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Old 11-18-2002, 06:09 PM   #1
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Default Sports Central Newsletter - #90 - Solving the BCS Puzzle

The Sports Central Newsletter
November 17th, 2002 - Issue #90

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|-- IN THIS ISSUE... --|

- Words From the Editor
- The O-Files: "A New Year's Dream"
- Reader's Showcase (Sports Trivia)
- What's new at Sports Central?
- Feature Article: "Augusta Should Hold Firm Against Pressure"
- Marquee Matchups (NFL, NBA, NHL)



Hello folks,

Controversy is one of the things that makes the sports world so appealing, it's part of what keeps us coming back for more, constantly intrigued. With that said, this issue takes a look at a lot of the controversial issues in the sports world today. In the O-Files, Brad explains a playoff-BCS system that would work and please all, a definite read if you are a fan of football. And Mike firmly tells the always-outspoken Rev. Jesse Jackson to get his butt out of the Masters gender controversy.

Mike brings up a good point about Casey Martin in his article, but what I want to know is, where are all the outspoken criticizers when men are secluded from women's clubs and organizations? Augusta National is nothing different from any existing women's organizations, yet it is treated with a double-standard. Political correctness is taking over another part of our lives, it seems. What's your take? Drop me a line at mailto:[email protected] and we'll publish some of your thoughts.

Our next issue goes out on Dec. 1 when the holiday season will begin to fill the air. So enjoy your turkey, stuffing, and whatever else you have on Thanksgiving!

Until next time,

- Marc James
mailto:[email protected]


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|-- THE O-FILES--|

"A New Year's Dream"

By Brad Oremland

Every year around this time, there is a chorus of cries for the creation of a playoff system in college football. The NCAA should take special notice that the cries are just as loud this year -- with two unbeaten teams in Division I-A at least temporarily stifling any controversy over who should play in a national championship game -- as they have been in the past, when as many as four teams were deemed worthy of playing for the title.

Everyone who follows college football has an opinion on this issue, and that includes me. The best idea I've heard on the subject is to use the current format as the basis for a playoff system. I think Trev Alberts was the first person I heard suggest it, but it seems so obvious.

Begin with the BCS. It's imperfect, certainly, but you have to start somewhere. The top eight teams will enter the "playoffs." That means four first-round games, two second-round games, and a controvery-free national championship. Seven games. Now make them bowl games. Use some of the older ones (no You've-Never-Heard-Of-This.com bowls) for the early rounds, and increase in prestige as the playoffs continue, finishing with one of the current BCS four, or even rotating them. The other bowl games will be held normally, so fans don't lose an extra opportunity to see their teams, and the NCAA and schools don't lose money.

Oh, there are still some flaws. The bowls left out of the playoffs will invariably lose some prestige, and there will be complaints from that corner. People will complain about computer rankings as long as the BCS is used. And the BCS No. 9 and No. 10 teams will whine about being left out of the playoffs, especially if they're in the top eight of the AP or Coaches' polls. But for the first time, college football would have a playoff aimed at producing a national champion in a manner everyone agrees is fair. The bowl-playoff solution incorporates college football's rich tradition, and the continued use of the BCS allows the architects of the current format to save face: their basic idea was fine -- so good, in fact, that it is being continued as the basis of college football's new holy grail: a true championship game.

Of course, this makes far too much sense to ever actually happen. But I'm amazed that the NCAA still hasn't locked onto an idea like this. "March Madness" is by far the biggest event in college sports. Why on earth would the NCAA be so strongly opposed to a similar arrangement for football?

Fans love the idea of a playoff. Even now, with Miami and Ohio State looking like decent bets to go undefeated, the current system is under attack. Imagine if we had a scenario like last year's, when four teams had convincing arguments that they should play in the national championship; there would be an uproar! And what if one of the current undefeated teams should lose? Who do you like to play in the championship? Washington State, Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa would all have reasonable claims on the last spot. What if Miami loses to Virginia Tech AND Michigan beats OSU? The BCS would still come up with a No. 1 and No. 2, but you'd have about eight teams with a legitimate claim to the title game.

Say, eight teams ... that reminds me of this idea I heard once ...


