06 November 2005

Top 25 From Dante

Not what you think.

And he sent this to me more than two weeks ago, so the lateness is my bad.

Notice that this is NOT how good I think the team is. This is where I think they’ll finish the season. Look at the number in parenthesis to see how good I think they are (Top 5 only). Note that tiebreakers and teams I don’t care for will be ranked according to my new system for dealing with teams I might not know much about (the Tom Landry Connection). This should keep Pat happy while not forcing me to arbitrarily rank teams I know little about.

1. Texas (2): Whoever plays USC in the National Championship game is going to win (see USC for details). Texas has an easy rest of the season and they’re Big 12. That’s all they need to make it to the National Championship.
-Landry connection: Landry played for Texas from 1944-1948.

2. USC (3): USC is a good example of how you’re only hurting yourself by playing patsies all year. Eventually you’ll have to play a good team and you’ll be unprepared. Look at regular season box scores from Miami that year they lost to Ohio State. Team plays a lousy first half. Team actually shows up when they’re down or close in the second half. Team finally loses when they have to play a real team at the end of the season and can’t afford to not show up early. Do you see a pattern? USC makes it to the title and then goes down.
-Landry Connection: Former USC coach Paul Hackett was offensive coordinator for Tom Landry in the mid 80’s.

3. Georgia (4): There will be a second undefeated SEC team in a row to miss a National Title shot. It will be either Georgia or Bama. I’m basing this decision the way I base most decisions: the strength of the offensive line and the competence (not necessarily talent) of the defense. Just kidding. I really pulled out the Landry tiebreaking system.
-Landry Connection that won Bama tiebreaker: In 1948, the Texas Longhorns with Landry playing DB, FB and Punter upset Georgia in the Orange Bowl, 41-28. This was Landry’s last game as a Longhorn and what many consider his best game as a college player. (There’s also the Herschel Walker connection, but Herschel just wasn’t the NFL player everyone hoped he would be so I put the Orange Bowl in instead.)

4. Virginia Tech (1): Virginia Tech may be the best program in the nation right now. Too bad there’s an ACC championship game this year and Miami is still on the horizon. I’m guessing they go 1-1 for those two games. Some people will say this is an argument for playoffs.
-Landry Connection to VT: In his 28 years as Dallas’ head coach, only three Virginia Tech players were ever drafted by the Cowboys. None of those three players made the regular season roster. (Not much of a connection but pretty interesting trivia.)
-Landry Connection to Playoffs: Landry is head and shoulders above other coaches in NFL post-season victories (only coach to crack 20, at 24). There should be a playoff system based on this connection.

5. Alabama (5): Bama has an incredible offensive line and that’s as good as gold in my book. They’re going to go undefeated until the SEC Championship game. That’s when they’ll face the only offensive line in the SEC better than their own. I put them above Florida State because pollsters love Bama for some reason.
-Landry Connection that lost UGA tiebreaker: Mike Shula’s dad, Don Shula, had the only perfect season in the NFL. The last team they lost to before that perfect season was Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 6.

6. Florida State: Florida State will lose the ACC Championship game to a VT team that is just better. They’ll still get a BCS bowl to play in due to the large amount of money they always bring to the table.
-Landry Connection: In 1986, Garth Jax (LB) was the first player the Cowboys ever drafted from Florida State to make the regular season roster.

7. Penn State: Any excuse to put Penn State in the top 10 will be welcomed by pollsters. They’re a good team, but not this good.
-Landry Connection: While Landry and the Longhorns were busy beating Georgia in the Orange Bowl in 1948, Penn State played their only game at the Cotton Bowl. It was a 13-13 tie with SMU. 12 years later, this stadium would be the first stadium the Dallas Cowboys would call home.

8. Louisville: After losing to Southern Florida, they won’t lose again.
-Landry Connection: The Cowboys’ first ever pre-season win came against the Giants on 8/27/1960 at Louisville’s football stadium. This is interesting because back then you played preseason games to win. Too bad the Cowboys finished the 1960 regular season 0-11-1.

9. Michigan State: I think Michigan State is a good team?
-Landry Connection: Tight end Billy Joe DuPree graduated from Michigan State and was then drafted by the Cowboys in 1973. DuPree was one of the first TE’s to be known more as a receiver than a blocker.

10. Notre Dame: Yet another team the pollsters love is getting not so cover-your-eyes awful that they just can’t be ranked. Weiss may bring this team back to glory, but they’re not as good as everyone thinks they are.
-Landry Connection: Phil Pozderac was a Notre Dame alumni. He was a tackle for Dallas from 1982-1987. Little known but solid football player.

11. Miami: Just basing my pick on the connection.
-Landry Connection: Michael Irvin played for Miami. Irvin was a rookie during Landry’s last year as the Cowboys head coach. Most people think that he was a Jimmy Johnson acquisition but he wasn’t.

12. WV: The connection is far more interesting than the team.
-Landry Connection: West Virginia alum Chuck Howley was linebacker for the Bears until he blew his knee out in 1959. Howley took up a career pumping gas. Former Bear teammate Don Healy saw him at a WV alumni event. After hearing what happened to Howley, Healy got Howley a tryout in Dallas in 1961. Howley went on to play 13 seasons for Dallas (including being named the Super Bowl V MVP despite playing for the losing team) before another knee injury ended his career for good.

