Talking Points

by Eric Gilmore

Conference USA All-Name Team

As an esteemed media member (insert sarcastic comment here), I often find myself thumbing through media guides. Yes, depth charts are nice. Season outlooks, history and traditions are somehow pertinent in some irrelevant way. But what is relevant and pertinent (I know they’re synonyms) is the pronunciation guide. The pronunciation guide lets people phonetically enunciate written words.

So thumbing through the media guides this week, I found some that were a phonetic nightmare. I uncovered some names that are laughable and ridiculous. And also some scarred children with cruel parents.

Uranius Johnson, WR, Marshall
Bubba Terranova, WR, Tulane
Cary Koch, WR, Tulane
Gershom Bigham, WR, UAB
Rocky Ross, WR, UCF
Goodson Ohaegbulam, RB, UCF
Zulu Nwankwo, RB, ECU
Chubb Small, RB, Marshall
Taz Knockum, RB, Memphis
Bio Bilaye Benibo, RB, Rice
SirVincent Rogers, OL, Houston
Guy Whimper, OT, ECU

Tevita Fifita, DL, UTEP
Tokumbo Abanikanda, LB, USM
Alain Karatepeyan, LB, Tulsa
Israel Route, CB, Tulane
Sheldon Shakespeare, CB, UAB
Erode Jean, CB, ECU
Clint Threadgill, DB, Houston

Special Teams
Norbie Juist, LS, Houston
Britt Barefoot, K, USM

What about this national championship debate that stirs every year?

I told you so. As the aforementioned media member (insert another pot shot), I can own up to my mistakes. But in the same breath, I can gloat when I was right on the mark.

No one wanted to listen to Virginia Tech’s weaknesses on offense and Marcus Vick’s ineptitude to move the ball on a decent defense. Miami’s defense was severely overlooked going into the game. The Hurricanes, as I said they would, proved they are a superior team.

But again, we have problems in the college football world. These pollsters aren’t exactly getting it right. Why is Brentson Buckner allowed to vote in the Harris Poll? Yes, that Big B, the defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. I thought the Harris Poll was a bunch of fogies lapping up every minute of media coverage around the nation. Isn’t Buckner busy with player’s meetings, watching film and going to err, (cue Allen Iverson voice) practice?

I digress. As of right now, the wrong team is at No. 1. Debatably, Texas has proven more this season than USC. The Trojans opponents’ records are a combined 32-37 while the Longhorns are 43-37. If both were to continue on an unbeaten path, USC would have quality wins over Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA. Texas would have quality wins over Ohio St, Texas Tech and Colorado (twice). Both should be in the national title game, right?

No one would argue that Alabama deserves to be in the national championship picture if the season ended today. Alabama’s opponents combined record is an unimpressive 30-34. But the Tide will have an argument if they finish the next three games unscathed. Alabama’s wins, no matter the margin should receive due credit.

The Tide would have quality wins over an overrated LSU team, an underrated Auburn team and a more than likely healthy Georgia squad. With that gauntlet, the Tide would have an equal argument that Auburn had one year ago.

Can we deal with the real problem…the timing of these losses and that effect in the polls?

Are you ready for this statement? Thank you to the level headedness of the BCS standings. I can hear it now. What? Whoa? Gilmore, we’ve confirmed you’re crazy. Yep. The BCS standings are more right than any other whacko human poll.

The AP poll, which thankfully has no influence into the BCS, ranked Miami ahead of Alabama. Now, the Hurricanes are good, but a loss is a loss. I don’t care if Miami beat Virginia Tech by 80. Alabama is still in the SEC and hasn’t been defeated.

The Alabama and Miami debate isn’t the hot topic. The pressing issue is how the emotional knee-jerk humans throw teams around. Penn St. is literally one second away from being undefeated. A blown coverage in Ann Arbor on fourth down has been their only mistake.

LSU blew a 21-point halftime lead to a mediocre Tennessee team at home. How can Penn St. be considered behind LSU? The Tigers would have two losses if the Auburn field goal kicker didn’t miss five times. Again, LSU narrowly escaped to beat Arizona St, another mediocre team.

Ohio St. and Notre Dame have each lost twice. How can they be considered above Oregon, Georgia and Virginia Tech in any polls? The Bulldogs lost to a 7-2 Florida team without their star quarterback. If Miami is the best one-loss team, consider their 10-7 loss to a 7-2 Florida State team. Surely, the Hurricanes aren’t six spots better than Georgia. But they are in the AP poll.

Point is, this whole thing is lunacy. But then again, everyone already knew that.

Random Thought of the Week
Consider the overwhelming demographic of the sports media. Single and male. Buffet lines don’t help with weight either. It’s no wonder that the TopCat story has been blown way out of proportion. What if two New York Liberty players were in the same scenario? Does it still make headlines?

Eric Gilmore