Monday, October 30, 2006

Wow. Amazing Run.

I don't know if I've ever seen a football player running as possessed as Laurence Maroney did on the Pats' return after Minnesota scored. He ran over his blocker, did a 360 and then started sprinting. Madness. Dude looked like he was going to kill anyone who got in his way.


Lebowski Rankings

25. Oklahoma 6-2 (52)
24. Virginia Tech 6-2 (49)
23. Oregon 6-2 (30)
22. Georgia Tech 6-2 (14)
21. Clemson 7-2 (66)
20. Missouri 7-2 (47)
19. Southern California 6-1 (8)
18. Wake Forest 7-1 (114)
17. Tulsa 7-1 (97)
16. Arkansas 7-1 (74)
15. Boston College 7-1 (46)
14. Notre Dame 7-1 (13)
13. California 7-1 (4)
12. Tennessee 7-1 (32)*
11. Florida 7-1 (10)*
10. Texas A&M 8-1 (88)
9. Wisconsin 8-1 (62)
8. Texas 8-1 (50)
7. Auburn 8-1 (37)
6. West Virginia 7-0 (99)
5. Louisville 7-0 (85)
4. Boise State 8-0 (102)
3. Rutgers 8-0 (76)
2. Ohio State 9-0 (23)
1. Michigan 9-0 (19)

The gap closes between the top two. The asterisk indicate the head to head wins of Tennessee over Cal, and Florida over Tennessee.


Soundtrack of my life

Meme seen at Mez Eclipse. Wanted to try it.

Here's how you do it:

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button

Opening Credits:
Nothing in My Way - Keane

Waking Up:
Radio Free Europe - R.E.M.

First Day At School:
The Danger Zone - Digital Underground (HOLY SHIT - I FORGOT I HAD THIS. FREAKING AWESOME!)

Falling In Love:
Where is My Mind - Pixies

Breaking UP:
Mr. Brightside - The Killers

All Because of You - U2

Life's Ok:
If I Run - Semisonic

Mental Breakdown:
I'll Stick Around - Foo Fighters

For Nancy - Pete Yorn

Start Choppin' - Dinosaur Jr.

Getting Back Together:
Slow & Low - Beastie Boys

Birth of Child:
Polovtsian Dances Nos. 8 & 17 - Alexander Borodin (from Prince Igor)

Wedding Scene:
My Favorite Things - Andre 3000

Final Battle:
Down Slow - Moby

Death Scene:
Blowing It - Dinosaur Jr.

Funeral Song:
From Now On - Pavement

End Credits:
2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted - 2Pac & Snoop Dogg (Break out the champagne glasses an muthafuckin' condoms!)

I am quite pleased with this list. It's quite 99x. First day at school, life's Ok, flashback, wedding, battle and end credits are on the money. I have to listen to that Digital Underground album again. That song is the shit.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gameday Recap

Week Nine
Columbia, SC - Tennessee vs. South Carolina
October 28, 2006

Second straight week in the Palmetto State. I'm a little surprised by this. I would've guessed that the Oklahoma-Missouri game would've been at least as good a choice (only matchup between ranked teams), or maybe the Notre Dame-Navy game. Pretty weak slate of games this weekend, in foresight, though the week turned out to be pretty interesting once the games were played.

  • Pretty good crowd, considering that the game isn't for almost 10 hours and that the stadium isn't really on campus (where kids could roll back to bed afterward).
  • Corso says South Carolina has the most loyal fans in the country, Herbstreit adds that they're some of the best anywhere (which is pretty similar to what he's said at least three other times this year).
  • Head to Head matchup of Spurrier and Fulmer. Both have pretty great statistics as coaches.
  • "What's at Stake?" Fowler explains why the UT-USC game is important. Almost like they're defending the decision to come there.
  • Corso drops another Sweetheart on Herbstreit.
  • Herbstreit calls this "mindset" Saturday, focusing on confidence, mental attitude going into games.
  • Fowler mentions how a lot of teams are trying to get bowl eligible today, like Kent State. Nobody else is interested.
  • Close-Up shot of the sign saying USC was "1969 ACC Champions" and Fowler mentions how that's the Cocks' only title. (No comment is necessary)
  • "What 2 Watch 4": 4 ABC/ESPN games are mentioned first, then the CBS games.
  • Flashback to 1963 Navy-ND game. 42 game winning streak. And that's Charlie Weis' best win so far. Which leads to...
  • Shot of Weis showing off his Super Bowl ring and bitching about how the Irish got jumped in the polls. Corso gives Weis the appropriate sarcasm.
  • Corso thinks all BCS conference champs and ND have a chance at playing in the BCS title game. Herbstreit agrees, thinks there might be 10 teams involved in the discussion.
  • Corso doesn't think USC wins out.
  • Fowler mentions how Cal is above UT in the BCS standings, Corso's response is that all of Cal's blowout wins over weaker teams is what matters.
  • Corso raises the specter of OSU losing to Michigan, getting a rematch (implication is that Michigan wouldn't receive the same sort of deference).
  • Focus on the Big East for a second. All the big games are coming up in the next few weeks. A little preview of Thursday night's game between WVU and Louisville.
  • Corso praises WVU a whole heap. Corso likes WVU because of defense and turnovers. Herbstreit appropriately mentions how Corso's been dogging WVU's D all year. Herbstreit likes the Louisville D, also thinks "emotions" will be too high. (I'm starting to notice a whole lot of vague and unprovable statements from Herbstreit. Perhaps I'm reading too much Fire Joe Morgan, but it just seems like everything Herbstreit says reeks of the kind of coverage that David Eckstein gets - all intangibles, nothing that you can prove.)
  • Game Face - like the 8th straight week with no face paint. Gives me some hope for the future.
  • Fowler mentions how the fans there are more interested in taunting Clemson than UT.
  • In Depth piece on Ryan Harris, the Muslim lineman at Notre Dame. Tom Rinaldi reporting. Basically this story took 6 minutes to say "he's a nice guy and people learned about Muslims."
  • Desmond Howard joins to discuss Notre Dame. Desmond lets us know that he thinks he's a good dresser. Then he actually offers what appears to be some good criticism of the ND coaching staff for their weaknesses on offense compared to last year - focuses on the numbers and how that's even against some weaker opponents.
  • Herbstreit thinks the UCLA game was just a tipping point for the concerns voters had about ND over many weeks.
  • Corso takes a shot at ND's upcoming schedule by saying that ND will win the Commander in Chief's Trophy.
  • Corso baits the crowd by calling Southern Cal "the real USC".
  • Herbstreit goes back to Howard's comment about how the Irish offense is disappointing.
  • Flashback to last week's Northwestern-Michigan State game. Crazy graphic on the last half of the game.
  • More flashbacks to the close games last week. I guess when they don't like this week's schedule, they could do worse than to cover last week's awesome games.
  • Lou Holtz joins. Sounds like the crowd is booing, but they're probably just saing "LOOOOUUUU". Unless there are some hard feelings about what he wrote in the book about USC. I don't know. I've listened to this a few times, and it sure sounds like a negative sound coming from the crowd.
  • Discussion on whether you should run or throw with a lead at the end of the game. Herbstreit says be aggressive, but be smart, again, he hedges his bets and talks out of both sides of his mouth. Corso offers the opinion of a coach - the right way to do it all depends on how the game turns out. That's kind of smart, but then he follows it up with a bunch of obvious statements: I usually keep a timeout, I use the sidelines to stop the clock, I pay attention to the clock. Thanks for the knowledge. Now Herbstreit prefers aggressiveness, thinks players appreciate it more (I think they appreciate winning most of all).
  • Carolina are way behind Clemson on the decibel meter. 110.
  • Some discussion of injuries in the UT-USC game.
  • Semi-extended piece on Erik Ainge. No reporter, just interviews and highlights (and some lowlights).
  • Desmond Howard and Todd Blackledge on the fake field. Blackledge, I think, would be a good addition to the Gameday crew because he's not afraid to say negative stuff and challenge prevailing thoughts. On the fake field, he's kind of limited in what he can do and say. Also, did someone at Scotts think it was a good idea to sponsor a fake field? It's not real grass. Do they think we're dumb enough to think that if we use Scotts our lawns will look like astroturf carpet?
  • Extended piece on Urban Meyer and Bill Belichick. Wendy Nix reporting. From what he said here, Meyer respects Belichick because coming down and watching his staff "shows what kind of guy he is." He likes me, and because of that, I respect him.
  • The crew keeps mentioning how Florida didn't look that great at Auburn. They do realize that Georgia isn't as good as Auburn, right? Corso thinks Florida wins close, through defense. Herbstreit adds that Florida has turned the ball over too much. Herbstreit blames QB issues for Georgia's poor showings. Herbstreit thinks Georgia plays close because it's a rivalry game, Georgia has "nothing to lose". More unprovable, amorphous statements.
  • Fowler rags on Southern fans for being miserable about their teams - mentions Georgia and Clemson directly. Fowler has no understanding of the Southern football fan's mind. To hate like this is to be happy forever, and to hate like this doesn't only reference one's rivals.
  • GT-Miami. Graphic on Miami didn't really say what Fowler was talking about - but still showed that Miami is mediocre at best since last year's GT game. Herbstreit likes Miami because of D, thinks Miami will "wake up and play like their heritage". Corso agrees, thinks Miami will be good today based upon how well Miami's played the last few weeks against Duke (nearly lost) and FIU (they won the fight too!).
  • FSU-Maryland. FSU is 98th in rushing offense, 2-5 in last 7 ACC games. (and now those are worse). 5-7 over their last 12. Man. That's just terrible. Bobby Bowden blames it on how well they played in the last decade before the last few years. He has a poor idea of what his team looks like. Herbstreit defends Bowden, but fails to explain how FSU might make staff changes when Bowden just said that wouldn't happen. Corso adds that Bowden isn't too old because Paterno had a good year last year. Also, Corso says that he had incredible, professional assistants when he coached, but NOT ONE of them was good enough win a game or bad enough to lose a game. And Bowden's a better man than a coach. And it should be noted thatCorso has a pulpit to spout such defending his close friends and neighbors. "When you criticise Bowden, you're criticising one of OUR family." Any other embattled coaches have a defender with this kind of platform.
  • Both guys like Texas to win close.
  • Oklahoma-Missouri. Herbstreit and Corso both like Missouri. Corso thinks Missouri wins the Big XII North. Herbstreit doesn't pick that, instead says "it'll be decided next week against Nebraska".
  • Flashback: To the Governor of South Carolina proclaiming Nov. 10, 2001 as "Gameday Day". The Lady (a native of the Palmetto State) asked if the Gov was gay. I had to explain that they were doing a "blackout" that night and that was why he was wearing a black suit and skin-tight black mock-T. Then she said, "thanks for the fashion info, but I was asking about his feminine voice." I quite appreciate my lovely wife.
  • Some discussion on the Pac-10. Full segment, most of the games covered. This takes me back to when they'd have a segment on each conference and talk about all the games, even the weaker games. I miss those days.
  • Flashback highlights of Southern California's lackluster victories over the last few weeks. Fowler mentions the struggles of Booty.
  • WIRED! With John David Booty. At least there were some interviews. This one isn't as bad as most Wired segments, because we can see some action on the practice field. What the hell was that coach talking about?
  • Herbstreit thinks Southern California is having trouble because they're not as explosive. Corso thinks it's because of all the talent lost. Then Fowler describes their analysis as "nitpicking about an undefeated team". Meta.
  • Some slight hype about Ohio State-Michigan. "Feels like the college football world is just on hold waiting for that game." (Paraphrasing).
  • Highlights of Herbstreit running the ball. Nobody thinks Minnesota.
  • Jack Nicklaus will be dotting the I in Ohio. Select group. Extended piece on Ohio State Marching Band. Fowler, yes, the OSU band is selective; no it is not as selective as the OSU football team. Yes, the OSU band practices hard; no, probably not as hard as the football team - and in fact, for many of the members of the band, music is their major.
  • Now some more hype for OSU-Michigan. Countdown clock. Corso does some breaking down the stuff. Says that OSU is the best because their paint is the top seller on Home Depot's line of team color paints. Herbstreit is leaning toward OSU because Tressel's a better coach, or at least he's "in Carr's head". More intangible analysis.
  • Extended piece on Syvelle Newton. Joe Schad reporting. Where's Simon Cowell when we need him to tell Syvelle not to sing anymore?
  • Howard is back on set to provide some actual analysis based on numbers and facts about the USC-UT game. But then he plays to the crowd and picks USC to win.
  • Corso does not like South Carolina. Raves about Tennessee.
  • Corso: "Only the devil knows who I'm gonna pick! Cause it's Halloween!! Ha Ha Ha!" The man is out of his mind.
  • Rob Stone is on site at Michigan. Looks like miserable weather there. Updates on Manningham's injury. They need to cover this all the time! Gamblers are watching for a reason!
  • Game Changer: Corso: James Wilhoit (UT kicker). Herbstreit: Syvelle Newton. Fowler: Steve Slaton for a game 6 days away.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Washington, FSU, Miami, Missouri. Herbstreit: UCLA, Washington, Miami, Missouri, South Carolina. We'll see about WVU/Louisville.
  • Fowler FINALLY mentioned the inanity of the name of the World's Largest Outdoor Non Alcoholic All-American blah blah. He held off for 2 hours.
  • Fowler also chimes in with a good comment on USC-UT: Fans don't win football games, players do.
  • Corso seems genuinely hurt about being called the devil by the USC paper. Nut up, dude.
Another week down. You can tell that they're really just holding their breath for the OSU-Michigan game. Also, Herbstreit just didn't seem to have much concrete analysis to offer. Maybe I just noticed this more this week than most. Next week, the best game is on Thursday (WVU-UL), and the best game between ranked opponents will be a CBS game (Tennessee-LSU). Perhaps they'll be at College Station for the Texas A&M-Oklahoma game? Or maybe the UCLA-Cal game, which is one of the two ABC 8 PM games (Miami-Va. Tech is the other, but I doubt they'll go there after Miami's loss).