13. Colorado: This is a team whose only loss was to Miami. Expect them to end the season with 2 losses since the only other tough game they have is (presumably) the Big 12 Championship. I expect the pollsters will be a bit kinder to them by year’s end.
-Landry Connection: Bill Roe (LB) was drafted by Dallas in 1982 from Colorado.

14. Boston College: Decent connection = decent team.
-Landry Connection: Former Boston College coach Tom Coughlin now coaches the New York Giants where Tom Landry was a player and assistant coach. It was in New York where Landry helped make the Umbrella defense what it is, introduced the 4-3, and first met one of his biggest rivals: Vince Lombardi.

15. California: The connection is good so I’m putting Cal here.
-Landry Connection: In 1965, the Cowboys drafted Craig Morton, a QB from Cal, to replace a declining Meredith. Morton was a good QB but had the unfortunate experience of competing for playing time with Roger Staubach (who was just returning from a delay in his NFL career due to Naval obligations). Eventually, Morton went to Denver and had a good career, including a Super Bowl appearance (where he was defeated by the Dallas Cowboys).

16. Ohio State: What a sappy connection. It’s the best I could do. I’m putting it in small print. It doesn’t deserver to be printed any larger.
-Landry Connection: Woody Hayes, the Ohio state football coach, was fired for striking an opposing player on the sidelines during a game. At the end of that season, a professional athlete’s banquet was held for the top players and coaches in professional sports. Tom Landry was invited and much to everyone’s surprise took Woody Hayes along as his guest.

17. Texas Tech: Here’s a team that doesn’t deserved to be ranked right but is. TT could go wither way since they haven’t really played anybody yet, but I’m guessing they’ll be a 2-loss team by year’s end and the connection is strong with this one.
-Landry Connection: Texas Tech (along with Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor) was formally invited to join the Big 8 exactly five years after Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry (2/25/1994 and 2/25/1989, respectively).

18. Florida: The connection is more a degrees of separation. This does not bode well for Florida.
-Landry Connection: Former Florida coach Steve Spurrier is now the head coach of South Carolina where a certain running back, coach, and all-around Landry protégé named Dan Reeves attended college.

19. UCLA: They’re going to be ranked at the end of the season. There’s too strong a connection to ignore.
-Landry Connection: Dallas GM Tex Schramm was convinced that a certain young QB named Troy Aikman should be Dallas’ top draft choice in 1989. Landry saw Aikman play that year at the Cotton Bowl and agreed. Fortunately, when Landry was fired Schramm was able to convince Johnson that Aikman was worth having. Johnson would have you believe he wanted Aikman all along but Tex Schramm claims it took a lot of convincing to get Jimmy Johnson to consider Aikman for the pick.

20. Tennessee: Tennessee will be ranked at the year’s end though they will fall at the hands of Bama.
-Landry Connection: Daryle Smith, who played for Tennessee from 1983 - 1986, has the distinction of being the first person Jimmy Johnson traded when taking over the Cowboys from former coach Tom Landry.

21. LSU: This ranking might be a little out of place because pollster HATE to rank teams in the same conference next to each other for some reason.
-Landry Connection: Until a 35-20 loss to Texas in 2003, LSU had never lost at the Cotton Bowl. They had three other appearances there dating back to 1947. As pointed out earlier, the Cotton Bowl was the first stadium the Dallas Cowboys would call home.

22. Oregon: Ugly uniforms. Just read the connection.
-Landry Connection: Cowboys Hall of Fame DB Mel Renfro was a RB for Oregon.

23. Auburn: Auburn made a mistake as Georgia Tech. They’ll fight back and then lose to Georgia and Bama at the end of the season to round out a respectable 3-loss season.
-Landry Connection: 2nd String Cowboys RB George Peoples was drafted by the Cowboys in 1982 from Auburn. He was the only Cowboy drafted from Auburn to ever make the team to that point (or at all during Landry’s stint as head coach). He only lasted one year before he was either traded or cut. If he was traded, I sure can’t find where.

24. Michigan: It’s not like Michigan is going to finish the season unranked. They have to go somewhere.
-Landry Connection: Tom Stinic (LB) was a Michigan player drafted by Dallas in 1969. He wasn’t great, but he put in a solid 3 years for Dallas.

25. TCU: TCU is one of those teams that really doesn’t deserve to be ranked but their record will be good enough that they will be. I also just can’t ignore the connection.
-Landry Connection: Bob Lilly played for TCU. He was a cornerstone of Landry’s Doomsday Defense.


At 9:15 AM, Blogger Dante said...

Interesting how things have changed. At the time I wrote this:

1. Shockley wasn't hurt.
2. Hmmm... That's about it.

I was just pretty wrong about alomst everything. The only unobvious thing I managed to get right so far is that Notre Dame is somehow ranked in the top 10 though they have no business being there.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger jerz knows all said...

Hey man, don't knock yourself too much. My thoughts of your list pre-GA-FL pretty much mirrored your thoughts, except I had Va. Tech as probably the best team in the nation(oops).
On a side note, I pretty much hate Notre Dame as much as the next guy but one thing you have to give them is they have probably the toughest schedule in the nation.
If they finish out the remainder of the season even I gotta say they should at least be considered for a major bowl.


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