Brad welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=O-Files



Each issue, the Reader's Showcase features either challenging sports trivia or sports rant entries from readers on a rotating basis. For the Sports Trivia questions, we will randomly choose trivia questions ranging from baseball to hockey to golf. As for the Sports Rant, you, the readers, have the opportunity write-in with your opinions and thoughts and have your thoughts published in front of thousands of interested eyes,.

In this issue, we're featuring another sports trivia question. Click on the link beneath your choice or reply to this message with your answer. We'll mention the correct respondents in the next issue.


What college has won the most bowl games?

mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter90_USC

B) Michigan
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter90_Michigan

C) Alabama
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter90_Alabama

D) Notre Dame
mailto:[email protected]?subject=Newsletter90_NotreDame


[ Next Issue ]

Have something on your mind? Send us your thoughts on the sports world and we might publish them: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Readers_Showcase



Revisiting the new articles for the week of 11/11/02 - 11/17/02:


NBA: Jay Williams' quest for greatness
By Steve Goldstein

Not one of the NBA's rookies is going to make it through the entire season without slumping. Jay Williams has entered the league with the most refined skills, and he's with a team that wants him to utilize those skills. That's what makes Jay Williams this season's early favorite for Rookie of the Year, says SC's Steve Goldstein.



NHL: Suspensions are here to stay
By Josie Lemieux

Every NHL season begins with all teams -- from the defending Stanley Cup champions down to the lowliest of the lowly -- undefeated and optimistic. And the mindset is that the price must be paid, and done so passionately. Sometimes, of course, that also means violently, says SC's Josie Lemieux.



MLB: Right tools for the job
By John Roberts

Baseball has witnessed a proliferation of former catchers turned managers. While several of these men have had success in leading their teams to glory, there is a new wave of veritable no-names stepping up from behind the plate to give it their shot, says SC's John Roberts.



NBA: Isiah, what would Larry say?
By Justin Termine

The 2000 NBA basketball season concluded with Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers falling to the Los Angeles Lakers. That defeat was viewed by many as the Pacers' last chance to capture a championship, but as SC's Justin Termine says, this is Isiah Thomas' big chance to succeed in Indiana.



By David Martin

In a year when NCAA Division I-A football has been without its dominant teams and performers, SC's David Martin will provide his assessment of the BCS top-10. And if that isn't enough, he'll muse on the future of the BCS and begin a tirade -- not against the BCS, though -- more against the unending proposals for a national championship playoff system.



COLLEGE BASKETBALL: College hoops tipoff time
By Sean McDonald

Ready for Dickie V's rantings on a nightly basis? You better get those earplugs ready, because the new college basketball season is right around the corner. SC's Sean McDonald takes a look at the 2002-2003 NCAA season, including his preseason Final Four picks.



NFL: Week 10 power rankings
By Brad Oremland

Who the Rams should play at quarterback, how to beat the Eagles, and several rather bold playoff predictions. All this, plus rankings and analysis for all 32 teams, in the Week 10 power rankings from SC's Brad Oremland.



NFL: No party in parity
By Mason Williams

It's midseason report card time for the NFL and the grades as a whole are pretty woeful. Once again, parity is the key word in NFL lexicon and contrary to the spelling, there is no "party" in parity, says SC's Mason Williams as he breaksdown the AFC and NFC contenders and pretenders.



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"Augusta Should Hold Firm Against Rent-a-Mob Pressure"

The Augusta National is under ever-increasing pressure to allow women members into its male-only world. Seemingly a straight forward issue. Why shouldn't women be allowed to join? It's the 21st century, for God's sake. Quite rightly, we'd be up in arms if blacks weren't allowed to join, as was the case as late as 1990. But this isn't discrimination, pure and simple. This is about the rights of a private club to set its own rules and ignore the forces of political correctness that threaten to engulf every facet of our daily life.


By Mike Round

It just had to happen, didn't it? You just knew that, sooner or later, the Rev. Jesse Jackson would have something to say on the issue of Augusta National allowing women members. Was there ever an issue the esteemed Reverend didn't have an opinion on? Of course, this would have nothing to do with him courting the votes of 50% of the population of the nation come another bid for high political office. All we need now is another dubious Reverend, this one of the Sharpton ilk, to weigh in with his thoughts on the matter.

"It's an insult to all that America stands for, and the sponsors should not participate, and members should either change the situation or withdraw. And I think the PGA has a big obligation to take a stand," Jackson said Friday.