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Irrational Thoughts

1) Florida is probably the only team I've seen that, were I a fan, would frustrate me more than Georgia. Seriously. The Gators should've won by 28. The opening drive showed all the weaknesses of the Georgia defense... and they stopped doing everything they did on that drive. 6 yard passes that take advantage of the weak UGA LBs? They converted two (maybe 3) third downs on the opening drive. Then they stopped doing that all together (or Florida's receivers dropped the passes - equally frustrating). This is perhaps the worst Georgia team in a decade. And Florida couldn't put them away. In my mind, Florida might not be a top 10 team.

2) SEC officials make me want to give up watching football all together. And I've already tried to convince the General to become a US Attorney and investigate this corrupt group of incompetent idiots. Paul Oliver's phantom PI on on the opening drive was offensive (and even worse considering the mugging received by Georgia receivers on the very next drive). But most unbelievably, the decisive penalty of the game - the phantom facemask on Moses that gave Florida the undeserved first down - WAS IN NO WAY A PENALTY. Moses grabbed him by the collar. No question about it. The penalty sealed the game. This is corruption. Without a doubt.

3) I'm sure Georgia bloggers will be writing a bunch about the smattering of boos for Martrez Milner. Whatever. The point I think should be raised is that the receivers coach IS NOT DOING HIS JOB. There is no reason, whatsoever, for all the drops.

4) How's about Willie Martinez for making some adjustments (though I do think Florida bears the lion's share of the responsibility)? I liked seeing the D not responsible for any points in the second half.

5) If we win the toss at the opener of any game going forward, we NEED to take the ball. Here are the results of our opening second half drives in the last few games:

  • Florida: Lumpkin fumble on first down, Florida TD.
  • Miss State: Three and out, net loss of one yard.
  • Vanderbilt: Lumpkin fumble on second down, leading to a Vandy TD.
  • Tennessee: Tereshinski interception on second down, leading to a UT TD.
  • Ole Miss: Georgia drive for a TD
  • Colorado: Stafford fumble after one first down, leading to Colorado FG.
So over the last 6 games, we've gotten the ball to start the second half every time, and it has led to points for our team once, but points for the other team 4 (FOUR!!!!) times. FUCK! Seriously!

6) Right now, I'm happy that I'll get to see Matthew Stafford play for Georgia for 3 more years. And I wouldn't take any other QB over him.


8) Special teams continues to be a problem. Coverage and blocking aren't very good, and directly led to a Florida touchdown. We still are getting penalties on our returns. So frustrating.

9) Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson must have been having a contest as to who could fuck up the name of the team more. More than half the time when Florida did something well, they talked about how "Georgia" has the momentum. Michael Stafford is apparently the QB of Georgia. I hope that their response to the mandate to avoid using the term "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" was to drink copious amounts of liquor, and that was the reason for the errors. Because there should be no other excuse.

10) Matthew Stafford's double pass was awesome. And it should've been legal. Brett Favre did it last week, didn't he?

11) On that same play, Reggie Nelson laid out Kenneth Harris on a horrendous cheap shot away from the ball. Were I a player, with my ignant-ass temper, I would grab him by his dreads on some random play and make him cry. I know it's going to sound terrible, but I wouldn't be upset were he to be hit by a stray bullet fired by another Florida defensive back. [Too harsh; I'm a prick] Payback is a bitch, and he'll experience it. (Yes, he's good too)

Georgia may end up winning one of the games against Auburn or Tech. But after a result like this, I am not assured of a win against Kentucky right now. A letdown may be in the cards.

I'm going to get drunker.


Archie Manning

Serves me right for not paying attention to the halftime show of the Georgia-Florida game...

I look over and see the Lady cracking up on the couch. She's not reading anything, so I'm not sure why she's laughing.

She says that Archie Manning said the following, direct quote:

"I've always thought Georgia has great looking tight ends."

Nice. I personally think there should be a comma between looking and tight.


Friday, October 27, 2006

For the record...

Here's what I honestly think about the Georgia-Florida game tomorrow.

Short version: this is the single worst matchup I've seen for Georgia in perhaps a decade. Sell the house, pawn everything you own, sell your car, sell your mouth on the street for a while, and pool it all and put it on the Gators.

Here's the longer version:

I wish I was trying to prepare myself for a loss by overthinking negatively. I'd love to think we have a chance, but I've looked at this game a hundred ways, and every single one is bad news.

Their strengths on O perfectly line up against our weaknesses on D, our strengths on O match up against their strengths on D (only not as strong). Their weaknesses (the secondary) don't matter too much because (a) we have a freshman QB that makes freshman mistakes, (b) our receivers can't catch the ball, and (c) forcing us to throw means even if we are playing well, we aren't controlling the clock - which is the only way other teams have hung with Florida.

The only way our D can stop their O is if we get pressure on the QB before they get rid of the ball - only Florida runs a quick passing game unless they're behind, and Leak is extremely accurate. Auburn put pressure on Leak coming around the ends with fast LBs - coming at Leak from the side while standing in the way of the quick passes to the sidelines. Our LBs haven't rushed the pass well at all this year, let alone that our LBs can't cover anyone in the flat because they're too slow. Florida's offense has a scheme to make a safety or an OLB on a wide receiver on just about every play. Percy Harvin and Dallas Baker are embarrassingly fast. Tra Battle and our scrub LBs got worked over by Vanderbilt's Tight Ends.

Preseason, the strongest points about Georgia were the running backs and kickers. Now, our starting RB is out for the year, along with the All-SEC kicker. Our current kicker missed a 35 yarder that would've sealed the Vandy game, and a freaking extra point that could've cost the MSU game.

Our two best kick returners are out for the year with injuries - and if you've seen the last 5 games, more than half the time our kick returns result in a block in the back, half the distance penalty that makes our drives start on the 7 or 8 yard line (and yes, that means our returns were only getting to the 15).

We're as bad as I've ever seen on defense on third downs. It can be 3rd and 15, and the pass will go 16, guaranteed.

Georgia is terrible at sustaining long drives because of (a) stupid penalties - mainly from the offensive line, (b) aforementioned inability to catch by receivers, (c) no commitment to running the ball, and (d) predictable playcalling - namely, if it's third and more than 2, expect a screen pass to the fullback on the wide side of the field. Works never-y time.

