Programming note

Please tune in to Da Blog this Monday at 4 PM PST for the Golden Bowl Playoff Selection Show, where I will announce the bracket for our simulated playoff and open first-round voting.

All college lineal titles have been updated, as has the Chase for 19-0. However, due to “minor server issues” on Freehostia’s end, the Week 13 College Football Rankings are delayed. Even though I told it to upload at the same time as the lineal titles… huh. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend…

Patriots Run to 19-0

Regardless of what you may think of the Patriots’ quest for 19-0, you can’t deny their juggernaut status, rolling over all the other teams in the league like they just don’t care.

Check out morganwick.freehostia.com/sports/football and see their quest for 19-0. It helps if you look at it like the Patriot’s head is barreling through like a ram.

(Note: Team logos ripped off ESPN web site without permission.)

Laptop Update

I installed a second version of XP on my hard disk and my computer is once again operating semi-normally. The web site has been updated with two weeks‘ worth of College Football Rankings, changes in both lineal titles, and one week’s update of the SuperPower Rankings. This week’s SuperPower Rankings (and the picks) will wait until at least tomorrow.

Quick Check off the SNF Watch

CONFIRMED: Protection still exists. But looking at my Week 4 roundup, I might have found it hard to believe Fox would have protected Giants-Lions. The Giants were only 2-2 at the time and the Lions were similar. Panthers-Packers would have been a more likely protection for Fox.

Other projected protections: Bucs-Redskins Week 12; Jaguars-Colts and maybe Seahawks-Eagles Week 13; Steelers-Patriots and either Cowboys-Lions, Bucs-Texans, or Cardinals-Seahawks Week 14; Jaguars-Steelers and either Seahawks-Panthers or Eagles-Cowboys Week 15; Ravens-Seahawks and Packers-Bears Week 16; and Steelers-Ravens or Titans-Colts, and Cowboys-Redskins or Packers-Lions, Week 17.

NBC has a point when they note that the Bills are on fire. But the Pats are too far on another level for it to look competitive, in the game or the AFC East. NBC also notes that the Pats played in the two highest-rated games this season – ignoring that the Colts and Cowboys games were also two of the most-hyped, most-important games this season. It reminds me of when Sports Media Watch became so fixated with its “Cowboys were more responsible for Pats-Cowboys rating than the actual quality of the teams” hypothesis that it actually picked a lower rating for Pats-Colts, underestimating the NFL audience and failing to note that the NFL is unlike any other sports league. NBC (and the NFL) may be falling into the same trap.

The Week 10 College Football Rankings will be here shortly. They do not include ESPN’s Tuesday and Wednesday games. I will also update the Web site at the same time to include the NFL Lineal Title change.

Upset Special of Week 4

The web site is updated with the lineal title changes and the Week 3 SuperPower Rankings, which reveals teams that really divide the rankings, with some having them at #9 while others have them in the 20s. The Panthers are 7th on CBS and 21st in Cole’s Yahoo rankings; the Bucs are 19th in ESPN and Robinson’s Yahoo rankings but 9th in NBC; the Eagles are 9th in Cole and 21st in NBC.

The Colts merged the NFL lineal titles this week and play a Broncos team next that I think is overrated. The loss to Jacksonville should have exposed them – they should not have been anywhere near the top after such close wins over two teams everyone thinks are awful – but they’re still no lower than 12th in any list. People are thinking it says more about the Jags, who move up 10 spots to 8th in the SuperPower Rankings. Jacksonville has a bye this week, but I just might pick the Chiefs against them. Which brings me to my picks, where I’m 3-0 on upset specials. I thought this one was fairly obvious – just about any team could have upset the Broncs the way they were playing. Evidently not everyone agreed.

This week I’m picking the #20 Lions over the #11 Bears. The Bears are facing problems beyond the QB position. If the offense can’t get going, even with Griese, the Lions offense could overpower the vaunted Bears defense. All my other picks are here.

Football Lineal Title Update

The Football Hub is updated with all the wonderful lineal title changes of the past week. On the NFL side, Houston’s defeat of Carolina sets up a lineal title unification bout when the Colts face the Texans this coming week. Both of the college football titles that changed hands last week change hands again this week, and the 2004 Utah title is back in the hands of the team that created it.

Florida faces Ole Miss this coming week, while Utah faces UNLV, Ohio State faces Northwestern, and in the most likely title change (which isn’t saying much), LSU faces South Carolina. The 2004 Auburn Title is two weeks away from a potential unification with the Princeton Title; LSU needs to survive SC and Tulane, while Florida needs to survive Mississippi and Auburn. With Auburn’s struggles, SC is the most likely upset, but LSU is so strong it might not matter.

While my College Football Rankings won’t be released until this coming week, I can tell you one interesting fact about how they’re shaking out. Notre Dame is currently infamously embroiled in futility, and had I released the college football rankings this week, they would place dead last. Ouch.

Your Hub for All Things Football

I’ve added a new section to the web site – Morgan Wick Sports – that will serve as a home base for the Lineal Titles, the SuperPower Rankings, and the College Football Rankings. This week’s SuperPower Rankings are now available there. Go to morganwick.freehostia.com/sports/football.

The NFL lineal title history is now located there as well, and the ATH Drinking Game is now here.

Da Blog in LA Recap (what prodigious output!)

For the most part, my week in LA consisted of little more than hanging out around my dad’s house. I had some enlightening conversations with him about heavy topics and briefly caught up with some family, but not much happened.

