Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meme time!

I've never started one of these, but I have a feeling that it might generate some discussion. Since I've always been all about accentuating the positive in life, I thought my try would be all about purging the wrongs inflicted upon my conscience. Feel the love!

Please answer the following questions:

1) What is the worst DVD/video you own? Everyone has one. On the stack of videos there's always one that you got because it was on sale and you planned on renting it anyway, or you got it as a gift, or something. And there it sits. Staring back at you. When friends or acquaintances come over and naturally see what movies you have, you consider it like a puss-filled cold sore, hoping others ignore it but admitting that it's too blatantly obvious, especially considering your own awesome awesome taste in movies. Spousally owned movies do not count (Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde would win in a landslide, but that was the Lady's before marriage and remains hers alone now).

My answer: Panic Room. Pretentious, poorly acted, not really suspenseful, uninteresting characters. Luckily it isn't in a typical DVD case. It's slender and black and blends into the rest of the movies.

2) What is the worst concert you've ever seen in person? This is a more open-ended question. It can be a terrible artist that you ended up seeing for some reason (work, a friend had free tickets, you were assigned to write a review). It can be a favorite (or would-be favorite if not for this show) artist who just sucked the o-ring out of an ass on that particular night. Have at it.

My answer: I tried to figure out which one was worse, but all attempts have failed, so I have a tie. Both were the summer of 2001. Both were at Chastain Park in Atlanta. Both were work-related functions. First, The Neville Brothers live. Every Aaron Neville joke is true. And they didn't even sing "Everybody Plays the Fool". The lowlight/ironic highlight was Aaron Neville singing both his own and the Linda Ronstadt parts of "I Don't Know Much". Gender bending, utterly confusing, eerily erotic. Second, "Island Jam" featuring Maxi Priest and the Baha Men. Yes. I've seen the Baha Men in concert. While Maxi Priest was actually pretty good (and I was feeling his 20 minute version of "I just wanna get close to you" and his flowing Polyphonic Spree-like robe, I'll never get the Baha Men's performance out of my mind. Their show was an hour long and featured all of 4 songs. The fourth, and last was an epic 35 minute version of "Who Let the Dogs Out", during which I went for more drinks twice... and it was still going on. At one point they actually used these words: "And now just the ladies... Who let the cats out? Meow, Meow, Meow-Meow-Meow!" I. Shit. You. Not.

3) What is the worst experience you've ever had at a restaurant? Another open-ended question. This can be poor service, poor food, whatever. It can be a robbery by a crackhead, foiled by quick-footed African janitors. It can be a drive through experience.

My answer: not exactly a restaurant, but they have restaurants there and I'm certain the kitchen's the same. I was at a wedding at the Gwinnett Marriott. Bit into a vegetarian spring roll, bit down on a 1/4" bolt. Chipped a tooth. Luckily, I had a dental school friend sitting at the same table. Of course, this engendered a discussion as to the relative merits of a tort claim against the hotel on the basis of the bolt (because I actually bit into it, I could have a claim, based on that Applebee's condom case). Anytime a wedding is interrupted by a first year law school exam fact pattern, things are bad.

4) What is the worst movie you've ever seen in the theatre? Self explanatory.

My answer: The General won't like it, because I think it was his 10th birthday party. But my choice is The 'burbs. Not funny enough, not scary. Just bad all around. I saw Leonard Part VI in the theatre and actually liked it compared to this.

5) What is the worst book you've actually finished? You can't say "I read a few pages and it sucked so bad I put it down..." You have to have finished the book. Fiction or non-fiction. No matter.

My answer: Many choices to have here. I thought about The DaVinci Code, or the more ludicrous Angels and Demons, but in the end I'll have to give weight to... er... weight. Executive Orders by Tom Clancy is 1000 pages of utter bullshit and to this day I cannot understand why I continued to read the whole thing. I should've known better on the dedication page how pedantic and drooling it would be.

6) Who is the worst looking or least appealing celebrity you would have intimate relations with "just to tell the story"? Assume marital or other obligations did not exist. Assume no consequences arise therefrom. Here's where we find out just how disgusting my readers are. The person must be a celebrity though - as in needs no introduction or explanation. The opposite gender is not required.

My answer: My mind keeps drifting to two people, forever connected, and would be an incredible story. Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Clinton.

OK. And now I pass this on to anyone on my blogroll who cares enough to answer this. And anyone without a blog, feel free to post responses in comments.


A rare NBA post

Bill Simmons' column last week on the NBA's atrocious GMs was probably the best thing he's written in a year. Of course, it wasn't without flaws, but in some ways writing from the perspective of other people (even if they wouldn't say the things they said) is better than his own opinioneering. I mean, at least he didn't have Kevin McHale comparing first round draft picks to Arctic Monkeys while Joe Smith was like The Bravery, or Rob Babcock talking about how Vince Carter's last days in Toronto were more of a slip than Johnny on The OC (send royalties, Bill!).

A few things got me thinking from the column. Simmons sort of proposes that there are some things that can save a bad GM from getting the boot too soon, things that conceal how bad a GM really is. Things like decent draft picks, getting name players in return for bad trades (which actually put budgets in terrible shape). So I started wondering if Billy Knight might be biding his time due to some of these concealing factors. And isn't it a good time to start considering Knight's work with the Hawks from a long-term point of view? He's been here almost 4 years, during most of which the team (Knight especially) has been feeding the "fans" the same line about how they have a plan in place and we just need to trust them.

So let's look at Knight's moves in Atlanta and the results.

2002-03 season:
Traded rights to Efthimios Rentzias (???) to Sixers for 2004 (Royal Ivey) and 2006 (ended up going back to Sixers) second round pick
Traded a future (2003 or 2004) first round pick for Dan Dickau. (unclear what that pick ended up being - it was traded to the Hawks from Houston for Terence Morris, and to Houston from Philadelphia, to Philadelphia from Detroit. Appears that the Kings and Pistons owed each other first rounders and this pick went back to the Pistons, so it could be Carlos Delfino (2003) or Tony Allen (Boston in 2004))
Drafted Australian David Andersen (not yet played in NBA, rights still held by Hawks) (missed on nobody too great, Darius Songaila?)
Traded Toni Kukoc, Leon Smith and a 2003 First Round Pick (#8 overall - T.J. Ford selected, and in any event a lottery pick in a draft that had LeBron, Wade, Carmelo and Bosh) for Glenn Robinson
Hired Terry Stotts as assistant.
Fired Lon Kruger, promoted Terry Stotts.

Re-sign Jason Terry (later traded)
Signs Jacque Vaughn (later waived)
Signs Stephen Jackson (later traded)
Signs Dion Glover (later waived)
Draft Boris Diaw (missed on Josh Howard) and Travis Hansen (missed on Kyle Korver, Zaza Pachulia)
Trades Glenn Robinson and Philly's 2006 second rounder for Terrell Brandon's contract (never played), Randy Holcomb (drafted in 2002, but played his first minutes this year... for the Bulls) and a 2007+ First Rounder (traded later to Dallas).
Trades Dickau, Abdur-Rahim and Ratliff to Portland for Rasheed Wallace (traded below) and Wesley Person (expired contract)
Trades Nazr Mohammed for Michael Doleac (immediately waived), Joel Pryzbilla (contract expired), and 2005 Second rounder from the Knicks (traded for Predrag Drobniak, eventually used by the Lakers to draft Ronny Turiaf).
Trades Rasheed Wallace for Bob Sura (expired contract), Zeljiko Rebraca (expired contract) and a 2004 First Round Pick (Josh Smith)

Fires Terry Stotts.
Drafts Josh Childress (6th man; missed Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Sebastian Telfair, Al Jefferson), Josh Smith (starter; probably best player available), Donta Smith (mostly inactive; nobody too great around there), Royal Ivey (backup; about the same as Chris Duhon), and Viktor Sanikidze (traded to Spurs for 2005 second rounder (Cenk Aykol - traded the 43rd pick for the 59th pick)missed Trevor Ariza).
Sign and Trades Stephen Jackson for Al Harrington (2 years of Harrington for the ability to sign Jackson over the limit).
Trades Jason Terry, Alan Henderson's contract and a 2007+ first round pick (Philadelphia's from the Glenn Robinson Trade) for Antoine Walker (later traded) and Tony Delk (backup)
Trade Second Round Pick (Knicks' pick from Nazr Mohammed deal - eventually Ronny Turiaf) to Charlotte for Predrag Drobnjak (free agent, left to play in Europe).
Signs Kevin Willis, Jon Barry and Kenny Anderson (seriously, did this happen?)
Trades Jon Barry for Tyronn Lue
Trades Antoine Walker for Gary Payton (waived unconditionally), Tom Gugliotta (expired contract, seems retired), Michael Stewart (expired contract, no longer in the NBA) and a 2005 First Round pick (traded to Phoenix in the package for Joe Johnson)

Draft Marvin Williams (7th man; missed Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Channing Frye, Charlie Villanueva, Danny Granger, Nate Robinson, etc.), Salim Stoudamire (backup; appears to be best player available), Cenk Aykol (unsigned, rights retained).
Trades Boris Diaw, Boston's worse (but lottery protected 2006 first round pick owed (probably rolled over from last year because Laker pick was lottery protected), and a future Atlanta first round pick (lottery protected in 2006, top 3 protected in 2007, unprotected in 2008) in exchange for the right to sign Joe Johnson over the max (5 years, $70M).
Signs Zaza Pachulia (4 years, $16M)
Re-signs Tyronn Lue (3 years, $11M)

Let's review: Drafting under Knight hasn't been great, and it could turn out to be his undoing if Childress never develops into more than a 7th man (and Luol Deng or someone else becomes a dependable starter) or if Marvin doesn't turn into an All Star (like Chris Paul). But it also hasn't been completely terrible, either. The Hawks didn't have high picks in his first two years, and in fact he's made the most of later picks. Diaw, it turns out, was a good pick, as only he and Josh Howard are worth a damn out of the second half of that year's first round. Royal Ivey and Salim Stoudamire were both second round hits (and nobody else around those picks is worth a damn). Josh Smith appears to be the best player available at that position, and in hindsight he could've gone higher. Childress and Marvin, however, are the high picks, and those are the picks by which Knight will be judged (and maybe the high pick this coming summer). If they don't pan out, Knight will be outed. If they do pan out, then we have to keep analyzing his moves to make sure his drafting (the most obvious point of discussion for wannabe GMs) won't cover up for other errors.

