Nuggets of Gold
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
By Adam Gold
Adam Gold is
program director of the Triangle's "850
the Buzz" and host of "The G-spot with Adam Gold."
Introducing: The Hype Theory
All rights reserved.
I wasn’t very good at
math back when I was in high school. In fact, I came very close to
flat-out failing Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. I think it had something to
do with having letters and numbers combined within the same equation.
As for tangents and sines
and cosecants, if I can’t add ’em up, I don’t want to even think about it.
But when it came to
things like figuring out someone’s slugging percentage or my golf handicap
(a more complicated, numbers-only formula you will not find), I’m more in my
element. It may have something to do with selective memory, or it may just
be easier for me because it’s statistics. As a baseball fan, first and
foremost, I’m inherently a stat geek. That’s just how we roll.
So, it should come as no
surprise that I have unlocked the formula for inclusion into the Bowl
Championship Series conversation — possibly even the title game.
But Adam, you say, Boise
State and Utah and Hawaii have already cracked the safe, haven’t they? Well,
they have — to a certain degree. But it always seems to be after the fact.
I know how everyone was
talking after Utah shellacked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but Utes coach Kyle
Whittingham himself only voted the Utes No. 5 on his final regular season
ballot. So spare me the revisionist argument about how the system is set up
to screw teams like Utah or Boise State.
Whether or not the Utes
or the Broncos are good enough is hardly the point. Neither team played a
schedule that was worthy of BCS-game discussion. For the record, neither
does Penn State this year, but that’s another story altogether.
It’s all about the
quality of your overall opponents. The fact that Boise State and Utah won
games against Oregon and Michigan, respectively, last year is beside the
point. Because one game does not a schedule make.
As an aside, most people
thought that it was nearly impossible to lose nine games in one season at a
place like Michigan. But, if you work hard enough — as it appears Rich
Rodriguez and his staff has — anything’s possible.
For schools beyond the
traditional BCS leagues, you have to load up your non-conference schedule
because there’s just not enough punch within the normal conference slate to
equal what teams in the SEC and Big XII have to deal with on a regular
That brings us to the
formula: Q + U + P = BCS.
Quality Schedule +
Undefeated Season + massive Public Relations campaign = BCS viability.
A few years ago, when
East Carolina director of athletics Terry Holland told me that he felt it
was a good idea to “schedule their bowl games” by loading up the
non-conference schedule with regional power-conference opponents, we thought
it was suicidal and that he clearly hated Skip Holtz.
But then the Pirates
started winning those games and, suddenly, those bowls have become part of
the plan — inadvertent as they might be. As a result, this year’s games
against North Carolina and West Virginia on the road and Virginia Tech in
Greenville shift from being in-season bowl events to post season stepping
stones, and — quite possibly — could land East Carolina in a BCS game.
The only catch for teams
like East Carolina is that there is no margin for error. You lose and you’re
out. The Bowl Championship Series doesn’t take one-loss teams from outside
the power conferences — unless you’re Notre Dame and you have more fans than
Last year, ECU had four
BCS teams on its schedule. The Pirates beat the first two, Virginia Tech and
West Virginia, but they followed that up with losses to N.C. State and
Virginia. That works in contrast to this formula.
So, with the “Q” and the
“U” taken care of — and, yes, for the sake of argument, I’m assuming a 13-0
season with another Conference USA Title — that leaves the “P” in our little
formula. What Utah was missing last year until it was too late is something
that is ultimately in the control of every school’s department of media
relations: Tell us how good you are!
During the season it’s
going to come off as bragging, but the only way schools from outside the
traditional power structure are going to break through that glass ceiling is
if someone starts demanding attention.
If Whittingham had voted
his team No. 1, oh, like in 2008, maybe we’d buy his vote after the bowl in
2009. So the onus is on Skip Holtz and East Carolina’s media relations staff
to let the voters know how good the Pirates really are.
Do interviews, send out
posters, make up mouse pads, create an iPhone app, produce a breakfast
cereal, whatever. Don’t stop until you have the voters' attention.
No group is more easily
influenced than voters. They’re inherently lazy and misinformed. They can be
had. They can be shamed. Considering what we already know about voters,
they’re downright shameful to begin with.
This sounds so easy
that I’m going to print up the East Carolina national championship
T-shirts, straight away. Now all the Pirates have to do is win in
Morgantown and Chapel Hill and Tulsa and… well, you get the idea.
The point is that it’s
not impossible. There is a formula. It’s just not easy to get it right. But,
unlike trig, at least its fun trying to solve the equation. Enjoy the 2009
season, ECU Nation, it could be a fun trip.
E-MAIL ADAM GOLD
ADAM GOLD ARCHIVES
09/02/2009 02:43:19 AM