Just when it looked like the college football world was starting to come around to the fact that schools from outside the "Big 6" conferences could play football with anyone in the country the blowhard elitists of the media (read: Herbstreit, Kirk) had to scramble for another reason for their exclusion from the big BCS party. The reasoning they came up with-- "style points." Meaning that since TCU and Boise play a conference slate that isn't the almighty SEC or have a household name that they better beat all of their opponents by 80-0 or there is a justifiable reason to drop them in the polls. Couldn't they have thought up something more subjective?
Oh wait, probably not. The worst part is that the media bought into this line of thinking overnight and now spread it as gospel. Just thinking about the concept of "style points" makes me feel like my head is about to explode but I have decided that I have to risk it for you, the reader. So armed with only a bottle of advil and an endless supply of Maker's Mark and Diet Coke please follow me on my journey to debunk the concept of "style points."
What does the term "style points" actually mean? As far as I can all it really boils down to is running up the score on an inferior opponent. Really? That's what Herbstreit wants from us? So if TCU buries teams like New Mexico and UNLV by 80 points that is going to prove their worth? Now I would understand if a team like TCU or Boise State was in a position to lose a game in the 4th quarter to a lesser team (i.e. Boise vs Tulsa in 2009) and they got docked in the polls I can understand that. But to encourage teams to pile it on is completely off base and unethical. Margin of victory was removed from the BCS formula in 2005 for good reason, and I don't think Herbstreit has the power to reinstate it.
Antoher major reason that "style points" shouldn't be considered by the media is because it doesn't fall in line with the goals of a football coach. For example TCU coach Gary Patterson has long stated that his goal is to win each game by one point and he reiterated that statement this week by summing up the season to date by saying, "We've got seven games left and we've got to try to find a way to win by one point." Gary Patterson has always tried to win with class by leaving points on the field when a win is in the bag, he even publicly apologized after a 62-7 Tennesse Tech victory when his backup fullback scored on a 16 yard touchdown run while TCU was attempting to run the clock out. "I want to publicly apologize," Patterson said. "I didn't mean to score the last touchdown. We don't do style points. We didn't throw the ball in the fourth quarter. That's not the program we are, period. I did not want to score 60. I don't think [Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown] is very happy with me." TCU's gameplan once they have the lead has been and will continue to be to shorten the game by running the ball and thus running the clock, and that's the way college football should be played, with class. So why does the media feel they have the right to hold coaches to a standard that they don't agree with?
How does one define a "stylish" win? Is all about offense? Judging from the media's responses to TCU's 27-0 victory over CSU in Fort Collins in which TCU pitched their very first road shutout of the Gary Patterson era I would be inclined to say yes, it is all about offense. Even though CSU coach Steve Fairchild was quoted as saying, "I told Gary (Patterson) after the game that we could have played until midnight and we wouldn't have scored," all the media wanted to talk about after the game is that TCU "only" had a 6-0 lead at halftime. Take Espn.com's Pat Forde for example:
Hey Pat, Who do you think has been more impressive so far TCU or Boise State?
Pat Forde(2:22 PM)
David: Boise. Beat Oregon State more easily, beat Virginia Tech on road, doesn't have anything comparable to TCU first-half struggle against Colorado State.
How does one struggle when one never trails in the game or allows a single point? Nevermind the fact that TCU outgained the Rams 474 to 161, because kicking field goals and playing to win is simply unacceptable against a team as "dreadful" as CSU. I don't know if I feel worse for, TCU who is stuck in a perpetual catch-22, or CSU who gets pummeled 27-0 and it is still not considered to be as bad a beating as they deserved. So in conclusion, scoring lots and lots of points is "stylish," playing good defense and pitching shutouts is not.
This wouldn't bother me so much if it were a two way street, but it's not. Where were Iowa's "style points" in 2009 when they needed not one blocked field goal, but two to beat Northern Iowa 17-16. What did that not so "stylish" win plus two losses (Northwestern and Ohio State) get the Iowa Hawkeyes in 2009? Only a freaking Orange Bowl bid!!!! Where aren't the "style points police" harping on OU after beating Utah State, Air Force, and Cincinatti by a paltry combined 12 points? Where's the "style" in that?
There is the ever present mind-numbing argument of, "Well, TCU or Boise State couldn't go undeafeted if they were in the SEC." First of all could Ohio State, Oregon, or Oklahoma go undefeated in the SEC? I highly doubt it. But could TCU or Boise go undefeated in the Pac 10, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, or Big East? I think they'd have a pretty good shot. Secondly unless all the SEC is going to give TCU or Boise an invitation to join their confrence that argument needs to die. TCU and Boise want nothing more than to be in a "big boy conference" but those doors are locked and bolted shut, so they have to play who gets put in front of them.
What it all really boils down to is that college football is a system flawed beyond repair. Teams can't play it out on the field so the media has to do it for them by creating false arguments such as "style points." How many "style points" did Butler have going in the NCAA tournament last year? And they were one half-court shot away from being NCAA National Champions. If the BCS were running things they wouldn't even have been let in the building.