Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. ET

College Football

Eric Prisbell and Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 9, 2008; 2:00 PM

College football writers Eric Prisbell and Steve Yanda were online Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. ET to take your questions about Florida and Oklahoma facing off for the national title, the rest of the BCS pairings and bowl matchups and the latest news about local and national teams.

A transcript of the chat follows.


Steve Yanda: Hey everyone, look forward to chatting about all things bowl-related today. Fire away.

Eric Prisbell: Hello, everyone. Just walked from Maryland's press conference to the student center. Feel free to ask college football or basketball questions today. We're fine with both. A busy time of year. Did the BCS get it right or not? Are you going to Nevada-Maryland? Will you watch it?


Newark, N.J.: Should the national champion be the team with the best record over the season or the team judged to be the best team at the end of the season in which case Oklahoma should definitely be in this game.

Steve Yanda: Well, I think you could argue Oklahoma deserves to be in the game whether you were looking at the entire season or at who is playing the best at season's end. Oklahoma didn't use some sort of hoax to get into the national title game. They've been good (very good, actually) all year long. But so has Texas. It's not so much that Oklahoma didn't deserve to get in, but that Texas did, as well. This year is as good an example as there's ever been that a playoff as needed, but that's simply not going to happen. Not anytime soon, anyways. To answer your question, I believe body of work should carry more weight than a team's play down the stretch. The national title -- as the system is currently set up -- should go to the best team, period. Not the team that got hot down the stretch. Either way, Oklahoma deserves a spot in Miami.

Eric Prisbell: When determining whether a team deserves a title berth, I like to look at an objective measurement: head-to-head matchups. Texas beat Oklahoma by 10 points on a neutral field. To me, it is cut and dry and my vote would have gone to the Texas Longhorns.

If the regular season really does mean something in this sport, then when you lose a game like that, you should be behind the team that beat you. This is not brain surgery.


Anonymous: Who do you expect to win the Heisman, and who would you vote for if you could?

Eric Prisbell: While I believe Texas belongs in the national title game, and I explained why in the post above, I believe Sam Bradford deserves the Heisman. That is the best offense I can remember seeing on a college level.

Steve Yanda: Well, I expect with momentum having swung his way after his performance in the SEC title game that Tim Tebow will win it again. But Sam bradford would get my vote. In terms of consistency and numbers throughout the season, no one has been better.


My Heisman thoughts - by number no. 1 votes: it will go to Bradford but Tebow will win it because Colt McCoy will draw votes away from Bradford.

Steve Yanda: I'm not sure it works like that. This isn't a presidential election.


Bethesda, Md.: Would a title win make either Meyer or Stoops more likely to get an NFL offer, and more likely to accept one?

Steve Yanda: I think it would definitely draw up the intrigue on both sides. I'm not sure either guy would make the jump at this point in time, but there names might start coming up more frequently when NFL coaching changes are made.

Eric Prisbell: I really doubt the NFL has a hunger to grab college guys after Spurrier and Petrino flamed out. I could be wrong, but I expect both to remain at the college level, where they excel.

Hey, Stoops does not even have to beat Texas and he makes the national title game. Why leave?


Washington, D.C.: What are Tebow's pro prospects?

Steve Yanda: I've heard a wide range of opinions. There are some who think this guy has absolutely zero NFL future at all. And that surprised me. Their thinking is that he doesn't have a strong enough arm to be an NFL quarterback. And he's not built to be an H-back or some sort of hybrid runnningback/fullback at the pro level. Then there are some who think he could be a capable qb who eventually could develop into an average starter. But I have yet to hear anyone say he's a first round lock, much less a future hall of famer.

Eric Prisbell: It would surprise me if he becomes a standout NFl quarterback, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him in the league at QB. I think there is a place for him.


Washington, D.C.: Which BCS game are you most interested in, and which one are you least?

Steve Yanda: I'm most interested in the national title game. I know folks from Texas (and even some who support USC) honestly believe their teams deserve to be in Miami instead of either Oklahoma and Florida, and their reasoning certainly has some legitimacy to it. But the fact is, this is the way the cards were dealt and Florida and Oklahoma are two spectacular teams. They both deserve to be there. The problem is, so do a couple of other teams. I'm really excited to see the Gators and Sooners go at it.

As for least exciting, the Orange Bowl has no appeal to me. Cincinnati had a great season, espcecially considering all the injuries they dealt with at qb. And VaTech had to overcome some drama, as well. But I just don't find myself compelled to watch either.

Eric Prisbell: I am most looking forward to the national title game because of the two offenses. It should be very entertaining.