So basically, the things you need to do against Florida (if the Auburn, Tennessee game, and the first 3 quarters of the Alabama game are the guide) are control the clock, win the field possession game, have great special teams, put pressure on the QB from the LB positions, and make no mistakes. Georgia does exactly none of those things well.

They've had two weeks to prepare, and to be angry after their loss to Auburn (which was a lot closer than the score looked, if you didn't see it - Auburn scored a TD after a fumble on a rugby style pitch on the last play of the game). Meanwhile, we're playing our 5th straight SEC opponent. And another thing, the SEC sets conference schedules - and Georgia is the only school that plays 7 straight SEC games without a bye or OOC opponent mixed in. UT plays 6 in a row to end the year; Florida and Ole Miss play 5 in a row. Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky and Vandy play 3 in a row, and the rest 4. That seem fair?

Everything I look at with this game makes me think Florida whips us bad. Before the last month, I never thought any team would just run all over us. I used to think that our D would keep us in every game and we'd just need our offense to make some plays. Now, I can't think that way. Our D plays too soft a zone, gives up way too many yards and stays out on the field way too long. Teams can take risks on us, because they don't have to play the typical conservative defense and field position SEC game.

I'm not dancing around this or setting the bar low for my own mind. We're definitely going to get whipped.

So that's it. I do not see a way that Georgia can win the game tomorrow. But I will be drunk regardless.


Indulge my inner Colbert...


Right here (in comments). 19 ESPN experts and not a one of them picked St. Louis to even win the NCLS, let alone win the World Series. Meanwhile, little old idiot LD, who knows fuckall about nothing, sits down and nails the World Champion.

On the serious tip, doesn't the fact that a team that, by all objective facts, eats a dick has now been crowned the World Series Champion kind of make all the Braves' losses look a little better? Add these mediocre Cards to the Marlins (twice), D-Backs, Angels, and White Sox. Seriously, at what point do we need to look at baseball the way English soccer looks at things. The "Champion" should be the best team over 162 games - if every team plays a balanced schedule. The playoffs are a separate system entirely, and one where the small sample cannot be used by any means to determine "the best". It should merely be a distinct trophy from the regular season champion.

But still. Fuck all that "Quad-A" bullshit. The Natty Lite is where the action's at, regardless of what Eastern Seaboard writers think.

And while we're at it, fuck McCarver and all his imbecility and reverse jinx shit.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Some Non Football Thoughts

1. If you are watching the World Series at all, I really hope you're reading Fire Joe Morgan. I wish this blog were a tenth as good as that one. Seriously.

2. I'm in a fantasy basketball league this year and I like it because I think of it as kind of a control subset compared to other fantasy sports. See, with baseball and football I think I follow them closely and I think I should be able to pick a team well. This year I did OK in baseball (finished in the top 3 or 4 in multiple leagues). This year in football I'm sucking ass in one league, playing way way way over my head in another - I'm a total paper tiger and I'll fall apart in a few weeks. But for basketball, I really don't follow it that closely. I don't have any idea what I'm doing in drafting or making player moves. So I think this is good - I get to find out whether my opinion of myself really matters. If I do well in fantasy basketball, we'll know that it's totally luck and random. Here's my lineup: Bosh, Kirilenko, Diaw, Jamison, Mike James, Mo Peterson, Szczerbiak, Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson (I keep it real), Rudy Gay. Then Bogut, Nene and Rajon Rondo on the bench. 12 team league. I'm not that disappointed, but we'll see.

3. I told you ahead of time. Five Guys Burgers and Fries is now open in Atlanta. And it's every bit as good as I remember. The only problem is that Southerners appear too nice to throw the peanut shells on the floor. They expect it, people! In any event, now is a good idea to invest in elastic pants, Atlantans.

4. Barry Melrose on ESPN HD is a reason for living. Why is it that the fun part of the Kentucky Waterfall doesn't go grey as much as the business? Because it's too busy livin', cuz!

5. "1 in 3 winners will have their dick removed."


Lebowski Rankings - 2

This Weeks Standings, as of before any games were played this week. Asterisk indicates head to head win exception.

25. Georgia 6-2 (96)
24. Pittsburgh 6-2 (85)
23. Nebraska 6-2 (62)
22. Louisiana State 6-2 (52)
21. Wake Forest 6-1 (93)
20. Tulsa 6-1 (90)
19. Tennessee 6-1 (37)
18. Arkansas 6-1 (36)
17. Boston College 6-1 (19)
16. Notre Dame 6-1 (18)
15. Florida 6-1 (10)
14. Clemson 7-1 (88)
13. Missouri 7-1 (59)
12. Texas A&M 7-1 (79)*
11. Wisconsin 7-1 (41)
10. Texas 7-1 (40)
9. Auburn 7-1 (34)
8. California 7-1 (5)
7. Southern California 6-0 (7)
6. West Virginia 7-0 (105)
5. Louisville 7-0 (97)
4. Rutgers 7-0 (81)
3. Boise State 8-0 (98)
2. Ohio State 8-0 (22)
1. Michigan 8-0 (8)


Monday, October 23, 2006

On Booing

[I've edited this post a good amount to draw clearer distinctions between the issue of whether booing is "valid" or "defensible" and the issue of whether it is "right" or "useful"]

The Georgia Blogs are a flutter with discussions on what appears to be the only thing memorable about Saturday's lackluster win over Mississippi State. [Side note, I don't have time to do the research, but I read at The Index (to the right) that a team that's turned the ball over 5 times in a game had lost something like 50-60 straight games... and the Dawgs didn't. I'm not sure what that means, but I guess it's something...]

I'm writing about the way that after his third dropped pass of the day (and that doesn't include his fumble), some fans booed Mohammed Massaquoi, and then cheered after the coaching staff substituted for him. It was loud enough to hear both the boos and the cheers over the radio, and the announcing crew commented upon it.

Personally, I'm not sure what I think about the booing in this specific instance. But I also find it interesting the way some writers and dudes around the office are approaching the issue of booing college athletes. So indulge me in an in-depth study.

Booing is a traditional method of voicing displeasure, but it's also one where there are almost always lines of distinction drawn.

1. Few people argue that booing, under any circumstances, is never valid. I think many people consider booing to be less than classy, and I know at times I've considered it to be simply lame. Nonetheless, it is hard to find a man or woman who would say that a fan should never boo.

2. The Professional/Amateur distinction. Some people consider booing to be indefensible when the players are college athletes, but don't have a problem when the player is a professional. The idea is that a pro gets a paycheck and should be expected to perform by paying customers. There is a service being rendered to fans, and when the service is performed inadequately the fans want to voice their displeasure. In college, the athletes aren't paid (and personally I find this fact wrong), though they do receive free tuition, room and board, some of which is funded through the various foundations supported by the fans who attend the games. In a way, the fans attending a college football game fund the compensation for the players (however inadequate the compensation is). In my opinion, this pro/amateur line of distinction alone is insufficient.

2 (a) It's possible that this pro/amateur distinction is merely a simplification or retitling - the real reason is that college athletes aren't as old or experienced as professionals, and therefore they should be cut some slack. I think this argument is much more salient, but it also raises the question of where the line is drawn - can 5th year seniors be booed, or what about professional rookies? Further, the age/experience issue is more appropriately addressed when discussing whether booing is the right thing to do. The younger or more inexperienced a player is, the more clear it is that booing is the wrong thing to do, regardless of whether it is valid or substantiated.

3. One of the reasons why a simple "pro/amateur" distinction rarely works is that most people have no problem booing the opposing team. If the problem is that "they're kids" or "they're not getting paid", why is it not a big deal that fans boo the opposing team every time they come out onto the field? The other team is made up of kids/amateurs. But they're just not our kids or amateurs. So the simple distinction isn't enough, and mere reliance on that argument probably shouldn't work. If the uniforms provide a reason to boo amateurs, the argument that college athletes should never be booed doesn't work, err... uniformly.

4. Situations where booing might be acceptable.

If booing college athletes is acceptable (leaving aside the question of whether it is the right thing to do or a useful thing) in some circumstances (such as opposing players), are there circumstances when booing one's own team's players would be valid? If so, where are the lines that shouldn't be crossed?

I'd argue that there are some situations where it would be defensible to boo one's own player.

a) The Cheap Shot. When an opposing player takes a cheap shot, a boo should be expected. But what about when your player takes a cheap shot? If I'm a Tennessee Titans fan, and I see Albert Haynesworth stomp on the face of an opposing player, and the replay shows that it was unprovoked violence, I would have no problem booing him. And if a college player did the same thing, I would feel the same way. I wouldn't have a problem booing a player seen to spit in another's face. Consider: would it be valid for Miami fans in the Orange Bowl to boo their own team during the brawl against Florida International? I think it wouldn't just be valid, it's appropriate, it might be inappropriate not to.

b) Taunting or Hot Dogging. This would be a rare situation, and one I don't know if I've ever seen it happen. I've seen fans boo a player for another team that has danced, taunted or done something else to draw attention to himself after a play. Fans, often older fans especially, frequently rant about how taunting, hot dogging, or whatever other attention-seeking actions have brought some disgrace to the game. You hear plenty of people not liking it when even your own team's players do these sort of things. The problem is that typically such actions are taking place after a good play, and it's not like fans are going to interrupt cheering for the play in order to boo the dance afterward. But could there be a situation where a player gets booed by his own fans for celebrating or taunting? I think there are a lot of fans who could rationalize booing a player as a result of this. The question is... say a player gets flagged for unsportsmanlike behavior as a result of taunting or celebration, and the flag causes something detrimental to the team. Could fans then boo the player? I think this is a close call, and I'd argue that it is probably a defensible boo. On the other hand, perhaps fans should expect the coaches to handle taunting or hot dogging and do not need to resort to booing to prevent such behavior in the future. That gets into the question of usefulness.

