Shanoff's WUC: BCS, Bama, Saints, Vick, Wall

Today's Calls: BCS vs. Scrutiny, Alabama vs. Texas, TCU vs. Boise State, Mark Ingram vs. Colt McCoy, Saints vs. Colts, Mike Vick vs. Atlanta, John Wall vs. Derrick Rose, Greg Oden vs. Randy Livingston, US vs. England and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: If there was one clear loser in this year's edition of the BCS mess, it was the critics who hate the BCS. ↵

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↵Another year, another round of griping -- but few fans will be paying attention to the noisy harpies. ↵

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↵The record-setting number of fans who watched Alabama suck the soul out of Florida will all agree that Bama is the best team in the country and deserves a shot in the national-title game. ↵

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↵And while Texas merely survived -- barely -- they are a big enough brand name that most fans will be content to see them take on Alabama for the national title (even if, like me, they figure UT is going to get clobbered, not unlike the way the Big 12 lost to the SEC a year ago). ↵

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↵So as far as the national-title game goes, you won't hear many complaints -- same as last year ... and the year before that ... and the year before that ... and, in fact, every year of the BCS except the two-year cluster-blunder in '03 and '04. Even those years: Most fans just couldn't rise to the level of outrage, accepting the result and moving on to the NFL playoffs. As for 2009's non-title BCS bowls: ↵

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↵Most fans will be more intrigued by the matchup of TCU and Boise State -- the first time two non-BCS teams have been paired in a BCS-level bowl -- than they would if TCU crushed uninspiring Iowa and Boise State obviously beat Georgia Tech, out of the sorry ACC. (See next item.) ↵

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↵The Sugar Bowl gets the biggest brand-name in college football -- Tim Tebow and the defending champs -- against an unbeaten Cincy. The Rose Bowl remains provincial, insulated from caring about national interest, anyway. The only dog is the Orange -- but that's typical. ↵

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↵Critics howl, but while most fans would love to see a playoff, they aren't going to dwell on it. They simply want to see a title game that passes the eye (and the smell) test. Alabama and Texas will deliver, whether BCS critics like it or not. ↵

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↵Of all people, I should be ticked: If I had ultimate say, I would have picked Alabama and TCU as 1-2, playing for the national title. But the reality -- not the perennial playoff fantasy -- is that fans will be satisfied. It's not as good as a playoff, but that's not the point. ↵

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↵The Cinderella Bowl: TCU vs. Boise St. Like I just argued, I totally disagree with the cynics who think that the BCS shunted non-BCS upstarts TCU and Boise into the Fiesta Bowl. For starters, the Fiesta has its own vested interest in creating its best matchup possible. Second, fan attendance matters -- and Boise fans have proven ready to go to Arizona. ↵

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↵Third, the matchup has obvious appeal: It's a "Cinderella Bowl." Elitist critics of the Fiesta's picks forget that most college football fans actually will think this is a neat idea. And it's history: Beyond the first-ever BCS-level bowl pairing with two non-BCS teams, it's the first time a bowl other than the national title game has had two unbeatens, and it's the first. ↵

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↵Lastly, would you really have wanted to see TCU thump Iowa and Boise thwack Georgia Tech? What would that have proven? Sure, it would have been fun to see TCU play Cincy or Florida, but -- frankly -- I wanted to see TCU play Alabama, so the next-most compelling thing for me (and most fans) is to see them play another non-BCS upstart. ↵

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↵Don't blame the Fiesta Bowl -- blame the human pollsters, who could have (and should have) uniformly voted TCU ahead of Texas into the No. 2 spot to play Alabama. That's the real failure here. ↵

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↵Coaches Ballot: Kudos to Brian Kelly for giving his 1st-place vote to his own team. I like that. And I like that Gary Patterson voted his TCU No. 2, behind Bama (so did I). ↵

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↵Naturally, the only other coaches to agree with him were five voters from outside BCS power conferences. Mostly, the Coaches' ballot revealed biases and log-rolling that run so deep that it proves they should have no business being part of the process. ↵

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↵NFL Weekend Wrap: ↵

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↵• Saints escape: Given the crazy plays, the extreme conditions and -- of course -- the near-loss, you would be forgiven for applying "Team of Destiny" to the Saints. Others might say: "Well, if they almost lost to the Redskins, how good could the Saints really be?" ↵

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↵• Vick cheered in Atlanta homecoming: 2 TDs, one rushing and one passing, in the most anticipated homecoming of the season. Vick couldn't have picked a better moment to thrive -- have the Eagles suddenly become the team to beat in the NFC East? ↵