Alabama-Utah should also be intriguing.

The Orange Bowl does not interest me much, although it beats Nevada-Maryland.

If you want a good ACC-Big East matchup, it is between NC State and Rutgers. Two teams were once a combined 3-11, and now they are two of the hotter teams around.


McLean, Va.: I know I'm in dead horse beating territory here, but why is it so "clear cut" that Florida vs. Oklahoma is the title game? Sure Florida beat Alabama, but isn't Texas just as worthy? What about Penn State and USC? It strikes me as bizarre that the BCS still has enough credibility to pick two teams out of a batch of quality squads and declare them national championship contenders and people buy it. I have no rooting interest in this but I can't think of a season that more clearly points out the need for a playoff.

Eric Prisbell: Well, last season points out that we need a playoff as well.

I agree with you. Texas is not just as worthy as Oklahoma. Texas is more worthy because the Longhorns beat OU head to head. I don't want to hear about Texas's non-conference schedule, or the fact the the Sooners roll up 60 points by running up the score. Texas beat OU by 10 points on a neutral field.

Two words: Case closed.

And how about Alabama, which had a pretty respectable loss. USC should be in the mix as well. The system is broken and will not see a playoff for years and years and years, at the earliest.

Steve Yanda: Specifically to answer your question, it was "clear cut" because of the way the system currently is devised. Florida was a near lock to get to the title game so long as the Gators beat Alabama, which they did. And Oklahoma was an absolute lock to get to the title game so long as they beat Missouri, which they did. Now, clearly, the Big 12 tiebreaker should not have come down to BCS rankings (which is the only reason Oklahoma was in position to play Missouri), but that's just the way it is.

Yes, Texas is just as worthy. You could say, as Eric did, that the Horns are more worthy. I'm not sure I agree, but that's not really the point. The point is that several teams (Alabama, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Penn State, USC, Utah; heck, even Texas Tech and Boise State) have varying degrees of legitimate arguments that they belong in the national title game.

A playoff is needed. But the BCS isn't run by logic. It's run by greed. And that's why you're not likely to see a playoff for a long, long time.


Alexandria, Va.: Since UVa had the fortitude to fire Mike Grogh, any chance the Hokies will replace Stinespring? The defense won the ACC title.

Steve Yanda: I don't think they will. And I defintely don't think the circumstances at one school affect another, even if they are close in proximity. Virginia fired Mike Groh for a lot of reasons, only one of which was that the offense was just plain horrible at different times this season. And the team suffered for it. They blew a chance to go to the bowl largely because the offense was anemic.

Stinespring, on the other hand, can point to the fact that despite the offense's shortcomings, the team still qualified for a BCS bowl game once again. Winning, in almost all circumstances, trumps all.


Baltimore: Hey guys, thanks for doing these chats. I plan on going to Boise for the Maryland bowl game. Have you guys been there before? If so, what are your favorite spots there? I keep hearing from people that it is a really nice and hospitable town.

Also, who do you like in that game? I am really nervous about playing a team that is one of the best in the country at running the ball and stopping the run.

Eric Prisbell: Glad to hear you are headed to Boise. I am going and I am very excited about it. I have been to Boise a handful of times and I have been to other parts of Idaho on a few other occasions.

I don't remember specific spots right now, but I will have a list on Terrapins Insider later in the week with hot spots. And if you hear of any, please drop me an email: prisbelle@washpost.com.


And I like Nevada to run, run and run the ball enough to edge out a win over Maryland.

Steve Yanda: I've never been there, so stick with Prisbell's advice on that one.

As for the game, I think Nevada will win largely because I'm not sure Friedgen will be able to motivate his players for this bowl. They didn't want to be there in the first place. And if he can't motivate his players to get up for a game that could put them in the ACC title game, I'm not sure how he's going to motivate them for this.


Empty seats: I no longer believe the ACC is a BCS-caliber conference. Playing a conference championship in a half-empty stadium? That was pathetic.

Does the ACC get a free pass for that, or will there be some sustained grumblings going forward? What does a conference have to do to get kicked out of the big 6? Thanks.

Eric Prisbell: There will be sustained grumbling. But when you have a BC team that does not travel well and a bad economy, that's what you get. The ACC was a very fun conference to watch on a week to week basis this season. But to watch VT-BC in a one-game matchup in tampa is not my idea of a fun time.

I'd rather go all-Patrick Stevens and watch an Eastern Washington-Boise State basketball game.

Steve can answer the second part about getting your BCS bid pried away from you.