c) Poor Effort. For whatever reasons, booing seems more prevalent or memorable in baseball. Perhaps it's the way that the pace of the game and how there's not too many moving pieces that allows fans to follow the action more and engage in a sort of conversation with the players. But in any event, you see booing of poor effort pretty often in baseball. A hitter fails to leg out a booted ball and gets thrown out. An outfielder lobs the ball in and allows a baserunner to advance. In football, this is a little harder to spot, but it happens possibly more often. Wide receivers stop running routes. A tailback (like, say, Patrick Pass) runs out of bounds a full 6 yards shorter than he could've in order to avoid getting hit. Defensive Backs stopping their pursuit when a player gets behind them. Linemen give up trying to block once their guy gets behind them. These aren't mental mistakes. These aren't physical inadequacies. These are purely situations where the player could have made a better effort, but, for whatever reason, didn't. Is it reasonably defensible to boo a player for this? In the professional ranks, there's no question about it - booing is not only acceptable, but players should probably expect it. In college athletics, should effort from the players be expected just as much? Should receiving a salary have anything to do with putting forth effort? Should a poor effort be called to question? I'd argue possibly. Again, this could be another situation where booing won't serve much of a purpose - ideally the coaching staff will do what they need to to prevent this in the future. So whether it's the right thing or a particularly useful thing to do might be questionable, but I think booing a player for not making an effort is probably somewhat valid.

d) Mental and Physical Errors. This is the class of on-field actions that probably shouldn't be grounds for booing college athletes. Physical inadequacies should probably be never booed. I can't think of a single situation when there can be any grounds for doing this (and perhaps dropped passes fits in this category). As for mental errors, that's a slightly closer call, I think. I can understand the grounds for booing or a mental error under two circumstances. First, when the mental mistake is COLOSSAL and directly and completely alters the position of the game. I can understand a Georgia Tech fan booing Reggie Ball for not knowing the down and distance and throwing away a chance at winning the game. That's a mental mistake so looming that it changed the game. Now, the risk you take in booing a player is that for a mental mistake, sometimes the position coach or the head coach is equally at fault (more on that in a second). The second situation is when a player makes the same mental mistake again and again and the repeated indiscretions cost the team. I've seen or heard a few people this week say how Massaquoi shouldn't have been booed, but Daniel Inman should've because of his repeated false starts (and oddly, that argument sometimes follows the "you should never, ever, ever boo college athletes" line of debate). I think in the case of multiple mental mistakes, they really have to be egregious, and repeated to come close to making booing a valid reaction. Again, the question of whether booing a mental mistake is the right thing to do or whether it would be particularly useful is an entirely different question - and under the mental mistake situation, it's probably clearer that booing is less "right" than, say, in a cheap shot situation.

So I think there are situations where booing college athletes might be defensible - taunting, cheap shots, poor effort, and extremely egregious mental errors. Now, that does not address the other issue - whether it's useful. I have no idea whether boos motivate players. I doubt it has much effect on the player addressed, exept maybe to weaken confidence (the reverse of what is hoped for). It does, however, have an effect upon the appearance of the fans. Booing appears unclassy - and the arguments that booing affects perception of a program (for recruiting, press coverage, even self-esteem) I believe are salient.

But there's one other issue regarding booing that I think should be raised, and one I think has a direct impact on the discussion about Massaquoi.

What if the booing isn't directed at the player? Can fans of a college football team boo the coaching staff? They're highly paid professionals. The fans' ticket purchases fund the coaching staff's salaries. Shouldn't the staff be held accountable? And why can't fans voice their displeasure at the coaching staff in the stadium? I see no problem with fans voicing their displeasure at mental mistakes or strategic errors by the coaching staff. The problem is... how can fans voice displeasure if booing the players isn't "right"? If a coaching staff calls a particular passing play that has been intercepted 3 times prior a 4th time, and it gets picked off again (which is exactly what happened in the 2000 UGA-USC game), I think fans should be able to boo the playcall - but how can they do that when by all appearances, it just looks like fans are booing the QB who threw the picks. Where is the line between a valid booing of the coaching staff, and an invalid booing of the players?

And with Massaquoi (and Quincy Carter in the past), I think there's a grey area at play here. Massaquoi was not having a good game. He had fumbled and had two previous drops. It is a valid criticism to ask why the coaching staff continued to have him in the game, let alone with plays called where the ball would be thrown his way. Is booing the coaching staff for the personnel they've directed on the field and the playcalling valid? Was the bronx cheer when Massaquoi was pulled out of the game directed at the WR coach as much or more than Massaquoi himself? I think that might be the case. So where is the line?

I think I need to be a little clearer here too. I think there's a distinction between whether booing is valid, and whether booing is right (or advantageous). I take the position that booing can be valid at certain times. As to whether it's useful or proper, I don't know, but I may lean towards it never being particularly so.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Football Officiating Questions

Two points came up in yesterday's and today's games that I think should be brought up for further discussion.

1) The end of the Georgia-Mississippi State game. The timing of the review raised an issue that bothers me. On the final play of the game, MSU QB fumbled as a result of a rush by Charles Johnson. The referees stopped the clock for the purpose of reviewing the play to determine if it was a fumble or an incomplete pass. During the time of the review, Mississippi State, with hopes that the ruling on the field that the ball was fumbled would be reversed, rushed their field goal kicking unit out onto the field. Now, because of the posture of the review (incompletion vs. fumble), my question didn't apply, because had the ruling been reversed the clock would've been stopped as a result of the incompletion. But, hypothetically speaking, say the fumble had been a result of a massive hit by the defensive end, and as the QB was hitting the ground, the ball came loose. The defense had recovers the ball, but the referees stop the clock to review whether the QB was down before the ball came out. Three seconds on the clock, no timeouts for the offense. The review allows the offense to line up for the game-tying field goal upon a reverse of the ruling that there was a fumble. If not for the review (as in, say the ruling on the field had been that the QB was down) stopping the clock, the offense would never have been able to get the kicking team out on the field before time ran out. The NFL has rules in place to prevent offensive teams from having the clock stopped by means of a penalty, a provision that imposes a 10 second runoff. But as far as I can tell, college football does not have such a provision, especially in terms of replay review. So here's the question: is it fair and equitable to give a team a chance to tie, or, in a worse scenario, win, solely because of a replay review stopping the clock? Is making sure every play was exactly correctly ruled on the field worth altering the result solely because of the procedure of reviewing plays? Should there be a mandatory 10 second clock runoff after each reviewed play where the result of the review is a continuing clock? Has anyone raised these issues on the competitions committees or are they waiting for a high profile game to be decided due to this? Or worse, might referees not go to a replay in the final seconds, risking getting a play completely wrong, simply to avoid giving a team a timing advantage? I find this interesting.

2) End of the first half in the Falcons-Steelers game. Steelers go ahead 24-21, and kickoff to Allen Rossum, kicking from the 15 yard line as a result of a celebration penalty on Hines Ward. Rossum breaks loose and has open field ahead of him. The Steelers' kicker is the only man between Rossum and a sure touchdown. Jeff Reed goes to the ground, and purposefully trips Rossum, in violation of the rules of the game. It is as clear a trip as I have ever seen in football. Announcer Phil Simms praises Reed for the penalty, since it saved a sure touchdown. The penalty carries with it 10 yards on the end of the run. Rossum was tackled at the Pittsburgh 38 yard line, tacking on 10 yards left the Falcons at the 28. Had Reed not tripped Rossum, the result would have been 6 points for the Falcons, doubtlessly. Is a 10 yard penalty far too light for a "last man standing" flag? Compare this to soccer's penalty for pulling a player down when it is just that one defender between the attacker and the goal - a red card removing the offender from the game and imposing another game's suspension and offering the attacking player a penalty kick (an opportunity that leads to a goal 75-80% of the time). Hockey provides a similar penalty to the offending team. But, in football, for the last player in front of the goal line, taking an illegal action to prevent an attacking player from scoring, the penalty is a mere 10 yards. My opinion: this is a more egregious incentive for players to cheat than the 15 yard pass interference in college football. And in this instance, it worked. On the first play from scrimmage, Michael Vick threw an intereception to James Farrior. How should this rule be changed? Simply stated, the penalty does not fit the indiscretion. I propose for situations like this the NFL use a similar penalty as they use for pass interference in the end zone. First down, ball on the 1. The NFL would respond that there is already a provision for a "last man back" penalty - the palpably unfair provision. On a palpably unfair play, the referee may spot the ball wherever he deems fair or even award a touchdown. Unfortunately, the rule book provides an example for a palpably unfair play: a player comes off the bench and tackles a man destined to score. A play such as that is so far beyond the rules of play that, yes, it is indeed palpably unfair. A trip is dealt with elsewhere in the rulebook. Why would a referee go further to say that a penalty is palpably unfair when there's a more specific provision dealing with it? It isn't outside the bounds of the rules as much as a dude coming off the bench. But is the result any different? Each was in violation of the rules, and each prevented a score. I think the NFL could do a better job of punishing violators who are the last man back that break the rules to prevent a score. This instance is a sure situation where I think the punishment did not fit the crime.


Gameday Recap

Week Eight
Clemson, South Carolina - Georgia Tech vs. Clemson
October 21, 2006

No ABC game tonight because of the World Series (I guess), so the Gameday crew is on hand at the ESPN night game site. Looks like a massive crowd.

