CFP’d Off

I’m warning you in advance that this post is going to sound like sour grapes.  And, in fact, some of the motivation for writing it in the first place is sour grapes.  But I’m here to tell you that the College Football Playoff process that was rolled out to great fanfare only a few years ago is already broken.

ype12feWho made the college football playoffs last year?  Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia.  Those same four teams finished in the top five this year.  It was only because Notre Dame ran the table against a weak slate of opponents — and, because ND is nominally independent, a slate that doesn’t include a conference championship game — that college football fans everywhere avoided watching the same four teams play each other again this year.

In the five years the College Football Playoff has been in existence, Alabama has made it every year.  Clemson has made it four out of five times.  Oklahoma has made it in three of the five years.  It’s the same old, same old.

And, for Ohio State fans, what’s especially galling is that this year the playoff selection committee ranked a two-loss SEC team that didn’t win its conference — i.e., Georgia — ahead of a one-lose Big Ten team that won its conference championship.  I can understand Ohio State, which got whacked by Purdue during the regular season, being ranked behind Oklahoma, even though I think the Big 12 is a pretty weak conference.  But I don’t understand how a one-loss champion of a major football conference like the Big Ten can be ranked behind a two-loss non-conference champion.  To me, that result says that the selection committee has quaffed the SEC Kool-Aid and lost any claim to objectivity.  Every year we start with the presumption that the SEC is the best conference in college football, and every year every inference goes in the SEC’s favor.

Who did Georgia play out of conference this year?  Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee State, and the University of Massachusetts.  They aren’t exactly powerhouses, are they?  The rest of the schedule is SEC teams.  Georgia got pummeled by LSU and played Alabama close before losing.  The latter result reflects favorably on Georgia only if you conclude that Alabama is a bunch of supermen — but we don’t know that, either, because Alabama played only SEC teams, along with an out-of-conference schedule that included Louisville, which ended the season 2-10, the Citadel, Arkansas State, and University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

The system needs to be changed.  The playoff should be expanded, and every major college conference champion should be included.  I happen to think that Ohio State could give Alabama, Georgia, and any other team a good game — just as it did in 2014, when the Buckeyes somehow beat mighty Alabama and went on to win the national championship, to the surprise of every pundit and talking head on ESPN.

The champion should be crowned on the field, not in backrooms based on hype.

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Wishing, And Hoping

Today is the day the College Football Playoff Selection Committee earns its keep.

They’ve been watching games all season, and since mid-season they’ve been issuing interim rankings after each weekend of play.  But now the regular season games and the conference championship games are done, and it’s time to finally decide:  which four teams should be in this year’s playoff?

urban-meyer-explains-why-an-8-team-college-football-playoff-wont-work-and-he-makes-a-good-pointAlabama is in, of course, as the number one seed.  They romped through a pretty pathetic SEC without a loss and drubbed an offensively challenged Florida team in the SEC championship game.  That’s an easy call.  But who else do you select?  One-loss Clemson won the weak ACC, edging out a pretty one-dimensional Virginia Tech team in last night’s championship game, and has looked good at times but bad at times, too.  One-loss Washington played one of the easiest schedules in college football and won the PAC 12, beating up a hapless Colorado team in the championship game.  Oklahoma, with two losses, won the defensively challenged Big 12.

And then there’s the Big 10.  Ohio State played one of the toughest schedules in college football, smashed Big 12 champion Oklahoma on its home turf, and beat a series of top ten teams during the season, including winning a thrilling edition of The Game against Michigan.  But because Ohio State lost at Penn State, on a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes didn’t play for the conference championship.  Penn State did and won last night, coming from far behind to beat Wisconsin.  But the Nittany Lions have two losses, one of which was a 39-point thrashing at the hands of That Team Up North.

So who should join Alabama in the playoffs?  The dedicated members of Buckeye Nation obviously hope the Committee selects Ohio State, which was ranked number 2 after last week’s Committee vote.  Should the Committee just pick the one-loss teams from the Power Five conferences, which means Ohio State, Clemson, and Washington should make the cut?  Or should Penn State’s impressive run and conference championship knock out one of those teams?  But how do you vault the two-loss Nittany Lions above two-loss Michigan, which beat Penn State like a drum early in the season?

