Cal in front of Arizona State.

So, it comes down to this: Utah is getting WAAAY to much credit for their win over UCLA. In Wilner’s rankings, Utah lost to the #6, #7 and #8 teams (ASU, UW and Cal), but because UCLA hasn’t been in a free fall like UW and ASU, they get credit for being on top of that pile. But somehow Cal gets no credit for beating Utah and simultaneously gets not credit for beating the teams (Utah included) that have beat those teams in a free fall.

Using the method that Wilner and Miller use (how they’re playing right now) I’ve got to put Cal in the #4 spot. They’ve been winning, and played a close one against Stanford, something none of the rest of the #4 – #8 teams have done.

The one reason I think you might not want to put Cal in the #4 spot is that UW has too much built up success. I think you’ve got to treat UW in one of two ways, you either look at the OSU game as an anomaly and put then at #4, because they’ve beat the each of the rest of the teams in that #4 – #8 muddle that they’ve played or you put them all the way at the bottom of that stack based on the egg laid against OSU. Either would be fair, frankly. It just depends on how recently, “right now” is. So perhaps Cal loses the #4 spot to them.

But the real conundrum is Cal, Utah and UCLA in the middle of a 3-way “beat each other triangle”. So then you’ve got to look at who else they’ve played and beat. I did the Cal over Utah thing last week and won’t repeat myself. Frankly, it’s more difficult to separate UCLA and Cal outside of their head to head, although Cal did play Stanford much better than UCLA did and beat Oregon State and WSU much more convincingly than they did. So if one overlooks the head to head (which in this exercise we have to because we’re in the middle of the “beat each other triangle”), Cal might get the edge.

So what it comes down to is that Utah, for some reason continues to get immense credit for that beat-down of UCLA and Cal gets no credit for their butt-kicking of Utah. Thus, Cal ends up on the bottom of that pile, for reasons that are beyond my comprehension. And that’s what lands Cal at #7 or lower (in conjunction with the UW issue) in both of their rankings.

But the most incomprehensible bit of it is ASU being above Cal in Wilner’s ranking. ASU has lost 3 in a row, including to lowly Arizona last week and the same WSU team that Cal beat two weeks ago. That team is in a free-fall and doesn’t have any wins over teams Cal has lost to (well, a LONG time ago, they beat a not-yet-good USC team, but that’s eons ago from a power-ranking perspective).

I guess what frustrates me is that they don’t seem to see what good football Cal is playing right now. They won 3 of 4 against the middle of the pack before going in a playing Stanford close on the road. Why aren’t they getting credit for that? Why aren’t people looking at that as a team on the rise? It’s like Cal got stained by that 3-game losing streak (two of those games being to the best of the conference) and nobody is willing to give them credit. Those wins later, well, they weren’t against very good teams (these people apparently say), yet those team are either being ranked really high now (Utah) or have recently knocked off these teams that are still above Cal but are considered in a free-fall because of those loses.

Well, Cal took care of business against those teams, convincingly I might add, and should be given credit for it. They deserve the #4 spot in a “how are the teams playing right now” power-ranking. Cal would beat Utah again, the way they are playing right now. Cal would beat UCLA given another shot. Cal would beat UW if UW played the way they did against Oregon State. Finally, Cal will beat ASU this weekend. That means they deserve the #4 spot. The only teams in the conference that Cal doesn’t beat next week based on how they’re playing right now is Oregon, Stanford and USC.

Utah wins the South

It’s ridiculous to think, but it appears Utah will win the South if the favored teams win this weekend… well technically ASU is favored over Cal, but a lot of people are thinking Cal is in the driver’s seat in this one.

What a collapse by UCLA and ASU.

ASU loses to Arizona and UCLA. UCLA loses to Arizona and Utah. Yes, the same Arizona who’s only two wins all season are against the supposed leaders of the South. This is just ridiculous.

And us Cal fans know how bad Utah is. We kicked the crud out of them. Then they go up to WSU and get lucky when what should have been the game winning touchdown wasn’t called as such and not reviewed in the booth, letting Utah squeak into overtime and then win. Let’s see, how did the Bears do against WSU again? Oh yes, that’s right… destroyed them so bad Wulff was calling Cal the most talented team in the conference. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what he was saying about Utah.