  • Homecoming at Clemson. I wonder if this is the first time the show has ever been to a homecoming game.
  • First time Gameday has ever been to Clemson in 13 years. That surprises me. I would've thought that they would've been there for one of those early games between Bowdens.
  • Fowler says it's impossible to get to Clemson. (Really? Airlines don't fly into GSP?) Two weeks in a row with a travel complaint by Fowler. (I think Peter King has the obnoxious travel complaint thing down already, so perhaps Fowler needs a different schtick.)
  • Corso: Georgia Tech will not be intimidated by this Clemson crowd. (I heard several variations on this same thought all week on Atlanta sports talk radio.)
  • Herbstreit: Theme of the day is questionable QBs going on the road - Colt McCoy, Reggie Ball, Rutgers' QB, others.
  • Fowler calls Calvin Johnson possibly the nation's best receiver. (I agree. If only he had a QB that could get him the ball consistently...)
  • Clemson's road win cemetary. Hopefully they didn't place it on an old Indian burial ground, because then those road wins will come back to life... but not in the form Tiger fans would want.
  • Herbstreit says Alabama needs to create TOs against Tennessee - prescient.
  • Charlie Weis Press Conference - has Gameday ever shown any other coach's press conference, and shown the coach "staying focused on the task at hand". Just wondering. I mean, they sometimes show press conferences where coaches are addressing something newsworthy - like John L. Smith losing his mind, or Larry Coker talking about the brawl. But with what other coaches does ESPN give a minute or two to represent themselves in a positive light?
  • The crew spends a few minutes on who Notre Dame's biggest threat is before USC. Corso says UCLA's youth will stay in the game, but fall at the end (nailed it). Herbstreit says nobosy will challenge ND until USC, but then insults us all by saying that ND is "off the radar since the big comeback at Michigan State". Yeah. They're devoting several minutes to them right now. Notre Dame will NEVER be "off the radar". The Irish's schedule is weak, but the media still cover them.
  • Game Face - They did it early today. No face or body paint. These three dudes look strangely normal. Well done, Clemson.
  • Alabama-Tennessee analysis. Fowler says this game means the most to Fulmer. Fowler asks about where Alabama's pass rush. Herbstreit says that turnovers are needed for Alabama to stay in the game, again (need a few more bullet points, Kirk). Herbstreit thinks UT wins big in the second half. Corso says Alabama has a chance at the upset if they use balance. (I'm starting to get annoyed by the use of the term "balance". Does "balance" matter as much as doing things well? If you run and pass 50% each, but you suck at both, did the balance make a difference?)
  • Discussion on the Miami-FIU brawl. Fowler mentions the Dartmouth-Holy Cross brawl and how nobody covered that. (uhh... dude, you've got a TV show. Cover it.) Corso didn't think the punishments met the guidelines, thinks Miami should've lost a chance at a bowl game, like Clemson and South Carolina (a salient point, in my opinion).
  • The press conference with the Miami players is kind of interesting. The players don't seem to be exactly reading PR talking points. I appreciate that. And they're making some sense, even if they don't exactly say the stuff that sanctimonious media tut-tutters require. If you didn't see it, most of the players refused to say they did the wrong thing because they were sticking up for one another.
  • They bring in Hank Goldberg to discuss Miami. I like when they bring in local media people to discuss local programs. College football is a regional sport - local dudes have much better expertise than national guys. Goldberg thinks Coker's gone unless Miami wins the ACC and a BCS bowl. Says discussions on successors is already happening.
  • Corso says he doesn't want to talk about Coker's future, but instead writes it down and puts it in an envelope and gives it to Fowler. Corso or Carnak?
  • Goldberg says Butch Davis might come back to Miami. Goldberg's info is useful, his shirt is atorcious.
  • Seriously, Gameday should bring on local guys much much much more often. A Dallas writer to discuss the Big XII, maybe an LA writer to discuss USC, maybe a Chicago, Ohio or Michigan writer to discuss ND and the Big Ten.
  • Fowler thinks the Miami brawl could've happened anywhere.
  • Joe Schad is on site at Miami-Duke. Schad tells us that the Duke fans, who are known for their actions at Cameron, might have something for Miami, if they show up at all. The Gameday guys don't mention that Duke might have a chance because of the suspensions. Kind of laugh at anyone who would want to watch.
  • Great Great Great footage of Refrigerator Perry back in the day at Clemson.
  • Follow up short story on Ray Ray McElrathbey. The kid is on the set with Desmond Howard on the fake field.
  • Highlights of West Virginia blowing out UConn. They show two 50+ yard runs where the runner is untouched into the endzone. Crazy runs, crazy bad defense.
  • Syracuse-Louisville: Corso thinks Syracuse takes Louisville to the edge, but Louisville wins at the very end. Herbstreit thinks Louisville win handily.
  • Some talk about how much better the Big East is. Mentions Pitt and Rutgers, but not South Florida, who isn't that bad and could pull an upset in conference play.
  • Pitt-Rutgers: Herbstreit thinks Pitt's D is legit. The talking point this week is that Rutgers' magic will run out today. Corso likes Pitt's offense, but then thinks Pitt wins because of D, causing turnovers. Herbstreit thinks Rutgers has to run the ball to stay with Pitt's D. Herbstreit thinks Pitt is the most underappreciated team in all of college football (if they're underappreciated, appreciate them! You've got a TV show, cover them!). Nobody thinks Rutgers is going to play well.
  • Flashback to Fowler riding in the Michigan State chariot. Fowler remembers that week when they didn't have a net and he almost got hit with a beer can. Awesome. No net would make this show so much more worth watching.
  • BCS Rankings are brought up for the first time almost an hour into the show.
  • Holy Crap! They seriously are starting a running countdown towards the Michigan-Ohio State game. Wow. That is just crazy early hype.
  • Graphic: BCS Title Game Projected Matchup. Michigan-Ohio State winner vs. Undefeated USC or Undefeated WCU/Louisville (Rutgers???) or 1 loss team from SEC, Pac-10 or Big XII. So if you lose a game in the Big 10, you suck. Notre Dame? Nope.
  • Corso: Thinks a 1 loss team might make the title game ahead of an undefeated WVU or Louisville (again, Rutgers is undefeated in the same conference and has played a tougher schedule so far but isn't mentioned). Also thinks the loser of Michigan-Ohio State might be ranked high enough to stay in the BCS title game in a rematch. Nobody agrees with him on that.
  • Herbstreit doesn't think the Big East quandry is a problem because he doesn't think anyone will get out of the Big East unscathed. Says that every team in the Big East is capable of knocking off one of the good teams. (I like hearing this actually - not enough deference is given to the idea of "any given Saturday" on this show; too often they assume wins for the best teams.)
  • Herbstreit thinks Auburn and Florida... and maybe even Tennessee (who has the best OOC win of any of them) will all have to lose again for a one loss team in another conference to have a shot at the title. (Not sure I agree with that.)
  • Howard thinks the SEC is the best conference, that a 1-loss SEC team should definitely be ahead of an undefeated Big East team. He says it's because of OOC games - that the Big East doesn't play enough good teams outside of the conference (says Maryland, Marshall, East Carolina). Uhh... Desmond? The Big East has played as many or more OOC opponents in BCS conferences than any other league. Not that I don't wish he was right, but the Big East's nonconference slate is as consistently good as the SEC's, if not better.
  • Herbstreit says that a 1-loss SEC team will be in the BCS title game over any other 1 loss team. Corso says not if that other 1 loss team is ND and they've beaten USC. (And aren't they forgetting something about the SEC... the only unbeaten team in the conference only has one loss - it's Arkansas. If the Hogs, somehow, were to run the table, does anyone really think that Arkansas would make the BCS title game ahead of a one loss USC team that beat them by more than 5 TDs at home?)
  • Playoff? Herbstreit reaffirms that he wants a "plus one" system. Corso reaffirms that he likes it as is.
  • Season ending injuries... Thomas Brown, Isaiah Stanback, Adrian Peterson. Sucks.
  • Steve Cyphers follows up on the Adrian Peterson thing, with his Dad in the crowd, injury. Peterson doesn't seem all that depressed, or at least he seems positive, and the report isn't really playing up the "heartbreak" angle. Peterson is an impressive guy.
  • Another Borat sign. "Great Success"
  • Underrated RBs - Ian Johnson at Boise St., PJ Hill at Wisconsin, James Davis at Clemson. This show should not be in the business of calling anyone underrated. If they're underrated, what haven't you been covering them more. Whenever they say someone is underrated, that is an admission that they haven't been doing their jobs.
  • Semi-extended piece on James Davis.
  • Best Running Back in the country? Howard says Steve Slaton. Corso says Mike Hart at Michigan because he plays in the "toughest conference in the country" (interesting because not many say the Big Ten, the standard MSM line is the SEC). Herbstreit says two guys - Darren McFadden at Arkansas "one of the most underrated players in the country" and Antonio Pittman (gotta get some OSU hype in!) but then says that Slaton is the best.
  • Vandy-South Carolina: Really, they're talking about this game? Good for them. Corso picks it wrong, Herbstreit picks it right.
  • Arkansas-Ole Miss: Corso and Herbstreit like Arkansas. Again, Herbstreit thinks people will start to appreciate McFadden. If you think he's underrated, cover him more.
  • Both like Boise State big.
  • Washington-Cal: Corso says Cal is the best team on the West Coast, Herbstreit agrees. Both think a big win. Not so much.
  • Extended piece on Howard's Rock. Like the old footage of Frank Howard. Fowler calls it "perhaps college football's most emotional entrance".
  • Todd Blackledge joins the crew for the first time, I think. Says Reggie Ball shouldn't be intimidated, has never had a problem physically, just decisionmaking (so you're saying he's dumb, right? Say what you mean.).
  • Fowler points out that the ACC hasn't had a good QB since Phillip Rivers left, and thinks that might have something to do with how the league is perceived. Corso agrees. (They're on to something here. QBs are name players, national perception is drawn from star quality.)
  • They show some footage of Miami getting off the team bus at Duke. The game isn't on TV. Why did they show this? Did they think the Miami players would start brawling with the Duke Lacrosse team or something?
  • Spirit Meter hits 117 db, which looks like the loudest I can remember, definitely the highest all year.
  • Texas-Nebraska: Colt McCoy's first interstate test. Expect the crowd to be loud, says Fowler.
  • Musberger joins to talk about Texas-Nebraska, wearing a bright pink shirt and an Indiana Jones hat. He's got to be drunk already. Bob Davie overenunciates and then slurs, without regard to the viewer. They both bitch that Herbstreit doesn't have to suffer through the weather in Nebraska.
  • Fowler asks Nebraska to be "like North Korea - test your weapons." Corso says Nebrasks needs to take risks to beat Texas.
  • Can I just say how awesome that Lexus commercial where the car parks itself is?
  • Footage of Indiana after the win over Iowa. The music was a bit more powerful than the post-game speech itself, sadly.
  • Extended piece on Ted Ginn returning kicks. No reporter, though. Kind of an extended-semi-extended piece. Just highlights and quotes, no questions or narration. A few of these returns have garden variety block in the back penalties, were the SEC's stellar refs involved. Not knocking Ginn, just SEC ticky-tack refs.
  • Howard is on the fake field describing how to return kicks. In a way, this is informative, but in another way, he's kind of giving the returner the lion's share of the credit - and sort of saying that good blocking is the result of the returner's moves. I'm not sure I agree with that fully - I think good blocking allows for moves, and that if there's a chicken/egg issue here, the blocking should have the priority, but I didn't win a Heisman doing this, so I could be wrong.
  • Corso: Firmly says Michigan is the second best team in the country, and that they're right there with OSU.
  • Extended highlight piece on Calvin Johnson. That NC State catch is silly. He's like Wayne Jarvis. He's very good.
  • Corso: Clemson has great balance, and needs it to win. Balance.
  • Herbstreit: This game comes down to Reggie Ball and how he makes decisions. Gaines Adams is one of the best DEs in all of college football.
  • Rob Stone is on site at Wisconsin-Purdue. Interesting graphic that Joe Tiller is 17th in wins among active coaches, but he only has 111 wins. That seems low to me for someone in the top 20.
  • Game Changing Performers: Corso - Clemson backs Davis and Spiller (dead right). Herbstreit - Curtis Painter at Purdue. Fowler - LaMarr Woodley.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso - Pitt Herbstreit - Wrong about the time of the Hawaii-NMSU game, FSU, Purdue, ND to cover, Pitt. (They both picked Detroit to win the WS, so we'll have to wait and see, Fowler took St. Louis.)
  • Corso's predictions described the ND, Texas games almost exactly. He's a bit of a savant, isn't he?
A whole lot of stuff to write about here. This recap took longer than usual. The crew harped on underrated things a lot today, to my annoyance. There was only one real in-depth piece (Adrian Peterson), but a few other semi-extended pieces. I like that change. Less Shelley Smith and Tom Rinaldi and foggy lenses and emotional music leads to a better show. Overall thought - a good show, but I disagreed with a lot of what they said. Over the course of the year, the show has done a much better job of focusing on information and less on prepackaged human interest stories. At this point, I'm ready to call it a trend and not a few one-offs. Of course, the weekend of the USC-ND game and the OSU-Michigan games will probably be 75% prepackaged - they're doing those stories now, which is probably why we aren't seeing current ones.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Flick the Button

