College Football Style Points, Slippery Slopes, Erin Andrews: We Need a Playoff!
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"Style Points" it is a term most often associated with the strength of schedule arguments which proliferate with the regularity of leaves changing color this time of year. But are style points a relevant metric or are they merely a subjective argument with little to no relevance or bearing? When it comes to this subject I think it more interesting to comment on the style points that Erin Andrews is racking up on College Game Day each Saturday morning. Style points are a slippery slope here's why:
Any coach worth his excessively large paycheck is going to give style points ZERO credence in their game plan preparation each week. What matters to these coaches is winning each week (and every week) and, if given the opportunity because of a weak opponent or fortunate set of circumstances, setting themselves up for success the following week and in the future. Why is this so? Because once the season starts and you are traveling there is precious little time to practice and prepare as much as you would like to.
The smart coach (think Chris Petersen, Gary Patterson, Kyle Whittingham, Chip Kelly etc.) looks for any opportunity to his 2nd and 3rd teamers reps when possible. Unless you schedule some of those FCS foes that the Big 10 and Big 12 seemed to do so often this season you don't get many chances to get the rest of the depth chart into the game. This intelligent coaching is in direct conflict with the style points objective which promotes keeping your starting unit in the game well after the point when the outcome is all but certain.
We can also question as to when do style points apply? As well as at what margin of victory do style points accrue? One could also ask that if positive style points exist, then shouldn't negative style points exist? ULCA walked into Austin and stomped a top ten ranked Texas team. Beating a top ten team on the road was not enough to get UCLA into the top 25 or enough to get Texas out of the top 20 (we would have to wait one more week for Texas to vanish.) Michigan beats FCS foe UMass by a field goal at home and they don't lose any ground in the poll. Boise State beats New Mexico State 59-0 with virtually no starters playing more than half the game and they lose a spot to a team they dominated last year. By all means Michigan beating UMass by 3 at home should be seen as a loss everywhere accept for the official win loss record book and should be accompanied by a significant (5 or more places) drop in the polls.
Nebraska beats South Dakota State at home (on Homecoming weekend no less) by a score of 17-3. Given that Nebraska spends 7 times what SDS does on Football they should win that game at home by no less than 42 points. This the same Nebraska that scored 56 points on the road against Washington. Certainly negative style points would accrue after that terrible showing against the Jack Rabbits. Not so fast my friend, Nebraska maintained it's #6 ranking.
Do style points matter? Apparently they do but only if you are a member of BCS conference. Except of course if you are a member of a BCS conference and you deserve negative style points as those clearly only apply to non-BCS programs. Example you ask? Well here you go:
Team A beats: California, BYU and Colorado State plus one FCS school
Team B beats: Tennessee, New Mexico and Arizona State (where they are spotted 7 turnovers) plus one FCS school.
Through 4 games Team A was ranked 25th in the country and Team B was ranked 4th in the country. What is the difference between the two you ask? Perception.
Team A is the Nevada Wolfpack, while Team B is the Oregon Ducks
Perhaps a more timely example is Ohio State. What exactly has Ohio State done to deserve their #2 ranking? They have a 12 point home win over Miami (who at the time was ranked in the mid teens) plus wins vs. Marshall, Ohio, and Eastern Michigan. Yes there was that convincing road win this past weekend over perennial powerhouse Illinois. Yes that 24-13 win where Ohio state scored 10 points in the 4th quarter (7 at the 1:49 mark) and put up an un-impressive 290 yards of total offense. Yet Ohio State remains comfortably in the # 2 spot in the polls.
So my friends it appears that "Style Points" are convenient excuse used by the pro-BCS crowd (which is pretty close to the anti-american crowd as the BCS is a monopolistic cartel not unlike OPEC.) They only matter when the help the BCS teams and hurt the non-BCS teams. This is precisely why "style points" are a slippery slope and why we need a playoff system like every other NCAA sport. Speaking of slippery slopes that reminds me about Erin Andrews. Just imagine a 32 team playoff played over 5 weeks (3 in December and 2 in January) televised by ESPN/ABC that means another 4 or 5 weeks of Erin to entertain us. After all is that what we are talking about when we discuss style points?
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