COYNE TOSS: Football Should Be Fiesta Bound
Taking into account win-loss, strength of schedule and margin of victory, his system ranks the Harvard football team 38th. In the country. In all of Division I. That’s I-AA and I-A.
Ranked just ahead of the Crimson are Notre Dame (29th), Ohio State (30th) and Colorado (35th). Just below Harvard are Alabama (42nd), Clemson (44th) and South Carolina (46th).
And way behind is Pittsburgh (52nd).
You read right. Harvard is 14 spots ahead of the Fiesta Bowl-bound Panthers.
Admittedly, the Crimson is not a major conference champion, the sole criterion for Pitt’s BCS invitation, and has no claim to such a high-profile bowl.
But come on! Fourteen spots! That’s basically the difference between the Patriots and the Bengals.
Just picture it: Harvard in Tempe, Ariz., taking on 11-0 Utah in front of millions of television viewers.
Come to think of it, the Crimson actually shares a lot in common with the Utes.
They represent one-third of the undefeated teams left in D-I.
They come from conferences that traditionally don’t get a lot of respect. The Mountain West and the Ivy League aren’t exactly names that send shivers down opposing coaches’ spines.
Both have high-octane offenses that scored more than 30 points in a game on nine occasions this year—Utah averages better than 46 and Harvard put up nearly 34 per contest.
Each squad is led by a conference Player of the Year-quarterback who can cause damage both with his arm and his legs. Crimson captain Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 1,986 yards and rushed for another 448, while the Utes’ Alex Smith has tossed for 2,624 yards and scampered across 563 yards of turf.
And though Utah head coach Urban Meyer will be off to Gainesville and the Florida Gators after Jan. 1, Harvard head honcho Tim Murphy had been rumored as a possible replacement for Ron Zook.
And then there’s the nicknames. Could there be any more unoriginal, non-descript monikers as “Crimson” and “Utes.” Your name is Utah! How can “Utes” possibly count as a nickname? Don’t you see, it’s basically the same word!
How would the showdown play out?
Disregarding for a moment the fact that Utah put up more than 500 yards of offense per game, the Crimson might actually have an advantage on the defensive side of the ball, as it surrendered 13.4 points per contest versus the 20.6 that the Utes allowed.
Special teams-wise, is there a more electric kick-returner in the nation than senior Brian Edwards? Probably, but it would still be crazy-fun to see him refuse to call a fair catch against I-A competition.
Sophomore running back Clifton Dawson is basically a Big Ten running back, having transferred from Northwestern.
Believe me, they know how to dance. Just invite them to the party.
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at email@example.com. His column appears on alternate Thursdays.