Sunday, July 01, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Some cheese to go with that Mac

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by Q&A-Mac: Not the exclusive property it was thought to be.

Q: No kidding! How about Virginia Tech football beat writer Andy Bitter serving up a little Q&A-Bit of his own in the paper earlier this week regarding the new college football playoffs?

A: Yep. Great job as usual by Andy. Very insightful analysis. My favorite part, though, was when his question guy exclaimed "Balderdash!" You bring very little humor by comparison.

Q: Ouch. Seriously?

A: Step up your game.

Q: I'll try. Anyway, what's your take on the four-team playoff approved for the 2014 season?

A: I'm fine with it. But then again, I was fine with what we had before, which puts me in line with approximately 0 percent with the rest of the population - particularly my media brethren. I'm a big regular-season guy, and I'm glad that's still going to mean something.

Q: So no problems at all? How provocative! What kind of columnist are you?

A: Oh, there are going to be problems, and I look forward to them. The No. 1 issue with this new system - and by far the most compelling change, to me - is the advent of a selection committee. I can only imagine all the bashing these guys will take.

Q: Their decisions can't be blasted any more than the BCS formula, right?

A: Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes, there's comfort in being able to hide behind numbers - even esoteric ones like .9419 (Alabama) and .9333 (Oklahoma State) in last season's final BCS standings. You start putting faces on these decisions and folks start getting death threats.

Q: But how hard could it be for the committee, really? Just pick the four best teams. It's not like No. 5 teams that get left out in this new system have as much justification to complain as the No. 3 teams in the old system, is it?

A: No, but they'll complain. Some of them will have a legitimate gripe. And the process will, in fact, be extremely hard for the committee. Earlier this week, veteran college football writer Tony Barnhart went back over the past five years and selected four playoff participants for each season. His choices demonstrated just what a difficult -- and potentially toxic -- job this is.

Q: Example?

A: In 2007, Barnhart selected Virginia Tech as a No. 3 seed. The Hokies went 11-2 that year en route to claiming the ACC title, with both losses coming to teams ranked No. 2 at the time Tech played them. So you could make a case that they belonged.

Q: So what's the problem?

A: Barnhart has them matched against No. 2-seeded LSU in the first round - the same LSU team that crushed the Hokies 48-7 in the second week of the season. Just imagine the talk shows diving into that little factoid for three weeks. And just imagine how angry the teams that missed the cut by an eyelash would be about it.

Q: Top comment on the blog this week?

A: Let's go with hokie24, poking fun at how some sports announcers say plenty without saying anything at all. Writes hokie24: "We've got a great matchup here today, Bob! One of these teams is gonna win, and one of these teams is gonna lose. What is the key to winning this game today, Bob?"

"I tell you, Jim, when I sit back and look at everything that's coming together in this matchup, to me there is one main key that stands out in my mind. I really believe that the team that scores more points than the other team before time expires is going to win this ballgame."

Q: Hey, those announcers sound a little bit like you in this weekly column. Both deliver a heaping pile of codswallop, I say! (How was that?)

A: You're getting there. We'll work on it.

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