It still completely gets under my skin that Cal lost to UCLA. At least then, after Cal beats ASU this weekend, we could say with conviction that we would be the best eligible team in the South, were we part of that division. We would have beat every eligible team in the South that we played and the miss was lowly Arizona. As it stands, with a win over ASU, the only south teams Cal would have lost to was USC and UCLA, two of the top-3, including the outright winner.

But one has to believe that the stunted Utah gets their shot at the title game with ASU and UCLA both likely losing this weekend.

Endorsing Tedford for head coach

Sorry for the lack of posts. It’s been busy. Plus, I was pretty frustrated after my awesome OTRH podcast I recorded on the way home from Stanford Stadium turned out to be missing from my digital recorder when I went to import it on Sunday. Plus, my Tivo from some inexplicable reason didn’t record the game. Technology revolted against me!

In any case, I know this isn’t a revolutionary thought, but I think Tedford is our guy and is doing a fine job. When I think about what I wanted from him this season, he’s met just about every one of those goals:

  • Bowl Eligible: Check
  • Offensive improvement, particularly at QB: Not so clear early, but after watching Maynard against Stanford and the overall offensive improvement, Check
  • Continue to operate with integrity: Check
  • Give reasons to believe there will be improvement in future seasons: This team has shown a lot of potential from young guys who are getting better every week, Check

What’s becoming more clear is the recruits we were getting 2007 to 2009, were just not the best and right kids. Now that the SAHPC is effectively complete and the stadium renovation is 50% done, the recruits are giving Cal a better look. The 2010 and 2011 classes were much better and the young guys who have played have looked really good.

Add to that the reunited coaching staff and the improvement in the team as the season has wore on and I’ve got a lot of reasons to believe that the Bears are on the right track. 2012 will be better than 2011. 2013 and 2014 are our shots at getting to the Rose Bowl with Tedford at the helm. Mark my words.

Go Bears!

Utah hype is BS

OK, I reached my limit on this topic. I can’t keep it bottled up any more. It was officially on when Miller put Utah above Cal in his weekly power rankings. But it got ridiculous and I saw that most bowl projections had Utah above Cal.

Utah does NOT deserve to be above Cal in any discussion, including the bowl one. Do people not remember the game at AT&T? The one where Utah had almost ZERO offense until Cal let off the defensive gas in the 4th quarter. Don’t talk to me about turnovers. That only indicates why the final score was so out of whack. It doesn’t explain why Utah only have FIFTY SEVEN yards in the first 3 quarters. Don’t talk to me about home field advantage. The home crowd at that game was weak. If you can’t play in front of that pathetic crowd you’ve got problems.

But let’s pretend for some miraculous reason we can ignore the head-to-head game. Let’s talk about all the other things…

Overall record: the same. Conference record: the same.

Common opponents:
USC: we both lost to them, Cal big, Utah in a nailbiter
Washington: we both lost to them, Cal in a nailbiter, Utah big
Oregon State: We both won big
UCLA: Utah won big, Cal lost

Is that the totality of what Utah can hang it’s hat on? That Cal went down to the Rose Bowl and laid an egg (an egg by the way that was one shanked field-goal away from tied in the 4th quarter before things went south for the Bears) and Utah beat UCLA on their home turf IN THE SNOW in what was a classic letdown game for UCLA?

That’s enough to over-ride the head-to-head, which as noted above wasn’t even close to close?

Let’s go further, quality of other opponents:

Cal: Oregon (L), WSU (W), Colorado (W), Fresno State (W), Presbyterian (W)… that’s not very impressive, although they did beat everyone but the #4 team in the country
Utah: Arizona State (L), Pittsburg (W), Arizona(W), BYU (W), Montana State (W)… OK, a little harder on the strength of schedule in the middle games, maybe, but Oregon is clearly better than ASU (and already beat them) on the top end. And it’s not like there’s some quality win there that really sets them apart. Seeing as how WSU just beat ASU, that whole “we beat a team you lost to” mindset is there in reverse (albeit one more game removed).

