Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Who's No. 1, Too?

Today's Calls: BCS vs. AP Poll, Percy Harvin vs. Oklahoma D, Arkansas hoops vs. UNC, Celtics vs. Slumping, Josh McDaniels vs. Jason Garrett, Jeff Jagodzinski vs. BC, Dodgers vs. Giants and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: So you'd like your team to have a claim on college football's national championship? ↵

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↵You are a fan of USC. Or Utah. Or — oh, fine — Texas. ↵

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↵You see the writing on the wall: The BCS title will go to the winner of Florida and Oklahoma (no matter how Mack Brown wants to vote). Given that Florida and Oklahoma led the penultimate AP poll at 1 and 2, it would take an epic degree of self-hating nullification for that group to deny the BCS game winner. ↵

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↵Lobby the AP voters all you want — despite the media's frenzy for a split national title, it's not happening for any of you. ↵

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↵But, wait! There is still hope. There is a third nationally-recognized poll out there — perhaps not with the authority of the BCS result or the legacy of the AP poll, but with arguably more cachet and — most importantly — a group of independent-minded voters just intrigued enough to give you what you want. ↵

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↵The poll is the BlogPoll, the most authentic college football ranking in the country — filled out each week by more than a hundred passionate and expert college football bloggers, covering every conference, team, region and rooting interest. ↵

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↵As one of the voters, I speak on behalf of all of us that it is in our mutual best interests that we create an alternative result to the BCS champ: The country wants it, and the bloggers — scourge of the mainstream media and coaches alike — are in a position to deliver it. ↵

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↵You don't have to lobby that hard; as a group inclined to counter-cultural behavior — yet openly longing the imprimatur of the mainstream — we are the nation's best hope for a fair outcome (and your best hope for an alternative outcome) to the college football season. The good news: We want it, too. ↵

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↵The bad news: We can only elevate one of you three No. 1. What to value most: USC's fast finish? Utah's Cinderella story? Texas' sense of self-importance? ↵

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↵So we're happy to oblige, fans. But just how do we decide WHICH alternative ending? The better question: Does it even matter, or is the symbolism of a split champ more powerful than who that split champ is? ↵

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↵BCS Title Game Lead-Up: If there is a single biggest X-factor, it is the effectiveness of Percy Harvin. Yes, the Gators seemed to do fine without him in the SEC Championship game, and yes, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey are "Harvin-Lite," but when healthy, no player in the country is a more dangerous home-run threat than Harvin — he makes every player around him that much better, because defenses have to worry about him first. ↵

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↵BCS vs. the Law: It happens every year — some state lawmaker gets all cranky because their team is shut out of the BCS system in some way. Ironically, it's Utah's attorney general, who has far less reason to gripe than, say, Idaho's A.G. Didn't Utah get a pretty fair shake? (Even fairer than, say, Texas?) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, for some reason, Utah fans lobbying for their team to earn the AP's half of the national title doesn't bother me nearly as much as Mack Brown lobbying for Texas on national TV. ↵

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↵Why? Well, for starters: Utah not only beat a better team, more handily, in their bowl game, but they passed college football's sniff test: They looked better than Texas. ↵

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↵(I'm telling you, Ute-backers: Stop wasting your time with the AP voters and come courting the BlogPollsters! We're easy! We love compliments!) ↵

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↵CBB Last Night: Arkansas is for real. You would have thought after the Hogs beat Oklahoma last week that they might get ranked; they didn't. Now, they have ensured themselves some recognition after KO'ing No. 7 Texas in Fayetteville. ↵

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↵If you had to pick an early-season Coach of the Year, why not John Pelphrey? He lost his top five scorers from a year ago, and his team is even better — no team in college hoops this season has notched a more impressive pair of wins. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, in the nightly insanity that is Big East conference play: UConn beat back West Virginia in yet another match-up between ranked teams from the most competitive (and compelling) conference in college basketball this season. ↵

