Friday, January 13, 2012

The Quest: Jumping Ship

For those of you that have read the blog for a while or follow me on Twitter, you'll know that I'm a Penn State fan. I've been a Penn State fan my whole life, so the next sentence I'm going to type is particularly hard to say.

I have decided, after the culmination of all the events that have taken place at Pennsylvania State University, I can no longer support the institution by cheering for their sports teams.

This is not a slight against the young men who strapped on the helmet and wore the nittany jerseys this season. Or the ones that will do so next year. This is about more than the football team. This is about the institution of Pennsylvania State University and the manner in which they have chosen to conduct business in the wake of the horrifying scandal that has come to light. Say what you will about the guilt or innocence of parties involved, be they administrators, members of the board of directors, students, players, coaches, etc. But throughout the whole process, it has been abundantly clear that the Board of Trustees and top administrators at the school have done more to cover their own butts than to actually find out what took place. In what might go down as the biggest cover-up in the history of the State of Pennsylvania, the leadership at the University has consistently shown that they care more about preserving the name and image of the university than uncovering the truth. Therefore, due to the manner in which the university has decided to conduct business, I feel I can no longer support their athletic programs by wearing the colors and logos of this institution.

Now, this brings me to a quandary. I enjoy watching college football. I love the tradition of the game, the uniforms, the roaring crowds, the history. It's something you just can't get anywhere else. But without a team to root for, I fear my interest my dwindle.

Therefore, I have decided to embark on a quest to choose a new college football team to cheer for. To set the record straight, I hate "bandwagon jumpers" so I'm going to do my best to be as objective as possible and consider the pros and cons of most Division 1 programs. That said, there are certain teams I simply will not cheer for; either due to their style of play, their coach, their history, or just flat out not liking them. There are 10 teams I simply will not cheer for under any circumstances, so let's clear them off the table to start with.

1. Michigan
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma
4. Miami
5. Florida State
6. Notre Dame
7. Nebraksa
8. Maryland
9. Connecticut
10. Mississippi State

That whittles the field of potential candidates down to 110 teams. That number is still a little unruly, so let's eliminate 50 more teams by taking out the "mid-major" schools that really have no chance of competing for a national championship. The only 3 exceptions I'm going to leave on the table are Boise State, TCU (who will be joining the Big XII shortly), and Navy. Even though they are not a mid-major conference, I want a team that is going to play a solid schedule throughout the year and play in a strong conference. We can strike the Big East from this list. I also want a school that actually plays an exciting brand of football, including a strong defense, which will eliminate most of the Big XII. Factoring in some of my other personal preferences, I have whittled the list down to 34 teams that I have separated into "tiers." I listed the teams alphabetically within the tiers since I haven't done enough research to differentiate between preferences.

Tier 1

Alabama - Their dominating defensive performance against LSU in the championship game makes them the "preseason" favorites.

Note: Penn State would also be here if they were still in play. I may include them in my future analysis just to see how they stack up.

Tier 2

Auburn - A solid tradition plus a recent championship makes them a candidate.

LSU - They have been championship contenders, play strong defense, and you can't argue with the excitement factor of watching Les Miles coach a game.

Washington - I have some cousins that live out around Seattle, which makes the Huskies a candidate.

Washington State - I had a cousin go to Wazzu, so I own some Cougars attire already.

Tier 3

Georgia - Between the Hedges, UGA, can't argue with the tradition here. Those jerseys they wore against Boise this year didn't help their cause.

Kansas State - Probably my favorite team of what's left in the Big XII.

Tennessee - I have some relatives around Knoxville, plus you can't argue with 100,000 people singing Rocky Top.

Texas A&M - The 12th Man. Also, the move to the SEC moves them up in my book.

Tier 4

Boise State - Even though they play in a sub-par conference, they are an up-and-coming program and one of the most exciting teams to watch.

Duke - Being a fan of their basketball program means I already own some Duke stuff, so despite a horrible football program, they are ranked high in the preseason rankings.

Iowa - Black and gold.

Ohio State - The question of "can I root against Penn State?" bumps the top contenders from the Big Ten down into Tier 4.

TCU - They've been an exciting team that has sent a slew of players to the pros lately.

Texas Tech - They're not Texas.

Tier 5

Boston College, Clemson, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Michigan St, Navy, NC State, Oklahoma St, Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford, UCLA, UNC, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin

Moving forward, I'll probably release periodic "Top 25" polls as I do more and more research into the 34 institutions in play for my fandom. In the spirit of an NCAA video game, here are my "recruiting preferences" by category:

Coach ExperienceAverage
Coach PrestigeHigh
Conference PrestigeAbove Average
Championship ContenderAbove Average
StadiumAbove Average
Fan BaseLow
Pro PotentialAverage
Program StabilityHigh
Program TraditionVery High
Television ExposureAverage
Program IntegrityHigh

I haven't decided how I'm going to factor these preferences in yet, but if anyone would like to make a case for any institution, please feel free to add them in the comments, shoot me an e-mail, or tweet me. Perhaps I'll even include your comments in a future post, depending on how this endeavor goes.

1 comment:

silicasandra said...

Your wife's family also lives in Seattle and you might have a sister-in-law attend Washington. So there's another personal connection. ;)