OK, so then let’s look at future schedule and projected wins:
Cal: Stanford, ASU… Cal is expected to lose to Stanford and the ASU game is a bit of a toss up. But even if the Bears lost both, Utah already lost to ASU and everybody would expect them to lose to Stanford.
Utah: WSU, Colorado… Both teams that Cal has already beat, one handily.

So again, is that UCLA game the totality of what people who put Utah above Cal are hanging their hats on?

Perhaps we can look at some stats, who comes out on top:
Points per game: Cal
Yards per game: Cal
Rushing yards per game: Cal
Passing yards per game: Cal
Points allowed per game: Cal
Yards allowed per game: Cal
Passing yards allowed per game: Cal
Rushing yards allowed per game: Utah

Gotta give credit to Utah though, they got one category (which one it was kinda surprised me frankly).

So one last time, is that UCLA game the totality of what people who put Utah about Cal are pointing to? Seriously. After kicking the crud out of them on the gridiron, matching their performance in every game but one, having already beat their two remaining opponents and Cal’s one remaining common opponent already being a loss in Utah’s record, people are going to point to one game as some magical reason why Utah deserves more praise.

It’s particularly ridiculous considering who Utah DIDN’T play: Oregon and Stanford.

Assuming Cal loses to Stanford as projected, Cal will have two losses on their record that nobody in their right mind would say they are games that Utah would have won in their stead. In their place Utah can only put up a victory over BYU (a team who’s most impressive victory is a close one over Oregon State) and Pittsburgh. I guess one could theoretically argue that the Bears *might* not beat one of those who if they had to play them, but again, this is the great and overwhelming evidence, along with UCLA of course, that overrides all the above?

Who does Utah get in place of Oregon and Stanford in their conference line up? Colorado, a team Cal already beat, and Arizona, a team fighting for the first draft spot next year (oops, wrong league).

Sorry, there’s just no way around it. Cal is the superior team, and it’s not just because I’m a Cal fan. They easily won head-to-head, with an emphasis on the word EASILY. They’ve got the tougher strength of schedule. They dominate in statistical comparisons. Only in common opponents does Utah show any advantage, and it’s just in 1 game out of 4. That’s just not enough to override all the other things.

So let’s stop with the ridiculous comparisons, shall we?

Oregon State OTRH Podcast

Another week where I missed the game in person, but this time I was at least able to record my post-game thoughts. Enjoy:

4 Big Game tickets for sale

I bought 8 tickets for the Big Game and between by brother bailing and the late start time, I need to sell 4 of them. So not only will you get to watch the Big Game, you’ll get to do it next to my awesomeness. 🙂

We’re in section 224 about halfway up. That’s in the endzone, but let me say from experience, these seats, being mostly straight away, are a different but not bad angle. The running lanes are great to watch. On the far side of the field depth perception is a bit weak, but other than that, it’s a good place to watch a game. It’s far better than in the corner on the lower level, which I’ve had in the past.

Checking around, tickets are going for over $125 in most places, so I’m asking $100 a seat. Face value is $75. I’m willing to sell in 2 pairs or all 4 together. Let me know if you want 3 or 1 and I’ll see what else I’m offered.

Please let me know ASAP about your interest:

Pac-12 division tie-breakers

One of my most popular posts over the years was my clear elaboration of the tie-breakers for who goes to the Rose Bowl in a year where there are Pac-10 co-champions (all tied for the lead would be champions, only 1 gets to go to the Rose Bowl). Here is my best shot at the same thing for the division tie-breakers:

*Note up front, it’s critical to notice the difference between the word conference, referring to all 12 teams in the conference, and division, the 6 teams in the appropriate half of the conference. For that reason, I’ve emphasized the word division as separate from conference.

