From the "Talks Too Much Studios" here we go.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban smiles during a news conference for the BCS National Championship college football game Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in New Orleans. Alabama faces LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012.Photo by (AP Photo by Dave Martin)
Saban in Nashville
Alabama coach Nick Saban spoke at the Jason Foundation luncheon in Nashville on Tuesday and shared what is hardly a surprising view about a four-team playoff of only conference champions.
“There are conferences that are in the BCS that if they played in the SEC, their champion may be in fourth or fifth place,” he told reporters at the event. “… If you’re one of the best two teams, you should be able to play in the game. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to get back in the game this year, and I think we proved with our performance that we should have been in the game.”
This gets to an interesting dilemma. We said throughout the year that the current system should be changed so that a team needed to be a conference champ to be in the BCS title game.
But if you are expanding the BCS to be a four-team playoff — and what's a playoff without a wildcard team, right? — we have to agree with Saban. In fact, after winning the last six BCS titles and with having three SEC West teams ranked 1-2-3 in November of last year, it's hard to deny that there are several teams in the SEC each year that are better than other power conference champions.
This may be a bigger hurdle than we first thought. Of course commissioners of the other conferences are going to want a seat at the four-team playoff, but if we had a four team playoff of conference champions using last year's system the four-team playoff would have looked like this (with BCS rankings):
No. 1-seeded LSU (No. 1) vs. No. 4-seeded Wisconsin (ranked 10th in the BCS);
No. 2-seeded Oklahoma State (No. 3 in the BCS) vs. No. 3-seeded Oregon (No. 5 in the BCS).
So using last year, the proposed four-team playoff of conference champs would have left out the teams ranked second (Alabama), fourth (Stanford) and sixth through ninth (Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State and South Carolina). How is that a better, more complete way to determine a champion again?
It's starting to look like four is tough, especially if only conference champs are invited (and that's not even bringing into the fact that the ACC champ nor the Big East champ was included). That means we're back to the eight-team field the 5-at-10 proposed last December. You can re-read the column about it here (Greeson: Regular season still big in ‘Power Polka’ playoff), but know that the idea started from a mailbag question.
Keegan Bradley celebrates on the 18th green after winning a three-hole playoff against Jason Dufner at the PGA Championship golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
PGA Tour changes
The PGA Tour announced some significant changes Tuesday.
The first one is the season schedule will start with the fall events directly after the FedEx Cup playoffs are completed. Whether these events get full points — and a berth to the Masters for the winner — have not been decided yet, but more than likely the tournaments will be given full status. These decisions were made in an effort to help the fall tournaments keep their sponsorships and attract the top stars. (Now the fall events are mainly for players who are trying to secure their spot in the top 125 on the money list and secure their Tour card for the following season.)
The other big change is the end of Q-School being a direct path to getting a Tour card. The idea rough draft is that the top 75 players on the Nationwide Tour and players ranked from 126th to 200th on the PGA money list and have them play a three-tournament series for 50 Tour cards. This is done primarily to give more strength to the Nationwide Tour, which will be looking for a new title as soon as next year if Nationwide doesn't re-up for a Tour that has had more names than Liz Taylor.
PGA commissioner Tim Finchem said that when things are going well is the time to look to ways to improve, taking a pre-emptive swing at the "If it's not broke, don't fix it," line of thinking. He's right in some ways, but he's kidding himself if he thinks people don't view this in at least some ways of the Tour looking to prop up some of its struggling financial entities. And there's nothing wrong with that, but at least have the common sense to say it.
And either way, the death of Q-school as we know it is sad.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward smiles after making a catch during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins on Monday, Nov. 3, 2008, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Wow, the NFL news keeps coming
OK, buckle up. On Tuesday...
— The Broncos introduced Peyton Manning with a five-year, $96 million contract. If he's healthy, Manning makes the Broncos a Super Bowl contender. Period. He'll be paid $18 million this season, but that's the only guaranteed coin. He'll have to pass a physical each year before the season to collect each year's salary.
— With Manning in town, Denver now is taking offers on Tim Tebow, last year's starting QB who won over the fan base but not the front office with an erractic style that produce thrilling victories that made jaws drop and delivered wounded ducks that made VP John Elway cover his eyes. There are four confirmed teams that have held discussions about acquiring Tebow. Reportedly, the New York Jets (crazy idea), the Green Bay Packers (brilliant), the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars (they must make it happen) have either approached Denver or have discussed it internally. The Jets can't happen — terrible fit, unstable QB situation would become even more unstable. The Packers need a back-up after Matt Flynn signed with Seattle and there's no one in Packers nation who thinks Tebow should play over Aaron Rodgers. This would be an excellent fit for Tebow and team. The Dolphins have reportedly backed out. And everyone knows that Jacksonville needs Tebow more than any team in the league. Adding Tebow, who is from the Jacksonville area and was a legendary player for the Florida Gators, would energize a sagging fan base that regulary does not sell out home games. Sure, it would make matters difficult for last year's first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, but let's be truthfully, if your name is Blaine you've dealt with adversity your entire life so we know he can handle it. (Seriously, Blaine? Was he named after an Andrew McCarthy character from the 1980s Brat Pack movies?)
— Hines Ward retired from the NFL on Tuesday, saying he felt he could still play but he knew he couldn't ever play for any other organization than the Steelers. Tip of the helmet to Ward, who was a class guy on and off the field. He was a tough guy, a team guy — even back to his days at UGA —and an unselfish player. He holds every meaningful Steelers receiving record and has two Super Bowl rings. Here's saying he'll be in the Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.
— Alex Smith rejoined the 49ers after San Fran's unsuccessful flirtation with Manning. Wonder if Hallmark makes a card to help the jilted QB-Coach relationship.
— While all the Manning-Tebow talk was going on, the Philadelphia Eagles quietly made the best move of the offseason so far. The linebacker-starved Eagles dealt a fourth-round pick to Houston for Demeco Ryans. Yes, a fourth-round pick for a tackling machine who may be one of the best leaders in the NFL. Granted, Ryans has battled some injury problems recently, but still. When Ryans is comeback player of the year and in the Pro Bowl next year, remember this.
Crew chief Chad Knaus talks at a new conference during the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
This and that
— Baylor star center Brittney Griner threw down a drop-step dunk in the NCAA tournament last night. She's the Wilt Chamberlain of the women's game. (Watch it, Spy, be very careful because you know this is a family-oriented, Interweb-based sports column.)
— NASCAR reinstated crew chief Chad Knaus on Tuesday and returned 25 points to Jimmie Johnson. The penalties — a six-race suspension, the stripped points and a $100,000 fine (which was not returned) — were from violations discovered before the season-opening Daytona 500.
— Lance Berkman is likable guy. He's arguably one of the top five switch hitters of all-time — Mantle, Murray, Chipper are the top three and then there's a big group together — and was comeback player of the year last year for the world champion Cardinals. And dude speaks his mind. The longtime former Astros star said, "I feel basically like the commissioner extorted Jim Crane into moving the Astros," about Houston switching to the American League in 2013. Tell us how you really feel Lance.
Grab the mic and speak your peace.
Need a starting point, huh? OK, here's one:
What's the best free agent signing of all-time?
Need another one? Fine.
Which of the following sequels would you go see first?
— Dodgeball 2: Cotton gets new shorts
— Hoosiers 2: The Day after when Coach outdrinks Shooter
— Rudy II: Grad school Rudy makes life miserable for Dan Devine
— 17 candles: Molly Ringwald and Michael Anthony Hall needed the check
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...