Quick… who’s the 2nd best team in the SEC?
Quick… who in the ACC is half-decent outside FSU/Clemson & maybe Miami?
Quick… other than Ohio State, Wisconsin, & Michigan State, what Big 10 team even has a pulse?
2013 is fast becoming the year of the haves & have nots. As of now, there are 4 teams with a legitimate shot to play for the national title, and 2 of those play schedules so weak that winning all their games might not be enough. Let’s examine.
The Buckeyes will most likely finish the regular season having played one (1) ranked team – a home game vs Wisconsin. The rest of their schedule:
Buffalo, San Diego State, Cal, Florida A&M, Iowa, Penn State, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan.
Woof. Buckeye fans can gripe all they want about media bias, etc, but that is a very weak schedule, and if there are more than 2 undefeated teams at the end of the year, the weakness of the Big 10 will likely freeze the Buckeyes out of the BCS title game.
The Seminoles will complete 2013 with 1 marquee win: @ Clemson. They will also probably point to a home win vs. Miami, but let’s be honest – the ‘Canes aren’t an elite team. Miami will have feasted on a very easy schedule & finish the year overranked.
The rest of FSU’s schedule: Pitt, Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, BC, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho, Florida
Make no mistake, this is tougher than Ohio State’s road, but still not exactly murderer’s row. FSU will be ahead of OSU in the pecking order, but they, too, need to hope both Alabama & Oregon lose a game, or else it’s Orange Bowl for them.
The Tide plays in the SEC, so they will have a great résumé, right? Eh. Bama lucked into a pretty easy SEC draw in a year when the whole conference is down. Their schedule includes Texas A&M, LSU, & Auburn – all good teams. But the rest?
Virginia Tech, Colorado State, Ole Miss, Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Chattanooga
Even if you lump Ole Miss in with the “good” teams on their schedule, it’s not particularly daunting. Certainly, this is good enough to keep their #1 slot, or at worst fall to #2, but the entire month of October was basically a vacation (Georgia State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee).
Very quietly, the Pac-12 has made a case for being the toughest conference in the nation. There is only 1 elite team (Oregon), but the middle of the conference (UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, Oregon State, USC, Arizona) is surprisingly decent. It certainly isn’t the SEC of the past few years, but unlike the above teams, Oregon won’t be able to lay an egg & expect to win each week.
It’d be a massive upset if either Ohio State or Florida State lost a game this season, whereas Alabama & Oregon may very well drop a game (Oregon, more likely).
In any case, it’s a fitting final year for the BCS, as someone will certainly be angry — either an undefeated Ohio State/Florida State team that is frozen out due to schedule, or an 1-loss Oregon who is passed over for one of the above teams simply because they had to play more tough games.
Let’s start with these stats from 2012.
Josh Freeman: 4,065 yards, 27 TDs, 17 INTs, 81.6 rating
Cam Newton: 3,869 yards, 19 TDs, 12 INTs, 86.2 rating
Both quarterbacks finished the season with a 7-9 record.
And in 2013, both QBs have started the season 0-2. Each team’s coach is on the hot seat and there is speculation a housecleaning is coming after the season.
But that’s where the similarity ends. Freeman is generally perceived by his team’s fan base as a bust and there is little chance he will be back next year. Newton, on the other hand, is perceived as elite and just in need of better coaching.
Now throw in that just 3 years ago, Freeman led a young & untalented Bucs team to a 10-6 record, while throwing only 6 INTs in the process. In other words, he has shown at least the glimmer of an ability to be a solid “game manager.” Cam Newton, on the other hand, has never won more than 7 games in a season.
So why is it the case that 1 fan base wants to run their QB out of town while the other continues to cling to the notion that their guy is elite? If Cam finishes 2013 under .500, THEN do Panther fans start to question him? Or do they pin their hopes that new coaching will make the difference?
Is it possible Bucs fans are just accustomed to soul-crushing defeats, so they expect the worst? Because I can’t honestly say I’d rather have Cam Newton than Josh Freeman. They’re about the same right now, though Newton obviously will run the ball more. Andrew Luck & RG3 managed to lead their teams to the playoffs with much less talent than Cam Newton has around him.