  1. For two teams tied for the lead, head-to-head matchup breaks the tie.
  2. If for some inexplicable reason the two teams tied either don’t play each other or end the game in a tie (a really hard thing with overtime and all teams in the division scheduled to play each other), there is a set of rules I won’t go into, that includes DIVISION record, records against the other teams the DIVISION starting with 3rd place, record in common conference games, BCS ranking, total number of wins in the season and finally a coin toss.
  3. For 3 or more teams (the remainder of the rules are for that): record against the tied teams breaks the tie. The most likely case is 3, where one team beat both the others. If it’s a triangle (A beat B, B beat C and C beat A), continue on. If there are 4 teams, if one beat all the rest, it’s easy, but if not, some will be 2-1 versus the other while others 1-2 and there could be a 0-3. The one with the best record wins the tie-breaker. At this point you eliminate the teams that aren’t tied for the best record amongst the 4, and re-run the tie-breakers (so head-to-head if there are two, etc.). Of course if it’s more than 4 teams, the same logic applies.
  4. DIVISION record, i.e. only the games against the team in the division, whereas placing is determined by overall conference record.
  5. Record against the rest of the teams in the DIVISION, one by one. So if 3 teams are tied, look at the team in 4th place and eliminate the ones that did lose to 4th place and re-run the tie-breakers. If that doesn’t break the tie (i.e. all the tied teams either beat or lost to the 4th place team) go to the 5th place team and repeat. If that doesn’t work, repeat with the 6th place team. Obviously if 4 are tied, you start with 5th place.
  6. Record in common conference games. Frankly, this likely means looking at just a few in the other division, because we already looked at DIVISION record and to get here, the tied teams had the same record. Because of the missed teams in the other division, there will only be a few teams from the other division that played all the tied teams. By example for 2011 where UCLA, ASU and Utah are the candidates for the 3-way tie, the common opponents would be Cal, Oregon State and Washington State.
  7. Eliminate all but the highest 2 BCS rankings of the multiple tied teams and re-run the 2-team tie-breakers.

See, it’s simple, right? 🙂

Things have gone haywire in Pac-12 south

Talk about a weak division south of the 37th parallel (except in the mountains, where “South” goes apparently can get close to the 41st parallel (Utah is 40.76))…

Outside of the ineligible USC, the division leaders are UCLA and ASU. UCLA got DESTROYED by Utah yesterday. Utah of course being the same team that Cal laid the wood to recently. As for Arizona State, they lost a shootout to Washington State yesterday evening up on the frozen potato patch in Pullman, Washington (sorry, they don’t get the frozen tundra designation, they’re too close to Idaho). Washington State of course being the team Cal nearly shutout and ran all over last week.

Frankly the loss to UCLA gets more baffling by the week, particularly now that their victory over ASU doesn’t look so impressive.

Heck, at the rate that UCLA and ASU are going, we shouldn’t count out Utah for the South crown. They’re only one game back at 3-4 in conference and now have a win over UCLA in the tie-breakers. They already lost to ASU, so that’s the tougher one for Utah.

But if ASU loses to Arizona and then Cal, something not so outlandish a thought at this point, it would put Utah in the effective driver’s seat. They’ve got WSU and Colorado left on the schedule, two very winnable games (but you gotta watch out for the trip to the frozen potato patch). UCLA has Colorado, so they’ve got a shot at one more win, but their game against USC to wrap up the season is a guaranteed loser.

Adding to the south chaos was the Arizona @ Colorado game… where Colorado won handily over Arizona. I guess maybe Arizona’s post Stoops rebound wasn’t so meaningful as they’re riding a 3 game losing streak after they demolished UCLA in their first game back.

And for those keeping score, yes, the same UCLA that is leading, in floundering fashion, the south right now. That victory over UCLA remains their only victory against BCS opponents.

Did I mention that Cal’s loss to UCLA gets more baffling every second?

Frankly, it’s just pathetic. If Cal were in the South (ignoring the fact that Stanford would be too), we’d be in about the same position as Utah, in striking distance of a South title. It’s so pathetic down there that it’s still technically possible that the South champ isn’t bowl eligible. It requires that UCLA and ASU lose both their remaining games (something not all that unreasonable a thought) and Utah to lose at least one (not sure how the 3-way tie-breakers work out). If they all lost their remaining games, UCLA would be the winner at 5-7 overall and 4-5 in conference, tied with ASU, but winning the head-to-head tie-breaker.

