Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: College football playoffs imminent

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by the "plus-one" format: It's gonna happen.

Q: Well, there is unprecedented support for such a college football "playoff," which would match the BCS Nos. 1 and 4 seeds and the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds in semifinals, then play the title game between the winners. Do you like this idea?

A: I do. I remain a bowl guy. I think I'll die a bowl guy. The NCAA eventually will institute a 496-team playoff, and I'll still be talking about the glory days of bowls. Plus-one works for me.

Q: But what about the No. 5 team? Let's face it: In every other sport, doesn't the fifth-best team get a shot at the title?

A: Yeah, but I'm OK with them not getting it in college football. All sports needn't be the same. ESPN might want it that way, but I'm cool with a system where you'd better be great - not just good, and certainly not mediocre (see: New York Knicks, 2010-11) - to make the postseason.

Q: Danica Patrick, who is slated to make her Sprint Cup debut in next month's Daytona 500, says she wants to be a honey badger this season, because "the Honey Badger, he doesn't give a [crud], he takes what he wants. And that's how I'm going to be this year, like a honey badger." Thoughts?

A: Pretty sure the Honey Badger never wanted 27th-place finishes, which is what she'll be taking more often than not this year. (Prove me wrong, Honey Badger II! Prove me wrong!)

Q: What do you think about running back David Wilson leaving Virginia Tech early for the NFL?

A: Good for him. Can't deny the man his dream, and with the Hokies retooling the offensive line next year, it would be hard to match his record-setting rushing total from this season.

Q: But what about loyalty to your school?

A: Haha! Good one. Let's let coaches go first on that one.

Q: Huh?

A: I present to you former Duke head coach Ted Roof, who recently was named Central Florida's defensive coordinator †for about a month. Hired Dec. 8 by UCF, he bolted for Penn State on Friday when the opportunity arose. Don't blame him either.

Q: The Yankees have been uncharacteristically quiet this offseason, but they made some news last week, acquiring pitcher Michael Pineda from the Mariners for catcher Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi. Who wins this deal?

A: Yankees in a landslide. Pineda's only 22 and can hit 100 on the radar gun. His slider's even filthier; I'm pretty sure I saw UVa alum Mark Reynolds miss one of those by about 8 feet on MASN last season. In a tepid free-agent market for starting pitching, this is a huge get. The Yankees have three other high-quality catchers in their farm system, so Montero - though talented offensively - was expendable.

Q: San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith got a $1 million bonus for playing in Saturday's playoff game against the Saints when he triggered an incentive clause in his contract. You ever experience anything like that?

A: Sort of. One time, I covered a VHSL playoff game at Virginia High, and the company paid for my dinner at the Iron Skillet on the way home. If you've ever had the country-fried steak at that place, you know that's worth close to a million.

Q: Best quote on the blog last week?

A: We've got two. From Steve, regarding the not-so-thrilling BCS national championship game: "Have you heard that the LSU team is still in New Orleans? Seems someone painted a 50-yard line across the highway."

And from Rick H., on the Virginia Tech-Florida State basketball clang-fest on Tuesday that was won by the Seminoles: "Back in the day, if he knew this was what he was about to invent, Dr. Naismith would've left the peaches in the baskets and the baskets in the barn."

Q: Would Dr. Naismith favor a plus-one?

A: I'm with Rick. Not if he saw that game.

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