Monday, December 4, 2017

So, the BSC Committee chose the best of the worst for the 4th slot, while America goes straight to hell

The College Football Playoff committee got it wrong: Alabama is in on brand loyalty only


Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports Published 1:53 p.m. ET Dec. 3, 2017 | Updated 6:14 p.m. ET Dec. 3, 2017

Let us begin with a simple admission. The College Football Playoff selection committee had no great answers here. 
Selecting among Alabama, Ohio State and USC (though it appears the Trojans didn’t get any consideration at all) as the No. 4 seed was a comparison of three deeply flawed teams that did not clearly state their case during the regular season to get in. 
None of them are in position to complain about how the committee called it. 
But the choice of Alabama was the wrong one, both in terms of precedent and message for a committee that pretty clearly went outside of the protocol that was built into this system four years ago. 
You think benefit of the doubt doesn’t matter when it comes to Alabama? You think the Big Ten’s Playoff flops in 2015 and 2016 didn’t factor in the subconscious of those committee members?
All the reverence for protocol and winning conference titles ended Sunday when the committee gave a big, wet, sloppy kiss to Nick Saban and the reputation of his program, not the team he put on the field this year. 
“As we looked at Alabama’s full body of work over the course of a season, we favored that body of work over Ohio State,” selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said. “When you go back and look at the weekly rankings that we do … we were consistent. We had said that Alabama was the better football team than Ohio State each and every week. We watched and saw Ohio State strengthen their resume this week with a win over Wisconsin, but it wasn’t enough in the eyes of the selection committee.
But there’s a big problem with putting Alabama in the Playoff, and it has nothing to do with one league getting two teams in, something that was bound to happen at some point in this system. In essence, Alabama slid into the playoff this weekend by doing nothing. It was rewarded for losing to Auburn last week in a game that decided the SEC West title. And that’s simply not the way this process should work. 
Don’t reference Ohio State last season, which got in as the Big Ten representative despite losing the head-to-head matchup and division title to Penn State. It’s not comparable.
Last year, Ohio State was already in the top four going into the championship games at No. 2. Though the Buckeyes didn’t have to risk anything in the Big Ten title game, the committee had already deemed them worthy of making the playoff after recording wins over three other top-10 teams. The only question with Ohio State last year was whether the Buckeyes would get passed.
That’s far different from Alabama, which was outside the top four last week after its loss to Auburn in a game that decided the SEC West title. The Tide went from outside the playoff at 11-1 to in it by doing nothing. Based on that precedent, Wisconsin and Auburn would have been better off not showing up at all Saturday.
“It was so important to us to get this right, and our charge is to rank the four very best teams,” Hocutt said. “We were fortunate that we had that flexibility and discretion given to the committee by the commissioners when there’s a non-champion involved to select the four very best teams in college football.”
I get it. Four best teams. Is there a case to be made for Alabama in those vague terms? Sure. 
But here’s the entirety of that case: It’s Alabama. 
Were you really watching that 24-10 victory against LSU where Alabama actually got outgained 306-299 and thinking this is “unequivocally” one of the four best teams in the country? Were you really watching the Tide’s struggle in Starkville, Miss., and thinking this was the Alabama of old? Were you really watching them get pushed around in Auburn and thinking this is a team worth a second chance as a non-champion?
Where the resumé lacked, the Alabama brand prevailed. Maybe that’s the intent all along. 
But I would also suggest we’re starting to veer in pretty significant ways from what the commissioners who created the playoff told us they wanted. 