Knight's trades are kind of hard to analyze. For one thing, they're kind of convoluted. It's not as easy as to say we turned player X into player Z. There are actually a lot of trades too. Let's go one by one.

Dickau/Abdur-Rahim/Ratliff/Wallace/Sura: Gave up a first rounder for Dickau, with him and assets already in place, they ended up with cap space and Josh Smith. Analysis: not much of a win there, and considering the big names in a lot of the deals, it's a bit of a surprise they didn't end up with more.

Kukoc/Big Dog/Brandon: Gave up a 2003 first rounder and assets and ended up with a pick they ended up throwing in the next discussed trade. This is probably his worst deal. First off, the trade was made in anticipation of a good season (the "playoff guaranty season"). It's unfortunate that they had such high hopes, since they probably considered that 2003 pick to be worth not as much as it ended up being. The truth is that the 2003 draft is the best in the last decade. And giving up that pick without lottery protection is almost unforgivable. It turned into TJ Ford (who would be a good fit with the Hawks right now), but with a different bounce here or there, that pick could've been named LeBron, Dwyane, Carmelo or Chris. Again, it seems like the names moving in this deal are big, but the margins of profit (actual players received, draft picks, not including cap space) aren't very big. This seems a trend for Knight.

Nazr Mohammed: Basically, it turned into Mohammed for Predrag Drobnjak. An actual astute signing when they got Mohammed. But like Diaw, they didn't hang on long enough. Mohammed would play serious minutes for the Hawks now, but they gave him away too soon. Plus, the deal was with one of those weaker GMs in the Simmons article. Sure, Nazr isn't an all star, and this trade wasn't nearly as embarassingly bad as his move to San Antonio, but no matter what way you look at it, this wasn't a good deal for the Hawks.

Jason Terry/Antoine Walker/Payton/Delk: Basically the Hawks gave up Jason Terry in order to unload Alan Henderson's contract (which, by the end of the string of deals involved here, was nearly expired anyway) and ended up with cap space and a small part of the Joe Johnson deal. That's nothing at all, basically. Another big name deal, but not much to show for it. I'm really surprised they didn't get more for Terry (and they even gave up a first rounder in the deal, which could end up making this deal even worse). A bad deal. Just shows how much fiscal limitations (resposibility isn't the right word here) controlled Knight, possibly.

Jackson/Harrington: Basically receives 2 years of Harrington in exchange for the ability of Indiana to sign nutcase Steve over the max. This is a good deal by any analysis. Al has been solid for the Hawks these two years, and he may end up giving the Hawks something in the offseason via trade. Knight's best deal.

Johnson/Diaw: This is the flip side of the Jackson/Harrington trade. The Hawks probably gave up way too much in order to be able to sign Joe over the max. First off, Joe Johnson has been very good for the Hawks and he's definitely a player to build around. But Diaw's emergence in Phoenix makes you wonder a) why the Hawks (with a shallower team than the Suns) couldn't find minutes for him and b) why the Hawks had to toss in two first rounders as well. Those two picks could end up seriously valuable too. The Boston/Laker pick isn't all that great a pick (outside the lottery), but it'll probably roll over to that 2007 talent-loaded draft. The Hawks' own pick won't be this year (lottery protected in 2006), but it might be better to give it to them in this year's weak draft than in next year's loaded draft (when the pick is only protected in the top-3). Would you rather have the 5th pick in a weak 2006 draft or the 7th pick in a loaded 2007 draft? Basically, the Hawks have to make a giant leap next season (or tank big and end up in the top 3) in order for giving that pick to Phoenix not to be a huge loss. Johnson's been good, and everything still needs to shake out, but there's a serious chance that this deal could be really bad.

Free Agent signings: So many of those deals discussed above were engineered in order to maximize cap space and be able to sign better players. In a good way, the Hawks wouldn't have been able to sign Jackson or Johnson or take on Harrington's contract if not for the cap-cutting moves. But in a bad way, cutting cap space only matters if you can land top players. The Hawks' salary has been around 27th-30th in the league for the last few years. That shows that the Hawks aren't spending cash they have room (but maybe not the stomach) to spend. The Zaza Pachulia signing looks like a good one right now, as he's not a total stiff and he's affordable anyway. Lue's number is OK for a guy who stays in the rotation. I guess the strategy is OK if you assume the Hawks are going to suck (may as well suck on the cheap) and you're just waiting out the young guys' inexperienced days. The Hawks have cap space, and for the foreseeable future there's a ton of room to make moves. But they need to make the moves. And the free agent classes for the next couple of years don't look too promising (and other teams do have more flexibility). So salary management now isn't cornered, and it's OK for the time being. But the Hawks have to start spending more money if they want to make a serious run for the playoffs in the next few years.

So what does this mean for Knight? Well, his drafting reputation for the Hawks I feel is still up in the air, but the picks he's made will define him. None of his trades should be considered franchise-crippling, but none have proven to be particularly franchise-changing either. Most of them seem underwhelming, and it really appears like the quest for cap-space flexibility has left most of these deals with an empty feeling, especially considering how the Hawks really haven't done much in terms of free agent signing. So Knight probably doesn't deserve a title of "Atrocious GM" just yet. But he needs to start reaping benefits from the moves. Flexibility is good, but you need to use it. And he needs to have his draft picks pan out. If they fail to, and Chris Paul ends up an annual All Star, then Knight will have serious problems.


Links updated again

Missed House Rock Built, updated Kyle King's move, and added 1000 movies. Every time I do this I realize a new change I need to make a day later.


Flick the Button: Bad and Worse edition

Kinsey: Well, it's not terrible, but also doesn't offer anything exceptional. The acting's fine, but it's not a terribly pretty film. I kind of got the feeling like I was watching just a polished episode of A&E Biography. Just nothing much to write home about. Doesn't match the supposed controversy generated by the subject matter; it just didn't feel as important as I think they wanted it to be. You're fired.

Hide and Seek: Pretty bad. DeNiro seriously needs to be more selective. Compare this movie to the nearly identical plot of Secret Window, and you'll see the difference between an actor "giving a shit" and one that doesn't. I saw the DVD of this yesterday and saw how the special edition has "4 alternate endings". That, if nothing else, should tell you how poorly written it is for a thriller. Fired.

Frida: This was one of the more difficult movies to review, because it's really nicely filmed, the acting is decent (Molina is quite good), and the subject matter is somewhat interesting. I just don't think it's a great film though. The animated clips of the artwork are worth seeing, but I don't know... there's just something missing. Maybe biopics of people whose stories I already know just aren't my thing. Plus, Salma Hayek is just too hot to play Frida Kahlo. Seriously. Right at the verge of Fired and Knives. Not feeling generous. Fired.

Lord of War: OK, here's a movie with flaws galore. Like the way Cage, Moynihan and Leto's characters don't age at all over a 25 year period. Like the pedantic narration, which at times is very interesting, and at times annoying. Like the way I started cataloging the anachronisms (flat screen plasma TVs in 1990?). Like the way the ending is supremely unsatisfying. It had a little feel of "there's a good movie in here, but this ain't it". But I still liked it. I probably have a slightly soft spot for international movies that have settings in places we don't normally see in big movies (like Liberia or Ukraine). Cage is gamy. It's fast moving and occasionally clever (and occasionally too-clever). Verge of Fired and knives. Feeling generous. Steak knives.

Assault on Precinct 13: The opening sequence was pretty good, and the movie kept my attention for a good 45 minutes (and at which point I thought it was going to keep it going, since it's only 90 minutes long). But after about that halfway point it loses all momentum. I mean, the assaulters just keep doing the same shit. I'm pretty sure they used the same film stock for a few different Mexican standoff scenes. It gets very repetitive and boring. Fired.

In Her Shoes: Lifetime movie with A-list stars. Nothing more to it than that. Diaz seems miscast (or maybe she's just bad at the role). Collette's character isn't likable enough. Nothing makes this interesting. Fired.

Wimbledon: This will make a serious run at worst movie of the next year. The bar is set very high (low?). I cannot think of another sports-related movie that is as offensive to the idea of professional athletes actually taking their jobs seriously. We're supposed to be surprised that a top tennis player can hit a can of balls with a serve? Or that players don't warm up before matches? Or that players have like 4 days off in the middle of a 14 day tournament? Or that the Mens' SEMIFINAL match would be on what looks like court 17? Plus, I've never seen a sports film where key in-game moments are decided when the protagonist benefits from unforced errors by his opponent. Just shameful. Pat Cash should be embarrassed. Plus, I'm not sure why Kirsten Dunst has a job in the movies now. She's unlikable and unbelievable in this (and I'm usually a fan of hers). Super fired. One of the worst movies I've seen.


All Apologies

I'm pretty sure I've used this post title before.

Sorry for the light posting. Had big plans this week, but the home internet access has decided not to work every time it rains or there's a slight puff of wind. Comcast rules. I especially like the fact that everything that Comcast claims is bad about satellite TV seems to happen. Projection.

Anyway, I'll try to get up some of the stuff I've been working on today.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Three Ring Circus

Last July it was me.

Then in December it was The Wrangler.

Last weekend, The General got in on the action.

Congratulations are in order for him!

