Did Archie Manning run afoul of the football Illuminati? Weeks ago he was ensconced amongst the college football Pharisees, set to pump out the white smoke of mixed metaphors every Tuesday and announce the anointed or anoint the announced, depending on how you read the situation. His alma mater was the undefeated defensive behemoth with a “streaky is a good thing” quarterback, solid wins over ranked Alabama and Texas A&M, and a coach with a realistic possibility of mainstreaming two third sleeves fall/winter wear.
As it stands now Archie Manning faces multiple medical procedures, his team has dropped two straight games (both to teams whose mascot is a tiger which may or may not hold meaning) and surrendered any hope of non-Independence Bowl post season glory. I am not a statistical pool, but I have received several Christmas oriented catalogues and all have been quite firm on the full sleeve winter wear front. What went wrong?
If you are a reasonable person, you blame natural wear and tear associated with aging, running up the middle, goal line broken left legs, and natural reduction in temperature as the Earth stretches the limits of its Newtonian relationship with the sun and human forearm reaction to the same. A non-reasonable person might ask why all this hit poor Archie all at once and suspect foul play.
Is there a conspiracy against him?
No. That’s just a bunch of junk that ran through my mind while I reheated my spaghetti this afternoon. Sucks for Archie, but that’s what happens when you let your kid go to UT. I have to admit that it did get me thinking about the powers that be in college football. Could they abuse their authority? How? Specifically I thought about what I would do if I were on the College Football Playoff Committee to deflect charges of SEC/non-SEC bias?
Put in too many SEC teams and the rest of the nation erupts in protest. Don’t put enough in and they’ve undermined their relationship with the strongest fan base in the sport.
Tin foil hats on now.
The “College Football Playoff Committee” as a phrase is an unwieldy moniker. “CFPC” is mildly Soviet. For the purposes of this post I’m going to refer to this particular Manning-less deliberative body as “Douglas.” It’s a good name, but as a father given two chances to name real live human males, one I passed on. I like it, but I’m not afraid to criticize.
My brother-in-law and I were sharing the couch and comfy chairs area of Saw’s Juke Joint with a nice couple. He was bearded, witty, an Auburn fan, and had Bama bangs. I kind of thought that hair swoop was our thing, but I don’t get out as much since I’ve had kids. She looked like you would expect Helen Mirren to look like if she were in her late twenties or early thirties until you see early Helen Mirren pictures. That’s sort of jarring. Early Helen Mirren looks more like you would expect early Bette Midler to be. Our couch mate, being neither Midler nor Mirren, had piercing eyes, sharp features, and fine hair without forty years of extrapolation. But still, she was Mirrenesque.
Our conversation was naturally on the subject of SEC college football as every television in the place was tuned to the Auburn/Ole Miss game, despite the pleas of one comical and oddly androgynous Buckeye fan. We were all relieved that Douglas, despite grumbling about conference championships and injuries playing a part, had signaled to the nation that they would pick the best four teams regardless of conference affiliation. That has been the theme of the Finebaum show since last Wednesday. It was the talk of my corner of the interwebs. Strength of schedule trumps lobbying. Happy times for the SEC. But in the course of our conversation something occurred to me.
I get into a lot of political discussions. I’m a zealot on the subject of absolute free speech. It’s practically a fetish with me. Every so often I’m talking with someone and they say some variation on “I’m a defender of people’s right to freedom of speech, as long as it doesn’t offend anyone.” What does that even mean? What speech, apart from offensive speech, needs defending? Are the writers of fawning sonnets about teddy bears in need of a champion? Of course not. Some twit is just trying to drape himself in unearned courage by making a bold sounding statement that never needs to be backed up.
I think that’s what Douglas is up to here. There were three SEC teams in the inaugural top four, four in the top six. Among those four, there were still three losses to be handed out. The problem of having too many teams from one division was set to, and has begun to, take care of itself.
If, in December, the final four include a three-loss PAC12 champion and only one SEC team, has the committee inoculated itself from criticism? Can Douglas point back to late October and claim that they gave the SEC its chance? Did they just make a bold sounding statement knowing it never needs to be backed up?
I floated this idea to my brother-in-law, confused Bama bangs, and Helen Mirren. It was generally agreed that I spend too much time alone in dark rooms. But I’m still not dissuaded. Last week’s rankings do nothing to assure me that Barry Alvarez et al didn’t float an SEC heavy first ranking as cover for the shameless promotion of the jealous hordes that’s to come. Am I crazy?
Completely unrelated side note: While trying to find a picture to go with this post I looked for the first time at the playoff logo. It’s above. Scroll up and take a look. Does it appear… how should I put this? Feminine? Rather than offending half the population of the planet, is it within the realm of possibilities that Jamies Winston’s student union table riding exclamation was a rallying cry to his team? “Eyes on the prize,” or some such? “Let’s go get that trophy lads!” but in the modern vernacular?