This game was the first time in the 14-year history of the BCS that the National Championship Game featured two teams from the same conference, let alone the same division (similar to what happened in the 2011 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament six months prior, featuring two teams from the SEC East division, although that match-up came about through a playoff). This was also the first time that the BCS National Championship Game was a rematch from a regular season game, although the 1996 season's Bowl Alliance National Championship game was also a rematch, when Florida defeated Florida State 52–20 for the national title in the 1997 Sugar Bowl. As a result of the matchup, the SEC's streak of producing the BCS champion was assured of extending to six straight seasons.
Conference championships weren’t the be-all, end-all of the system, but they were supposed to matter. There’s supposed to be a high bar to clear to get in without one. Alabama didn’t win its division and didn't record a win over a top-15 team. To put the Tide in over Ohio State and USC — both of whom hail from leagues that play nine conference games — should require more. 
Is Alabama “better” than those teams? Maybe. But this isn’t supposed to be a forecast, it’s supposed to be a judgment on the year you’ve had. 
So if I’m Urban Meyer, I’m wondering today why I scheduled Oklahoma in Week 2 rather than Akron. 
If I’m Clay Helton, I’m lobbying to get out of USC’s annual series against Notre Dame and replace it with UNLV. 
If either Ohio State or USC had taken that route with its non-conference schedule and finished 12-1 rather than 11-2, Alabama wouldn’t have even been in the discussion. 
As committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said, it was that second loss for Ohio State that created enough separation for Alabama that the Big Ten title meant little.
“Wins matter, losses matter, how you play in the wins matter, how you play in the losses matter,” Hocutt said. “You’re taking a deeper dive about what separates teams.”
Once again, don’t shed tears for Ohio State or USC.
The Buckeyes completely blew it when they got hammered 55-24 at Iowa, a performance so inexplicable and unforgivable that the committee just couldn’t see past it. I would argue that the Trojans should be given a little bit of a pass for their three-point loss at Washington State on a Friday night when three offensive line starters were injured, but they certainly weren’t competitive at Notre Dame in a 49-14 beatdown. 
Any choice besides Alabama would have been imperfect, but it would have at least followed the logic the criteria that was established early on to encourage strong non-conference scheduling and allow the committee to see beyond simple won-loss record. 
Instead, an Alabama team that feasted on SEC weaklings early in the season but looked quite mortal late in the year gets a pass into the playoff without winning a conference title or beating another elite team.
That’s a bad precedent to set for the committee, no matter what happens from here. If conference championships don’t matter, let’s just say they don’t matter or find a different way to pick the field.
This Alabama ex pat's armchair self-appointed college football expert's thoughts after watching live and televised college football games since I was a kid:
You wrote a lot of words proving nothing but that you left out a bit of relevant history, on purposes, I imagine, and you should fill out this report below in triplicate, have it notarized and send it to the BSC Committee, Ohio State, who got killed by unranked Iowa, and Southern Cal, who got killed by Notre Dame and lost 2 games in a conference that had not done well out of conference, lately. Last year, Alabama beat Southern Cal 52-6 in their season opener. Later, Alabama beat Washington 24-7 in their BSC semi-final championship game. Washington had beaten PAC 12 Conference rival Southern Cal 26-13 that year.
In their 2017 season opener, #1-ranked Alabama drubbed #3-ranked Florida State 24-7, and knocked Florida State’s star quarterback out for the season. Would Clemson then have beaten Florida State 34-14, if State had its star quarterback? 
Alabama lost four starting linebackers in the Florida State game, two for the season. Later, Alabama lost other defensive starters, some for the season. If you ask me, that helped Mississippi State and Auburn run and pass on Alabama. 
Two of Alabama's starting linebackers are back in action. Will that be enough for Alabama's defense to slow down Clemson's potent offense? 

