Pac-12 Football Divisions and SEC Bias

26 10 2010

Larry Scott has finally decided how to divide the conference and they went with a North-South split to make it easier for novice fans to understand the alignment of teams. I liked the zipper plan if you were only going with two divisions, but maybe this one will grow on me. Here are some great pictures of the teams in their divisions from Pac12Cooler.com

It was widely known that Utah or Colorado had negotiated a deal to be in the same division as the So. Cal schools, which should boost their ability to recruit the hot bed of Los Angeles. Colorado has had recent success recruiting in the Golden State, and in 2008 they signed the top rated running back in the nation, Darrell Scott out of Los Angeles.

From a competition standpoint, I think the better division will alternate on an annual basis. USC will be down throughout their probationary period, but they’ll be back after Kiffin is fired in a couple of years. If the season ended today, here’s how the divisions would be split and I don’t think you could ask for a more competitive balance.

North South
#1 Oregon #2 Utah
#3 Stanford #4 Arizona
#5 Oregon State #6 USC
#7 Cal #8 ASU
#9 Washington #10 UCLA
#12 WSU #11 Colorado

The changes that happened were necessary, but these incremental changes don’t do much to shape the landscape of college football. The Pac-12 is the most balanced conference between academics and athletics, and the rest of the country relies on us for answers. Our conference is set up perfectly to be the first to have three divisions based on geography. We spoke about this in our playoff article, but it’s worth reiterating that the Pac-12 is unique in its geographic landscape and the natural rivalries in six regions. The three divisions for the conference should have been California, Northwest, and Rockies.

What would have followed the three divisions is the real breakthrough, a four team conference playoff which includes the top team in each division and a wildcard team. At some point one of the conferences decided to have a championship game. Eventually one of the BCS conference commissioners is going to have to make changes that differentiate itself from the rest of pack. Once the conference has success with the four team playoff, it’s easy to expand with another conference like the BigTen (which will have 12 teams after Nebraska joins in 2011).

The current system is designed to have an SEC team in the BCS Championship Game every year. ESPN is the main media outlet and they have a $2 billion dollar media contract with the SEC. You don’t need a degree from Harvard to realize that  an investment of that magnitude needs to be protected. The evil four letter network spends almost half its time covering the SEC to provide more exposure to the conference. The entire BCS system is completely backwards and driven by ulterior motives outside of competition.

In psychology they call this the exposure effect, a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle. In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be. What other sport has journalists as a component of which team plays in the national championship? Which other sport has computers with a secret formula that determines who plays in the championship? What kind of system has coaches vote on who gets to play in the championship? It seems blatantly obvious that they would overrate the teams in their own conference to boost their strength of schedule.

The Harris poll (which is composed of former players, coaches, administrators, current and former media) accounts for one third of the BCS equation, so naturally ESPN will want to show off their $2 billion child in the SEC. On an annual basis the Spring games are equivalent to recording your baby’s first steps. The twenty times Alabama and Florida were recorded during their summer practices were the first days of school. The start of college football season is the teenage years – teams trying to form an identity and be independent. The overprotective parents (ESPN) won’t let them fall without pumping them back up. Every time one of their teams lose a game (Florida), ESPN is right there plugging another SEC team (Auburn). The exposure effect continues the vicious cycle of SEC familiarity and guarantees one of their teams a shot at the national championship.

If Larry Scott doesn’t realize that the change needs to come within the conference, then the Pac-12 is right where it was with Tom Hansen – failing to have the foresight to be the Leader of the Pac.

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Team Twilight vs Pac-12

30 06 2010

If you’re like me and your girlfriend is forcing you to go watch the new Twilight Eclipse movie at a 1PM matinée on Thursday, the only manageable way to watch the film will be to appreciate what it means to women. The Team Edward vs Team Jacob obsession that is running rampant among teenage girls (and mid-twenties like my gf) parallels what Pac-12 fans go through with their rivals. It got me wondering whether their fans were more dedicated than ours, or just plain crazy.

In the past few weeks I’ve been subjected to Oprah interviewing the Twilight  cast, reruns of the first two movies, and listening to my roommates ask each other how excited they are for Eclipse: The Twilight Saga every single day. Despite it giving me flu-like symptoms I was still able to pick up on some similarities in their behavior and Pac-12 fans.  Both fans deck themselves out in their favorite team apparel and wear it proudly. Twilight fans are more harsh than Pac-12 fans, because they actually care about superficial things like fashion, which makes the banter even more intense. If it’s the wrong time of the month (and we get lucky) then it could potentially lead to a cat fight like the Miller Lite great taste, less filling advertisement. Despite Twilight fans having a greater interest in fashion, the Pac-12 fans look significantly better in their apparel so we have to give the edge to the Pac-12.

Both fan groups get irritated by their significant other if your criticize their team’s performance. I was almost castrated after I said True Blood is superior to Twilight in dialog, sexual content, and the overall ability of the actors.  When the ole ball-and-chain questioned the Pac-12’s dominance compared to the SEC, I just shrugged it off as if she didn’t know what she was talking about. In sports we call them rabid fans, in Twilight they’re called TwiHards or as I like to refer to them, TwiTards, but whatever you call them they are more territorial and win this category.

I also have to give credit to the thousands of of girls willing to camp out for a terrible movie premier, which is their version of tailgating. Twilight fans crush Pac-12 in the girl-to-guy ratio so they get extra cool points for that, but Pac-12 fans enjoy beers and BBQ at their tailgates while the TwiHards are stuck outside of the movie theater with popcorn and Sour Patch Kids. Pac-12 fans also tailgate about a dozen times a year compared to just once for Twilight, so this proves the Pac-12 loyalty is greater.

Every sports enthusiast and Pac-12 fan reads about their team on blogs and the internet, but meeting their favorite player or taking pictures with them would be the ultimate prize.  Twilight fans take this a step further by creating cardboard cutouts of their favorite Team (Team Edward or Team Jacob) and make-out with them. Normally this would be considered even more desperate than what Bella Swan does in Twilight, but this is Twilight fans taking it to a different level. For this they get the title of Twidiots (Twid-e-its) and actually lose cool points.

One issue that hurt Twilight fans in this competition is that they were torn when their team was out of character. Taylor Lautner is almost as big of a douchebag as Tom Cruise, but he plays a better role in the movie. Robert Pattinson is charismatic and witty in interviews, but his role in Twilight is an overprotective hipster vampire with an inexpressive girlfriend. Conversely, the Pac-12 fans have no trouble identifying with their team in every situation. This was a pretty even battle overall and my respect for their passion has grown substantially, but the Pac-12 is still the Leader of the Pac when it comes to having the best fans.

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