I need to do this more often, because I know I'm watching movies and then forgetting about them before I write it down. Two this time should've gone last time.

King Arthur: It took me about 5 times to get through this. Historically arrogant and ignorant. Not exciting. Stupid. Anything that makes Clive Owen not cool sucks royally. You're Fired.

Fantastic Four: Boring, lamely acted. The thing I'm wondering about is why they released this as a summer blockbuster when it clearly didn't have the goods. I would've dumped it in the winter, when action movies like Elektra and DareDevil come out. Nonetheless, it sucked. You're Fired.

Two For The Money: Ehh. Felt like I'd seen it before. Predictable. Seemed like it held Pacino and McConaughey back. Both of them could've hammed it up hilariously, and I think it would've been a more entertaining movie for it. Piven too. Bill Simmons is right about Rene Russo. She just looked like a character from Lord of the Rings or something. Boredom equals You're Fired.

After the Sunset: Come watch movie stars' vacation slides! Should've been more clever, or hotter, or something. Boring. Forgettable. And making Pierce Brosnan boring is unforgettable. You're Fired.

Serenity: I'm not the biggest sci-fi fan. This kind of surprised me, but also I think it probably works better as a series. The effects impressed me, though I thought the storyline was a little shallow. Perhaps if I'd watched Firefly I might've been more into the plot. Like seeing Ejiofor on screen though. And Nathan Fillion should get roles, too. I'm kind of feeling generous, so I'll give it Steak Knives, but just barely.

Cellular: Kind of lame, but also kind of creative. I have a very big soft spot for fast paced, 85 minute movies. This fit right in, too. It kept the pace hot, and the twists weren't so much insulting as fun enough to go along with. Not much scenery chewing, but that's fine. Steak Knives.

Sin City: Pretty, and I liked the dialogue. Some parts were quite great. Others were eye-rolling bad. Rourke's scenes were exceptional, and here they know what to do with Clive Owen. The Willis-Alba string lost me though. It's hit or miss, but the good parts are good enough to get Steak Knives.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou: I need to see this again. I know I liked it. I also know that it bit off more than it can chew. I wanted more from about 7 characters. I wanted less of Owen Wilson's terrible Kentucky accent. Great costumes. Great music. Great scenery. I have a feeling that on a repeat view, I'll like the script even more. Steak Knives.


Lebowski Ratings

Did this last year. Go here for rationale. Shorter version: any poll for college football only rates what it rates. The AP poll doesn't rate how good teams are, only how teams are perceived by a wide subject group. So I created these ratings because they rate one thing - how well a team has performed so far. No context, no perception. Purely objective. Every team begins the year wanting to win every game, and doing so should be rewarded. No team is in complete control of how difficult or easy their schedule will end up being, so schedule should be considered, but only secondarily. Anyway, I think these ratings are sometimes more interesting farther down the list, mainly because you see teams that, by perception, you'd rank higher, but when you look at the teams around them on this list, you can't really say that they've done something remarkably better.

I waited until now because the strength of schedule rankings were too screwy until now. As always, if you're concerned about how your team is rated low because you've had a bye, just wait a few weeks.

Anyway, here's the current top 25.

Team, record, SOS (according to Colley Rankings). An asterisk indicates that the team beat the team ranked immediately next head to head.

1. Michigan 7-0 (21)
2. Ohio State 7-0 (31)
3. Boise State 7-0 (103)
4. Southern California 6-0 (10)
5. Rutgers 6-0 (79)
6. Louisville 6-0 (102)
7. West Virginia 6-0 (113)
8. Auburn 6-1 (22)*
9. Florida 6-1 (8)
10. California 6-1 (14)
11. Wisconsin 6-1 (50)
12. Texas 6-1 (51)
13. Texas A&M 6-1 (89)*
14. Missouri 6-1 (70)
15. Nebraska 6-1 (86)
16. Clemson 6-1 (100)*
17. Wake Forest 6-1 (88)
18. Pittsburgh 6-1 (108)
19. Arkansas 5-1 (11)
20. Notre Dame 5-1 (17)
21. Boston College 5-1 (26)
22. Tennessee 5-1 (41)
23. Tulsa 5-1 (46)
24. Oregon 5-1 (48)
25. Georgia Tech 5-1 (52)

Go ahead and bitch. Blame the formula, not me. And yes, I know that there are flaws in the system.


I need to write more stuff that doesn't have to do with Football.

That is all.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gameday Recap

Week Seven
Auburn, Alabama - Florida at Auburn
October 14, 2006

Two weeks in a row for a visit to SEC country. I suppose it was the best matchup of the day, though there were some other pretty good games.