Will Alabama’s offense, which did poorly against Mississippi State and worse against Auburn, show its stuff against Clemson? 

We will find out then if the BSC Committee made a mistake selecting Alabama as its 4th playoff team.
As for picking two teams from the same conferenceback in 2011, before there was a Final 4 playoff, the BSC selected two teams from the same division of the Southeastern Conference to play in the National Championship game. LSU had beaten Alabama 9-3 in overtime, during their regular season match up. LSU had gone on to win the SEC Championship. In the BSC Championship game, Alabama beat LSU 21-0. As I recall, LSU's offense crossed the 50-yard line one time during that game.
Here's more about that game, from Wikipedia:

2012 BCS National Championship Game

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game was a postseason college football bowl game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers, and determined the national champion of the 2011 NCAA Division I FBS football season on Monday, January 9, 2012, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The game was part of the 2011–2012 Bowl Championship Series and a rematch of regular season foes.[3] Alabama beat LSU 21–0 to win their 14th national championship, marking the first shutout in a national championship game since the 1992 Orange Bowl and the first ever shutout in a BCS bowl game.[4][5][6] The game had the third-lowest TV rating, 14.01, in the 14-year history of the BCS National Championship game.[7][8]
It was LSU's first loss in a game played in New Orleans (which has a close proximity to the LSU campus in Baton Rouge) since the 1987 Sugar Bowl. From 1987 through the 2011 regular season, LSU was 4-0 in bowl games in New Orleans (three Sugar Bowls and the 2008 BCS National Championship Game) and 5-0 in the city vs. Tulane.
LSU was selected to participate in the BCS National Championship Game after a 13–0 regular season that culminated with a 42–10 win over the University of Georgia in the 2011 SEC Championship Game. Alabama was picked as the other half of the match-up following an 11–1 campaign, with their only loss coming against LSU in overtime during the regular season. Over the following weeks, a series of upsets resulted in the Crimson Tide receiving a No. 2 ranking in the final BCS Rankings to qualify for the championship game. The selection of Alabama was controversial, and decried by writers such as Rick Reilly, and by fans who claimed other opponents, most prominently the Oklahoma State Cowboys (who finished second in most of the computer rankings), were more deserving of a spot in the game. The controversy lent support to the ever-increasing call for a college football playoff and supposed SEC bias, specifically with regard to Alabama. Ironically, it was the conferences whose teams finished 3rd and 4th (the Big 12 and the Pac-12) who had rejected the SEC's proposal for a 4-team playoff system in 2008.[9]
In the BSC Final 4 2015 semi-finals, Alabama beat Big Ten Conference  Champion Michigan State 38-0. Clemson beat Big 12 Conference Champion Oklahoma 37-17. In the final, Alabama beat Clemson 45-40.
In the BSC 2016 Final 4 semi-finals, Alabama beat PAC 12 Conference champion Washington 24-7. Clemson beat Big Ten Conference champion Ohio State 31-0. In the final, Clemson beat Alabama 35-31.
Do ya think how Big Ten Conference champions Michigan State and Ohio State fared in the 2015 and 2016 semi-finals also was in the BSC Committee's thoughts?
Do ya think there was a snowball's chance in hell the BSC Committee would pick Ohio State after it was scalped 55-24 by unranked Iowa?
Da think there was was snowball's chance in hell the BSC Committee would pick Southern Cal with 2 losses, including a 49-14 shellacking by Notre Dame, which later got hammered 41-8 by Miami, which later got hammered 39-3 by Clemson?

After beating Alabama 26-14 this season, Auburn got drubbed 28-7 by Georgia, which Auburn had earlier hammered 40-17. 

Who drubbed, much less hammered, Alabama this year? Nobody. Who drubbed, much less hammered, Alabama in recent memory? Nobody. Even when it lost, Alabama showed up. 

Da think that also was in the BSC Committee's thoughts, when I decided on a Clemson v. Alabama tie-breaker?

All the while something truly grave is unfolding in America:
Trump's lawyer says he wrote the president's tweet about Flynn's dismissal

Dec 3, 2017, 10:47 PM ET

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, John Dowd, says he drafted the president's Saturday morning tweet that stated he fired former National SecurityAdviser Michael Flynn for lying not only to Vice President Mike Pence but also to the FBI.

"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI," Trump tweeted at 9:14 a.m. on Saturday. "He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!"

I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!

Dowd told ABC News he wrote those words. A second source who corroborated that Dowd had written the tweet called it "sloppy."

It's unclear who actually sent out the tweet, but Dowd said he gave the drafted message to the president's social media director Dan Scavino.

"I’m out of the tweeting business," Dowd said. "I did not mean to break news."

The White House, which has insisted that tweets from the president should be taken as official statements, has declined to comment.

How could they not be official statements if they were tweeted from President Trump's Twitter account and were about matters of US national interest?

The apparent admission made in the president's tweet -- that he knew Flynn had lied to the FBI at the time of his firing -- would seem to add a potentially explosive new dimension to the ongoing special counsel investigation.

If true, why then would Trump ask the FBI director to go easy on Flynn, as former FBI Director James Comey later testified? The message set off renewed talk of potential evidence of obstruction of justice.

Okay. Ass-u-me there was nothing to it. Flynn's actions were lawful. There was nothing to hide. It was a witch hunt. So why did President Trump ask Comey to go light on former 3-star general Trump servant Flynn for lying to the FBI? Why was Comey after Flynn at all? I imagine Comey thought there was something to it, and I bet Flynn did, too. Otherwise, this former practicing attorey cannot imagine Flynn being prosecuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Nor can I imagine Flynn pleading guilty. 

While Dowd concedes that Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House Counsel Don McGahn in January following Flynn's interview with the FBI that "the agents were told the same thing the Vice President was told," he maintains that the president did not know Flynn had lied to the FBI because the Department of Justice did not characterize Flynn as having lied.