Claiming that Augusta is participating in "gender apartheid," Jackson said he and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition would help organize a picket line in front of the club during the Masters. He said he also plans "mass education" that would include passing out leaflets and talking to sponsors, members, networks, and golfers.

"We support strongly the movement to end the gender apartheid at Augusta National Golf Club. The gender bigotry is as offensive as racial bigotry or religious bigotry," Jackson said.

Jackson needs to butt out of this -- fast. The Augusta National is none of his, or Dr. Martha Burk's business. It's a private club that has every right to set it's own rules and allow in whoever it wants, and exclude whoever it wants. The National, quite rightly, opened its doors to black members in 1990. It allows women to play the course, but not join the club.

"This is not a sorority or a fraternity," says Rev. Jackson. "This is a very national, public organization. It is as much public as it is private."

He couldn't be more wrong. The National is a private club that hosts the premier USPGA Tour event of the year every April. The rest of the year, it reverts to its secluded, private existence. Jackson, or Burk, has no right to dictate its membership policy purely because it hosts the Masters.

Burk has picked her target carefully. She could have attacked frat houses, or sororities, or innocent organizations like scouting groups or all-women colleges. But Augusta has a much higher profile and is a great target for the head of the National Council of Women's Organizations. It also has the advantage of being led by an aging southerner, Hootie Johnson.

Hootie is easy pickings for Jackson and Burk, with their PR and media skills. He's easy to portray as a dinosaur, as stuck in the past as Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen. But Johnson has been at the forefront of a quite revolution at Augusta, having served as Vice-President from 1975 until becoming Chairman in 1998. He's revamped 13 of the 18 holes, allowed black members, reinvigorated the competition by changing the qualification rules to strengthen the field, and sat back and watched the Masters become easily the season's premier event.

Unlike any other major sporting event, you can buy a sandwich at Augusta in April for a buck. Another buck will get you a large coke. If that's being rooted in the past, then fans of football and baseball, where the same items will see $10 depart from your wallet, will be wishing there were more Hootie Johnson's in the sports world.

Eventually, of course, the Jackson's and Burk's of this world will win. The irresistible force of political correctness is unstoppable. The rent-a-mob crowd marshaled by Burke and Jackson will get enough TV coverage on Magnolia Lane and Washington Road to intimidate the PGA Tour and golf's image-conscious sponsors to pressure the National into changing its rules.

I have one question for Dr. Burke and the Rev. Jackson. Where were you when the USPGA Tour wouldn't allow Casey Martin to ride in a cart to overcome a severe disability? Of course, the fact that Casey Martin is white and male had nothing to do with your silence, did it?


Mike welcomes your feedback on his column: mailto:[email protected]?subject=Feature_Article


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--> National Football League

By Brad Oremland
Record: 4-2

Philadelphia Eagles (6-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (7-2)
Monday, Nov. 25, 9 PM ET; 3Com Park; San Francisco, CA; TV: ABC

This column will run before the Eagles play Arizona or the 49ers travel to San Diego, but regardless of what happens in those contests, this Monday night showdown will pit two division-leaders against each other. It also features a distinct contrast in style of play.

The 49ers are a balanced team, sixth in the NFC in offense and eighth in defense. They are led by the mobile, but generally traditional, Jeff Garcia, who is known more for his arm than for his legs, quick as they are. The 49ers feature the reliable running back tandem of Garrison Hearst (526 yds) and Kevan Barlow (468 yds), a solid offensive line, and a great receiver to help out Garcia. The defense is keyed by the play of second-year defensive lineman Andre Carter, who leads the team with 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Despite Carter's statistical impact, however, the unit plays as a whole, led by a defensive line that features Carter, Chike Okeafor (5 sacks), three-time Pro Bowler Bryant Young, and former league defensive MVP Dana Stubblefield.

Philadelphia has a loaded defense, too, but the Eagles play a much different game than the team they'll face on the last Monday before Thanksgiving. The Philadelphia defense relies on one of the league's best secondaries and an above-average defensive line. The linebackers are the weakest link in a strong unit. And although the statistics might make you think otherwise -- Philly is fourth in the NFC in total offense -- the Eagles live and die with their defense. The offense has no trouble beating up on patsies -- it's outscored division opponents 98-23 in three games -- but the Eagles are 0-3 this season when a team scores more than 17 points against them. The 49ers haven't been held below 17 since Week 2.

