Sunday, December 02, 2007

Foxes, hens, and pigs, oh my!

College football meltdown, December 1, 2007
Oklahoma crushes MissouriPitt burns WVU's backyard

As I write this, college football's championship system is melting down. The smart money expected Oklahoma to crush Missouri in the Big 12 championship, and OU's Sooners exceeded those expectations. For its part, West Virginia had simply to defend its home turf against a 28-point underdog in Pitt, and at worst the Mountaineers would have had a share of a national championship game against Ohio State — surely the dream matchup that everyone in Wheeling, W. Va., has always wanted. But no. Pitt smothered West Virginia's vaunted scoring machine; Pitt's punt unit made as many trips through its own end zone as did the Mountaineer offense.

As a result, all sports shows on Saturday night and Sunday morning are filled with the spectacle of analysts and, worse yet, coaches pleading the cause for one team or another. There is a consensus, albeit an unexamined one, that Ohio State deserves one of two berths in the BCS Championship Game by default. The case can — and has — been made for a flotilla of other teams, including Georgia, Louisiana State, Southern California, Kansas, Oklahoma, and even Hawaii.

The fox in the henhouseThe trouble with the coaches' involvement is simple. Their teams stand to benefit. The USA Today poll, a major component of the BCS standings, consists of a survey of "60 head coaches at Division I-A institutions," all of whom "are members of the American Football Coaches Association." This year's USA Today Board of Coaches includes the coaches at Georgia, LSU, and Oklahoma, but not Kansas, Southern California, or Hawaii. It's an obvious flaw in the system, and hitherto no one has pondered how college football is supposed to ensure the legitimacy of Division I-A championships when the henhouse has been entrusted (at least in part) to some, but not all, of the game's wiliest foxes.

Which brings us back to the South Carolina bar exam scandal. This morning's front page at The State announced that the South Carolina Supreme Court is not yet off the hook:
Calls are increasing for an outside investigation into the state Supreme Court’s decision last month to reverse the grades of 20 people who flunked the latest bar exam — including the children of two prominent officials.

But S.C. law doesn’t allow independent investigations of complaints against the state’s highest court — prompting House Speaker Bobby Harrell to say the time might be right to consider changing that.

In interviews last week with The State, three people — a 2007 Charleston School of Law graduate who flunked the July exam, a federal attorney with S.C. ties and a legal ethics professor at one of the nation’s top law schools [Deborah Rhode of Stanford] — called for an independent investigation into whether the Supreme Court engaged in any misconduct in connection with the exam.
Flying pigsFor once, South Carolina might move faster and more rationally than the NCAA. If an investigation comes to pass, hell indeed will have frozen over, and a squadron of pigs, presumably escaping Carolina's barbecue pits, will fly in formation from Rock Hill to Hilton Head.

I promise I will salute.

Editorial note: Hat tip, once again, to Not Very Bright. At Feminist Law Professors, Ann Bartow also discusses The State's latest story.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

One (small) defense of the coaches poll (and it is small - as a west coaster I am all too familiar with the bias against west coast teams for a variety of reasons):

Coaches are more likely to look at the losses and the reasons for them than other voters. For example, Ohio State's two losses were in Triple Overtime, or WVU's two losses came with Pat White injured (which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you view the impact of one player).

Indeed, I have always considered the coaches poll more accurate than the AP poll, though I think Harris Poll may be even better.

12/03/2007 7:25 AM  

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