  • My TiVo is set up to tape Gameday a minute or two early, so I catch SportsCenter talking to Mark May and Lou Holtz kiss a whole lot of Gary Pinkel an Missouri's ass. Kiss. Of. Death.
  • No Musberger, No You Are Looking Live.
  • Fowler: Luckily we won't talk about Terrell Owens. Yep. Ain't College Football great?
  • Corso: Burt Reynolds fumbled at Auburn. Herbstreit calls it story time. Fowler ignores, moves on.
  • In focus: undefeateds on the road.
  • Transposition: Auburn last week getting worked vs. Florida last week working.
  • Graphic on how #2 hasn't fared well. Prescient.
  • Fowler already harping on the Cocktail Party supposed name change. Nice shot.
  • Fowler bitches about Delta flying into Atlanta. Tough trip down from New York?
  • Fowler: "Very tough to win" at Auburn at night.
  • Corso: Auburn has 2 things going for them - urgency and redemption. (of course they also have good players, good coaches, etc)
  • Herbstreit: It's Leak's composure and senior leadership that'll help Florida (not so much...). But then Herbstreit mentions Tray Blackmon and how he wants to see Tebow head to head against him (nice call).
  • Auburn's locker rooms look very nice.
  • Fowler: Auburn is one of the better home field advantages once they get going. Harping on it.
  • Corso: Troy Smith is his leader for the Heisman.
  • Fowler: USC will be fine because ASU plays "touch football defense" (not the case)
  • Herbstreit: Navy is legit, Rutgers-Navy could be over in 90 minutes.
  • WIRED! with Rich Rodriguez. "Are ya stiff?" "Honeybuns!" "Why are you grabbing him?" All direct, verbatim quotes.
  • Fowler points out how bad the computers are treating WVU.
  • Herbstreit thinks WVU should be ranked in the top 5, and says people should just ask Georgia. (Of course, 2005 and 2006 are different years...) Corso doesn't think WVU is a top 5 team because their D is bad.
  • Fowler: "That's gonna be the controversy" - whether an undefeated WVU or Louisville will be ranked ahead of a one loss team like Auburn or Tennessee at the end of the year. Narrative formation.
  • Herbstreit says look out for Pitt in the Big East. Good call there, since Pitt has looked good. Then he tosses in Rutgers at the end.
  • Blimp view shows that Auburn isn't holding a candle to the crowd at Iowa.
  • Wow. Nice footage of USC screwing with the clock against Washington. They show it twice. I hadn't seen this. I love it when they break things down like this, and it, y'know, actually has to do with the game. Good segue into discussion on the new rule changes and how bad referreeing has been.
  • Corso thinks the clock changes will go back. He goes simple on this.
  • Effects on Rule Changes - this is the kind of analysis Gameday should do all the time. All the time. Good segment. The only thing missing is the statement that it's not the NCAA that is happy about the games shortening, it's the networks.
  • More footage of Arkansas whipping Auburn. That'd annoy me were I an Auburn fan.
  • Extended piece on Gus Malzahn, OC at Arkansas. Joe Schad gets out from behind the computer to file the story. Best bit is where Houston Nutt tells us how he doesn't spend that much time worrying about what people think about him, as if we couldn't tell from his houndstooth jacket and skin tight red mock-T. Mitch Mustain looks 12 when in street clothes. Nice piece.
  • Not sure why they brought in Desmond Howard to discuss Arkansas. It wasn't his piece. Suggests that Arkansas is a little more balanced than last year.
  • Corso rambles about how schools should hire coaches of good players IF IT'S LEGAL (doesn't describe what that means) and IF THEY'RE QUALIFIED. OK, whatever that means.
  • Howard thinks Arkansas will lose at least one more, not win the SEC West. Corso agrees, thinks Auburn still has a chance. Herbstreit thinks Arkansas will come down to that LSU game, makes no prediction.
  • Fowler stumps the crew by asking about teams that have surpassed last year's win total.
  • "Shoulder Lean" appears in the first hour this week.
  • Corso likes Oregon. Autzen is the loudest stadium he's ever been in, in person.
  • Nobody more dangerous than DeSean Jackson, according to Fowler. Semi-extended piece on DeSean Jackson, like they've done for Calvin Johnson. Dude's got moves.
  • Fowler and Herbstreit suggest that DeSean Jackson would be a Heisman frontrunner if he played for a higher profile team. Higher profile? Corso picked Cal for the MNC game. Cal has had a national TV game twice already this season. Did they just say that a Heisman winner cannot come from a school outside of ND, USC, OSU, Texas and maybe a couple others? Also, they really need to quit complaining about how nobody knows about this guy because he plays for Cal. If you don't like the coverage - COVER OTHER TEAMS! You guys have the platform. If you think we should've known about Jackson, why didn't you cover him before now?
  • Herbstreit gets a dig in on how USC handled Arkansas, and Arkansas beat Auburn, but fails to mention that Arkansas had a different QB, the new OC wasn't coaching his first game, or any number of different factors that made the USC game different from the Auburn game. The transitive property doesn't apply in college football. Period.
  • Semi-extended piece on Tim Tebow. Lots of good highlights.
  • Herbstreit likes the use of Tim Tebow, but normally hates multiple QBs. Says that a DL or LB needs to knock Tebow backwards - hints that Blackmon might be the guy.
  • Do I see a sign that suggests that UAB should fire Watson Brown and hire the head coach at Hoover High? That dude's a dick on Two-a-Days.
  • Desmond by himself on the fake field. Nobody is playing with him. Kind of walks us through a play that we just saw analyzed in the semi-extended piece.
  • Extended piece on Adrian Peterson and his father. Steve Cyphers reporting. Not sure how this piece is supposed to make us feel. But I do think it sucks that Adrian Peterson got hurt. If I'm an NFL GM, I'd make him the first pick (and his injury might actually be a good thing, taking away maybe 200 carries and impacts). He will be an exceptionally great NFL running back.
  • Buy or Sell: Peterson - Corso's selling because OU has no QB; Herbstreit's also selling, but might buy in a few weeks. Va Tech - Corso is selling because there's "too much jivey stuff on the sidelines"; Herbstreit is also selling because no character. Big East - Corso's selling because there's only one good team, whoever wins a game between two good teams (sharp analysis); Herbstreit's buying.
  • Gillette Game Face - Again, no face paint. Just strange looking helmets.
  • Focus on how traditional powers FSU and Miami suck, while Mizzou and Rutgers are good.
  • Nice graphic on the first AP poll and how the top 5 teams are all pretty bad now.
  • What are they doing here, switching up roles... Herbstreit does a pretty good Corso impression. Fowler doesn't sound any different, but nails Herbstreit's hand movements. Corso still sounds like an addled old dude. I like how Fowler ribs Herbstreit about covering all the bases when they talk about ACC champ possibilities. Corso has no idea what he's doing.
  • All Access with the Rutgers TE. Another useless WIRED segment, nothing in context, nothing of useful information.
  • Fowler breaks down the triple option and how to play defense against it. This kind of thing should be 10 minutes of this program at least.
  • Herbstreit puts on the Rutgers head. Weird. I'm not sure how well this whole segment worked, but at least they seemed to be having some fun. Honestly, once Fowler doesn't have his hosting duties, he seems to add a whole lot of info.
  • Charles Barkley on the phone again. Barkley's about as interesting as they come, and it's nice to see that a basketball player doesn't really have any less insight than the paid analysts on the show.
  • Barkley thinks Auburn is the best 1 loss team, Corso thinks it's Tennessee because oddsmakers think so. Herbstreit agrees with Corso. BUT then they say that if teams start beating one another, look out for Texas and Notre Dame.
  • Barkley nails it - picks Auburn 21-17! And if not for the lateral fumble return, that would've been the precise score! I consider this proof positive that just about any fan could do the job of expert analyst.
  • 101 Decibels on the spirit meter. Kind of poor for the SEC. Are Auburn students hungover?
  • Desmond Howard and Michael Hart on not fumbling. This is pretty useful. Good highlights too. Fowler agrees, says he learned something.
  • A little discussion of Michigan-Penn State. I'm pretty surprised that they haven't hyped this game a lot more. Even though Penn State isn't great, they could've pushed this one incessantly, and even staged the show there.
  • Herbstreit has mentioned a few times today about how Penn State is improving.
  • Howard points out where Penn State needs to get better - at WR.
  • Flashback to Herbstreit trashing a computer because he didn't like the BCS system. Fowler ribs that Herbstreit has become a believer in the system.
  • Herbstreit tries some reverse psychology on Michigan State. Corso reads through it, gives a NSFMF!, says the game will be in doubt in the last few minutes.
  • Discussion on USC - their offense isn't as good. Mark May joins and defends USC. Here's how May's logic works: USC isn't overrated _because_ they lost so much talent last year. Seriously. May says that with all the talent that USC lost last year, the string of less-than-dominant wins shouldn't be surprising, and somehow that means that USC is accurately rated at number 2 in the nation. Herbstreit disagrees with May's assessment, instead says that Florida is number 2. Mark May says this discussion is moot because Auburn's beating Florida. Herbstreit agrees, but then later picks Florida to win. Corso chimes in with the obvious question "what about Michigan?" Indeed.
  • Herbstreit: Auburn's baseball field is the nicest he's ever seen.
  • Extended piece on Brandon Cox. Tom Rinaldi reporting. Somewhat typical human interest story, somewhat interesting.
  • Corso and Herbstreit both hype Florida's D.
  • Rob Stone with the report from the 1200 game. I love Paul Bunyan's Axe, and I love seeing euphoric winning players running over to another sideline to pick up the axe. Crazy dangerous.
  • Pontiac Game Changer: Corso - Chad Henne. Herbstreit - Anthony Morelli. Fowler - Brian Hampton of Navy.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Navy, Missouri, Michigan State to cover, Florida. Herbstreit: Missouri, NC State, Florida.
Another pretty good show. They're kind of on cruise control, but the show is doing a much better job over the last few weeks at focusing on the game than they were at the beginning of the year. Anyone else get the sense that they're almost going to far in their praise for the SEC? Almost like it's over-evenhandedness, if that's possible. This mid-season swing through the south is nice, but don't expect it to last. The last month of the year will be spent in Big 10 and Pac-10 towns - no conspiracy theory here, just that's where some of the best games are later in the year. All together though, the show is getting better. And that's good for college football.


Lessons... err... not learned

Didn't want to go too long without making a few comments on last weekend's Georgia-Vandy game. Most that I've wanted to say has been said already. I guess some form of Bad-Georgia-Performance fatigue has set in. After the Vandy game, I didn't even see many people all that mad about it.

As quickly as possible, here are my thoughts:

  • Outside linebacking is very bad, and it makes the DBs look worse because they have more ground to cover, and it makes the DEs look worse because they can't focus on pressuring the QB. It's time for a change in personnel there.
  • That doesn't let Martinez off the hook though. The zone is too soft, and doesn't maximize talent. Does anyone else get the feeling that if Georgia would allow a little more aggressiveness, things might be a little different?
  • Stafford starting is better for Georgia. I don't think it'll have much effect on the final won-loss record though.
  • Georgia continues to make the mistake of throwing the ball early in series when sitting on a lead in the fourth quarter and the other team is low on timeouts. This time, after the 5 yard shank punt, second down and 11, Georgia snaps the ball with at least 10 seconds on the play clock, throws incomplete, clock stopped. Third down, Georgia rushes for 6. Had they done that on second down, there would've been an easier conversion attempt, the ability to run the ball for the first down, and almost a minute more burned off the clock. When Stafford dropped to throw that play I sat down and shook my head.
  • Sucks about Brown's injury. Shame is that not once all year did we use him how he should've been used out of the backfield: moving toward the line of scrimmage in the flats and receiving a pitch. Brown always worked better when moving in open space - he didn't break many tackles all year, and if you look at his returns, he either had great blocking upfront and broke it for a big number (45 yards against Ole Miss, 99 against UT) or he got the wind knocked out of him on the 11 by the first guy downfield. Too often Brown was expected to run between the tackles, and even worse on a hesitation play, when the DL had already penetrated. Brown's style was never suited for this. I would have liked to have seen him take a pitch. Sad. I've got a feeling he'll end up a good special teams player in the NFL and maybe more - at least Patrick Pass's career.
  • Freaking Vanderbilt.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Gameday Recap

Week Six
Gainesville, Florida - LSU vs. Florida
October 7, 2006

Gameday arrives in SEC country for the first time all season, and they picked a good weekend to do it, since there were three good matchups in the SEC, and among them there was a pretty stunning upset, a pretty exciting shootout that got out of hand about the time folks were ready for bed anyway, and one game where it sure looks like a new MNC contender arrived. Lots went on in the South, and Gameday was there to talk about it. And they chose to come to Gainesville even when they had a good argument to roll to Berkeley and cross-promote. Good for them.

