November 19, 2008

A word to the wise: If a stranger from Nigeria drops you a random e-mail and says he'll pay you $20.5 million for assisting a long-lost relative, he's probably less credible than George Costanza as a marine biologist. Same goes for BCS coordinator John Swofford when he says most people think the current BCS system is "the best system yet to determine a national champion." Yeah, sure.

Swofford, the respected ACC commissioner, released his statement in response to President Elect Barack Obama's comments on 60 Minutes this Sunday, which underscored Obama's belief that there should be an eight-team playoff to decide college football's national champion. Obviously, an eight-team playoff isn't a new concept, but this is the first time the world's most powerful man-to-be has applied such direct pressure to one of sport's more stubborn institutions. Political affiliations aside, it's fascinating to watch.

The argument over whether a man in Obama's position should care about such a topic is irrelevant in this space. The real headline, at least in my opinion, is the way American government can make the BCS squirm without having any real control over how it operates. There's a certain level of satisfaction in this for those of us that favor a playoff. There's something special about watching someone powerful call out the BCS for it's logic (or lack thereof). At the end of the day, Congress won't pass any anti-BCS laws or seize any formula-wielding computers, but if we've learned anything through public debates about performance-enhancing drugs, it's that image problems can prove far worse for organizations than the threat of any scandal. And well, it's kind of fun to see the BCS acting more defensive than the Big Ten.

In all likelihood, the president elect will be dealing with much more important issues when he eventually takes office in January; however, it should be noted that symbols and credibility carry a whole lot of weight in American culture. Obama doesn't need to make a college football playoff an agenda item in his administration, because the mere fact that he referenced it twice on national television -- first on Monday Night Football, then on 60 Minutes -- is enough to give the debate a little more momentum. It's already started, as sports stations around the country have been aflutter with renewed playoff talk, and coaches like Bob Stoops have joined the cause.

So it will be interesting to watch how the BCS reacts to rekindled criticism. While changes are far from imminent, something tells me we're inching closer to postseason reform. It could just be that we're one more BCS controversy away from insufferable public scrutiny and a revised system.

Outside of Texas Tech-Oklahoma, the second most interesting game of the week is Washington-Washington State. And by "interesting," I of course mean "potentially the worst game in the history of college football." Neither team has beaten an FBS opponent all season, Washington's coach is on his way out and at this point, Washington State has to consider it a moral victory to merely beat the point spread. In the media business, we say a game like this has a "face for radio."

If you plan on attending this game or watching it on television, please e-mail the Quick Slants inbox and share your experience. For all the cheap jokes I've thrown around in this space, I truly feel for you. It seems like working disaster relief in a third-world country would be a more cheerful experience.

While much of the media was busy focusing on the Tinkerbell-ish wings on Oregon's shoulder pads Saturday night, I was busy wondering about another uniform on the other side of the country. Tell me why Maryland sports those crusty old helmets that say "Terps" when it has one of the top collegiate logos at its disposal. Would anybody at Maryland be opposed to putting the ferocious turtle on the helmet instead of some cursive text? Anybody? Who is in charge of things like this?

Got an e-mail on Saturday night from Dan Rubenstein, the beloved SI Tour Guy and fellow co-host on The Solid Verbal Podcast. His quip: " is still available for $9.99 on GoDaddy!" So snarky, that Tour Guy...

While no Irish apologist would ever advocate a second Bob Davie era, you have to admit public opinion of Charlie Weis' "decisive schematic advantage" has slowly drifted from "slightly pompous" to "LOL." Weis could well be the brightest offensive mind in all of football, but at this point, he's almost become a caricature. Saturday's nail-biter against Navy again underscores the point -- though the Irish are a lot better than they were in 2007, they're still capable of losing to a team like Navy. And despite the confident tones Weis sets, near-losses to traditionally lousy teams fall way short of Notre Dame's expectations of waking up the echoes and returning to the ranks of the elite.

What's most amusing, though, is the notion that Notre Dame could just decide to fire Weis and move on. Aside from his exorbitant buyout, canning Weis would mean whiffing on a fourth consecutive coach, and that'd be a far greater rub against the Irish's credibility than anything else.

Looking for a new drinking game this Saturday? Tune into Penn State's home finale against Michigan State and look for the inevitable camera shots of Joe Paterno sitting in the Beaver Stadium coaching booth. But don't look for JoePa wearing his uncomfortable headset -- look for his son, Jay. In an odd twist, it seems every time Jay is shown on television, a pole, window frame or some other obstacle obstructs his face. There is simply no explanation for this. No idea if the networks are doing it on purpose, but it's been downright uncanny thus far in 2008.

So, if you're really looking for a reason to drink, take five sips every time you spot an obstructed Jay Paterno. If you see an unobstructed shot, finish your beverage.

1. Better BCS destination:ESPN or Fox?

2. Better "Will": Muschamp or Leitch?

3. Better fictitious gadget play:Flying V or Annexation of Puerto Rico?

4. Better football invention:Yellow first down lines or retractable goal posts?

5. More talented vocalist:Kanye West or Timbaland?

6. More formidable crowd stunt:"Whiteout" or "Blackout"?

7. Worse Idol runner-up:Justin Guarini or Bo Bice?

8. Better college football trend:Area codes written on eye-black or Mohawks?

9. More underrated string instrument: Banjo or ukulele?

10. Next undefeated to fall: Utah or Alabama?

Surprisingly, Clemson looked rather impressive in its game against Duke last Saturday, which marked my only blemish of the week. Please note that this was the only time all season Clemson actually looked impressive. Reason No. 687 to always bet against Ty Hildenbrandt. Onto the picks...

Washington (-7.5) at Washington State

Arizona (-3) vs. Oregon State

Texas Tech (+6.5) at Oklahoma

Last week: 2-1. Season: 10-8.

Ty Hildenbrandt writes Quick Slants every week. Drop him an e-mail at and check out his podcast at

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