Wednesday, September 05, 2007

College football kickoff

No real surprises the first weekend of play, except for the One Big Surprise. In Monday's New York Times, Viv Bernstein had a front page story about how Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore assembled a team from players who were "on the recruiting bubble" but were "too short or too thin or, in some cases, too obscure to have been noticed by the major programs." In this respect, Bernstein makes Moore sound like college football's analogue to Billy Beane. The same Times had, in the sports section, an essay by ASU alum Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics. I expected Dubner to have some dismally scientific take on his old school's unexpected triumph; instead, he mostly reminisces about his student days in Boone, when the football team was lousy but the soccer team was great (sort of reminds me of my days at South Florida, except that our football team then was nonexistent). He also informs us that Appalachian "is pronounced app-uh-LATCH-un, not app-uh-LAYCH-un, and that goes for the mountains, too, not just the University." I believe this is true south, but not north, of the Mason-Dixon Line, but invite anyone to correct me.

Mike Celizic uses the upset as a platform to campaign for the abolition of pre-season rankings. His principal reason is that a high poll position at the outset of the season tends to be sticky, despite the team's actual performance. However, he wrote his column before Michigan was summarily dumped from the top 25 (an overreaction, in my view). In any event, it's a useless campaign. Even if AP gives up the game, all those publishers of pre-season preview books are going to continue doing theirs.