Sunday, December 4, 2011

Back Again, But Where We Should Be.

Sports Radio Broadcast Disorientation Syndrome. That's how I started the non-work portion of my Saturday.

I clocked out at the shop, hopped in the car, and flipped the dial to the SEC Championship Game. Unfortunately, Georgia was in the middle of a completely mundane drive, the leading cause of SRBDS nation wide. Radio is, well, a decidedly auditory experience. No visual representation of the game means no handy little score/clock/timeout box of information. What you get instead is play-by-play without any context whatsoever. You're aware of down and distance, you're receiving enough description to accurately visualize what's occurring on the field ... and getting exactly zero pertinent info regarding the two most fundamental questions: when in the game are we and what is the bloody score?

You're stuck in limbo and praying for a score or a change of possession so the announcers will give you the obligatory score/time update heading into the commercial break. It's infuriating.

I spent what felt like an eternity (actually closer to four minutes or so) listening to the game without knowing what was happening. And of course, just as I'm merging onto a busy highway with the sun in my eyes, there's finally a timeout called, and I discover that the Dawgs are up 10-0 midway through the 2nd quarter and that they've held LSU to something like 8 total yards and no first downs. Jaw, meet the floor. Floor, jaw.

I damn near crashed the car.

I got home, poured a drink, and settled in. At the half, it was 10-7 UGA, and LSU had 12 total yards and still hadn't converted a first down. The Tigers looked imminently beatable in a manner that they previously had not this season. Foolishly, I hoped it was a portent, an omen. How many crazy upsets could we cram into championship day? How many nail biters would we experience? Was the supposedly-etched-in-stone BCS Championship Game about to get its cage severely rattled?

Well, you know the rest. Precisely nothing that remotely qualified as interesting happened for the remainder of the day. LSU came out and eviscerated Georgia in the second half. Oregon destroyed UCLA. Boise State hammered New Mexico. Baylor leveled Texas.

Even the unexpected occurrences last night were pretty far south of captivating. Clemson's whupping of Virginia Tech and Houston's meltdown against Southern Miss both lacked any sort of elan, and it's safe to safe nobody other than their respective fanbases cared about WVU/USF or K-State/ISU.

The only watchable contest from start to finish was the (mostly) fantastic, back-and-forth shootout between Wisconsin and Michigan State. It was a riveting, hard-fought affair, but I refuse to call it a "good game" when the key play hinged upon a kicker's ability to execute a FIFA-esque flop.

And then there was Bedlam. Smart money said this was going to be a hell of a game. Two very good teams playing for pride and an outsider's shot at the Title Game for OSU. Shoulda been a firestorm barn burner, right? Nope. Landslide for the Pokes. They made as emphatic an argument as they could on the field for inclusion in the BCS Title Game. And it still didn't matter.

The only thing we got out of this weekend was more film and fuel for the various Heisman candidacies, and the determination of which not-as-great teams will be throwing down in which irrelevant Bowls. Otherwise, we're exactly where we were when the Game Of The Century (*cough*) was played in Tuscaloosa.

And so the complaining has begun all over again. Not quite so loud as it might be, but still prevalent enough to annoy me. Let's tackle this one point at a time.

To the SEC detractors complaining about bias and preferential treatment, who roll your eyes whenever the superiority of our defense is brought up, who are positively sickened by the 'Bama/LSU Championship rematch, I issue this simple rebuttal: if you don't like it, start beating SEC teams. If you want National Championship games that don't feature this conference, then do something about it. Wisconsin, Boise State, Clemson, Oregon, Stanford, Houston , all could have been there in place of Alabama, but they blew it. (Well, maybe not Houston)

As for Mike Gundy's whining about how Alabama had their chance already ... Alabama lost to LSU, who were then and are now the best team in the country. The Cowboys had their chance already, too. It was left for dead on the field after that pathetic choke job against Iowa State.

Gundy's argument holds a particularly miniscule amount of water not just because it reeks of sour grapes, but because it's just plain silly if you think about it. Nobody thought the Giants "didn't deserve" to take on New England in the Super Bowl just because the Pats crushed them in the regular season. Rematches happen in sports. Deal with it.

And speaking of the rematch naysayers, to all those carping about how "boring" that first Tigers/Tide game was, feel free to not watch the Championship Game. I completely understand that offensive football makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience for most people. I get that you're intrigued by the concept of the Cowboys' firepower tangling with a defense that's sending over half of its current starters to the NFL at some point. Admittedly, I'd like to see that too. The problem is that the Pokes are not the second-best team in the country.

This broken, flawed mess of a system is all we've got, but in this instance, it did its job. It's not pretty, and from certain viewpoints, it might not seem fair or just, but this season it is, at least correct. The two best teams in the country will play for the crystal football.

Until we get a playoff system, that's all we can ask for.

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