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↵And in the "Big East Lite," Penn State beat Purdue — keeping the once-Top 10 Boilermakers winless in the surprisingly rugged Big Ten this season. (More B10: Michigan State beats Ohio State.) ↵

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↵CBB Must-Read: Mike DeCourcy on seven teams feeling better about their title chances now that UNC has been exposed (unsurprisingly, to some of us) as a merely great team, not a transcendent one. (On Mike D's list, Wake Forest sure looks interesting.) ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: OK, something is very wrong with the Celtics. At first, I had this theory that after proving they could win prolifically (19 straight), they decided to coast until the playoffs, then turn it back on. But now that they have lost their fifth in the last seven games, I think it's fair to call it a bonafide slump — last night was the worst yet: Boston lost to Charlotte, the worst offensive team in the NBA. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, in a rare double this season, the Lakers lost too, and it was arguably more stunning, because they lost at home — finally. Unbeaten in L.A. since Nov. 14, Kobe and Co. took it on the chin from the Hornets, including a 40-point performance from David West that included him outscoring the Lakers by himself in the fourth quarter. ↵

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↵It's not May, so it's not time to wonder whether the NBA's Big 2 are in big trouble — but last night's results were so curious. ↵

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↵NFL Coaching Carousel: ↵

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↵— Well, Jeff Jagodzinski interviewed with the Jets, but no word yet whether BC made good on their threat to fire him. Needless to say, if they don't — whether he stays or not — BC becomes the biggest bunch of patsies in college football. ↵

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↵— Meanwhile, the hottest name is Pats O.C. Josh McDaniels, who seems to be sought after everywhere, now including St. Louis. ↵

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↵Albert Breer thinks McDaniels would be the ultimate fit in Denver, but the Broncos must recognize that McD is in demand, because Denver brought in Cowboys O.C. Jason Garrett. (But you just know no decisions will be made until Pat Bowlen can talk with Bob Stoops after Thursday night's game.) ↵

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↵— Bonus! "Columnist Carousel": The Detroit Free Press's Rob Parker is out, presumably after his stunt mocking Rod Marinelli's choice in defensive coordinators (or was that for mocking his choice in sons-in-law?) Tough market to peddle yourself as "Edgy Local Sports Pundit" (unless you're Jay Mariotti). ↵

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↵(Speaking of columnists, following the Chicago Sun-Times' lead, you can already tell that every NFL market will have their newspaper columnist looking for publicity — or page views — on who makes the case for their team to go after Michael Vick.) ↵

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↵Pro Football Hall Notes: Every year, it's always most intriguing to see which first-year finalists make the cut. This year: Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe and John Randle. You know you're getting old when you see the list and are like, "Wow, I remember them in their prime." ↵

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↵NFL Awards Season: Someone needs to explain how Peyton Manning wins MVP but Drew Brees wins Offensive Player of the Year. (And, yes, while I know Brees put up an assault on Dan Marino's single-season passing-yard record, I would have voted for Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams. For MVP, too, by the way.) ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Scott Boras has what he wants as it relates to Mannyboth the Dodgers and their rival, the Giants, are interested. It takes one willing team to do a deal, but it takes two willing teams to do a big deal. ↵

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↵The Last Word: I have a bailout idea — let's have Tulsa (now at Auburn) offensive coordinator/genius Gus Malzahn take over embattled GMAC, which is taking taxpayer bailout money but still apparently is flush enough to buy a title sponsorship for an otherwise inconsequential bowl game. Malzahn's brand of Xs and Os creativity could save the financial industry. ↵

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↵Wow, do Auburn fans have something to look forward to: Under Malzahn, Tulsa ran the most telegenic offense in college football, last night included: 632 yards of total offense in a 45-13 obliteration of onetime-Cinderella Ball State. And Malzahn's offense is not necessarily about being pass-happy: Tulsa rushed for 439 yards — 6.9 yards per carry on 64 carries, accounting for three of Tulsa's six TDs. ↵

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↵Next year, GMAC should skip bowl sponsorship and just pay Malzahn to take a look at the corporate strategy. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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