So pretty much the next year will be filled with an alcoholic haze of wedding showers and stuff. 2007 is going to be a hell of a hangover.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Links updated


Hey Jenny Slater
Hunker Down Dawg Blawg (Hamp Tanner)
The Index (all the way from probably my favorite state outside of Georgia, Alaska)


The Highland Road Blog (formerly Death Valley Saturdays)

Visit and enjoy accordingly.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Objectivity and Contrariness

It is indeed such a nice thing to experience online a reasonable, rational debate. Too often when I read political weblogs, or the weblogs of some in the college football community (myself included), differing positions devolve into shouting matches and ad hominem.

Luckily we have T. Kyle King to offer his thoughts in a calm, decent manner, with which I disagree, but I cannot claim him to be incorrect in any manner. This is how online debate should work.

Mayor King's argument speaks for itself, and very clearly and with plenty of supporting evidence. In fact, I don't think I should use this post to point out flaws in his argument, because for one thing, there aren't flaws in his argument. It's just that what he seeks to prove is fundamentally different from my position (though in no way incorrect, or "less correct"). So, really, the best way to continue the discussion, in my opinion, would be to explain my position better.

I have a personal belief that objectivity is a necessity for sport. Finish the race first, knock the other guy out, score more points than the other team. When subjectivity becomes part of sport, I think it becomes less a sport and more an athletic exhibition. Figure skating, diving, gymnastics, snowboarding (halfpipe, not the slalom). These are clearly athletic endeavors, and I have nothing but respect for the athletes who take part. But it is not sport. The subjective viewpoint of a third party as determining factor, I believe, brings these events outside the realm of sport.

[Aside - I've made this argument before and the first response is usually "what about boxing - that goes to the judges all the time?" Yes, but it doesn't have to. The other events require subjectivity to determine winners. Winning (or losing) is first and foremost in the individual pugilists' hands. Judges in boxing are a necessary evil for the protection of the health of the boxers.]

Back to the point. I feel objectivity is a requirement for something to fall within the definition of sport. Normally, what I'm talking about would be the individual games themselves. Football, baseball, track and field, horse racing, even NASCAR, all of these use objective criteria to crown a winner of individual games or events. They're sports. But there's another layer of this. Every sport except college football uses objective criteria to crown its champion over the course of a season. And this is the fundamental distinction between Mayor King's argument and mine, I think.

I believe the fact that crowning college football's "National Champion" requires subjective opinions is a significant flaw in the system. Kyle, and probably most college football fans, don't see that as a flaw, and I think it's a valid position, too. Tradition plays a great role here.

With every sport other than college football, the champion is crowned by means of a regular season champion winning the most games or a playoff at the end of the regular season. These are objective methods. College football has no playoff, and won't for at least the next decade, and does not rely solely on teams winning the most games.

I cannot say that it's definitely possible for college football to use a solely objective system of determining a champion, due to the metrics of the sport. There are just too many teams and they play short schedules that vary too much. The current system in college football relies on subjective opinions to try to solve all the uncertainty. And indeed, college football is all uncertainty.

With 119 teams playing 11-13 game seasons, several teams can play full seasons and win all the games, without having any common opponents. In that situation, there is no objective manner of determining who is better than whom. Further, because no teams have the same schedules, there is no way to know with any bit of certainty that one team would perform better or worse than another had team A been playing team B's schedule. For example, reasonable and intelligent people can think that a 7-5 Michigan team that plays the toughest schedule in the country is better than a hypothetical 10-2 Toledo team that plays the 100th toughest schedule. But, no matter how strong the argument might be, the operative word in that sentence is "think". It's subjectivity. Nobody can know for certain how Michigan would fare under Toledo's schedule, and nobody can no how Toledo would fare under Michigan's schedule.

This is the proper place to bring in my point of view on polls. I honestly do not believe sportswriters, coaches, or an assortment of boosters and former players have any more expertise or knowledge on the subject. They watch no more games than anyone else, and they harbor biases (regional, personal, etc.). If you're like me and you don't feel the need to defer to pollsters, the only thing left to hang your hat on is tradition. And there are a million examples of where something is a tradition, but it isn't right.

So how does one deal with the inherent uncertainty in college football? My take is to rely solely on objective criteria - wins and losses. That's where I get the idea that a team with as good or better a record than anyone else and who has not lost to a team with an identical record has a claim to a title. It relies on the objective things a team can control. Wins and losses mean something, indeed, more than anything else.

Now, I'm OK with the idea of concurrent championships. I'm OK with even allowing for a lower profile team with a better record than anyone else considering itself national champs, even ahead of major conference teams.

Let's look at a few of Kyle's examples to see how we differ on this.

1984: BYU is undefeated and wins the title over 11-1 Washington while BYU plays an easier schedule. I'm 100% fine with this result. I value wins and losses more than anything else. When BYU and Washington started the season, their goals were to win every game. BYU accomplished that, Washington did not. The players (and often the coaches) have nothing to do with setting the schedules, many games in which are set years before the players even think about going to the school. Further, I do not want to presume either that BYU would've lost a game had it played Washington's schedule or that Washington wouldn't have lost a game had it played BYU's schedule. We're stuck with the limited data upon which to go. In this instance, I think the objective result is the best. BYU might not have been the best team in an individual's opinion, and everyone on earth might think Washington would trounce BYU head-to-head. But we don't have that to go on. In my opinion, the proper result is the objective one. BYU deserved a title.

1990: It pains me to say it, but Georgia Tech has a better claim than Colorado. Again, I don't doubt that Colorado's schedule was tougher than Georgia Tech's, but I also don't want to impute a loss on Tech had they played a tougher schedule, or assume an unbeaten stretch by Colorado had they played an easier schedule. We're stuck with the limited data we have. Colorado's record isn't as good as Georgia Tech's.

1993: This is a harder one to work with, because Notre Dame and FSU didn't play the exact same number of games. First off, I have no problem with eliminating Auburn because of their probation. You have to take your medicine for cheating. I'm torn on the debate between the Irish and the Seminoles. Normally, I'd prefer to give credit towards a team that plays an additional game, considering that that extra game would be normally a conference championship game against a quality opponent. But inevitably, an extra game is an extra chance to lose. Today, most teams play the same number of games except for those conference title games (or road games against Hawaii). Then it was a kickoff classic for FSU, a 42-0 win over Kansas. Because of the circumstances, I'm almost more inclined to think Notre Dame's claim is better. Here, I think there's a real dispute.

The legendary 1966 season I think is less difficult to determine. I think Alabama has the best claim. Who can say how Michigan State or Notre Dame would've performed through the Tide's slate? Who knows if Alabama would've lost to both the Spartans and the Irish? All we know is that Alabama won every game they played. Michigan State and Notre Dame didn't. As for San Diego State, there's another facet to the debate here. Obviously, if Grambling or Southern, who choose not to participate in the Division 1-AA playoffs in lieu of the Bayou Classic, were to go undefeated, and play a few 1-A opponents mixed in with the 1-AA schedule, I do not believe either would have a claim on the National Title over a one-loss team that plays a full Division 1-A schedule. Looking at SDSU in 1966, it appears that their schedule did not feature mostly top-flight opponents. Indeed, the College Football Database terms them "College Division National Champions". I'm not entirely sure what the organization of college football was in the 1960s, but I get the feeling that SDSU can claim a title, but it's not the same level as Alabama.

So in each of the examples you give, I prefer to use the objective wins and losses to determine titles. It very well may be the prevailing opinion that teams without the best record are "the best teams". But I prefer not to rely on opinion. When we drift from objectivity, we get into that area where people say things like Matt Leinart's classy comments after the Rose Bowl. That's the thing about opinions. Everyone can have one, and nobody is duty bound to rely on reality and facts in formulating them. I prefer to take subjectivity out of the equation entirely. It might force me into taking some mockable positions (like, Tulane as deserving of a title in 1998), but it doesn't force me into having any personal stake in the matter. I don't have to "think" Tulane was national champs then, because the numbers determine it for me.

Anyway, I completely understand and admire Kyle's argument. Opinion has a longstanding tradition in college football, and for may people it is one of the things that makes college football so great. I find opinion frustrating. And I know that this is not a mainstream opinion, and that it's contrary to what 99% of the people who follow college football probably think. But honestly, I actually believe this. I have no interest in contrariness for contrariness' sake. I don't think I can dispute Kyle's position, since it's a reasonable opinion and clearly supported by evidence. But I also think my position is reasonable, since I suppose it's opinion that sets up the framework through which I don't have to have an opinion (does that make sense?).


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Fuck a bag of...

1. ...Fox. For cancelling Arrested Development. Friday's thing was amazing (even though they screwed up the feed four times, missing about 10 key minutes. What things were amazing on these episodes?

  • Franklin's t-shirt: George Bush Doesn't Care About Black Puppets
  • William Hung and his Hung Jury
  • Rob Riggle as a pandering politician
  • Pete Rose
  • How absolutely, positively, unbelievably HOTTTTT Justine Bateman looked. And that joke worked so damn well. Seriously, I had no idea Mallory turned into that. Get her a pilot, STAT! (Here's where I should admit that I didn't recognize her until the second viewing, and it took me looking on the internet to get the joke that the episode title is "Family Ties")
  • "Remember Mr. F?" "Yeah but that was retard... misguided."
  • "THE PROSECUTION", a CBS show. "These guys will bend the law to enforce the law."
  • The sound effects were really perfect.
  • Munch? Does this mean the Bluths are part of Tommy Westphal's mind too?

It's the best show on TV, and now it's over. Fuck a bag of Fox.

2. ...Advertisements for jewelry around Valentine's Day. Every kiss begins with Kay. HE went to Jared. And worst of all is that egregious use of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love". The more I see these commercials, the more I want Valentine's Day to be about the immaterial. Fuck a bag of them all.

3. ...Me, for not paying attention to the Winter Olympics until tonight. The coverage of the sports has actually be really really good, and not just for figure skating. HDTV had made an enormous difference. The overlapping skiiers trick (they show the two footages overlapping at the same time so you can see who would be ahead if they were on the course at the same time) is fantastic. Then there's a tracking camera following ski jumpers that blew my mind the first time I saw it. From what I've seen, the coverage hasn't been just feel good stories and bullshit promotion. Hell, there's even some coverage of sports where Americans aren't figuring in the medals. What I've seen has been better than I expected. Fuck me for ignoring it yesterday (and not really paying attention in the lead up).