I’m frankly curious whether UCLA would be able to play in the championship game in that scenario… since a win over presumably Oregon (snicker, yeah, THAT’s gonna happen) would give them the rightful claim to the Rose Bowl, but at 6-7 at that point, they wouldn’t be bowl eligible. So do we let them play in the championship game in that scenario?

Unbelievable. It’s so pathetic, it’s ridiculous.

(Post-script: All of a sudden win #7 for the Bears @ASU doesn’t look nearly so daunting.)

Karmic Radiation (EMFMV 2011 #7)

Cal’s weird season continues. We break down the Cal-WSU game, which may have been a rerun of the Cal-Utah game, except with rain. There’s the odd state of the Pac-12, featuring the resurgence of UCLA and the increasing tension of Arizona State. The big Oregon-Stanford match-up is on the agenda. We pre-hash the always-vexing Oregon State Beavers. And finally, about half an hour in, we talk a lot about Penn State. People who do not want to hear more about that terrible situation are invited to stop listening at that point–there’s no secret word.

You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Thoughts on the WSU win

I didn’t do a OTRH podcast this week, in part because I wasn’t at the game. Things got a little bit crazy on the home front and I just couldn’t justify going. So I had the odd sensation of watching a game on TV that I had paid for 6 tickets for the family (and from the looks of it, we could have sat just about anywhere). Of course having to miss the game means things are in dreadfully bad shape and thus the likelihood I’d be blogging anytime soon is negligible. So Wednesday it is before I had time to write something down.

As for the game itself, I think Cal did just about everything right in this game. I kinda wish we had saved this performance for OSU. The defense looked really strong again. It might just be the conference’s best defense at this point. While the corners get called occasionally for pass interference, they’ve found a way to harass the receivers relentlessly without getting called most of the time. As for the front 7, anybody who dares to run against them, particularly on the inside, looks destined to fail (with the possible exception of Stanford).

Maynard looked to have gotten back to his form of the Utah game and a big part of that was the play-calling. It was very geared towards him and he bloomed on the first couple drives with it. I really hope that seeing it happen twice is all the evidence Tedford needs to get it through his sometimes thick skull how to game-plan for Maynard.

The other thing I like about the team I saw play on Saturday was their mental state. Seeing the joy on Will Kapp’s face when he scored that TD was awesome. This team seems to have a joy for playing that’s very healthy. Plus, they’ve got a lot of fight in them. I don’t think this team looks at OSU as their last shot at bowl eligibility (although I think everyone including the team and the coaches agree it would be nice to get it out of the way). This team truly believes they can beat Stanford with the right game and frankly doesn’t even see ASU as overwhelmingly challenging.

And you know what… if the run defense can be as good against Stanford as they have been recently against pro-set offenses (OK, I know that’s a BIG if) and the secondary continues to play well, theirs a 30% shot at a win. I still remember the Luck who got rattled two years ago when the Bears won the line of scrimmage in the 2009 Big Game. Yes, yes, I know Luck is a lot better now, but in part that’s because he’s got so much confidence in his team and his team doesn’t often let him down. His uniform is usually ridiculously pristine at the end of the game. If we can rattle him, there’s a chance, in part because he doesn’t get rattled very often. We need some guys in the backfield, A LOT. And guess what, the Luck I saw in Corvallis on Saturday was not Luck at his best. He’s got some mediocre games in him. And I’m pretty sure he remembers what the Bears did last time we were all in Stanford stadium.

But long-shots aside, I think this is a team that in many ways is starting to gel at the right time. This feels more like 2009 than it does like 2010. And for those who have forgotten, we beat two of the best teams in the conference, teams we were both supposed to lose to, to turn the season on it’s head after mediocre play to start the season. Yes, I remember the face-plant against UW and Utah (in the bowl). But I think people forget the other part, beating UA, a team that at that late point in the season controlled their destiny to the Rose Bowl with Oregon coming to town after the Cal game, and Stanford, a team that hadn’t lost at home all season and has only lost one game since (@Oregon last season).