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↵(Or would that be the Giants? I would argue that by beating Dallas, New York merely kept themselves from oblivion, rather than affirmatively staking their claim as the best team in the division.) ↵

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↵• What's wrong with the Patriots? Let's try Occam's Razor: Contrary to their preseason rep, they're just not an elite team this year. Our expectations and assumptions have been faulty, from the start. That they can't put teams away with their defense has to be most troubling to Pats fans. (Stat of the Game: 52 pass attempts for Chad Henne?) ↵

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↵• Colts still unbeaten: No Saints-like problems for Indy, which not only rolls along but derails the Titans/VY bandwagon -- not entirely unexpected, of course, and Tennessee can still finish with 9 wins. ↵

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↵• Result to prove you know NOTHING about the NFL: Raiders over Steelers in Pittsburgh. Did that just end the Steelers' season? (Runner-up: Cards over Vikings.) ↵

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↵• Unexpected Fantasy Studs: QB Bruce Gradkowski, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Devin Thomas. ↵

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↵College Football Hangover ↵

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↵• Alabama destroys Florida: I have never seen a very good team beat another very good team so decisively on both sides of the ball. This was no Florida pounding an overmatched Ohio State; Bama shredded the Gators' best-in-nation D and neutered Florida's solid offense. ↵

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↵• Tebow's Tears: Was it a signature moment for the most competitive player in college football history? Or merely fodder for haters to mock? Both. The most fascinating detail of Saturday: Tebow's eye-black "John 16:33" was the No. 1 most-searched term in Google ... until it was bumped to No. 2 by "Tim Tebow crying." What a symbol of Tebow's ultimate influence, like no other college football player ever. ↵

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↵• USChadenfreude: 6th-place finish in the Pac-10. Humiliating season-ending loss to Arizona, bookending the humiliating season-starting loss to Washington. Pete Carroll's private life being mocked by Charlie Weis, of all people. Enjoy it while it lasts. ↵

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↵• My final regular-season BlogPoll ballot: (1) Alabama, (2) TCU. And, frankly, that's all that matters. I think that, like Utah a year ago, the unbeaten MWC champ is playing as well as any team in the country. (Certainly better than Texas -- TCU with a better resume, too.) ↵

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↵• Heisman Watch: He isn't going to be a finalist, let alone win, but you can't have watched the Big 12 title game and not come away realizing that Ndamukong Suh is the best player in the country. My (fake) ballot: (1) Mark Ingram, (2) Ndamukong Suh, (3) CJ Spiller. ↵

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↵• Notre Dame Coaching Search: Nothing yet. Have they called Brian Kelly? If not, why not? The fact that ND doesn't have a coach in place today suggests that the search isn't going to go nearly as smoothly as it should if it was being run correctly. ↵

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↵BCS vs. Congress: Let's clarify this week's Congressional priority -- it's not to make the BCS illegal; it's to keep the BCS from calling itself a "championship." Fine: I had already advised the BCS to re-brand itself. (Again: Doesn't Congress have better things to do?) ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Greg Oden is the NBA's hardest-luck player since Shaun Livingston (or maybe Randy Livingston). Oden should be a franchise-changing talent; now it's a question whether he'll ever really contribute. (Real villain in all this: NBA's age limit.) ↵

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↵The Suns are a nice surprise, but the Lakers showed them how far they have to go to be a real contender in the West. ↵

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↵CBB Weekend Mania: Did you happen to catch John Wall's nationally televised coming-out appearance on Saturday in Kentucky's win over UNC? He is clearly the best player in the country, and arguably the most exciting guard in college basketball since Allen Iverson. (Or is that since Derrick Rose?) ↵

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↵World Cup Draw: The flip side to the U.S.'s favorable draw is clear -- anything less than a trip to the knock-out round should be considered a massive failure. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Will Chone Figgins' signing with the Mariners open up the signing season ... or simply prove to be this year's big-money deal that ultimately fails to deliver? ↵

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↵Tiger Woods Scandal Watch: Are we up to 6 or 7 mistresses? More? The only good thing is that, at some point, the numbers all run together into something like "Geez, that seems like a lot." One or two were titillating; half-a-dozen is boring. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, which interviewer will "get" Tiger? If he was smart, he would do Oprah. The story is too mainstream for ESPN, and the Golf Channel would be too deferential to its cash cow. With Oprah, Tiger will get the smack-around we all want to see, but gently. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "BCS! That's why they make that call! -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, on the refs' decision to put one last second on the clock after Colt McCoy threw the ball out of bounds on Texas' last -- then second-to-last -- play. ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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