Shanoff's W.U.C.: For BCS Title, D Rules

Today's Calls: Florida vs. Oklahoma, BC vs. Jeff Jagodzinski and Harvard, Eric Mangini vs. Scott Pioli, Knowshon Moreno vs. Matt Stafford, Celtics vs. Cavs, John Smoltz vs. Jason Giambi and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: We get the BCS national championship game we deserve. ↵

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↵The past two seasons, we have had bitter BCS controversy — and the games have been blowouts, almost like the SEC was saying, "We'll make you sorry for doubting us." Three seasons ago, we had no controversy — unbeaten USC vs. unbeaten Texas — and it was the greatest game in college football history. In 2004, Oklahoma didn't deserve to be there, and the Sooners were routed. In recent history, some form of irony tends to rule. ↵

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↵So what does this year hold? Everyone is talking about the offenses: Oklahoma's record-setting no-huddle offense. Florida's equally dominant spread attack. The pair of Heisman winners directing the action. But the real story — the irony, perhaps — is that defense will rule the outcome of this game. ↵

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↵My friends at the statistically oriented Florida football blog Saurian Sagacity have the stats that matter: The average BCS champion has ranked sixth in the country in scoring defense. The worst-ranked BCS champ ever was LSU last year: 17th. ↵

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↵Florida has a defense ranked in the Top 5. Oklahoma is ranked ... No. 57. ↵

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↵Even if you are inclined to see OU's ranking as inflated from playing all those high-powered Big 12 offenses, the fact is: No BCS champ has ever had such a porous defense. If OU and its 25 ppg allowed was playing a dog-eared offense like Penn State? Perhaps that would be enough. But against an offense equal to its own? Yikes. ↵

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↵Tonight's ironic ending? To be sure, the offenses will hog the spotlight and the game will not be a defensive struggle — unless you count the Oklahoma defense's struggle to stop Florida, mirrored by the Florida defense's ability to stop Oklahoma just enough. ↵

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↵Pick: Florida. (Like you're surprised.) ↵

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↵Your must-read is Spencer Hall's dispatches from Miami. Awesome stuff. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, Matt Hayes offers 10 reasons Florida will win — Oklahoma's unprecedentedly poorly ranked defense didn't make the list. And here are 10 reasons that Oklahoma will win. As a former Florida beat writer, Dave Curtis can't possible believe in them, can he?) ↵

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↵BC FTW! In one of the most surreal turn-of-events in Coaching Carousel history, Boston College actually fired Jeff Jagodzinski after threatening him with the axe if he interviewed for an NFL job. Good for them: He didn't want to be there, so they got rid of him ASAP. ↵

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↵But for those of you who think BC was a little too sensitive about all this and might deserve a karmic boomerang ... ↵

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↵BC hoops shocked by Harvard! Prepare for the best transitive property of the college hoops season: BC stunned North Carolina this weekend. Last night, Harvard stunned BC. Thus: UNC isn't better than Harvard. (But seriously: Harvard's first win EVER against a ranked team. Amazing milestone.) ↵

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↵More NFL Coaching: Browns hire Eric Mangini. Wow, Mangini didn't stay unemployed for long, did he? What is surprising about this is that the Browns really seemed like they wanted to figure out the GM situation first. (Um, Scott Pioli?) What new GM wants to come in with someone else's coach installed? ↵

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↵Speaking of Pioli, it looks like the Chiefs are going to make a bid for him. If Pioli wants to run his own show, this is his best chance of this offseason. The franchise has one of the NFL's best fan bases, but things are lousy right now, even in the woeful AFC West. It’s ideal for a turnaround. ↵

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↵NFL Playoffs: LaDainian Tomlinson is doubtful for Sunday's Division game at Pittsburgh. For all the newfound love for Darren Sproles, there is no question that a healthy LT makes the Chargers an entirely different team. That said, they seemed to do just fine against the Colts without much help from Tomlinson. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno and Matt Stafford are turning pro. I think Moreno will be one of the most dynamic RBs in the NFL as early as next season; as for Stafford, I can't believe he's being talked about as a potential No. 1 overall pick. He is the next coming of Rex Grossman. ↵

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↵More Darrius Heyward-Bey: Maryland’s DHB is arguably the most promising NFL-worthy WR of the entire draft class. ↵

