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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

By Adam Gold
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 basis.

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 Michael Jackson.

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.



09/02/2009 02:43:19 AM

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