Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Slant Pattern Mailbag

By Kevin Beane

Greetings, and welcome again to the Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, we do not receive questions ourselves, so we will be poaching them from columns that do.

Let's start with Sports Illustrated's NFL mailbag, where Shane (@storyhiii) asks: Are the Panthers legit?

If they are, then the Jets as an organization are even more pathetic and incompetent than we thought they were, which I didn't think was possible.

But no, I think this is a .500 team that got out to a good start. I don't, in fact, think Sam Darnold is actually a great quarterback and I am expecting some regression in his form. Obviously, losing McCaffery is a killer, too. When it's all said and done, I suspect they finish third in the division behind the Bucs and Saints.

Over to The Athletic's College Basketball mailbag, where Jay S. ponders: What does Texas/OU do for SEC basketball? It kind of seems like a step down for the basketball programs, unlike a step up for football. The Big 12 seems to have benefited with the new members.

You're right, I'd say by and large the Big 12 is a stronger hoops conference than the SEC, but by a margin so thin that even adding Texas and OU tips the scales in the SEC's favor.

Both conferences, in basketball terms, have a clear-cut breadwinner: Kansas in the Big 12, and Kentucky in the SEC. I'd say that over the course of the last 20-25 years, the SEC has had a clear second-place program in Florida, where in the Big 12 that role has been a revolving door. Obviously Baylor and Texas Tech have done great things the last couple of years, but will it last? South Carolina has been terrible since making the Final Four in 2017, and Auburn has taken a big step backwards, as well, since making the 2019 Final Four.

Inasmuch as Texas and Oklahoma have three Final Four appearances in the last 20 years between them, I think this now gives the edge in hoops in favor of the SEC, which in turn makes it a good basketball move in addition to be a clearly good football move for the Longhorns and Sooners.

Staying with the Athletic, at their G5 mailbag, Bret C. asks, "With so many P5 teams losing random games here and there, a lot of G5 teams have been moving up the top 130 rankings.

"UTSA between Clemson and Notre Dame is really something to behold, for example. Do you really think UTSA and other G5 teams that are playing well could compete with these teams, or is that just the nature of rankings?"

I absolutely do think a team like UTSA could compete with Notre Dame and (especially) Clemson.

That doesn't mean I think UTSA would beat Clemson. It does mean I think they would hang around with Clemson — compete, as you say.

This is a point I make lots and lots, but it bears repeating: best practices for coaching high school football players and producing solid recruits becomes more streamlined each year, and the successful practitioners are emulated more and more each year (that includes successful assistants taking their own head coaching jobs).

This means more good players coming into the college ranks than ever. But one thing that hasn't changes is that kids want to play. Tons of kids would rather start at UTSA than wait on the bench for three years at Alabama.

This has created more parity than ever, and a narrower gap than ever between the talent levels of G5 and P5 schools, which may just be why suddenly P5 powers are souring on an expanded playoff.

We close with a CFL question. Karen Ironside puts this question to 3 Down Nation: "I am curious about why the Redblacks had a game on a Wednesday followed by a Tuesday game.

"Traditionally, games are Thursday through Sunday (with the exception of holiday Mondays), so is it something connected to the 67's hockey schedule as they basically share the same facility or would it be a TSN thing? Hoping this is a one-time blip in scheduling."

I can't claim to know the exact reasons, but as you mentioned TV schedules and shared facilities surely enter into it, and I think the ripple effects of the postponed Toronto/Edmonton game some weeks back reverberate, too. It's just tough to get in a 14-game schedule in for each time over just 16 weeks when a team has to have a bye each week (thanks to the odd number of teams).

Karen says she hopes this is a one-time blip, and indeed I saw a Twitter poll where about 2/3rds of the respondents disliked the bigger slate Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday CFL games. My question is WHYYYYYYY?

Assuming that good percentage of CFL fans are football fans in general too, I am baffled why any such fans want less of it. Baseball, basketball, and hockey fans don't grumble that there are games every night of the week, so why on earth do football fans? I will never understand this.

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