Saturday, October 07, 2006

USC Game Day: Tuberville's Dangerous Mind

We can probably all agree that the mind is a very powerful thing. And like anything with power, the mind can be beautiful or it can be dangerous. In college football, the mind is perhaps the single most important ingredient for winning championships.

As we know, Pete Carroll (left) understands this. Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville, not so much.

To motivate his team and perhaps influence voters heading toward the first BCS ranking, the War Eagle head coach let loose this week with a few comments about what he thinks is the matter at hand.

Now let’s remember, Auburn is 5-0 and ranked No. 2 in the AP poll. Yet Tuberville expressed doubt that any SEC team – not just Auburn, but any SEC team – will be included in a BCS National Championship Game this year.

Joe Schad of, perhaps thinking that he would gain some insight into Auburn’s contest versus Arkansas today (aka the actual matter at hand), was instead treated to Tuberville’s ramblings about a BCS system that is certain to cheat him this year, he thinks.
"I've about had it with this playoff deal," Tuberville said after a lengthy, emotional argument for a playoff. "We all understand in our conference how tough it is. In our conference, [a playoff is] about the only chance we'd have to make it [to the BCS Championship Game]."

The SEC boasts five teams in the Top 13 of the AP poll: Auburn (No. 2), Florida (No. 5), LSU (No. 9), Georgia (No. 10) and Tennessee (No. 13).

While Auburn, Florida and Georgia are all undefeated, Florida plays LSU this week and Auburn the week after. And Georgia plays Tennessee this week.

Two years ago, Auburn finished 13-0, but did not appear in the national championship game.

"There is no reason on this earth why we can't have the best four and then play one more," Tuberville said. "That's the legitimate thing to do.”
We certainly remember the source of Tommy’s angst two seasons ago. USC was also 13-0 after a 55-19 domination of previously unbeaten Oklahoma in the National Championship 2005 Orange Bowl. The night before, Auburn held on to beat two-loss Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl, and Tuberville showed up in Miami to state his case for a piece of the championship.

We also remember the patsies Auburn played that year. In addition to its weak SEC schedule, which included only four teams with a winning record, War Eagle beat up on Louisiana-Monroe (Sunbelt), Louisiana Tech (WAC) and the Citadel of the proud 1-AA Southern Conference … 1-AA? USC played Virginia Tech, Colorado State, BYU, and Notre Dame. In fact, USC is one of only seven schools (all in the Pac-10 and Big-10) never to have played a 1-AA school since the division was created in 1978. But, I digress …

With all the facts shoved into the southern smirk on his face, Tuberville (right) was forced to stand quiet at the Orange Bowl as USC’s supremacy was made obviously clear to any sane person following college football. This didn’t include Tuberville, but he could find no valid argument in his mind, at least not one that anyone would listen to.

The result is that Tuberville – being the smart guy he thinks he is – decided to start his lobbying a little early this year, assuming that War Eagle will run the table. And why shouldn’t he assume, what with Buffalo, Tulane and Arkansas State on his schedule?

The danger of Tuberville's thinking is that he probably shouldn’t assume anything. He should probably focus solely on his task at hand and let his team concentrate only on the things they can control. You know, just take one game at a time.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. Here’s what our man Pete Carroll said at a press conference leading up to the National Championship 2005 Orange Bowl:
It was real important to me to keep [the 2004 season] on a game-to-game basis and not look at the whole season, not look at the No. 1 ranking and all that. We didn't talk about that at all during the season. … As far as we were concerned, it really wasn't that difficult in that regard. I thought it would be more of a burden, and it wasn't. We tried to enjoy it for the fact that we had that opportunity as much as anything. … I understand so little about the BCS process. … I don't get it.
Oh, he gets it alright. By making a stink about the BCS less than half way through the season, Tuberville isn’t influencing pollsters or motivating his team as much as he is distracting it from the task at hand each week. Pete Carroll knows this because his mind is a powerful thing.

Tommy Tuberville? Not so much.
east coast bias

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