Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Somewhere in SoCal, a Blogger is Smiling

Congratulations to blog ally Boi from Troy on his beloved University of Southern California Trojans's 55 - 19 whuppin' of the University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Once again, though, this raises the question....were the two best teams in the nation really playing each other? USC unquestioningly deserved the top spot in the nation; to me, the real question became who was going to be second. Obviously, SC made OU look pathetic, but OU partisans will immediately point to Auburn's lackluster performance against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl as proof that even though OU got beat, SC would have beat Auburn worse. However, I'll counter that, though Auburn had trouble with a fired-up Virginia Tech, it's also the team that beat Tennessee -- which just pounded Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl -- not once, but twice this season. Even more convincingly, Auburn went from 7-5 last season to 13-0 this one playing teams like Tennessee, while OU remained undefeated until last night playing teams like Iowa State.

As a Big 12 alum (Kansas State, played college ball at Concordia University in Nebraska, which is twenty very-short miles from the University of Nebraska), it's ironic to me that the conference teams are being destroyed by teams that have themselves adapted the model that once made the Big 12 great -- eleven good players working in concert can beat eleven great players who aren't. Bill Snyder, who Bob Stoops worked under as an assistant coach at Kansas State, is an excellent example. By focusing on making what he had, which was mostly guys who had been discarded or ignored by other programs because they were "too small" or "too slow", work together, he managed to take Kansas State from conference laughingstock to serious national contenders. However, as success invariably does, that attracted great players -- and Snyder's problem for the past few years has been giving into the temptation to try to let the great players win the game on their own. It appears that Stoops is going down the same pathway.

The Big 12 needs to return to that mentality of working together, rather than razzle dazzle. Let's face it -- you're not going to easily recruit the hottest players to come to Norman, Oklahoma, Manhattan, Kansas, or Lincoln, Nebraska -- while I love all three towns, there just isn't a hell of a lot there. (grin) However, what you CAN find are kids from the rural parts of the state or overlooked players from elsewhere who are hungry and want to win, but also know they need other peoples' help to do it. Bring them together, install an offense that uses all of them in concert, and return to the oldest maxim in football....those who execute will always beat those who don't.

No comments: