Say what you will about archaic college football polls and BCS standings that rely on humans judgment. Notre Dame is the only undefeated team remaining among teams eligible for the national championship game, which was why the Fighting Irish unanimously were voted as the top-ranked team.
It’s not that difficult to understand. Alabama could be better. Georgia might be better. Alabama lost to Texas A&M while Georgia lost to South Carolina. Notre Dame didn’t play any of them. Oregon lost to Stanford in overtime. Stanford lost to Notre Dame in overtime.
Does that mean Notre Dame is better than Oregon? I have absolutely, positively, no clue whatsoever. In truth, neither do you, leading to arguments that have raged for generations without a playoff system. It will change in 2014, when a selection committee will choose four playoff teams. Fans will be left arguing over fourth- and fifth-best teams and complaining they don’t argue as much.
The empire known as NCAA, the most hypocritical body in sports, is watching revenue skyrocket with Notre Dame in contention. ABC’s ratings for Notre Dame-Southern California this weekend could be the highest for any game involving either school. People want to see the top-ranked team in the country, win or lose.
Like it or don’t, that’s what makes Notre Dame so fascinating.
Notre Dame needed overtime to beat Pittsburgh, which put up more points on the Fighting Irish than it did against UB. Notre Dame is a few inches against Stanford and a bad snap against Pitt from having two losses, which would have ended any discussion about a national championship.
The annual debate over the top ranking will be partially sorted out if Notre Dame beats USC and Alabama beats Auburn this weekend, as expected, and the Irish meet the Crimson Tide in the national championship game. Still, there will be arguments from Georgia and what-ifs from Ohio State about who school has the best team.
Ohio State, 11-0 under new coach Urban Meyer, remains off the BCS list because it’s not eligible for a national championship. The Buckeyes, ranked fourth in the AP poll, could be the strongest team in the country regardless of the polls and computer rankings.
Love them or loathe them — and much like the Yankees it’s usually one or the other — Notre Dame being No. 1 makes for a good story. That’s what has made this season so compelling. Last-channel buttons were worn out across the country Saturday while fans flipped between Oregon-Stanford and Kansas State-Baylor.
Oregon and K-State lost, making Notre Dame the top team in the country. The people voted, and the computer agreed, no matter which team you think is the best.
Wings’ White off base
You need not possess a PhD from Harvard to understand that Gary Bettman is a shrewd businessman. Over the years, he’s been unfair, unreasonable, pompous, arrogant, egomaniacal and stubborn. He has mishandled negotiations with players for a collective bargaining agreement and is the primary cause of the NHL lockout.
But the commissioner is no idiot, which was what Red Wings defenseman Ian White called him last week in an interview with reporters in Detroit.
“I gotta be honest,” White said. “I personally think he’s an idiot. Since he’s come in, I think he’s done nothing but damage the game.”
Bettman has been in the big chair since 1993. During his tenure, annual television revenue has climbed from $5.5 million to $200 million. Average player salaries, about $466,000 when he took over, soared to $2.4 million last season. Total revenues climbed from $1.8 billion to $3.8 billion in the past seven years.
White has pocketed $8.55 million from five teams over five NHL seasons. He’s an average player. He was set to be paid $2.875 million, or more than the average. If he wants to blame Bettman for the work stoppage, fine, but calling the commish “an idiot” made White sound like a fool.
More Holdsclaw trouble
Chamique Holdsclaw took another disturbing turn last week when she was thrown in the clink, handcuffed by felony aggravated assault and weapons-related charges. Atlanta police claimed the former Tennessee basketball star smashed the windows and fired a shot into the SUV of former girlfriend Jennifer Lacy.
Lacy, who played for the Tulsa Shock and is the daughter of former major league utility player Lee Lacy, was not injured. The two were teammates in Atlanta before their careers took separate paths. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that Holdsclaw followed Lacy down streets in Atlanta before taking a baseball bat to her Range Rover.
Holdsclaw’s strange behavior could be related to clinical depression issues that have plagued her for years. The 1999 first pick overall in the WNBA draft and 2000 Olympic gold medalist outlined her problems, which included a suicide attempt, in a book released last year. She had been active in mental health-related issues.
She’s free on $100,000 bond.
Frazier to get his due
A year after he died from liver cancer, Joe Frazier’s family raised money for a new crypt befitting a former heavyweight champion. His remains had been in an unmarked mausoleum in Philadelphia, according to The Associated Press.
“Tell them Rocky is fictitious, Joe was reality,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said while honoring Smokin’ Joe. “Rocky never faced Ali or Holmes or Foreman. Rocky never tasted his own blood. Champions are made in the ring, not in the movies.”
Another tribute in the works for Frazier is a statue placed in the South Philadelphia sports complex that’s home to the city’s professional teams.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s meteoric rise from redshirt freshman to Heisman Trophy hopeful took another leap last week when he threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 100 yards and two more scores in a win over Sam Houston State.
“Johnny Football” has 4,161 total yards and 38 total touchdowns this season. He’s 167 yards from breaking the Southeastern Conference single-season record for total yards, set by Auburn’s Cam Newton is 2010. He climbed into contention for the Heisman after leading the Aggies’ upset over Alabama and taking his rightful place as the BMOC.
Wait, didn’t I say Geno Smith had the inside lane a few weeks ago? Well, uh, gee, um … yes. But that was before Johnny Football took over college football in a fashion unmatched since Doug Flutie played for Boston College.
USC’s Matt Barkley, considered the favorite at the beginning of the season, is off the Heisman radar. K-State’s Collin Klein’s chances took a hit in the loss to Baylor.
It’s good to see Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o in the conversation, but a defensive player hasn’t won the award since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997.
White a waste
The Rockets wasted their first round pick when selecting Royce White. The former Iowa State forward, taken 16th overall in the draft, has been a no-show for weeks while trying to overcome an anxiety disorder. Several reports have suggested White in more interested in becoming a music producer than a NBA player.
Last week, the Rockets began fining White for every practice and game that he missed without visiting with their team therapist. White, who threatened to walk away from the NBA, has insisted the team has not given him proper treatment. He shared his thoughts — where else? — on Twitter.
“Asking for protocol where there isn’t, that promotes HEALTHY work conditions, is standard in ANY job," he said. ”ANY JOB! Pro Sports is no different.”
The Rockets already have enough problems en route to a 4-7 start. Quotable
Al Morganti on Sports Radio WIP in Philadelphia on the NHL lockout: “If this carries into the holiday season, two mangers are going to be missing jackasses.”
95 – Yards passing and one touchdown for Texans quarterback Matt Schaub against the Bears, a week before lighting up Jacksonville for 527 yards and five TDs.
38 – Points, including 18 goals, in 21 games for Sabres prospect Mikhail Grigorenko while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
7 – Games, in their last nine meetings, that the difference between the Ravens and Steelers was exactly three points after Baltimore’s 13-10 win Sunday.
• Funny how Kareem Abdul Jabbar said he was “humbled” by a 16-foot statue erected outside of Staples Center of him taking a sky hook. This is the same guy who a few years ago publicly whined about Magic Johnson and Jerry West having statues before the Lakers celebrated him with the same.
• Forget Barkley and Klein. I’m more impressed with N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon. The 6-foot-6 graduate student (see: mature) played behind Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson before Wilson left for Wisconsin. Glennon is a good player on a bad team. He had three 40-yard passing games this season — all losses.