It’s a team sport, but at some point the QB has to win. Right?
It seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point that the Bucs are going to strike a deal with the Jets for Darrell Revis, probably about a week before the draft. But there’s been a lot of hand-wringing by fans & media whether they should surrender a 1st round pick (and this year’s #13 overall in particular) for a cornerback coming off an ACL injury.
The answer is a resounding yes.
Bear in mind, I don’t take this lightly. I am normally against trading away high draft picks. I’m a “draft guy” & firmly believe in building through the draft, not through free agency. Hell, I’ve been attending the draft in person since 2010. Here’s me at the Bucs table in ’10:
When you look at what other teams have traded high picks for, you can see why it’s something to be avoided. Just a couple examples from our division:
- In 2009, the Panthers traded their 2010 1st round pick to move up to get Everette Brown
- In 2011, the Saints traded their 2012 1st round pick to get Mark Ingram
These are horrid moves – not only because the players chosen didn’t pan out, but because these teams set themselves back in future years. The Saints didn’t have a 1st OR a 2nd rounder in 2012! Eventually, these type of moves catch up to you (tick tock, Saints).
But it’s a wee bit different when the player you are acquiring is one of the best in the league at his position. Yes, I know about the ACL injury. That’s what a medical examination is for. But if the Bucs stand pat, keep #13 overall, they will at best get the 2nd or 3rd best cornerback in a draft that is devoid of a true “stud” at the position. There is an argument to be made that the crop of CBs available when the Bucs pick in the 2nd round (#43 overall) isn’t a huge step down from the guys who will go in the 1st round.
And even if you think Dee Milliner is in Revis’s universe, the Bucs would still have to trade up (significantly) to get him!
I understand the “build through the draft” mantra, but the Bucs haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 2007 & haven’t won a playoff game since the Super Bowl in early 2003. Plus, the Bucs tried to address the CB position in the draft. In 2008 they took Aqib Talib in the 1st round & in 2010 they took Myron Lewis in the early 3rd round. Talib is gone & Lewis is a bust.
The key to this trade is going to be what else the Bucs surrender, on top of this year’s 1st round pick. The Jets have no leverage, so truly it shouldn’t be much more than next year’s 3rd round pick. The Jets’ alternative is to lose him in a year with no compensation.
Bottom line is, the Bucs are sitting pretty with $30M in cap room and a pressing need at cornerback. The Jets really have to move Revis prior to the draft & there are no other suitors. It’s going to happen, and unless the Bucs get bamboozled into giving up more than they should, it is the right thing to do for Tampa.
- The Bucs are the only team both willing & able to execute a Revis deal (and contract extension)
- The Jets want a 1st round pick in THIS draft, while the Bucs prefer to give one up in 2014.
- Even with loads of room under the cap, the Bucs have done nothing to address the cornerback position through free agency, even allowing one of their own (EJ Biggers) to sign elsewhere.
Hmm… it sure seems like the men in pewter & red think they’re getting themselves a cornerback, wouldn’t you say? So what are we waiting for?
If I were a betting man, I would wager that the Bucs & Jets have agreed in principle to the deal. The Bucs are probably willing to give up a 1st round pick this year, but that pick doesn’t have to be #13 overall. In other words, my guess is the Jets would take #20 overall, or #24 overall, etc., in addition to whatever lower picks the Bucs offer as part of the package.
So wait, how can the Bucs trade a pick they don’t own? Well, they will own it — on the night of the draft. You see, this draft is going to be highly unpredictable. There are lots of talented players, but the consensus is that there isn’t a ton of variance in value between #5 overall and #25 overall. In other words, individual teams’ “big boards” will vary greatly & a guy they have top 10 may very well fall beyond that. But due to that unpredictability, I suspect there will be a lot of moving around.
On April 25, when the Bucs are sitting at 13, it’s quite likely that someone will have slipped that someone picking below Tampa will want to grab. Maybe the Rams (at #22) or the Vikings (at #23) will want Tavon Austin. Or perhaps the Bears (at #20) want to nab one of the stud offensive guards that might not make it to #20. So they flip, say, a 3rd rounder to Tampa to move up to #13.