4. ...The crowd at the Pro Bowl, who dared to boo a halftime performance by Backstreet Boys. First, they kill with a solid "Incomplete", then run straight into "I want it that way" before breaking it down big time with a island beat backing "Backstreet's Back". I'm sorry, but when they kick into that "Oh my God, we're back again!", how can you possibly boo?

So those are the current grievances. Carry on and scroll down.


All is quiet on New Year's Day

366 days ago, on a Friday night when my now wife was out with friends and I had nothing to do, I decided to throw my hat in on this blog game. I'd been reading blogs for probably 2 years, starting with mostly those focused on politics. I discovered a blog written by two friends of mine from high school just before one of them got married. Strangely, until then, I considered blogs to be written by that nameless, faceless "someone else". See, I've always been a consumer rather than a creator. I read, listen, watch, taste, not write, record, film or make. But over time, my thoughts have started to fade. The chalkboard of my brain has gotten to the point where so uch has been written on it, there's just dust and clutter. I kept having conversations with friends and said things like "yeah, I once thought about this in detail, and I did some research on it and..." but it was just thoughts. I needed something written down to preserve the thoughts. Example of that is the post I wrote about Dale Murphy and Kirby Puckett. That's about 4 years old, but I never wrote it down before.

So on this Friday night, I decided to figure out how to keep a log of these thoughts. I spent like 4 hours formatting the template (because I'm so inept at this). It was hunt and peck style. I probably used the preview function a hundred times trying to get the colors close. And I still don't really like the look. It was probably after midnight before I actually wrote something, and that was primarily some meme stuff.

My idea of what this would be is actually pretty close to what it was. I wanted to write mostly about sports and movies and bullshit. The things that I consume, I guess. And that's probably what I have written about. The seasons have definitely changed the focus, but that also changes my personal interests. I'm quite glad that the General and the Wrangler have joined up, and their posts have been better than mine, without a doubt. I hope they continue to post.

I suppose I didn't expect this to last a full year. Or maybe I did. I know I wanted to get to football season. I most definitely didn't expect to get readers from across the country. Seriously. I thought at best, a few close friends would read and post comments. I never expected the modest readership I have, and I'm grateful for it. With a few of the college football posts garnering thousands of hits, I've been asked why I haven't added ads before. Well, to be honest, I don't want to alter my writing, and I would if I had ads. Also, I still think that the vast majority of the posts I write aren't interesting to anyone, really. So I don't think I'll ever add something like that. Also, the anonymity thing... Again, I think blogging anonymous provides the freedom to write more honestly without concerns of the real world intruding. I'm sure a lot of the regular readers might know me personally, so that's why I do it. I definitely don't think that anonymity confers some sort of weakness in the writer, like he or she doesn't want to stand behind the words. Instead, I think the focus is much more on the words. The credibility of what's written depends on what's written, not the person who writes it.

A few highlights from the past year...

I suppose the post that received the most views and discussion was "The Narrative". I still like that post, even though I'd rewritten it about a dozen times before publishing. Normally, I prefer "hit and run" blogging, without much revision and watering down. But in that post, I actually think the editing helped narrow the focus.

The posts that took the most effort and research are probably ones I look back at with some more personal pride less shame. Those would be my attempt to be Bill Simmons during the NFL Draft, the several Harris Poll Revealed posts, and the other football wonk posts (here, here, and here). The Gameday Recaps probably needed much more revision and clarity, but that shit took forever to do. By the time I'd get through watching and compiling the statements, I'd be so sick of it that I'd just publish it.

The last year for me personally has been pretty crazy actually. I got married. I got a dog that destroys the shit out of everything. When I started this, I'd just started a new job. I try not to write much personal stuff on here, and in some ways this is a way to organize my thoughts on everything that doesn't particularly "matter" so I can use the rest of my brain to focus on what really does. That might not make sense to anyone else.

Since it's a year-end and a new year thing, I thought I'd compile some best and worst lists of the things I've consumed over the year. Sometimes I've written about them, sometimes not. Since they're kind of long, I've broken them into separate posts.


The Year in Review - Movies

As you may know, I use the Glengarry Glen Ross system of rating movies. Everything is either a cadillac, a set of steak knives, or You're Fired. My idea is that the vast majority of movies made should be fired (up to almost 75%). Then a smaller portion are steak knives (about 20%), and the smallest portion are cadillacs (5%). Now, considering that I already filter the movies I see (and I have made an effort to watch classics), my own personal breakdown should (if I have a good filter) have much fewer "fired" and much more cadillacs. And that's about how the year's been. I've seen 116 movies for the first time this year. Not too bad, but nowhere near Todd Jones. 21 were cadillacs, 42 were steak knives, 50 were fired, and 3 I didn't rate (and in hindsight I still don't think I can). That breaks down to 18% cadillacs, 37% steak knives, and 44% fired.

The best movies I saw this year for the first time were
1) Schindler's List
2) Hoop Dreams
3) Slap Shot
4) Kind Hearts & Coronets
5) The Incredibles

Some other movies I thought were notable were Double Indemnity, Batman Begins, Black Narcissus, The Aviator and Spirited Away. One of the ways I've started to think about movies, and what has arisen out of keeping a catalogue of films, is the way that I really like movies that aren't typical. Black Narcissus and Kind Hearts & Coronets are two perfect examples of films like that. Kung Fu Hustle is another.

The worst movies I saw for the first time this year were:
1) Spanglish
2) What the Bleep Do We Know?
3) Envy
4) The Big Bounce
5) Veronica Guerin

The common thread in all of these movies is the way they all seem to come from the boardroom school of screenwriting. It just seemed like a group of supposedly creative people got in a room and one guy said "let's do a romantic comedy with Adam Sandler" and another said "let's have a hot Latina woman be the love interest" and another said "let's have a marriage falling apart with a female role that has plenty of oscar reel scenes" and another said "let's have semicute kids, no wait, let's have 'real' kids with 'real' problems instead" and at the end of the meeting they all thought how smart they were, but they ended up with a movie that makes no sense and fails on a hundred different levels. All of these movies had this problem. And about 15 others on the you're fired list.

A few movies I liked more than I had any business to:
1) Troy
2) The Butterfly Effect
3) Ocean's Twelve

Don't get me wrong. I don't think any of these were particularly great films. I just enjoyed them.

A few movies that, in hindsight, I liked more than initially thought:
1) Spirited Away (and yes, I rated this a cadillac)
2) The Ladykillers (Ealing Studios version)
3) The Bourne Supremacy

A few movies that, in hindsight, I liked less than initially thought:
1) The Station Agent
2) Ali G Indahouse
3) Million Dollar Baby
4) Team America: World Police

Million Dollar Baby probably needs another viewing. Bad theatre experience, and I was kind of pissed off at culture warrior dickheads who ruined the last 40 minutes. Thinking back, the Station Agent bored me to tears and I cannot for the life of me understand why I didn't rate it fired. Ali G and Team America both made me laugh, but there's not much I'd go back to watch again, and that's the hallmark of a good comedy.

The best performances I saw this year:
1) Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
2) Dennis Price in Kind Hearts & Coronets
3) Clive Owen in Closer
4) David Thewlis in Naked
5) Deborah Kerr in Black Narcissus

And notable are Jamie Foxx in Ray, Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow, Cate Blanchett in The Aviator, Paul Newman in Slap Shot, Pacino in Seripco, and Johnny Depp in Secret Window.

Worst performances I saw this year:

1) Marlee Matlin in What the Bleep Do We Know
2) Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro in Meet the Fockers
3) JK Simmons in The Ladykillers
4) Cate Blanchett in Veronica Guerin (I blame the director, actually).
5) Every actor except Sandler in Spanglish

#1 is so far ahead of anyone else in this category I may as well have separated them.

Underrated or underseen:
1) Dirty Pretty Things
2) Hustle & Flow (didn't make a tenth of what I thought it had)
3) Secret Window

1) On the Waterfront

And basically the rest of the movies I considered fired that had any critical acclaim at all.

Ranking of movies I saw in the theatre this year:

1) Batman Begins
2) The Aviator
3) Sideways
4) Wedding Crashers
5) Finding Neverland
6) Million Dollar Baby

I really didn't see that many movies in the theatre this year. Just 6. That's it for actually going to the movies for the entire year. Got to be a low for me since I was 5. I missed a lot of the summer movies because of the wedding planning and because it was a shitty year for movies in general. The most interesting thing to me is that I didn't rate a single film I saw in the theatre lower than steak knives. It might be because I don't go to spend the cake on things that even might be shitty. Or it might be because the theatre experience makes the movie seem better than it is. I lean towards the former, since lately it's been pretty hard to convince me to go to the theatre and deal with 18 cell phones going off, jerkasses walking in in the middle, and talkative lowlifes. I'm not sure I mentioned this in my review, but when I saw Finding Neverland, the woman sitting next to me actually translated every single line of dialogue in the movie to her companion. This was a 7:00 show in a packed theatre. That kind of obnoxiousness keeps me away from the movies. That's why something has to have gotten pretty much incredible reviews for me to make the effort.

So there's the list. Feel free to mock and take issue.


The Year in Review - Books

I may try to do a book report feature this year, just to keep track of thoughts. I didn't this year because my thoughts tend to take longer to formulate into real opinions.

Best fiction:
1) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
2) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
3) I, Claudius by Robert Graves
4) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
5) Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings

For some personal reasons, I've read much more war-related books lately. I guess it's some form of seeking an attachment to the current reality from which I'm insulated. The Things They Carried is one of the few books where I've had to put it down more than once because the writing was just so damn good. And I read it in less than a day. Every single word is just about perfectly chosen and not one is unnecessary. It is quite an amazing book. I'm glad I didn't read either Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse Five in high school. I think both demand a bit more intellectual maturity than I had back then. I, Claudius is hysterical. Moral Hazard is a very short read, but has some incredibly heartbreaking passages.

Best nonfiction:
1) Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
2) Jarhead by Anthony Swofford
3) Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
4) Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
5) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I view good nonfiction as the way it puts me in the picture and encourages me to learn more about it. For about a month after I read Into Thin Air I kept trying to find out more about mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Jarhead is a memoir that every person who doesn't serve in the military should read, to see the personal sacrifices our solidiers deal with. Klosterman is the modern experience. Clarke's book, while actually quite poorly written, made a very significant impression on me. It kept me up at night because of anger. Me Talk Pretty One Day is hit and miss, and some parts I just didn't relate to. But "The Rooster" chapter is probably the funniest thing I've read all year.

Worst Books:

1-T) Rebels on the Backlot by Sharon Waxman
1-T) It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Both are absolute failures. Rebels on the Backlot has factual inaccuracies, repetitious passages, and, worst of all, the appearance of fawning/criticism based upon access to the individuals. It Can't Happen Here made my eyes roll a thousand times with it's sledgehammer subtlety, but at least when Lewis wrote the overwrought political diatribes he was avoiding the poorest soap opera plot I've ever read. I cannot understand why this book might be considered a classic. I should've stopped at the introduction, which warned me of the book's flaws.

Other books deserving of comment:

The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini: I found it predictable, but readable.
Love and Death in Jamestown by David Price: A little textbooky, but the information therein was extremely interesting.
How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer: I'd have preferred it to be about 4 times longer. Every chapter could've used much much more detail.
Stranger than Fiction by Chuck Palanhiuk: The chapter on men who build there own castles has stayed with me for quiet some time. It's definitely hit or miss.
See No Evil by Robert Baer: The book that Syriana is loosely based on. I think I had higher expectations. The Beirut passages are far more interesting than the Iraqi portion.
Bobby Fischer Goes To War by Edmonds and Eidinow: Kept my interest, but didn't stimulate much more. That dude is kind of a dick.
and finally...
I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe: I'm late to the party, but I can't think of any book last year that elicited such varying, and violent, reactions. It's so strange to me, because I kind of experienced all of thsoe reactions at different times. Some passages are strikingly accurate depictions of college life, good and bad. Other passages literally made me want to throw up they're so overwrought and overdescribed. For example, what the fuck is all that "rut rut rut" bullshit. And the anatomy textbook descriptions of genitals? But by the end of the book, I was satisfied, but not necessarily pleased. Can you hate a book that kept you up late at night reading it? I hated The DaVinci Code and it kept me up, but that was because I couldn't bear another day of having to read it. That wasn't the case here. A flawed, annoying, enjoyable read.

Comments would be welcome.


The Year in Review - Music

Like the others, I am not focusing on music that necessarily appeared on record store shelves this year, but rather what I purchased or grew fond of this year. Music is less my thing than film and books, so take this with less than salt. Also, I'd consider myself more of a single guy than an album guy.

That said, the best albums I purchased this year were:

1) Bloc Party: Silent Alarm
2) Interpol: Antics
3) Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
4) The Futureheads: s/t
5) Arcade Fire: Funeral

And I won't rank it, but Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys does top the list, though I only got around to actually purchasing my own copy this year. Get Behind Me Satan is right behind Arcade Fire.

15 Best songs (but not albums) I downloaded this year:

1) Move Your Feet - Junior Senior
2) Common People - Pulp
3) Eastbound and Down - Jerry Reed
4) America, Fuck Yeah - Team America: World Police Soundtrack
5) La Tortura - Shakira
6) Ludacris - Pimpin' All Over the World
7) Hypnotize - System of a Down
8) In the Kitchen - R. Kelly
9) Thirteen - Big Star
10) Dry Your Eyes - The Streets
11) Amerie - 1 Thing
12) Dragostea Din Tei - O-Zone
13) Ladyflash - The Go! Team
14) Say it Again - Little Brother
15) Helena - My Chemical Romance

And that list is probably not completely accurate since I didn't put that much into it.

Best song that came out this year that I haven't downloaded:
1) Kryptonite - Big Boi et al

Worst songs of the year, none of which I own:

1) You're Beautiful - James Blunt
2) Don't Phunk with my Heart - Black Eyed Peas (Yep, even worse than My Humps)
3) LOVE - Ashlee Simpson
4) Inside Your Heaven - Carrie Underwood
5) Anything released by Jack Johnson


The Year In Review - Sports

Best games:

1) Rose Bowl
2) Illinois - UNC NCAA Title
3) Steelers - Colts
4) Notre Dame - USC
5) Georgia - Auburn football, damnit

Worst things about sports:

1) Influence of Money
2) Steroids in baseball
3) ESPN monopoly

I write too much about this to do a real recap without sounding lame.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Flick the Button

Closer: Few movies have elicited more debate in my household. Heavy issues at hand, and while the movie isn't perfect (or really all that close) in answering the questions, at least it's raising the questions. The odd thing is that the leads (Roberts and Law) are so much damn worse than the supporters (Portman and Owen - who is really incredible). It's almost embarrassing for the big dollar people. There are plenty of flaws though. It feels way to set pieced, and it probably works better as a play. The dialogue is very good though - just bare bones, solid, every word precise. Steak knife, but like many others, I'm not sure I'd recommend it.

Hustle & Flow: This movie had me completely hooked at the opening credits and the homage to blacksploitation films of yore. Howard is as good as advertised. The music is better than should be expected, I'd say. The ending surpassed my expectations. One of the few movies in the underdog wins genre that didn't make me groan with predictability. Can I call a movie that had constant MTV promotion underrated? I think it might be though. Can I call it a cadillac? I'm close enough to give it to it.

Red Eye: First things first: I am a huge fan of the 85 minute movie. I appreciate the filmmaker who doesn't have to flood a movie with unnecessary bullshit just to get to two hours. And indeed, this movie was somewhat quickly paced. But there also wasn't that much too it. And some of the jump scenes really were a few beats slow, letting us all know what was coming. The actors were OK, but it's not really an actor's movie. Murphy's better in Batman Begins. Upon viewing, I thought steak knife, but it hasn't stayed with me that much. You're fired.

Cinderella Man: Steady and basic, but we've been there before. All of the actors (Crowe, Zellweger, Giamatti, Considine, even D-Day) have been better in other things. Wait, Craig Bierko was actually pretty good as Max Baer. Just felt kind of stale. Some of the boxing scenes were solid (and significantly better than Million Dollar Baby), but it just didn't work as well as it could've should've. Fired.

Grizzly Man: I probably shouldn't even review this, because I was so annoyed by all the commercial breaks. The footage of the bears was way more interesting to me than Treadwell, whom I just didn't relate to. Herzog's narration was sometimes thoughtful and insightful, sometimes eye-rolling-inducing. If pressed, I'd give it a you're fired, but my frame of mind might not have been perfect.

Shaun of the Dead: Perhaps my hopes were too high? It kind of straddled the line between comedy and horror a little too much. If you're doing one, go all the way. I preferred the recent Dawn of the Dead by a good margin. There were some nice gags, but it didn't seem as great as it could've been. You're fired.

Road to Morocco: Madcap as fuck. The songs were quite good too. I truly appreciated the ending. One thing that bothered me was the way half the "Moroccan" characters looked Asian. Also, Hope's nose isn't as much of a skijump as I'd thought. Any chance he got work done to accentuate it? I did think it was funnier than I expected, and than most other comedies from that era. But, it was also a little slight. Steak Knife.

Serpico: I liked it, and almost entirely because of Pacino's performance. The plot was a little jerky, and all the other characters tended to blend together (partly because they're all stereotypical NYPD guys). Pacino is subtle when needed, and ramps it up like he's been trying to match for 30 years. This makes his more recent performances look like comedy (and sometimes they probably are). Steak Knife, but barely.

one other that I forgot...

What the #$*! Do We (K)now?: Holy fuck did this suck. Not only was it obnoxiously pretentious, to the point where I was entirely sure that all of the supposed experts were totally full of shit by the third minute of the movie, but the plotline seriously made high school sex ed videos look like Oscar contenders. I mean, shit, the Polish wedding scene made me laugh my ass off. Marlee Matlin was gave the worst performance I've seen in literally a decade. Is it wrong for me to have agreed out loud with her when she was yelling at her reflection "I HATE YOU"? There was nothing I liked about this movie. The animation was terrible. The acting was terrible. The "insight" was terrible. Absolutely terrible. And they're making a sequel! Inconceivable.


BOO! Yeah!

I promised earlier to write about Stuart Scott's moronic feedback column in ESPN the magazine. And I know both readers were on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

Well, with Stuart Scott, there are literally a hundred things to be annoyed by: trite and played-out catch-phrases, faux-street language, the way he presumes we care about things we have no business caring about. But he is, moreso than any other ESPN personality, in my opinion, jsut the most obvious and annyoing starfucker in Bristol. Never criticize, always deify the players. And that just isn't objective journalism.

While I don't think you can extrapolate from a single column the way his fawning sycophantism (word? now?) works, this week's column tries about as hard as one 250 word column can.

The first two questions should be read in their entirety:

Rob (Parsippany, NJ): Stuart, you recently said on Sportscenter that fans shouldn't boo. If I have a bad day at work, my boss lets me know about it. If I pay to see a game and the players don't perform, why shouldn't I let them know about it?

Stu: Yes, you have a bad day, your boss tells you - just like Larry Brown lets Stephon Marbury know when he's playing poorly. But what if your company's customers screamed obscenities at you too? Booing is classless. Not a single athlete out there isn't trying. A ticket gives you the right to be there, not to yell ugly things at people. That's my view.

Lee (Brooklyn): But Stuart, shouldnt booing just motivate a player to do better?

Stu: That works for some, but not others. You can't legislate people's reactions. So why not encourage an athlete in an 0-38 slump? That, or else step in against Roger Clemens yourself and see how you do.

Well, see enough fodder there? OK. The subject of the appropriateness of booing might be something upon which reasonable people can disagree. Some might see it as classless, others might see it as reasonable (I stand with the latter for professional athletes, the former for college athletes). But take note of how Stuart frames the argument. First, he rejects the idea that fans should have any say in terms of the performance of the players, saying it's the coaches' jobs, not theirs to evaluate performance. That is, simply, ridiculous. Paying customers and clients in any business have a right to comment upon service. My clients have every right to let me know if I haven't done a good job for them. It is not the sole job of an individual's superiors to review and comment upon performance. Stuart glosses over this, and even goes so far as to say that booing is "screaming obscenities" or "yell[ing] ugly things". Must I point out that swearing and booing aren't the same thing? Can't someone support booing, or even comical jeering without opening the door to abusive profanity? Why does he equate them all?

Then, see the laughable sentence about how "not a single athlete out there isn't trying." Hoe Lee Shit. Apparently when Vince Carter jerked his dick on the court for a month in order to get out of Toronto, it wasn't because he wasn't trying, but he was just unable to play with Stuart's head so far up his ass. There are a million examples of players tanking, sitting or pissing a fit to force a trade (Manny Ramirez, Ron Artest, Steve Francis just in the last few months, among others). There are a million more players who suddenly play 500 times better the year immediately before they happen to hit the free agent market, which makes one wonder about the rest of the player's contract years. These are prime examples that for some (obviously not all) players, the job is a job and nothing more - a paycheck, without the desire of winning. And for fans who want to think of sport as something more than a business (something pure, where winning matters more than the ledger), that's offensive. Not every player is trying out there, and when they aren't, the fans not only have a right to call them on it, I think they have an obligation.

Then to look at Stuart's response to the second question, because it's a total mess. First, he admits that booing might motivate a player, but then says we shouldn't "legislate" reactions. I have no idea what that means. Is Stuart opposed to required booing? Gosh, way to go out on a limb there. Has any of the letterwriters, or anyone with a brain, ever suggested that we require booing? Or is he suggesting that fans shouldn't boo because a couple of athletes might get their feelings hurt and not play better? Guess what - every player knows that when fans boo, they aren't pleased with performance. And every player knows that if he's a professional, he should do what is needed to play better. Suck it the hell up. You're a man. If somebody calls you a name, swallow it and move on. Stuart's writing here is totally appropriate for a pinto league team, but we're talking about multimillionaire professional athletes. Treat them like adults, like men hard enough to cut it in a tough world.

Then there's the final distraction sentence, the "yeah, well I don't think you can do any better." The last refuge of a pussy. No, I can't hit a Clemens fastball, probably not at least. But I don't get paid to. And I've never seen a player get booed for getting outplayed by a hall of famer. You get booed for playing matador to an inferior player on the basketball court. You get booed for not legging out a grounder that gets booted. You get booed for not trying, or pissing around and acting like a bitch. That argument has no place in the booing debate.

So I think he's just way off on the booing thing, confusing booing with explicit language, conflating the ability to boo with the requirement to boo, and finally unecessarily defending the players by means of treating them like children.

And that last part is the most interesting thing. Stuart Scott must defend players, at all costs. Three questions down the page, he defends Peyton Manning, calling him the best QB in the NFL and completely sidestepping the question of choking in big games with a "Stop hating." The last question on the page is all about how he cannot even choose between Vince Young and Reggie Bush because he wouldn't want to degrade one other the other. Well, when you're in this business, sometimes you have to make judgment calls that elevate one guy over another. Sport is all about competition and determining who is best. Stuart Scott seems to come from the "Participation Trophy" school of thought because he wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. It's just lame.


Lebowski Rankings - 2005-6 Season - Final

Been forever since I thought of this, but I actually did do a final list, with the bowl games taken into account. Things have changed a bit since before the bowls. As usual, schedule strength is from ColleyRatings. Asterisk indicates a head to head victory by the lower ranked team by SOS. # indicates multiple teams having beaten one another (3 or more), so the ranking reverts to SOS as the tiebreaker.

119. New Mexico State 0-12 (89)
118. Temple 0-11 (24)
117. Kent State 1-10 (96)
116. Buffalo 1-10 (105*)
115. Rice 1-10 (67)
114. Syracuse 1-10 (58)
113. Duke 1-10 (9)
112. Idaho 2-9 (114)
111. North Texas 2-9 (100)
110. Florida Atlantic 2-9 (102*)
109. Tulane 2-9 (93)
108. Nevada-Las Vegas 2-9 (87)
107. Washington 2-9 (41)
106. Illinois 2-9 (20)
105. San Jose State 3-8 (109)
104. Utah State 3-8 (99)
103. Mississippi 3-8 (65#)
102. Mississippi State 3-8 (54#)
101. Kentucky 3-8 (47#)
100. Arizona 3-8 (8)
99. Troy 4-7 (115)
98. Middle Tennessee State 4-7 (107)
97. Eastern Michigan 4-7 (97)
96. Air Force 4-7 (84)
95. Marshall 4-7 (74)
94. Wyoming 4-7 (73)
93. Army 4-7 (63)
92. Ball State 4-7 (62)
91. Ohio 4-7 (81*)
90. Cincinnati 4-7 (57)
89. Indiana 4-7 (32)
88. Washington State 4-7 (30)
87. Wake Forest 4-7 (27)
86. Oklahoma State 4-7 (26)
85. Arkansas 4-7 (18)
84. San Diego State 5-7 (70)
83. Hawaii 5-7 (85*)
82. Louisiana-Monroe 5-6 (119)
81. Florida International 5-6 (117)
80. Alabama-Birmingham 5-6 (98)
79. Southern Methodist 5-6 (92)
78. East Carolina 5-6 (86)
77. Connecticut 5-6 (75)
76. Pittsburgh 5-6 (59)
75. Kansas State 5-6 (55)
74. Michigan State 5-6 (39)
73. Oregon State 5-6 (34)
72. Tennessee 5-6 (33)
71. Vanderbilt 5-6 (60*)
70. Purdue 5-6 (28)
69. Baylor 5-6 (12)
68. Texas A&M 5-6 (6)
67. Stanford 5-6 (5)
66. North Carolina 5-6 (3)
65. Maryland 5-6 (11*)
64. Arkansas State 6-6 (118)
63. Houston 6-6 (77)
62. Colorado State 6-6 (69)
61. Brigham Young 6-6 (61)
60. South Florida 6-6 (40)
59. Akron 7-6 (104)
58. Colorado 7-6 (13)
57. Louisiana-Lafayette 6-5 (113)
56. Bowling Green 6-5 (101)
55. New Mexico 6-5 (91)
54. Central Michigan 6-5 (71)
53. Southern Mississippi 7-5 (83)
52. Memphis 7-5 (88*)
51. Rutgers 7-5 (80)
50. Northern Illinois 7-5 (76)
49. South Carolina 7-5 (42)
48. Georgia Tech 7-5 (22)
47. Utah 7-5 (82*)
46. North Carolina State 7-5 (25*)
45. Minnesota 7-5 (19#)
44. Virginia 7-5 (53*)
43. Iowa 7-5 (14#)
42. Iowa State 7-5 (35*)
41. Missouri 7-5 (51*)
40. Kansas 7-5 (16*)
39. Northwestern 7-5 (4#)
38. Arizona State 7-5 (36*)
37. Michigan 7-5 (2#)
36. Central Florida 8-5 (94)
35. Fresno State 8-5 (78)
34. Florida State 8-5 (10)
33. Western Michigan 7-4 (110)
32. Miami (Ohio) 7-4 (108)
31. Louisiana Tech 7-4 (106)
30. Navy 8-4 (112)
29. Texas-El Paso 8-4 (111)
28. California 8-4 (68)
27. Clemson 8-4 (46)
26. Nebraska 8-4 (21)
25. Oklahoma 8-4 (1)
24. Boise State 9-4 (95)
23. Tulsa 9-4 (90)
22. Nevada 9-3 (116)
21. Toledo 9-3 (103)
20. Louisville 9-3 (72)
19. Notre Dame 9-3 (48)
18. Auburn 9-3 (45)
17. Florida 9-3 (44)
16. Boston College 9-3 (38)
15. Miami (Florida) 9-3 (37)
14. Texas Tech 9-3 (15)
13. Wisconsin 10-3 (50)
12. Georgia 10-3 (43)
11. Alabama 10-2 (66)
10. UCLA 10-2 (56)
9. Oregon 10-2 (49)
8. Ohio State 10-2 (7)
7. Louisiana State 11-2 (52)
6. Virginia Tech 11-2 (31)
5. Texas Christian 11-1 (79)
4. West Virginia 11-1 (64)
3. Penn State 11-1 (23)
2. Southern California 12-1 (29)
1. Texas 13-0 (17)

Same thing coming this fall...


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mag Nags

So I get ESPN the Magazine "free" with my subscription to Insider. Normally, I sweep through the entire thing in about 5 minutes because of the ridiculously low amount of actual content contained therein. I get the magazine late for some reason, like a week after it's hit newsstands (I've never complained about this, so you can see how much I care), and I've usually read the in-depth articles about subjects I care about online somehow before I've gotten the actual magazine. So it's basically a waste of postage and space in my bathroom/on my coffee table.

This week's (I think... I'm not sure when it's supposed to be delivered - it's the one with Reggie Bush and Vince Young on the cover) issue, however, is kind of interesting for a couple of reasons.