Steve Yanda: The ACC is safe for a number of years. At least for the next four. Likely for the next six. There is a four-year cycle that the BCS conferences are evaluated on. At the end of that cycle, each conference is evaluated in a number of areas and those that reach qualifying marks are given automatic BCS bowl designations. The conclusion of the 2007-08 season was the end of the last cycle, so the conferences that have automatic bids now are the conferences that will have automatic bids for this season and the next three. It's possible it could extend two years further than that since the BCS folks and ESPN will try to get the competitive cycles and the TV deal cycles in sync.


FCS Love: It's this time of year that I am always thankful that my alma mater gets to play for a national football championship on the field. If Richmond and JMU both advance do you think The Post would actually cover the game or would it continue to ignore FCS schools like it always does?

Eric Prisbell: With all due respect, please don't use the term FCS. It sends chills ups my spine. I really enjoy that level of football and love the fact they have a national playoff and all that. I would love to cover that game if I were in the area at the time. I'd be all for it.

What I don't like is the NCAA trying to get people to use the term FCS, it's crazy.


Bethesda, Md.: Can Wake avenge their earlier loss to Navy? The Mids looked great against Army but doesn't everyone?

Eric Prisbell: I think wake will avenge that loss. Riley Skinner had like four interceptions in that game, not like him. Wake beat vandy to close the regular season and I think Wake evens up the season series with Navy 1-1 and the 70,000 fans at RFK will demand at third matchup to break the tie. Or maybe not.

Seriously, though, I think it will be a good game, and I would love to watch it in person but I think i unfortunately will be out of town that day. I am hoping the Mike Wise goes.

Steve Yanda: Can Wake avenge the loss? Absolutely. On paper, the Demon Deacons are exponentially more talented than Navy. Riley Skinner is a quality quarterback, and that defense, led by Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith, is dynamite. The problem is that Wake fell apart down the stretch, and they did so for a reason. Their confidence won't be high heading into the Dec. 20 match-up. If Navy comes out with a little fire, they could give Wake some trouble. Navy runs the system that Jim Grobe would like to run, but can't for personnel reasons. He should be able to prepare his defense to face Navy's offense. Then again, Wake should be playing in the Orange Bowl with all the talent it possesses. "Should" doesn't always get you to a desirable end point.


Oakton, Va.: I don't agree with the Texas beat Oklahoma therefore Texas deserved to play in the Big 12 Championship game idea. If that is true, then Texas Tech should have been in the Big 12 championship game since they beat Texas. But then Oklahoma beat Texas Tech, so Oklahoma should have been in the game. When you have a three way tie where all of the teams have only lost to each other, it's impossible to make the head-to-head argument without going in a big circle. While I would guess that both Oklahoma and Texas are better than Texas Tech, we should go with the results on the field. The biggest problem I see is the Big 12 letting third parties (BCS) break their ties rather than figuring it out themselves.

Eric Prisbell: That's a fair point, and I'm not going to take exception with your rationale. Reasonable people can disagree on this. Bottom line is, there is no way this gets solved anytime soon, and next year will be a new year with a new controversy.

I have a big problem with Boise State being left out of the BCS.

Put Boise State on the same field with Ohio State in the Fiesta and run Statue of Liberty plays until the Tempe bars close.


Chantilly, Va.: So after going out of their way to avoid playing Navy in a bowl game for the second time in three years, it looks like Maryland is going to have a pitiful showing at the Humanitarian Bowl. Does little Ralphie's fear of Navy justify the financial hit the program will take? Can we hire someone to show him the chicken dance?

Eric Prisbell: Boise picks before DC. Boise picked Maryland. Maryland officials I have repeatedly talked to were trying everything they could to get into the DC bowl to play Navy because they didn't want to play in Boise in a less-than-appealing matchup. But about 40 kids have exams on the 20th. I don't think Maryland would beat Nevada or Navy, to be honest.


Olney, Md.: Maryland/Nevada? Who cares? Isn't it time we got rid of about 25-30 of these games? And I'm a Maryland alum and former ticket holder.

Eric Prisbell: Look, I love Boise, I love the WAC. But this has the potential to be one of the least appealing matchups in the history of civilized sport, or at least behind the ill-fated 2004 Silicon valley Classic (Look that debacle up, please)

This is on par with an NIT play-in game. Which is why I love it. Can't wait.

Steve Yanda: I agree whole-heartedly that at least half of the bowl games should be exterminated. It doesn't mean anything to qualify for a bowl game anymore. You have to finish with a .500 record to be eligible. Are you kidding me? All you have to be is mediocre? Average? Barely have a pulse? I know, I know, it's not easy to win six games and all that. But seriously, bowl games used to have some prestige. It used to be an honor to be selected. Now it seems to be little more than formality. Sadly, with all the money that's tied into the equation, the bowl season is more likely to grow large rather than smaller.


