Saturday, December 01, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: NCAA forgets its own bowl-game guideline

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought you by worms: Don't fill the cans with 'em if you know you're going to pull the lid off four months later.

Q: Clearly you want to talk the NCAA's handling of Georgia Tech. Did I guess it?

A: You did. Impressive.

Q: So what do you think of the NCAA's handling of Georgia Tech?

A: Disastrous. In August, the NCAA created a specific pecking order for bowl selection when there is a shortfall of eligible teams to fill all the bowl slots. The Yellow Jackets, assuming they lose to Florida State in today's ACC championship game and fall to 6-7, would be in the third tier behind, say, a 6-6 team that padded its record with two wins over FCS teams.

Q: Yeah, but there's no shortfall this year. Why is this relevant?

A: Maybe it isn't, technically. And you can bet that's what the NCAA will argue. But they've essentially explained who should be able to go to bowls and who shouldn't and in what order. And now it's not going to matter.

Q: Why?

A: On Thursday, the NCAA approved Georgia Tech's waiver request to be bowl eligible in the event they lose to the Seminoles. You know the Jackets are going to leapfrog teams that are higher on the pecking order. Somebody like San Jose State or Central Michigan is going to be furious and will have every right to be.

Q: Yeah, but why should the Yellow Jackets be punished for having a better ACC record than 6-6 Virginia Tech or 6-6 Duke and having to play in the title game?

A: I agree wholeheartedly. That's why those guidelines never should have been written in the first place. Don't enact them if you're not going to follow them or honor their spirit.

Q: Have you considered that all this might be moot and the Jackets will win today?

A: Briefly. But if they do, there won't be many on hand to witness it. Hundreds (thousands?) of tickets for the ACC title game were being sold on eBay this week for as little as $4.

Q: Why so cheap?

A: The ACC got some bad luck with this one. If this were one of those years were the game was in Jacksonville or Tampa, it'd draw a decent crowd. Can't see the masses traveling to Charlotte to see a potential blowout.

Q: What are your thoughts on Louisville joining the league?

A: Could be worse, for sure. The Cardinals certainly add to the sports profile. I just love the commissioner's backtracking on academic standards, though. Used to be a big talking point for him. Suddenly it isn't. Hmm. Sell what you can, I guess.

Q: Can the Virginia Tech basketball team beat No. 15 Oklahoma State today and move to 7-0?

A: Tall order. But if the Hokies can be half as entertaining as they were against Iowa, you've got to consider it progress. James Johnson's most immediate task is building momentum and interest in the program. He's off to a great start in that regard.

Q: Comment of the week on the blog?

A: Let's go with this one from Scott Whitaker on the NCAA (there's more to his post than this, but this is how it starts): "When it comes to rules, I'm like a lemming falling over a cliff. If some sign says do it, I do it, and if it says don't, I don't. The movie theater sign says no outside food, I chuck the piece of candy that's been in my coat pocket for a month. And I'll sit at a faulty red light at 2 a.m. until it either works or I decide to find another way home.

"But too often, if you give an entity the authority to make rules, it becomes like opium to an addict; they don't know when to stop."

Q: Worms and cans, right?

A: You got it.

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