We talkin' 'bout playoffs? Not really, but since it's the topic of discussion in every thread this week, let's address it right up top. First, yes, there is confusion and intellectual dishonesty and rank hypocrisy in the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. Alabama has utterly no business being in the top 4 of any ranking based on the evidence actually before the committee. Their resume is worse than Florida's, and at best comparable to Iowa's, and the Ole Miss loss alone should probably be the disqualifier than such a loss would be to any other program.
But when Jeff Long comes out to talk about how the Committee ranked the teams and oscillates between on-paper analytical dissection of strength of schedule and results against common opponents, then turns on a dime to include Alabama after what he calls a "deep dive" and knock Iowa for its offensive inconsistency (which, what?), he's simply reflecting the same issue that pollsters have faced for 100 years: Should the "eye test" matter?
As with anything about the game, Chris Brown from Smart Football clarifies the issue better than anyone:
But in most sports that have playoffs, like the NFL or the NBA, the criteria for getting to the playoffs is basically objective. Most playoff spots are decided based on win/loss records, with certain mechanical tiebreakers in place and known in advance. It's not that the playoff crowns the best or most deserving team — just ask the 10-6 New York Giants that knocked off the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. It's that the loser has nothing to complain about: Everyone knows the rules.
Yet the new College Football Playoff lacks the very thing that makes playoffs in other sports so palatable, namely a semblance of objective certainty. While the defective BCS formula should have been interred long ago, it has been replaced by a Council of Platonic Guardians. The College Football Playoff selection committee will meet confidentially, then announce the identities of the playoff participants by edict. That's not exactly what I'd call "settling it on the field."
Everyone believed that the nightmare scenario for a playoff was 2007, where there were no undefeated teams and two-loss LSU eventually made the national championship game because everyone else lost in the last two weeks of the season. But what's potentially coming this season is far worse: The chances that an undefeated Power 5 champion doesn't make the field because half the committee prefers the "eye test" (read: Traditional SEC power) and picks Alabama. And I don't think the Committee would let that happen this early into the experiment.
Or it could just be that Jeff Long is terrible at explaining the decisions of a group he's supposed to lead. And for anyone who doesn't believe in "win them all" at this point, mGoBlog breaks down the national playoff field about as well as I've seen.
The rocks in the river below. Rankings are not going to derail Iowa (win every game and they are in, people). What could end the season with an unimaginable loss? The heath of C.J. Beathard. And by all accounts, C.J. Beathard is not healthy.
If it looked as if Beathard could've run for 100 yards against Maryland, it's because he might've been able to. There were big, open lanes, particularly in the second half when Iowa could've used a few first downs.
But when Beathard went to hit the gas . . .
"Obviously, there were times in the game where I wish I could've tucked it down and ran with it a little bit," said Beathard, who was sacked four times and held to negative rushing yards for the first time this season (minus-14). "A couple of times I did do that and it just didn't feel right. I just kind of got down a couple of times. I just didn't feel full speed.
"It's frustrating, but that's how it is right now."
The Des Moines Register got video with Beathard that plays like the Shawn Michaels "I lost my smile" promo for about five seconds, which only further proves that this is a serious problem. Beathard says it's a hip/groin issue, which coincides with some rumors floating around the darkened corners of the Iowa internet over the last few weeks. If he can make it through the next five games -- that fifth one, especially, no matter what opponent comes out of the East -- he gets a month to rest before a bowl game. And my guess is that if Iowa's season ends on January 1, you'll hear about C.J. Beathard's much-needed surgery on about January 4. The kid is clearly playing through something that would cripple a normal man, and he's tough as nails.
Depth chartin'. Not much new on Iowa's depth chart for Indiana. The offensive line is beginning to resemble its September self, with Boone Myers moving back to left tackle and Cole Croston filling in for the injured Ike Boettger on the right end of the line. James Daniels, who played three positions in two weeks, is officially back to second-string duty. There's still no Jordan Canzeri on the two-deep, but he could potentially play this week (probably a "Break in case of emergency" situation). The defense is basically the same as it has been since Drew Ott was injured.
"Is he all redshirted and fuzzy and mossy?" Iowa basketball has a familiar problem: Fourteen viable players and 200 minutes per game to distribute between them. And so, as is expected in a class with six new guys at a school that isn't Kentucky, we could see some redshirting. The only surprise is who could get them:
So McCaffery plans to red-shirt at least one and maybe two freshmen before next week's season opener. Both the decisions and the discussions are on the way.
"I think we need to make it pretty soon, yeah," McCaffery said Wednesday. "I think you need to make it pretty soon, and then make sure that what we think makes sense as a red-shirt is exactly what the player thinks, because if the player doesn't agree, that's a problem. So there will be discussion there in regard to why and what we think is best, and then hopefully everybody is all in.
"Could be more than one. Probably at least one."
The likely red-shirt candidates are wings Isaiah Moss (6-5) and Brandon Hutton (6-5). Moss played five minutes and Hutton played only two in the Hawkeyes' exhibition last week against Sioux Falls.
Dochterman goes on to say that Christian Williams is being groomed as the next starting point guard, and won't redshirt so that he can get game time at the one. Ahmad Wagner is needed in the post, and Andrew Fleming and Dale Jones are needed for perimeter scoring but need to improve defensively.
Redshirting Moss makes some sense, as he missed the summer while resolving a grade issue. But Hutton was seen by many, including us, as a potential off-the-bench lockdown defender. That he could get redshirted in favor of Fleming despite Fleming's admitted defensive trouble shows where McCaffery thinks he needs help this year.
Dochterman says that expansion is the reason why Iowa's schedule sucks, which is certainly true. Prior to the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, Iowa was supposed to play Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State in 2015. Expansion diluted the Big Ten pool and pulled Iowa away from premiere opponents in the east, and that's before we even considered the apparent demise of Nebraska football. But it also meant that we play border rivals every year. In a year where you need style points, it sucks. In most years, it means a lot more fun.
We'll cover this in greater detail when we have a chance to catch our breath, but former athletics administrator Jane Meyer has filed her long-awaited discrimination claim against the UI. Meyer, the partner of fired field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, was basically shoved into another position outside the athletics department once Griesbaum had threatened a discrimination suit.
"Win. Graduate. Do it right" seems like eons ago at this point, but for those who are interested in the second and third components of that statement, Iowa's graduating student-athletes like you can't believe.
Purdue thinks it can still win the Big Ten West. Nobody show them what Nebraska's record is.
The Classical looks at what it means for a quarterback to be "clutch" with stats and everything. The findings? Arkansas' Brandon Allen and Iowa State's Sam Richardson, important to Iowa fans for completely different reasons, are two of the least clutch quarterbacks in the country.
Oregon basketball scheduled a warm-up game against Northwest Christian, a Division II NAIA program whose campus is less than a mile from Oregon's arena. So the coach, a former Oregon player, took some of the paycheck from that game and rented his team a stretch Escalade to make the one-mile trip.