Thursday, January 21

Excuse Me While I Rip This Guy: Team of the Decade

Through certain channels I learned that ESPN was still squeezing the college football orange after the end of the season up until signing day. This has led to a similar phenomenon around the interwebs of making decade lists in different categories for different sports. Pat Forde has chimed in on a variety of topics while looking back on the last ten years of college football. The one that caught my attention was his "single most dominant team of the decade" post. Upon hearing about this at the office I immediately began a plan in my head to attack his analysis and reasoning because he chose the 2004 USC Trojans over the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. While I had a myriad of things to do at work I decided to wait until I got home and then read Forde's article and then proceed to rip it in a tribute to FJM/Big Daddy Drew-Peter King style. However, when I got home and clicked on said post, the reasoning behind his choice was not very involved and neither were the remainder. It appears we have a classic mail-it-in job by Pat. A quick relevant topic that would provoke debate and remembrance among its readers but did not require any real thought. That's fine, but one of the glories of the internet is that irrelevant people can bitch on irrelevant blogs about inane ramblings of paid journalists who sometimes get lazy on the job. Fear not! I will press on and attempt to show that the best team we saw take the field in the aughts were the 2001 squad from the U. The analysis after the break.

The single most dominant team of the decade boils down to a two-squad debate: USC '04 or Miami '01.

Okay, I can get down with this.

The Hurricanes produced an astonishing amount of pro talent and stampeded to a perfect record

Also true.

but they also were slightly lessened by facing an underwhelming Nebraska team in the 2002 Rose Bowl.

How does them facing a Nebraska team that did not necessarily deserve to be there lessen who they were as a team? They did win that game right? Hmm, let me check: 37-14. Yeah was pretty much no contest. So Miami should be docked points because the BCS is stupid and illogical?

The Cornhuskers should never have been there after being humiliated by Colorado but got the nod anyway.

I cannot argue this point. Nebraska got drilled by Colorado for their lone loss. This lead to them losing a tiebreaker to get into the Big 12 title game. Texas from last year would agree that sometimes you don't get into the conference title game because of 5th level tiebreakers. There was no other undefeated team. A one-loss Oregon team were who many thought should be there, but we can't turn back the clock and by all means Oregon could have pulled an upset but they were not superior to the team Miami fielded.

USC '04, meanwhile, stamped its final mark by annihilating undefeated Oklahoma, 55-19, in the 2005 Orange Bowl.

Anyone who watched that game, much like the Miami Rose Bowl could see that the opponent was not in the league of the victor. Must I really rehash Oklahoma's recent BCS bowl history aside from their 2000 title(an Orange Bowl in which they really should have played[and most likely would have lost to] the Hurricanes who beat FSU 13-2 that year but got the nod which led to a change in the BCS formula). In 2004 Oklahoma was not the only undefeated title contender. The Auburn Tigers went undefeated, in the SEC, and were denied a chance to play USC. Maybe USC would have not won by such a big margin, or at all, because SEC SPEED IS BLINDING FAST OMGWTFBBQ!!!11one. See it works both ways, every BCS year you can point to who the champion should have or could have played to win the title.

This was the best Trojans team from the best program of the decade.

I concede the Trojans had the program of the decade, no argument from me there and 2004 might have been their best team but this is determining which team is the best of the decade, not the best of the best program. We all know Miami has sank in stature during this decade, but in 2001 they were the elite of the sport.

The Trojans became just the second wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AP poll (Florida State did it in 1999), finishing it off with that absolute crushing of the Sooners.

Are we really using this as evidence? Preseason polls! USC was voted number one and stayed there because they did not lose. Miami started number two behind Florida, who would lose twice. Miami had slapped the Gators 37-20 around in the Sugar Bowl the previous season yet voters somehow voted Florida higher in that preseason. How can this be criteria for deciding which team is better?

The score was 38-10 at halftime for a USC team that combined dazzling offense (Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil, Deuce Lutui) and brutal defense (Lawrence Jackson, Mike Patterson, Shaun Cody, Lofa Tatupu).

Using words like dazzling is a fabulous way to accentuate your argument or a 6th grade book report on the Twilight Series.

Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Clinton Portis, Bryant McKinnie, Vince Wilfork, D.J. Williams, Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed … those are just some of the future NFL stars who populated this Hurricanes roster.

Yeah, they are just some. 16 players from that team ended up being drafted in the first-round of the NFL draft, including 5 from in the subsequent 2002 NFL draft. I know pro drafting spots and to an extent pro performance is not the ultimate indicator of a team's greatness on the college football field, but in this category Miami wins over USC hands down.

The surprise is not that the Hurricanes stomped their way through the season undefeated -- it's that they were prevented the next year from repeating.

You had to throw this in there didn't you? What a stupid thing to say. It has nothing to do with the 2001 team that the 2002 team was not awarded the 2002 BCS title. The 2002 Hurricanes were very talented but they did not have the same roster(no Portis, McKinnie, Shockey, Rumph, Buchanon, OR ED REED) and we will not venture down he road of the interference call again.

How come at the end of the USC description you did not say "The surprise is not that the Trojans stomped their way through the season undefeated-- it's that they were prevented the next year from repeating."

Sound familiar no? The 2005 Trojans ran to the title game following their 2004 season but lost to Vince Young and Texas with Leinart and Bush. Yep, they failed too. Why no mention of that?

All in all, both teams are great but if you are going to put one above the other you need to come up with better reasons that one team played a certain team in the title game and one team was not ranked number 1 at the beginning of the season.

Now to some stats:

-Miami scored 42.6 ppg, allowed 9.75 ppg, 32.9 avg. margin of victory, NCAA record for consecutive margin of victory over ranked opponents -- they beat #14 Syracuse 59-0 and then #12 Washington 65-7. 6 All-Americans.

-USC scored 38.2 ppg, allowed 13.0 ppg, 25.0 avg. margin of victory, Matt Leinart won the Heisman, 6 All-Americans.

-Miami beat 5 ranked opponents, USC 3.

-The draft info has been mentioned but just to reiterate:
Miami has 14 stars from that team still in the league. Back-ups from that team were Kellen Winslow, Sean Taylor(RIP), Antrel Rolle, and Vernon Carey.

USC has an impressive list as well (53 players that were on that roster are now in the NFL) including Keith Rivers, Steve Smith, Bush, Lofa Tutupu, Fred Davis, Ryan Kalil, Winston Justice and LenDale White. However some of them were not as high profile in the league for their play like Leinart, John David Booty and Matt Cassell(both never really played in 2004), Dwayne Jarrett, and the infamous Mike Williams.

Before the 2005 Trojans lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl ESPN held an online poll about the best college football teams of all-time; only the 2001 Hurricanes were voted ahead of USC. Pat Forde may have a history of bashing the Canes and this may have just been a 5 minute article throw away, but it does not make him any less wrong in my view and those that agree with me. The 2001 Hurricanes were the best ever. I'll end it by letting them say it in their own words:

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