Ohio State fans are wishing, and hoping, that the Buckeyes make the cut.  Having watched a number of games with the top teams, I honestly think Ohio State is one of the top four teams — but I’m not on the committee.  We’ll know at 12:30.

Dust-Covered

The work on our upstairs bathroom proceeds.  We knew it would take weeks, and that there would be workers in the house during that time, and that we’d need to use the downstairs bathroom, but the project had one byproduct I didn’t fully anticipate.

Dust.  Lots and lots of dust.

mezzanine_409When the tile was removed from the drywall in the bathroom, it produced dust.  So did pulling down the drywall.  So did prying off the floor tile, removing the shower basin and toilet, and taking the medicine cabinet off the wall.  I’ve concluded that most bathroom fixtures and coverings must be made of about 90 percent compacted dust.

And here’s another fun fact about dust that I’ve learned:  dust is adventurous.  Dust likes to explore.  Dust apparently wasn’t happy about being trapped in the bathroom for all those years, and now it wants to get out and see the world — or at least the upstairs of our house.  And dust must be curious, too, because it seems to be ending up in virtually every nook and cranny of our upstairs sitting room and bedroom and closets.

Every night when I walk upstairs, I enter the dust zone, and I think of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s and photographs of thin, sad-eyed women holding babies and children and staring forlornly into the distance.  There’s a fresh layer of fine dust everywhere, on the floor, on chairs, on my desk, and on the clothes in my closet.  We’re probably being covered with dust as we sleep, too.

But here’s the worst part — every time I see the dust, the Kansas song Dust in the Wind runs through my head.  It’s unquestionably one of the most morose, whiny, annoying songs ever recorded.  What could be worse that coming home from a hard day’s work and hearing Dust in the Wind, over and over again?  (Well, I suppose hearing Gordon Lightfoot’s  The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but that’s a bit off topic.)

I’ll be glad when the bathroom project ends, and we can shake the dust off and move on.

 

The Buckeyes, And Rodney Dangerfield

Last night, Stanford beat Oregon.  That result caused the ESPN talking heads, and sports show commentators throughout the land, to start talking about whether Stanford should jump over undefeated Ohio State in the race to get to the BCS National Championship game.

Of course, such talk caused heads to explode throughout Buckeye Nation.  Loyal wearers of the Scarlet and Gray questioned how a one-loss team, which fell to 4-4 Utah, could possibly leap the undefeated Buckeyes.  They wondered why Ohio State — like Rodney Dangerfield — is getting no respect this year.

There are two obvious reasons.  First, everyone knows that the Big Ten, top to bottom, just isn’t that good.  Second — and at least equally important — the members of the sports talk show fraternity realize that controversy helps increase ratings.  They know that ardent Buckeye fans are easy to bait and quickly worked into a frenzy by the slightest sign of disrespect.  So, if you are a radio or TV sports show host who puts the two together, you know that dismissing the Buckeyes’ latest drubbing of a Big Ten opponent, followed by raves when Stanford beats Oregon or Baylor beats Oklahoma, is bound to get you some angry calls from loyal OSU fans.  And if you just want listeners, or readers, who cares whether they are agreeing with you or not?

I hope that the Buckeyes, unlike their fans, forget about the shows of disrespect and realize that there is nothing they can do other than win their game each week.  If Ohio State can beat Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, and then topple, say, Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Championship game, they’ve done all that they can do.  I’m betting that, if that happens, the Buckeyes won’t have to worry about getting respect from the media.  Instead, they’ll be worrying about how they can win that National Championship game for a change.

Death And Disaster In Tornado Alley

If you live in Oklahoma or other states in the Tornado Alley region of the United States, you learn to live with terrible storms that occasionally sweep through the region.  But sometimes you can’t live with those storms.