Particularly since this next game against OSU is at home, I feel a lot better about things and it’s starting to feel like UCLA was the aberration, not Utah or WSU. Look at how Utah has done the last two weeks. Teams that are on the rise don’t often make step-functions. They have regressions. UCLA was a massive regression. More regressions are possible, but it’s feeling like the team has turned the corner.


Power Rankings – week 11

(Remember my personal criteria (If the team were to continue playing to the level they did last week, here is where they would end up at the end of the season in the conference standings))

  1. Stanford: It took Stanford until late in the 3rd quarter to distance itself from Oregon State, so I considered dropping them, but in the end decided against it. Any 38-13 win in the conference for a team that’s been on a roll shouldn’t be held as a negative.
  2. Oregon: Oregon took a half to pull away from a strong Washington squad. They’ll have their shot at leapfrogging Stanford this weekend.
  3. USC: Colorado was no match for USC, so it’s no judge of how they’re playing. Washington will be a better judge this weekend, although I expect USC to win that one too. The real judge and their chance to move up in the rankings will be in 2 weeks when Oregon comes to town. They may even leapfrog Oregon in my power rankings next week seeing how close USC played Stanford.
  4. Washington: UW is a spot higher in the poll because ASU laid an egg whereas UW played reasonably against someone above them in the standings/rankings.
  5. ASU: Here’s the problem: UCLA beat ASU last weekend, but I think ASU still wins the south title, even playing the way they did last Saturday. Why? Because ASU has WSU, UA and Cal left whereas UCLA has Utah, Colorado and USC. Even if UCLA continues their hot streak and wins the first two, they don’t beat USC. ASU could stumble and let UCLA have a game of breathing room, but based on how they’ve been playing, they beat all three remaining teams.
  6. UCLA: I’ve got to give UCLA credit, they did what nobody thought they could do. I didn’t see any of the game, but it didn’t sound like ASU played terrible, so UCLA must have done something right. They don’t leapfrog ASU yet for the reasons listed above and I think a letdown against Utah is prossible, but for now, this is where they belong.
  7. Cal: The ping-pong Bears are as infuriating as ever. One week they look horrible, the next week they look great. I think this team has the talent to win 7, but in practice will only win 6 and that in part is because OSU comes to Cal.
  8. Utah: Utah won their 2nd game in a row after starting so horribly. I expect them to get 4 conference wins, one more than the Bears above them, but that’s in part because of their easier schedule. With them in different divisions I don’t think it’s out of line to not have conference wins be the sole criteria.
  9. Oregon State: Oregon State showed some fight against Stanford and nobody should ever take them lightly. However, they’ve dug too deep a hole to rise much from here considering the three tough games on their schedule (@Cal, UW and @Oregon).
  10. Arizona: The post Stoops high finally came crashing down in a beat down at Utah. What happened? I didn’t see any of the game, so I can only guess, but there’s no way to sugar coat the rest of the season.
  11. WSU: Maybe Cal has something special going on inside AT&T because the last two teams the Bears faced there have looked TERRIBLE. WSU would hope to have as good post-Cal luck as Utah did however, because they’ve won two in a row since, both against teams that had looked to be on the rise. That said, it’s not a trend I can believe in and they take this lowly position.
  12. Colorado: Poor Colorado. 13 games in 13 weeks against too many good teams. Colorado’s one shot at a win is this Saturday against reeling Arizona. They just might be able to get out of the basement with that win.


Sorry this is so ridiculously late. Got into my bad habits and didn’t publish it on Sunday and once the week got started, I was never able to catch up. However, it was recorded just after the game (technically after the Stanford AT USC game), so it is still a “on the road home” podcast. Enjoy:

Curse of the White Helmets (EMFMV 2011 #6)

We return for a podcast of sadness. Discussing the loss to UCLA. Figuring out where we go from here. What’s up with Tedford not finding star quarterbacks? What happened to Zack Maynard? What’s the best we can hope for? Plus Jason blames everything on those white helmets and Ken reminds us to discuss the upcoming Washington State game.

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