"The FBI and Yates and the Department of Justice did not accuse Flynn of lying despite the fact that he lied to the agents, but nobody was accused of it, so the president didn't know about it," Dowd said.

"All the president knew was that the department was not accusing him of lying," Dowd later added.

Administration officials have declined to comment on that matter and the president did not respond to shouted questions Saturday evening about Flynn's firing as he returned home from campaign fundraisers in New York City.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story indicated Dowd referred to the tweet as "sloppy." It was a second source who corroborated Dowd’s account who also called it "sloppy."

After erroneous Flynn report, ABC News suspends Brian Ross

NEW YORK (AP) — ABC News on Saturday suspended investigative reporter Brian Ross for four weeks without pay for his erroneous report on Michael Flynn, which it called a “serious error.”

Ross, citing an unnamed confidant of Flynn, the former national security adviser, had reported Friday that during the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump had directed Flynn to make contact with the Russians. That would have been an explosive development in the ongoing Russia investigation, but hours later, Ross clarified that report on the evening news, saying that his source now said that Trump had done so as president-elect, after the election. At that point, he said, Trump had asked Flynn to contact the Russians about issues including working together to fight ISIS.

Er, when is it okay, or legal, for a president-elect, who has zero national authority, because he has not been sworn in, to do business with Russia, or with any foreign country, on behalf of the United States of America?

ABC was widely criticized for merely clarifying and not correcting the report. It issued a correction later in the evening.

“We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday,” the network said in a statement Saturday. “The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process. As a result of our continued reporting over the next several hours ultimately we determined the information was wrong and we corrected the mistake on air and online.

“It is vital we get the story right and retain the trust we have built with our audience — these are our core principles. We fell far short of that yesterday. Effective immediately, Brian Ross will be suspended for four weeks without pay.”

The news brought reaction from Trump, who tweeted: “Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia, Russia, Russia Witch Hunt. More Networks and “papers” should do the same with their Fake News!”

As for Ross, who is ABC’s chief investigative correspondent, he tweeted: “My job is to hold people accountable and that’s why I agree with being held accountable myself.”

Ross, 69, joined the network in 1994. He has won a slew of journalism awards, including, according to his ABC bio, six George Polk awards, six Peabody awards and two Emmys, among others.

He also, though, has drawn criticism for previous errors. In just one example, ABC had to apologize in 2012 when Ross reported on “Good Morning America” that James Holmes, the suspect in the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, might be connected to the tea party, based on a name listed on a web page. It turned out to be a different “Jim Holmes.” Ross was criticized for politicizing the story with the error.

Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians.

If there was nothing to it. Flynn's actions were lawful. There was nothing to hide. It was a witch hunt. Why did former 3-star general Trump servant Flynn lie to the FBI? Then, why did Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI? Unless he knew there was something to it.

New York Post

McConnell backs off criticism of Roy Moore

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday seemed to back off  when he said the voters in Alabama should make the final decision whether the Republican candidate is elected to the Senate.

“I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call,” the Kentucky Republican said on ABC’s “This Week.” “This election has been going on a long time. There’s been a lot of discussion about it. They’re going to make the decision a week from Tuesday.”
When the accusations surfaced Nov. 13 that Moore had sexually harassed and groped young womenwhen he was in his 30s, McConnell said he believed the women and suggested Moore “step aside.”
On Sunday, McConnell said if Moore, 70, wins the Dec. 12 special election, the Senate Ethics Committee would have to determine if he could take the seat.
“Look, they decide,” McConnell said. “This is a very balanced committee. It’s the only committee in the Senate that is an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Neither side can take advantage of the other.”
Reminded that he said he sided with Moore’s accusers, anchor George Stephanopoulos asked McConnell if he also believed the women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct and whether the president’s behavior should be investigated.
McConnell dodged.
“Well, my job is to be the majority leader of the Senate. And we have jurisdiction over these matters when there is a Senator accused of wrongdoing. … So we will handle it in the Senate when it comes to senators’ alleged behavior,” he said.

Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are campaigning for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became the US attorney general.
This Alabama ex-pat's thoughts:

I think Roy Moore and his evangelical and white conservative Alabama backers are as dangerous to America as Donald Trump and his evangelical and white conservative backers. I feel the same about Hillary Clinton and her backers.

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