San Francisco's traditional -- and quite effective -- offense will have trouble with the Philadelphia defense, but not as much trouble as the Eagles' one-dimensional offense, led by gifted but untraditional QB Donovan McNabb (2034 passing yds, 460 rushing yds), will have against the 49er defense, especially if Garcia and company can put some points on the board early in the game. I see the Eagles, who have no scoring weapons other than McNabb, trying to play catch-up and failing against a team that quite frankly is better.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - 49ers
Defense - Eagles
Spec. Teams - Eagles
Coaching - 49ers
Intangibles - 49ers

Prediction: 49ers 27, Eagles 17


--> National Basketball Association

By Mike Round

Philadelphia 76ers (6-3) at Memphis Grizzlies (0-10)
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 9 PM EST; Pyramid Arena; Memphis, TN; TV: ESPN

On the face of it, a mismatch between the strong 76ers, led by the irresistible AI, and the hapless Grizzlies, coached by a 100-year-old ex-TV announcer Hubie Brown. After a dismal 0-8 start, President Jerry West, used to success after success in L.A., gave coach Sidney Lowe his pink slip and called for aging Hubie Brown to lay down his mike and bring his no-nonsense, drill-sargent act to Memphis.

His immediate priority is making an all-star out of Pau Gasol and Drew Gooden. Also paramount, is getting a grip on under-achieving Jason Williams. How Williams will take to Brown's sub-Bob Knight act is yet to be seen. Expect a trade if they can find a taker for his contract.

Appointing a man like Brown from the middle ages is the last act of a desperate franchise. Moving to Memphis wasn't a mistake, as basketball in Vancouver was as popular as baseball in Montreal, but crowds have shrunk to 10,000 and will go lower unless the Grizzlies start filling the roster with strippers.

There is no question Hubie Brown's knowledge is excellent and he will teach a young team to improve their fundamentals, but his record was 142-202 (.413) with the Knicks and 199-208 (.489) in Atlanta. Hardly inspiring. But he'll make them play defense at least, something the Grizzlies didn't like doing under Lowe.

As of Friday morning, the 76ers had lost all their road games -- at Orlando, Milwaukee, and Boston. But with talent like Allen Iverson, Keith Van Horn, and Aaron McKie, they are way too strong for the Grizzlies. The 76ers have every chance of emerging from the Atlantic to challenge for a finals spot.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Sixers
Defense - Sixers
Coaching - Sixers
Intangibles - Sixers

Prediction - 76ers to triumph by more than 15 points and the Neilson rating for this nationally-televised game to equate to a PBS documentary on the eating habits of the garden snail.


--> National Hockey League

By Lee Manchur
Record: 5-5

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders
Saturday, Nov. 23, 1 PM EST; Madison Square Garden; New York, NY; TV: Local only

Two crappy teams means a crappy game, right? Well, maybe in football if all you get for 60 minutes is a good 'ol fashioned kicker's duel, but not the case in hockey; especially when the boys from the Big City face off against the guys across the Island in this regional rivalry.

Islander Michael Peca recently made an unsuccessful return to hockey, going -1 in his first full game back and not accomplishing anything offensively. By this game, he should be back in full force, into the grind of the NHL season, and should be able to make a factor in this game.

Defensively, both teams are pathetic. The Islanders have a decent blue line that is not performing as expected while the Rangers simply do not have the skill in that position. On the Island, Chris Osgood is not performing up to expectations -- a key to the teams' success last season -- while neither grandpa Mike Richter nor youngster Dan Blackburn have a winning record or respectable GAA.

Nevertheless, when teams of this "caliber" face each other, the result is usually a hard-fought defensive battle and thus, if not for any other reason, then for the local rivalry, this will be a well-contested match.

[ Game Breakdown ]

Offense - Rangers
Defense - Islanders
Goaltending - Draw
Power Play - Draw
Penalty Kill - Rangers
Coaching - Islanders
Intangibles - Rangers

Prediction: NY Rangers 2, NY Islanders 1


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(Thanks for reading! Next issue set to come out on 12/01/02.)

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