BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mark's Thoughts: The Economics of College Football

Why was the Oregon State win over USC so satisfying?

I was thinking about the USC vs Oregon State game for the hundredth time this morning, and smiled again thinking about it. I have never hated USC at any point; in fact, I think Pete Carroll is a very classy coach and Steve Sarkisian (former starting QB for the 1996 BYU Cotton Bowl team) is one of my favorite players ever. Yet, there was something about the game on Thursday night that was very satisfying to watch.

One element that made this game satisfying to watch is the current economic crisis that we face in America. Law makers are making the news circuit rounds telling citizens about a $700 billion bailout program for the banking system and Wall Street. Just hearing the number 700 billion is meaningless. Virtually no American can even comprehend that amount of money. Sure cable news stations will keep telling us how many things you could buy for that amount of money. (My favorite is the fact that for that amount of money every man woman and child in the US could have 2,000 McDonald's Apple Pies. I really want to meet the person that came up with that number, because they must love McDonald's.) Even with that money taken away from us (The American tax-payer) and given to corporations to buy their bad debt, there is no guarantee that it will fix the United States economy.

(Not to get too political, but...)
I view the current crisis as if we were out at sea on a coal driven steam ship during a hurricane, and the ship just ran out of coal. There needs to be a decision made on the ship for how we want to ride out the storm: do we start breaking down pieces of the ship to fuel the fire or do we let the engines stop and hope that everything takes care of itself. Either way, there is no guarantee that the ship will survive the storm, and either way it will take damage. Also, the facts remain that the Captain should have avoided putting us in the storm, brought more coal to power the ship, or better yet provided a more modern ship, than a coal-driven ship, for us. Yet, in the middle of the storm those facts don't matter. The simple choice remains destroy part of the ship to save the whole ship or keep the ship whole and let the storm play out. I would prefer to start breaking down the ship to feed the engine and give myself a fighting chance to survive the storm. It might not work, but I trust my own hands that I can see, rather than the "invisible hands" of nature. I believe that work will be rewarded, and that there are calmer seas on the ocean to be reached.

Even with the hope of the better days to come, the anger of the present situation remains. Why do these companies, who already have the most resources, need to get all the advantages in the current economic system?

USC is that elite corporation. USC is the AIG of college football. They are four deep at every position with high school stand-outs. They have future first round draft picks everywhere on their roster. They have two or three Heisman Trophy candidates every year. They are in a conference that fiscally rewards them regardless of whether they play well or if they don't. They are the national media darlings, before the game ESPN analysts were saying USC might be the best college football team ever. They gave Oregon State no chance to win the game, and were looking ahead to JANUARY and speculating about who USC would play in the National Championship Game. (ESPN's Herbstreit kills me when he won't speculate on "BCS Busters" until they have 8 or 9 wins (although he wasn't afraid to speculate about Fresno State or East Carolina "His BCS Busters") but Herbstreit is more than willing to speculate about the National Championship game in September...hypocrite!) With all of the advantages that USC has in college football today it was good to see them go down to Oregon State.

It was great to see Jacquizz Rodgers, the 5' 7" Oregon State running back, pile up 186 yards on the ground against the supposed best defense in the country. Oregon State coach Mike Riley said, "I guess they have about five first-round picks in their front seven, but our guys blocked them OK tonight."

To witness the Oregon State's defense shutout the Trojans in the first half and only giving up 10 yards to USC's talent running back Joe McKnight was really amazing.

Seeing a sea of orange storm the field and seeing the Trojans in their white uniforms to flee the field was extremely satisfying. Seeing this scene was especially satisfying due to the "Main Street" class that Oregon State fans had when interacting with the USC players. While I can't speak for every fan, the fans that passed USC quarterback Mark Sanchez on his way off the field stopped to share their thought with him. Instead of taunting Sanchez fans would pat his shoulder pads/his back and say things like, "good game," or "keep your head up." Whether these comments were sarcastic or not, it still shows the "Main Street" values and class of those fans.

Mark Sanchez's reaction going up the tunnel after the loss was the best example of the elite mentality at USC. In disgust over the outcome of the game he threw his mouth guard against the wall. That level of frustration is very understandable considering what had just happened to the Trojans on the field. Yet, the more interesting thing was the fact that Sanchez didn't even give a look back to see where his mouth guard landed. Instead an equipment manager raced around on the ground grabbing and caring for mouth guard, which must have been as fun for that equipment manager to pick up as someone's used gum. Sanchez didn't think about the consequences of his action, because he knew that it would be taken care of for him. That is what happens when you play at USC.

The fall of USC shows just how close the non-BCS schools are to the "Mighty Elite BCS" schools. Just as the current economic crisis shows how close the average American is to the elite businesses in the US. The national media will continue to prop up their flawed BCS system. The claims will still be made that the "Elite BCS Programs" would destroy any team that the non-BCS teams could offer; however, another lesson the current economic crisis has taught is just because something looks good on paper doesn't mean it means anything in reality. There is a reason games are decided on the field by players, and not by analysts in studios.

The USC's of the college football will get second chances. If USC puts this game behind them and wins the rest of their games they still have a chance to play in a BCS bowl game or even the National Championship Game. The national media will complement how they overcame adversity or giving excuses for the loss calling it a "fluke." Yet, the non-BCS schools don't get a governmental type hand out from the national media if things go wrong. In the current college football structure if a non-BCS school drops a game regardless of circumstances the best they can do is play in a lower bowl game, and most likely drop out of the polls completely.

That is why I smile thinking about the Beaver's victory on Thursday, because they rose up by themselves and proved everyone wrong. Just as Utah did in 2004, Boise State did against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and Appalachian State did at the Big House last year; Oregon State proved they could stand up and do the unthinkable. Sure Oregon State is in the PAC-10, and they are part of the establishment that is building up the paper giants like USC; however, Oregon State is much closer to the non-BCS teams than they are to the BCS elite. In this time of crisis it is nice to smile and say, "GO BEAVERS!!!"

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