And the good side of interesting, the magazine has some actual content that is worth reading. Specifically, and unlike the magazine 95% of the time, there seemed to be more articles and fewer advertisements for colognes and poker websites. And the articles were actually decent:

  • The day-by-day preview of the Winter Olympics even seemed worth hanging on to. I've never said that about an issue before.
  • The Dan LeBatard column about Cecil Collins lacked a lot of things, but it did offer us the information that "The Diesel" doesn't get raped in prison. That, my friends, is why print journalists will always have the upper hand on bloggers.
  • Then there was a fascinating chart (I have no idea how they polled this) breaking down how fans of particular NFL teams are rooting in the Super Bowl. One of the most interesting things about that grid was how fans slightly tended to support the conference, but fans in the Northeast and Midwest overwhelmingly supported the Steelers (even the Browns fans, who had the highest percentage rooting for the Steelers of any team - aren't they local rivals?). Meanwhile, teams out West and down South supported the Seahawks. Jacksonville had the highest support for the Seahawks in the AFC. It hinted, to me at least, that there is a sports-cultural divide between the Atlantic Seaboard and Great Lakes area on one side, and the rest of us on the other.
  • The "NEXT" athletes are listed, and while some were obvious (Bush, Young, Michelle Wie) there were actually several interesting choices: EJ and Gooch from the USMNT, Matt Schaub, Justin Upton, Sidney Rice (whom I fear greatly this coming Sept.) and the best choice of all, 70 year old video gamer Barbara St. Hillaire (note to the Lady: my google search for "Old + Grandma + Hardcore" was looking for this and not the vast majority of the 2.3 Million results).
  • There's a decent article that I wish had been much longer (another thing I've never thought about an ESPN the Mag article) about prep schools and athlete factories. Feldman goes to Hargrave and Fork Union, they visit Stratton Mtn. School, and they mention local baseball mill East Cobb Baseball. I didn't play there growing up, but I've got a ton of connections to that program. The bit on East Cobb (and really all of them) focuses more on the successes of individuals and the positives, and there can probably be 25,000 word exposes on the problems at each of these places (East Cobb especially).

Unfortunately, there's also a bad side of "interesting". ESPN the Magazine has never been a place where journalism meant more than cross-promotion. It's pretty much the raison d'etre for the damn thing. And this issue offers plenty of opportunities to shill for the corporate father, and that doesn't even include the Super Bowl on ABC coverage. Here are a few spots:

  • A huge, two-page spread giving "Total Access" to the readers in regard to Jerry Rice's preparation for "Dancing With The Stars". Awkwardly inserted, of no interest to the readers, clearly shilling. Though I respect the photos of Anna Trebunskaya (Love them redheads... /Wooderson).
  • Large ads for the following ESPN/ABC/Disney products: ABC's Sunday NBA coverage; ESPN's NFL Draft Guide publication; ESPN Mobile Phone (2 full pages); ESPN's Viewer's Guide (no sports programs apparently happen on any channels other than ABC and ESPN, like, say, the Winter Olympics); ESPN's coverage of the Bassmaster Classic; ESPN Books ads (multiple smaller ads); ESPN's Golf Schools.
  • Also, and this might be completely coincidental, but there are a ton of ads in this issue that are for the same products hyped in Super Bowl commercials (The ESPN mobile phone, Gillette Fusion has 3 full pages, the new Cadillac Escalade has 2 full pages, Full Throttle energy drink). It almost seems like these companies went to ABC and said, "Fine, we'll pay $2.5 million for 30 seconds, but at least throw in a few pages of your shitter rag."
  • Typically the most loathesome section of the magazine is "The Jump", a way for this Magazine to tell us what we should think is cool. And surprisingly enough, that often means products hocked by the parent company, like ESPN brand video games and shit. This week, no different. Sam Alipour's TV column features at least two snide comments about upcoming TV shows on networks not owned by ABC/ESPN: The Paul Shirley sitcom in development by Fox and the spoof of Sportscenter on Comedy Central (Viacom). Then there's also some space devoted to how awesome the ESPN mobile phone is, in case you missed the enormous advertisement a few pages before.
  • I know what you're thinking... in case you're like me and you waste brain space on bullshit like this. "Not so fast, LD. Bill Simmons wrote a very critical column about Glory Road, a Disney movie." True. And it pulled no punches. It criticized the film from an approach clearly directed at the parent company (they screwed with the story in Hollywood, unnecessarily).
  • But then on the VERY NEXT PAGE of the magazine, we have Stuart Scott's interactive column. The single most groan-inducing thing in print today. One of the questions: "Yo Stu - Seen Glory Road yet: Best sports movie of all time, in my opinion" - TG, Carson City Nevada. Yeah. Better than Rocky, Hoosiers, Slap Shot, Caddyshack, Hoop Dreams, etc. Can someone really say this with a straight face? Oh, and how does Stu respond? "It's one of my fave sports movies too, right there with Remember the Titans, but I still give a slight edge to Brian's Song and Rocky." Let me add that Remember the Titans was also a Disney film and Brian's Song was recently given the remake treatment by ABC (and is a frequent repeat on ABC Family). Nice. There's an entire post on the rest of Stu's column that I'll have maybe later this week. I think his take on booing is utter garbage.

Now, let me go into a little more specificity on the cross-promotion stuff. I don't blame them for doing it. In fact, I think they'd be fools not to. But I realize what they're doing and I can consider the rest of the writing in the proper frame of reference. I hope that most readers realize what's going on here. But also, there is some interesting stuff in the magazine this week, or at least more than normal.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Not-entirely-processed thoughts

1. Last night I was in a bar and College Gameday Basketball edition was on. They showed highlights of the Duke-FSU game, of which I actually watched about half. The refs, as always, were clearly affected by Coach American Express's constant bitching. After the highlights of the game, which was affected by a late no-call on a drive by FSU, Rece Davis was talking and they showed a graphic table laying out the numbers on how many more free throws Duke shoots than their opponents. The numbers support what everyone who watches basketball has been saying for years. Duke gets calls. (The BC game the other night was another clear example of how backbone-less refs are putty in the hands of "I consider myself a leader who happens to coach basketball). Anyway, it was another good display of how ESPN's producers marginalize the wrongs about sport. After putting up the damning numbers, they throw it to knownothing screamer and Coach K fellater, Dick Vitale, who followed up the objective facts with raving lunacy and entirely unobjective opinion saying the foul discrepancy is a conspiracy theory and all. See how it works? Put up the facts not in dispute, then allow the supposed geniuses to dispute them without anyone calling them on their bullshit. ESPN did this constantly on College Gameday for football. They'd show a graphic or stat, and then let Corso or Herbstreit say how "the numbers don't tell the whole story", unchallenged. One clear example I recall was prior to the last week of games (the Conference championship games). They had a discussion over who were the most deserving teams for at-large BCS bids. Fowler introduced a graphic that displayed the records, offensive and defensive stats, strength of schedule and record against top-25 teams of two teams, with the names of the schools hidden. One team had an objectively better claim, in every category. Then Fowler revealed the teams: Auburn had a better claim than Notre Dame. Of course, Auburn wasn't even in the discussion at the time. Then, after showing the objective facts in the graphic, they threw it to Herbstreit, who then talked about how the numbers didn't mean anything, because Ohio State and Notre Dame were clearly most deserving. Unchallenged. It's an embarassment. And shame on ESPN for allowing Vitale to cover for Duke.

2. Unlike my post last week, I was actually not annoyed this weekend by the refs in the Georgia-Vandy game. I thought there were plenty of calls that could've been made against UGA and for the Dawgs, but the officiating was fine, in my opinion, because they called the game consistently. It was a loosely called game. But it was loose from the very beginning, and stayed that way. And that's much better than refs who change their definitions of what is acceptable in the middle of the game (like last weekend). Good win for the Dawgs too. NIT this year, NCAA next.

3. Droopy Dog Watch might return soon, but his columns are behind the Insider wall now, so I'm not sure how much I can get away with commenting upon. Actually, I know I can comment on it, I just might not be able to cut and paste what he writes. And that's a drag. Anyway, his column this week ($) is of local notice, since it's about how the Braves have no closer, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Mostly just a history lesson and a look around the closer situations around the rest of the league. One interesting thing is that he thinks only 14 teams are set at the closer position. Less than half the league! Pretty incredible. So not much to bitch about, and he even gives a shoutout to real baseball bloggers (well deserving, since they're significantly better than most of what he's written). But then he slots in this odd bit about prospects at the end. He mentions Baseball America as if it's a new thing (I've known about it for years, and I'm not that much a baseball loon) and then kind of craps on the traditional scouting system. As "proof" this, he lists the consensus top prospects from 1998-2000. It seems like he's saying there are a lot of busts on the lists, but when I look at it I see a bunch of all stars: Tejada, Konerko, Beltre, Chavez, Furcal, JD Drew, Pat Burrell, Kerry Wood, Vernon Wells, Pavano. These are all guys who have made a major impact on a team. There are a few guys who missed, but pretty much all of them made the bigs and stayed on for at least a while. I guess he could knock Ankiel's listing on there twice, but if anyone overhyped Ankiel, it's Gammons. His psychological troubles are probably related to the trauma from seeing Pedro's jowls slapping against Rick's inner thighs. I guess it's just more typical "I don't really know what I'm writing here" Gammons.

4. I have a bit to say about the ESPN the Magazine I got in the mail yesterday. Stay tuned.

5. Another programming note: Coming up on my one year blogging anniversary. I'll have a small recap of what's transpired, and I'm throwing in a few lists of my consumption over the last year. Best movies I've seen, best books I've read, etc. And this weekend we have a new competitor for worst movie I've seen in the last year. Serious shit. I didn't think Spanglish would get topped, but this one might've done it. Recaps coming soon too.


One little Super Bowl post

Boring game for the most part. At the beginning of the game, Michaels and Madden talked about how the head referee once, err.. Refereed a high school JV game or something that was coached by Holmgren. With the coaching quality at the end of both halves, I'd say that's about the right place for Holmgren.

But the point that must be said, again and again...

Do. Not. Fuck. With. The. Dawgs. 5 receptions, 123 yards, a TD and a huge tackle on Herndon's INT. MVP in new Caddy.

See here for me patting myself on the back.


