The Spring Game this past weekend has Cowboy fans (not to mention fans from other schools, analysts, sports talk guys, and everyone else we hate) all excited about certain aspects of the Cowboy football team, and worried about other facets.
"Is the defense going to be alright?"
"I think Jeremy Smith will break Barry's yardage record this season."
"Weeden didn't look as great as I had hoped, is he showing his age?"
"Won't someone think about the linebackers!"
These are just some of the things I have fake heard in my imaginary discussions with all the straw men I know.
And this is my favorite thing about the spring game.... really nothing good or bad can happen but we love to assign meaning to it. Any bad performance can be credited to the person(s) on the other side of the ball who... guess what... also play for Oklahoma State, and any good performance can be met with the criticism that the other side should have been able to stop it. It is the weirdest event to actually try to glean information from as it is basically a marketing tool to get fans excited about the season and buy some tickets, yet we get so excited about it, and analyze it to pieces after the fact. (and don't interpret this post as me thinking I am immune to this... I am the one that has talked myself into Jeremy Smith breaking Barry's yardage record)
This got me wondering, in the sea of basically meaningless aspects of collegiate athletics that exist either for tradition or monetary reasons, is there anything more over-hyped than the Spring Game?
Here would be my list (in no particular order), of the most over-hyped "things" in college athletics:
Spring Game - see above
Basketball Rankings - Have no bearing on anything whatsoever, yet every week we bitch about who is placed where. The goal of a basketball season is to make the NCAA Tourney and get as far as you can, yet we rank teams throughout the season just because of a carryover habit from football season I guess. They don't matter one bit. The only way a ranking system would matter would be if it was a top 68 instead of a top 25 so they might carry some weight with the selection committee, but instead we get the top 25 which are all teams that are guaranteed a tourney spot anyway.
Results of non-BCS Bowl Games - I know this argument has been had a million times on every message board in the world, but does it really matter that OSU beat Arizona, or that K-State lost to the Syracuse Orange (trademark pending.. i hope i don't get sued for typing the word "orange"... twice now!) in the whatever bowl they were in? Sure there is recruiting and momentum for next season and blah, blah, blah, but there are countless examples of teams doing well the next season after getting killed in a bowl game, and I find it hard to believe that any recruit has ever decommitted after their team lost the Peach Bowl. I would love to run next season stats, and next few season recruiting rankings on winners and losers of bowl games and see what the difference actually is.... this will be a summer project. So we will get the final verdict on whether these bowl games matter this summer, but for now I am ruling them as close to meaningless.
Conference RPI Rankings - This applies to all sports. Everyone wants to feel like their team played the toughest competition of anyone and that they would have crushed it in a lower rated conference. It is a fallacy that because you played better teams, you are better. Beating good teams is what proves you are a good team, anyone can lose to great teams. Its like those teams that have a great tourney resume because their SOS is in the top 5, but their record versus the top 50 is like 1-9. So great, you played the best, but you couldn't beat them so ultimately nothing was proven. (this obviously does not apply to teams that crushed it in a tough conference... more when the rankings are used as an excuse for a team being 6-6).
I'm sure there are other completely over-hyped events I am forgetting that could rival the spring game, but these are the 4 that stand out to me.