The Bucs then flip that first round pick to the Jets (in addition to a 2nd next year) for Revis. Sure, they lose their first rounder but would have 1 pick in the 2nd & 2 picks in the 3rd round. In this draft, that’s plenty of ammunition to fill other needs (depth at any of DT/OT/CB).
Or maybe the Bucs see someone at #13 they absolutely have to have (i.e. Lane Johnson, the Oklahoma OT) and then play hardball with the Jets.
In any case, none of this stuff can happen until the night of the draft, which is why we are in a holding pattern. I, for one, am about 95% sure that Revis will be in pewter & red next year — so much so, that I intend to have a Bucs Revis jersey made to wear to Radio City Music Hall, purely to annoy the hordes of Jets fans in attendance.
This is a guy we all encounter many times each day – in your car, at the coffee shop, at work, the grocery store, etc. You know the type. Time is NO object for this guy. And he is blissfully unaware that others just MIGHT be trying to move at a brisk pace.
Just today, I walked into the coffee shop & saw only 1 guy in line in front of me. I thought to myself “this won’t take long.” Wrong.
The asshole in front of me orders his drink, then seems dumbfounded that he has to pay for it. He fiddles in his wallet, finds his credit card, pays, and then begins to strike up a conversation with both the clerk AND his weird buddy who was hanging out with him. He doesn’t BUDGE from his spot in front of the register. The poor clerk is trying to help the next person in line (me), but Dr. Fuckwad is still whooping it up.
If you are a “Type C” personality and don’t like to hurry, that’s great. I’m happy for you. But some of us DO want to move quickly. Try & remember that you’re not the only person on the planet. Thaaaaanks.
Everyone loves the bracket. It’s good for gambling and gives us crazy & unpredictable matchups that we’d never see in the regular season. And it makes great TV!
But c’mon. You & I both know that there are at least 30 teams on that bracket that have no realistic chance to win the whole thing. They are there purely to play spoiler & create excitement.
In a single-elimination tournament in sport like basketball, weird things can happen. An elite team can spend 4 months amassing an impressive record, win its conference, and then lose to a far inferior team in the NCAA tournament that just happens to shoot 80% from 3-pt range. Everyone whoops it up, gets excited by the “Cinderella,” and sure enough, 1 or 2 games later, the double-digit seed loses.
If we really wanted to crown a true “national champion” (rather than have the best “made for TV” event possible), we’d have a double-elimination tournament with, MAX, 32 teams. Remember, in 17 the past 28 tournaments, the winner was a #1 seed, and 9 of the 11 times when a #1 seed did not win, the winner was at least a 4 seed. The 2 exceptions to that were #8 seed Villanova in 1985 and #6 seed Kansas in 1988.
In fact, say what you will about college football’s system of determining a champion, at least they don’t bother pretending that a team like, say, UNLV, has any business playing for a national championship. Certainly, the BCS has the exact opposite problem as the NCAA Tournament — too few teams with a shot. But in a couple years, we’ll have a 4-team playoff in college football which pretty much settles that. A team that doesn’t finish the year in the top 4, truly, is almost like a college basketball team seeded below 4. Sure, they could make noise, and yes, there will be rare years when they “belong,” but most of the time, it’s totally fine to send them to the Capital One Bowl.
In sum, enjoy the NCAA Tournament. It’s a lot of fun & is certainly one of the best events in sports. But don’t give me your pious bullshit about how it’s some pure method of determining a national champion. You’ll take your “tournament champion” and like it.
When, in our society, did wheat become equivalent to nicotine? Did I miss that memo? 15-20 years ago I couldn’t have told you what “gluten” was, and I certainly didn’t know anyone who was allergic to it. But nowadays, you can’t walk outside without tripping over 3 people who claim to be gluten intolerant.
Yes, I get that some people have a legitimate medical condition like Celiac disease. But if you’ve met half of these people who claim to be gluten intolerant… trust me, there isn’t anything actually wrong with most of them. The main issue, to quote Adam Carolla, is that “whitey ran out of problems.”