Happy Valley: Why don't we create the position of football czar for JoePa? He can stay in the booth and watch the game, calling down to the sidelines as needed. TomB gets the nod for coach. We retain a great football mind, Joe gets out of the house on Saturdays, and Tom gets the promotion.

Eric Prisbell: Sounds good to me. As long as they have better media access than they do now, I'm all for it.

Steve Yanda: You're assuming that's not already the deal that's in effect. It might not be official, but it sure seems like that's the way Penn State's ship is run.


Rockville, Md.: If we're stuck with the BCS, and easy improvement would be to not have ANY polls done until the BCS is put together. Having teams start out with an advantage of being ranked high before enough games are played to have any idea how good teams are is unfair. If their were NO polls done until the first week the BCS standings came out, it would be more equitable.

Eric Prisbell: That is a great point, one that I have heard before and one that the BCS should follow. Polls are compiled to early and it creates sort of a benchmark for teams. I don't like it.


Washington, D.C.: The Orange Bowl game has one thing going for it. Neither Cincinnati nor Virginia Tech would have a chance against any of the other BCS teams. Unfortunately, that's the only thing it has going for it.

Eric Prisbell: It's in Miami, that's pretty cool, too. Not a sexy matchup, though.


RE: Boise: Great town! Try the fries. And suck down a couple Buttface Ales for me.

By the way: Nevada's a lock -- they gave Boise State all they could handle, and the Terps only play hard against people they've heard of.

Eric Prisbell: I think you just wrote my lede for my advance for me. Thank you very much. i do think that sums it up.

And let me be the first to say, ATTENTION ALL OF BOISE: If you know of any restaurant, bar or other entertainment facility I should visit during my trip, please email me at prisbelle@washpost.com.

Thank you, and I look forward to visiting the great city of Boise, Idaho, to watch the game.


New York, N.Y.: You just touched on something that's been bugging me. Why do you think that Friedg could not get his team up for key games at the end? They had the talent to win, but nothing seemed to register. They were as flat vs FSU and they were against UVA.

Steve Yanda: Friedgen has been honest about this subject. His players don't listen to him. He said it at many points this season.

Eric Prisbell: Ralph talks about a generation gap between he and his players. He talks about players not listening to him. There is no excuse for 30 seniors. More was expected from them this season. Now they have to go to a blue field.


Arlington, Va.: Lets be honest. As Obama implied, we should stop saying there is a national champion. We don't really know who is the best between OU, Texas, PSU, Boise State, USC and Florida because its not decided on the field. If anyone should be left out of that conversation, it's OU because they are the only school who has lost to another school from that "elite" list.

Steve Yanda: I'd rather be a team that lost to a school on your "elite" list than be on that elite list and have lost to a program that's not. What's the better loss? Oklahoma to Texas? Or USC to Oregon State? Or how about Florida to Ole Miss? Or Texas to Texas Tech? I'd take Oklahoma's loss before any of those others. They deserve to be on yours and everyone else's elite list. And they certainly deserve to be mentioned among national title contenders.


Chicago: Don't Sports Writers deserve some of the blame for the BCS? They're the ones who vote in the AP poll. And they're the ones who moved Oklahoma ahead of Texas. And put Florida in a position to play in the title game, if they beat Alabama.

I think if the writers were a little more honest about the teams and a little less beholden to the AD's of the big schools, we might actually get a playoff system.

Steve Yanda: Well first of all, the AP poll has nothing to do with the BCS formula, so I'm not sure what you're point is there.

Only a handful of sports writers are members of the Harris Poll, which actually is a part of the BCS formula, and even then we're talking only a handful.

The BCS is a three-part formula consisting of the Harris Poll, the Coaches Poll and the average of six computer polls.


"...the NCAA trying to get people to use the term FCS": I think they're giving up! I was watching one of the games last week and the scoreboard graphic said something like "FCS (1-AA)" so we would know what they were talking about.

Eric Prisbell: The use of FCS is utterly ridiculous and bothers me a great deal.

I wish I could fly a very large banner over the NCAA headquarters in Indy that reads: I-AA!

There is nothing wrong with I-AA. There is a growing movement to use I-AA.


Eric Prisbell: Okay, everyone, I've got to bounce. Busy day. Thanks for coming, see everyone soon. Take care, and have a good holiday.


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