Some catchup from the week that was:

  • NFL Lineal Title news: Carolina picked up the core Lineal Title off the Rams. They face Houston next week. The Colts will be defending against the Titans next week. If Houston and the Colts win unification would come Week 3. Atlanta and New Orleans are rooting for Carolina and Tennessee to win respectively.
  • After a week of no CFB lineal changes we get changes galore this week. Florida held on to the Princeton title against Troy, while LSU demolished Virginia Tech to retain the 2004 Auburn title. But Boise State falls to Washington while BYU loses to UCLA, making unification between the 2006 Boise State and 2004 Utah titles likely. UCLA plays Utah next while Washington plays Ohio State; the latter has a very high risk of averting unification. Unification is certain, however, if both teams retain.
  • SuperPower Rankings will start being hosted on the web site tommorow. They are currently delayed; Sporting News is joining the race but SI appears to be dropping out and if USA Today has any power rankings ongoing they don’t have this week’s up yet. My Week 2 picks are partly dependent on the SuperPower Rankings and are similarly delayed.
  • The voting-method-for-100-greatest-movies poll received no votes whatsoever in almost two months. I’m ashamed of you.

Introducing… The Football Lineal Title

On Friday night/Saturday morning, I gave you my college football rating system, which aims to bring some mathematical clarity to the world of college football. Well, now I have another idea, and I’m taking the “new method of determining champions” off the feature poll.

The idea is simple: The College Football Lineal Title. To pick up the title, beat the current title holder. To lose the title, lose a game; the team that beat you becomes the new titleholder. It’s a similar concept to that which exists for boxing and other combat sports.

It’s a very intuitive concept that applies well to college football, so much so that although I came up with the idea independently, I’m not the first to do so. David Wilson’s site links to two sites with the same idea: HeavyweightFootballChamps.com and CollegeFootballBelt.com.

I have elected to start the title with the famed “first college football game” between Rutgers and Princeton. Because Princeton, after winning the rematch of that 1869 game, went undefeated through 1876, I call this lineage “the Princeton Title” as a slang name. This is the same starting point used by HeavyweightFootballChamps.com.

I’ve done research on the subsequent history of the title using the scores of James Howell, sorted by date by Wilson here. Because I do not restrict who can hold the title, my records may be incomplete, because Howell’s scores only include games involving Division I-A or equivalent.

I have made two modifications to the basic concept:

  • Due to the regional nature of college football’s early years, before the proliferation of the bowls, many of the best teams never got a shot at the Princeton title, which didn’t leave the Northeast until 1918. Michigan had a long undefeated streak at the beginning of the twentieth century but never got a crack at the Princeton title. I have decided to recognize a “Michigan title” during this streak that starts changing hands when the University of Chicago broke the streak in 1905. From 1908 on, every team that goes undefeated gets their own lineal title if they do not already hold one.
  • During the early 1910s, there are three main titles with, in my opinion, a claim to national status: the Princeton title; the aforementioned Michigan title, merged with the Princeton title in 1916; and a title I call the Lafayette-Navy-Pitt title, aka the Pop Warner Memorial Title, starting with Lafayette’s undefeated season of 1909, and marked by a long reign by Warner’s Pitt team from 1915 to 1918. The LNP title ended when Pitt lost to a WWI-created Cleveland Naval Reserves team. I give recognition to these titles due to the large number of other titles that ultimately merged with them.
  • There are also three titles with claims to national status in the 1920’s and 30’s: the Princeton title; a title I call the Knute Rockne title, created from the merger of the 1918 Virginia Tech title (aka Virginia Tech-Lafayette-Pitt) and the 1917 Texas A&M title (aka Texas A&M-Vanderbilt), and so called because Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame teams won this title more often than the single time they won the Princeton title, and because the 1919 Notre Dame title, Rockne’s first undefeated team as coach, had its lineage become part of it; and the Rose Bowl title, aka the 1916 Oregon title, so named because the first modern Rose Bowl was played with this title. The Knute Rockne and Rose Bowl titles merged in 1936, and the Knute Rockne title merged with the Princeton title on New Year’s Day 1939, when Knute Rockne holder Tennessee defeated Princeton holder Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Strangely, at both unifications the Princeton title was arguably the less prestigious title.
  • I’ve also extended the concept to the NFL, where the analogy doesn’t hold as well. Split titles are created when the title holder does not make the NFL Championship Game, and later the Super Bowl. By that defintion, the current title holder is the St. Louis Rams, not the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts do hold a separate Super Bowl XLI title.

The College Football Belt site starts its lineage with the 1971 Nebraska team, effective at the 1971-2 Orange Bowl; their later research shows that Nebraska did indeed come out of that season with the Princeton title (in fact Nebraska won the Princeton title off Alabama in that very Orange Bowl). The Belt site also considers starting with the first AP National Champions, the 1936 Minnesota team. However, although Minnesota came into the season coming off multiple unbeaten seasons and holding the Rose Bowl title, they did lose that season (their loss to Northwestern merged the Rose Bowl title with the Knute Rockne title), and not only did they never pick up another lineal title the rest of the year, the lineage the Belt site traces never overlaps with any similar title claim, right up to the point where they say it unified with the Princeton title, Halloween 1942, when Minnesota-holder Georgia picked up the lineal title off Alabama.

Research done by both sites shows that this year’s BCS National Championship Game had the Princeton title on the line, and Florida is the current Princeton title holder. Boise State also holds a new lineal title by going undefeated. My own research shows that the 2004 Utah undefeated team has their title in the hands of BYU, and the 2004 Auburn title is currently held by LSU. 2000 Oklahoma’s title was merged with Princeton in the 2003 Rose Bowl, after being merged with 1998 Tulane. I haven’t done research further back than that (I have done 1999 Marshall and 1998 Tennessee), partly because since the BCS started, 1998, 2000 (when Miami (FL) got snubbed) and 2003 (when USC got snubbed) are the ONLY years where the BCS Title Game was not for the Princeton Title. However, I strongly doubt any other split titles have remained split long enough to remain extant today.