A recentering

Over the last six months, nearly all of my posts have been about college football. It's not that big a deal, considering a large amount of my free time over the last six months or so has been spent thinking about, watching, reading about, etc. college football.

But at the same time, this blog wasn't just started to be a college football blog. It was, and remains, a place to organize and capture my meandering thoughts. Sort of a place I can point to when, years down the road, I want to remember how I felt about certain things. And a lot of those thoughts might just be about college football, but I do think about more than just that.

In any event, much of what I write about is sports in general, but not solely that. I'll write about movies and books, TV shows, music (infrequently), and anything else that catches my eye enough for me to formulate something interesting to write.

But the most common thing posted will be sports - college basketball, local Atlanta pro sports, baseball, soccer.

And tonight, a Super Bowl commercial, of all things, reminded me of why I care about sports, enough to write occasionally about them. No, it wasn't the ESPN Mobile phone commercial corporate shill Dan Shanoff was praising effusively Friday. It was just before the game started, a Disney commercial came on with several of the key players in the Super Bowl practicing how each would say "I'm going to Disney World!". First, athletes are typically horrendous actors, even in commercials. But here, none of the athletes was forcing it. The lines, and embarassment/excitement shown on each's face was jsut really genuine. Like the athletes in the commercial truly were thinking about it, but in a "I honestly have dreamt about this" way. Im a world of contract disputes, off-field crimes, and over-corporate hype, it was just really refreshing to see the innocence of these athletes, the way they actually still dreamed of something. And that's why I care about sport, even in the world of Kobe/Shaq feuds, TO apology press conferences. It still is, at some level, about dreams - dreams of achieving, dreams of being the best at something, dreams of winning the game - not about cashing checks. Sport is simple, basic, innocent, genuine. And every effort made by whoever to make sports more complicated, more of a business, more "marketable" might, in some way, just prove a failure. We care because of the simplicity. We care less when it isn't simple. And despite the turn-your-head-inside-out irony of the fact that a commercial, for one of the largest companies in the world, a company whose property has done as much to ruin sport as anyone (ESPN), before the most overhyped sporting event of the year, this commercial, with all these overpaid athletes smiling and just thinking how great it would be to win... it kind of reconfirmed my faith that sport can be what we wish it would be, what we love it for.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thoughts on Michigan-Georgia

Since the entire Georgia football blogging community has weighed in on the subject of pressing for Kyle King's suggested Michigan-Georgia home/home series, I guess it's about the right time for me to add my two cents.

I'm in favor of interesting matchups for the Dawgs as a general rule. I'm a season ticket holder, and since the increase in the minimum donation kicked in last year, each ticket costs approximately $75-100, and when you add tailgating supplies, travel and hotel (if needed), each home game costs a decent amount of money. It adds up. For this and this reason alone, I want each home game to be "worth it". In my opinion, every conference game is worth the cost, because of the longstanding traditions between the schools (I even have good Vandy and Kentucky memories). The home game against Tech every other year is clearly of importance. Typically, there is one other home game that is at least a decent matchup (though I wouldn't say that this is always the case). Boise State this past year was an interesting opponent and on paper a good matchup. I've seen Texas Tech, Southern Miss, and Clemson (and UCF and UAB were decent opponents, though not stellar). That said, every year since I can remember Georgia has had at least one utterly terrible opponent on the schedule. Louisiana-Monroe, Utah State, Arkansas State, Kent, New Mexico State, MTSU, Houston (better now, not then)... All of these teams came to Athens and cashed a check. What was supposed to have happened for the most part did, we learned nothing about our team, and while the athletic department made some money (which can be put to good use), in a way I felt like I didn't get my money's worth. Now, before any diehard Georgia fans come down on me, please know that a weekend spent in Athens and an afternoon in Sanford Stadium is always better than one not. But would you spend the money and time watching a glorified scrimmage, where only bad things can happen (injuries, God forbid a loss to a pathetic team)? There's a reason why they can't charge full price (do they even charge anything? I can't remember paying when I've gone) to the G-Day game.

So on principle and for the sake of our getting our money's worth, I'd love for Georgia to play good opponents in out-of-conference games. HOWEVER, I also see the need for Georgia to play a reasonable schedule. I do not want Georgia to play week in and week out top 5 teams, and lose with a greater frequency than they should. A balance must be struck. Playing the toughest schedule in the country and going 7-4 is not better in my book than playing a schedule comparable to most other major college football programs and going 9-2.

With all that said, with the addition of the 12th game to the schedule, I don't see a problem with Georgia scheduling (of the three available OOC games) at least one very good to outstanding program for a home/home series. With Louisville, Colorado and Arizona State on the schedule for upcoming years, I think we're already moving in the right direction. Michigan wouldn't be all that huge of a step up from those programs, and the benefits both sides would get from such a series would make the risk of losing worth it. I'm for it.

Now, in one of my earliest college football posts, I delved into the subject of "inter-sectional" matchups. That post was first and foremost a defensive posture against the prevailing discussion in mass media and by several West Coast bloggers that the SEC is "chicken" because they don't travel 8 hours every time they play. I took the position that intra-sectional games can be every bit as compelling as inter-sectional games, and I stand by that assessment. In a way, I think I'd prefer to play Clemson every year over some of the OOC games scheduled. I think that rivalry deserves our respect (and animosity). I'd prefer an annual home and home against them instead of travelling to places like Cincinnati. Now, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't be in favor of travelling outside the region to play a more-quality opponent, just, ceteris paribus, I don't see anything of inherent value just in the travelling. I would probably consider Michigan a better (more tradition, higher profile, national appeal) matchup than Clemson. And while it raised a lot of points related to this movement for a UM-UGA game, I didn't write it to suggest that Georgia not travel to play good opponents. They should. But they shouldn't travel to the other side of the country to play opponents which are worse (or even equal) than ones just up the road. (I bring it up because of Mayor King's discussion here.)

Taking a step back, ideally, I'd like to have home and home games against both Clemson and Georgia Tech (when we're at home against one, we travel to the other), play one home game against a mediocre to decent team (Conference USA teams, not Sun Belt or 1-AA schools), and play one other decent to excellent team (Colorado, Louisville, up to Michigan). But because of the neutral site game at Jacksonville, it might not be feasible. In years when Florida is a "Home" game, Georgia Tech is a home game as well, so let's assume Clemson would be a road game. In order to get to 6 home games (and assuming that 6 is needed to be economically feasible and "keep up with the Joneses"), both other OOC games must be played between the hedges. Playing a Southern Miss or Memphis in one game likely wouldn't require a return trip. But to play a top opponent like Michigan (with Clemson on the schedule annually), we'd have to set it up where we get the home game in a year when Florida is also a home game. In a year when Florida is an "away" game, Tech is also an away game, but Clemson would be a home game, needing us to have only one other home game to get to 6. We could feasibly set it up to have a H/H with both Clemson and Tech, and do home and homes with very good opponents.

But "feasibly" doesn't translate to reality. The future of college football will change dramatically with the advent of the permanent 12 game season. Under an 11 game schedule 6, home games is SOP for programs that make money at home (obviously, the converse is true for schools that don't draw 80K+). Under the trial 12 game schedule a few years back, it was clear that 7 home games became the market standard for moneymaking schools. In fact, several schools (South Carolina for one) went 7 home games one year, 8 the next. If the vast majority of major program schools are playing at least 7 home games, choosing to play only 6 could be extremely detrimental to the program. It could cost several millions of dollars. And for every dollar that doesn't come into the program, that's one less dollar that could've been spent on improving facilities, recruiting a wide base of potential players, or retaining top quality coaching staffs. If South Carolina is going to play 3 more home games every two years than Georgia, and with Williams-Brice bringing in millions to the program at every home game, that could mean that the Gamecocks can afford to upgrade their weight room, or indoor practice facility, or make that extra trip to California to recruit that top QB, or sweeten the deal to make it worthwhile for a top defensive coordinator to switch schools. If I were an athletic director at a school playing big time college football, I know I wouldn't want a neighbor and rival to have that kind of an advantage. And shaming schools into playing on the road more hasn't worked in the past. So it seems clear to me that the market will control, and under a 12 game regular season, schools will have to play at least 7 home games each year to keep pace with other major programs.

What that means for Georgia is that it would be economically unsound to have home and home series with Georgia Tech, Clemson and a neutral site game in Jacksonville as well as home and home series against a top opponent like Michigan. So my ideal is just that, idealistic. To compromise, at least one of four things must happen: A) The game in Jacksonville will eventually give way to home games; B) We don't go home and home every year with Clemson; C) We don't play top opponents home and home; or D) We don't play a weaker opponent at home every year. A is unlikely to happen, and would be my least acceptable choice. B) I would prefer not to happen, but I think it's reasonable. I just wish that we'd play Clemson at least 6 times every decade. D) also isn't likely, since I think at least one "functional bye" is acceptable for any team in the country, especially when playing a BCS conference schedule. So that leaves us C. As I said above, I think there's merit in playing a quality opponent OOC. And I'd include Clemson among quality opponents. My suggestion would be that we play Clemson 6 out of every 10 years (3 home, 3 away), and for the four years in every decade when we do not play Clemson, we substitute for the Tigers a top quality opponent (by that, I mean an upper-echelon BCS conference team - like Michigan). I think that's a reasonable compromise and would consider economic realities, tradition and the excitement generated by playing top quality opponents.

So I do support Kyle King's movement to get a game between the Dawgs and Wolverines. I'd also like for us to schedule Clemson regularly as well. And if not Michigan, I'd love to see home/homes against other great traditional programs when we can. I'd like to see the Dawgs play Miami, Oklahoma, Texas, Penn State, Notre Dame, Iowa (yes, I consider them a top program until Kirk Ferentz leaves), Nebraska, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, USC, Ohio State, etc. These are all places that, if the hype is right, would garner big time national attention. So I say we don't limit the movement to Michigan. Let's suggest a host of top teams.