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↵Cowboys to cut ...: Adam “Pacman” Jones. OK, who had January 7 in the office pool? ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: Surprise! Celtics lose again. Not really: At this point — six losses in their last 8 games — it really isn't a surprise that Boston loses. If the loss to Charlotte was humiliating, this was almost as bad: A home loss, the team's first since before the 19-game W streak. ↵

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↵Cavs add insult to Celtics' injury: Cleveland is still unbeaten at home; Cleveland had no problem beating the lowly Bobcats; and now Cleveland is the top-ranked team in the East. ↵

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↵NBA Fantasy Watch: Paul Millsap, who had 27 and 14 (with 5 assists, as a bonus) in a Jazz win over the Hornets. It was Millsap's 19th straight double-double, the longest streak in the NBA. He is Top 15 in rebounds and FG percentage, and Top 50 in scoring. ↵

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↵Speaking of NBA Studs, Danny Granger put an exclamation on an All-Star-worthy season by nailing a buzzer-beating 3 to lead the Pacers past the Suns. Granger's 3 capped a career-high-tying 37 points; he is No. 5 in the NBA in scoring during this breakout season. ↵

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↵Sports Media: Did you catch that hoops switcheroo last night? ESPN's NBA team did the Davidson-Duke game, and Dickie V did the Heat-Nuggets game. And you know what? The novelty totally worked, particularly with Vitale working the NBA game. It actually amped my enthusiasm while watching the game. ↵

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↵(Meanwhile, Stephen Curry vs. the Cameron Crazies was a totally intriguing pairing. Curry started slow, but had 21 in the second half en route to 29 points. Davidson still lost, but it's not like anyone expected them to win. All we wanted was a show from Curry, and he spent at least one half delivering.) ↵

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↵More CBB: Has Gonzaga righted things since its troubles earlier this season? An OT win at Tennessee would indicate the Zags are back on the right track. Then again, the Zags beat Tennessee at a tournament five weeks ago; maybe they just have the Vols' number. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: John Smoltz to the Red Sox? Well, if he wants to win a title near the end of his career, Boston is one of two destinations he should target. (New York is the other: Wonder why the Yankees weren't interested in him, given that the Sox are reportedly offering him "only" $5.5M base.) ↵

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↵Jason Giambi is back in Oakland, and more than a half-decade after letting him go, Billy Beane got his "Moneyball" price. All he had to do was wait for Giambi to (a) go through a steroid scandal, (b) develop chronic injuries and (c) lose all the mojo that made him the Yankees' prized slugger. ↵

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↵WNBA: League super-duper star Candace Parker is pregnant. Congratulations to her and Sheldon Williams. Wait: Didn't they just get married in, like, November? And you say the baby is due in the spring? But... that means... ohhh! ↵

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↵Internet Sensations: Just days after his star turn on YouTube, Ray Maualuga apologized for pantomiming a misogynistic dance behind an unsuspecting Erin Andrews, which would have been lost forever if not for a fan's cellphone-camera and the amazing utility of YouTube. ↵

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↵The Last Word: Should AP voters put Utah at No. 1 out of spite? Amazingly, that's what John Feinstein would like them to do. I disagree with my Sporting News colleague — I think voters should vote conscious, not conscience. ↵

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↵Here's how it should work for voters: Figure out what team you think is the best, then vote them No. 1. Anything else is the equivalent to tanking a game. If Feinstein would like to find a better high-horse to ride, he can lobby for voters who are a bit more qualified than the Coaches, Harris, Computers or AP. ↵

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↵For example: Urban Meyer is right to say that Pete Carroll, Mack Brown and Kyle Whittingham should be openly lobbying for AP No. 1 votes, but that also underscores why coaches — impossibly conflicted — have no business contributing to a ranking system that determines a national champ. ↵

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↵Bill James had a great column in Slate, calling on the computer pollsters to drop out, because the BCS won't let them incorporate telling data like, say, margin of victory. ↵

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↵Look: Protesting the system by dropping out is all fine and good, but they'll just find others willing to do it — see the absurd Harris Poll, after the AP removed itself from the formula. ↵

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↵The AP's abstinence itself was ludicrous, given that the AP cited "not wanting to itself make news" — then proceeded to continue running its poll and proclaiming its own national champion. See? Everyone involved is tainted — except those indie bloggers. ↵

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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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