Yesterday was one of those days in the Oklahoma City region, and the devastation — emotional and physical — is horrific.  A series of tornadoes hit the area, and one of them tore through Moore, Oklahoma, leveling the Plaza Towers Elementary School, ripping off the roof, toppling walls, and killing a number of schoolchildren.  The current death toll stands at 91 people, with hundreds more injured, but that number is expected to rise as search and rescue teams comb through the debris.

The storms were unbelievably powerful, with winds reaching up to 200 miles per hour.  I’ve seen the tree-toppling punch of storms where winds reach 70 and 80 miles per hour, but I can’t imagine the strength of 200 m.p.h. winds that can shred sturdy buildings like humans can shred tissue paper.

I also can’t imagine the anguish of parents whose little children were taken from them by a storm.  Our hearts go out to the battered residents of Oklahoma City as they search for survivors and struggle to deal with this extraordinary tragedy.

Mom Mix (Cont.)

Today we celebrate Mom’s 80th birthday with a party.  As I’ve mentioned before, my primary responsibility for the party was to prepare a mix of songs that Mom and her guests would enjoy.  We expect to have about 80 people there of all ages, but the primary musical audience will be Mom and her contemporaries, who like Big Band music and show tunes.

I’ve tried to put together a bit of a musical journey to track Mom’s life, from Over The Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz, released when she was only nine years old, through the Big Band music and crooners of the War Years and the ’40s, past the movie musicals and solo artists of the ’50s and early ’60s, and ending with the rock ‘n roll music of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when all of us kids were growing up and insisting on watching The Monkees TV show and listening to rock ‘n roll music on family drives.  (I put one song in particular, Windy by the Association, in the mix because I have a very strong recollection of listening to that song while being ferried in the Ford Country Squire station wagon to a family dinner at a restaurant/pub called The Other Place near Bath, Ohio.)

I’ve posted the songs in the Mom Mix below.  In all, the mix should take about three and a half hours.  I’ll try to post some photos of Mom’s party, and perhaps some reactions to the mix, later.

’30s/’40s

Over The Rainbow Judy Garland
In the Mood Glenn Miller
Swinging On A Star (Single Version) Bing Crosby
Let’s Dance Benny Goodman
It Might As Well Be Spring Rosemary Clooney
In a Sentimental Mood Duke Ellington
Little Brown Jug Glen Gray
Up An Atom Gene Krupa & His Orchestra
If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) Kay Starr
String Of Pearls Benny Goodman And His Orchestra

’50s/Musicals

Fly Me To The Moon Frank Sinatra
Just In Time Dean Martin
I Could Have Danced All Night Rosemary Clooney
The Shadow Of Your Smile Tony Bennett
Selections from South Pacific (There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame, Bali Ha’i, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy, Younger Than Springtime,
Finale
)
The Lady Is A Tramp Frank Sinatra
Unforgettable Nat King Cole
A Bushel and a Peck Vivian Blaine & The Hot Box Girls
Alley Cat
Selections from The King and I (I Whistle a Happy Tune, Getting To Know You, I Have Dreamed, Something Wonderful, Shall We Dance?)

Who’s Sorry Now Connie Francis
Selections from Oklahoma! (Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’, The Surrey With The Fringe On Top, Oklahoma)
Soldier Boy The Shirelles
Hello Mary Lou Ricky Nelson
Selections from West Side Story (Maria, Tonight, Gee, Officer Krupke, I Feel Pretty, Somewhere)

’60s/The Sound of Music

Mack The Knife Bobby Darin
16 Candles The Crests
Selections from The Sound of Music (Maria, I Have Confidence, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss, So Long, Farewell, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Processional And Maria)
Sherry Four Seasons
Do You Want To Know A Secret The Beatles
King Of The Road (Single Version) Roger Miller
People Barbra Streisand

Late ’60s/’70s

Downtown Petula Clark
Last Train To Clarksville The Monkees
Sugar Sugar The Archies
Windy The Association
This Guy’s In Love With You Herb Alpert
Love (Can Make You Happy) Mercy
Stoney End Barbra Streisand
I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song Jim Croce
Joy To The World Three Dog Night

Finale

My Way Frank Sinatra
Brazil Rosemary Clooney
When You Wish Upon A Star Linda Ronstadt