  • Naturally, no "You are looking LIVE" since Musberger's elsewhere.
  • Big crowd, but can't tell if it's as big as Iowa last week. I'd guess probably not.
  • Was that a Domino's Pizza flag?
  • My cable keeps skipping. Hopefully this doesn't get screwed up.
  • Herbstreit is glad to be back "at the roots of Gameday" in the SEC.
  • Fowler lists Saturday's landscape. For the record, the first 5 games they mention are on ABC/ESPN.
  • Fowler: Florida's schedule "oughta be illegal".
  • Corso: The best football in the nation is played in the SEC. If Florida wins today, they become #2.
  • Herbstreit: If Florida runs the table, they ought to be #1 in the country, but a big IF.
  • Herbstreit: The SEC is "always the best conference in college football", but this year there's separation between this league and others, and a team running the table in the SEC should be assured to be in the MNC game. (He said it. I'm not sure I agree about the bit on separation.)
  • Brief discussion about Tommy Tuberville. Not as caustic a response as last year, but then again, Tuberville didn't go after ESPN with his comments this week. Herbstreit agrees with Tuberville that no SEC team can run the table, didn't elaborate on a playoff though, which was the focus of Tuberville's comments.
  • Florida's locker room looks quite nice.
  • Corso: Watch Georgia's running game and pass defense (actually both were keys to the result - Georgia got up because of the running game, got behind because of the pass defense in a way).
  • Herbstreit calls Corso "Scooter" again. Asks whether Colt McCoy is ready of OU.
  • Fowler does mention how the winner of Arkansas-Auburn takes the lead in the SEC West, without the expectation that Auburn will pound Arkansas.
  • Herbstreit is dead on about Wake-Clemson - pointing out that Wake doesn't have quick strike capabilities but must rely on methodical offense to stay in the game - and sure enough, for three quarters, Wake did just that. Then when Clemson exploded, Wake didn't have the ability to get back in it.
  • Fowler seems to hint that it's not so good that Cal-Oregon is a split national game.
  • Corso thinks USC has the best D in the Pac-10, but that Cal is the best team overall.
  • Herbstreit has his finger on the pulse of the south - says that when Corso says positive things about Cal, folks down here laugh because of the UT result. Herbstreit gives a reasonable assessment of Cal though - thinks Cal's a lot better than that UT result. Herbstreit thinks the winner of UO-Cal is the best team in the Pac-10, because of USC poor games against Arizona and WSU.
  • Corso drops a "Sweetheart" as they roll into commercial. Don't tell George Solomon!
  • Big crowd at Florida's pep rally. Herbstreit says they've been doing it since Corso coached there (didn't he coach at FSU?).
  • Mack Brown clip from Friday Night Lights. That show seems annoying to me because of the quick edits and unfinished sentences and interrupted dialogue, but that's just me.
  • I'm pretty sure I've seen this "tradition" piece on the Red River Shootout before. Really feels like they just fished it out of the tape archives. Not that it isn't something I don't mind seeing. Props to ESPN for continuing to call it a "Shootout".
  • Fowler: McCoy can win because Major Applewhite won as a freshman. Corso backs off on previous criticisms of McCoy, but he also thinks OU is a lot better than the opponents McCoy has seen so far (save OSU). Herbstreit thinks it'll be a team effort for Texas, not so much about McCoy alone. Fowler brings up how bad OU's tackling has been, Corso and Herbstreit think that things change when OU plays Texas.
  • Game Face: Florida Fans have body paint, but not face paint. Classier than I'd expect, but maintains that Florida style.
  • Extended piece on LSU's defensive line. Desmond Howard reporting. Good highlights. Desmond focuses on cameraderie at first, but then they walk through some stunts. I like when they show these kind of things - works significantly better than the fake field walkthroughs. Not annoying bit, which says a lot. Also, Desmond shows some humility (a first) and says he wouldn't want to face those guys. Also he gives us a tip to watch the D line use their hands. Information. I'm pretty surprised. Desmond actually gave us something we can use. Good work.
  • Corso's best D's are all SEC schools. Thinks Auburn is best, Herbstreit thinks LSU is best in college football. Herbstreit thinks it's all because of speed.
  • Fowler: nice, interesting stat on plays per touchdown for LSU (82!). I'd wonder what other teams stats look like on that.
  • Fowler is annoyed that he has to remind people that the show starts at 10.
  • Quick coverage of Ohio State-BGSU. About what the #1 team deserves when playing a tomato can. Herbstreit thinks Ohio State is Ohio State's toughest opponent until Michigan.
  • Extended bit on John L. Smith. Tom Rinaldi reporting. Smith tells us that him slapping himself "went over our heads". No, dude. We got it. We understood it. You're still an idiot. Rinaldi asks some pretty tough questions that Smith really answers poorly. Get this dude some media training. Or just fire him. At the same time, Rinaldi's questions also seem to make Smith a bigger deal than he really is. I mean, there's not much new about MSU. They've been pulling the same crap for several years.
  • Fowler thinks Smith's problem is that he's too honest. Corso thinks Michigan State is a hard place to win because of their regional rivals, and because of that they have to take kids with poor character, which is why they lose (they're running a negative character margin for the last decade). Herbstreit says the same thing. Not sure why they're focusing on Michigan State taking marginal kids. Fowler points out MSU's propensity for playing great after crapping the bed (not today, but not without precedent).
  • Corso says how Smith is a former Louisville coach who went to Michigan State, just like Corso, except for that whole "didn't get the MSU job" part.
  • Flashback to a US Army Ranger flying in the headgear in Nebraska. The date was the weekend before 9/11/2001.
  • They take a second to talk about Garrett Wolfe. Mention other smaller conference players to get some Heisman love.
  • That dude painted up to look like the Heisman is kind of freaky.
  • Corso says Wolfe can't win because of coverage on TV, not because he's not the best player (though he doesn't say that, exactly). Herbstreit says it's not fair, but Wolfe should get an invite and that's good enough. Points out how the voting system isset up so that people who don't pay enough attention are voting. Doesn't really say how big a flaw that is.
  • Howard gets on a soapbox, says that it's BS that people get to vote with attitudes that disrespect kids from smaller conferences (great, forceful comment), but then compares it to Buck O'Neill's passing (kind of lost me). He's fired up about it and says a bit about cutting the dead weight of Heisman voters who don't pay attention. Good comment.
  • Herbstreit thinks Wolfe might be pound-for-pound the best player in college football, but "it's not about that." (Strangely, I think it once was simply "about that". Oh well.) At least they covered him for a while.
  • Missouri-Texas Tech: Corso likes the balance of Missouri, Herbstreit not ready to believe yet.
  • Nebraska-Iowa State: Both guys like Nebraska, think their D gets back on track.
  • Extended piece on Adrian Peterson. Steve Cyphers reporting. This dude is a stud. Aside - how old does every Oklahoma player look? Are they all back from Mormon missions? I know that that car dealership was paying them, but doesn't their eligibility run out after a certain number of years? They all look about 35. Paul Thompson looks older than Stoops.
  • WIRED with a Texas assistant. Useless, again. To be clear, I don't mind covering practices or techniques, but these WIRED things don't to that - there's no context, just shouting by a coach and we don't see what they're shouting at. We learn nothing except that coaches yell.
  • Herbstreit thinks the rest of the Texas team will play well because they want to prove it wasn't just Vince Young. NSFMF! Corso likes OU's balance on offense (he's mentioned balance a bunch today). Also Corso thinks OU will win because of revenge. Herbstreit and Fowler almost lose it laughing at Corso, who confuses himself, sort of picks OU, gives a hook-em hand sign, and says he's going with Bobby Stoops and Texas. OK.
  • USC-Kentucky: short mention, they like how Spurrier has dealt with QB issues.
  • Arkansas-Auburn: Fowler seems to hint at an upset - thinks Arkansas will give Auburn trouble, and give Florida a blueprint for next week.
  • Who wins the SEC? Howard: Auburn because of schedule, home games. Corso likes Florida, but thinks they might lose a game. Herbstreit likes Auburn too, over Tennessee in the title game. Fowler mentions how hard it is to be honest and fair in assessing SEC teams because fans down here are utterly irrational and will hate you (well, he was more political than that, but that's what I think he would've wanted to say, and he's right).
  • "As loud as it gets" according to the decibel meter.
  • Short look at Notre Dame. They all think the schedule is easy until USC. Herbstreit thinks Navy might give a little trouble, Corso thinks Air Force might.
  • Extended piece on Tyrone Willingham and Washington. Voiceless reporter reporting. Corso thinks Washington has been turned around, but the schedule gets a lot tougher. Herbstreit sort of agrees, thinks Willingham will get better players on the recruiting trail.
  • Fowler: Jarrett might play for USC if it's close. Fowler doesn't understand that, "if you're healthy enough late, why not go early?" Well, it's called risk. When you step on the field, you risk injury. If USC were to win by 50, it'd be pretty dumb to put a gimply player out there to risk injury. In a close game, the risk might be worth it. Not too hard to understand.
  • Extended piece on Dexter Manley II. Shelley Smith reporting (and it isn't USC, two weeks in a row, believe it or not). Definitely a human interest story and not really a football story, but it's not that bad a piece. Seems like the son isn't as big as the father.
  • Cal-Oregon: Not the shootouts you might expect in recent years (not the case this year, for Cal at least). Corso loves loves loves the Cal offense, but thinks it'll be a shootout. Herbstreit agrees that it'll be high scoring. Herbstreit likes Oregon's balance. Everyone's all about the balance today. Fowler brings up again how the Cal-Oregon game isn't on nationwide, thinks folks should take the opportunity to watch these two teams who aren't on TV frequently.
  • Georgia-UT: Fowler hints that Georgia is overrated (they were). Herbstreit likes the UGA D, thinks Tereshinski will calm things down, but UT's defense will put a lot of pressure on him. Herbstreit thinks UT will win because of urgency. Corso likes Ainge, Meachem and Swain. Corso says Ainge throws the deep ball as well as anyone in the nation, calls Meachem the "best big fastest receiver in the nation". Corso uses the cliche about multiple QBs. Corso says UT wins big. Fowler mentions the loss of Georgia's kicker and how it's a big deal when you have a struggling offense.
  • Extended piece on Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. Wendy Nix reporting. Is it ironic that merely seconds after Corso rails on using multiple QBs, they run a story about how two QBs can be a big advantage? It's not having multiple QBs that's the problem, it's the way they're used. We finally see Wendy Nix on camera.
  • Teleconference with Rex Grossman. My cable blinked during this. I miss anything important?
  • Corso: Florida's O is superman, and "USL/SSL/LSU" D is kryptonite. Yeah, SSL. Corso thinks the first half is key for LSU to set the tone on D.
  • Herbstreit: Florida has to have the ability to drive the football but won't, needs to look for big plays, so Leak is the key.
  • On site reporting from Wake-Clemson. Noting the crowd will have a lot of Clemson support. Corso doesn't think Clemson loses, but Wake covers. Herbstreit sees a blowout.
  • Pontiac Game Changers: Corso: Reggie Nelson (FL). Herbstreit: Jonathan Stewart. Fowler: JaMarcus Russell. Looks like Corso takes the prize this week.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Oklahoma Herbstreit: Oregon, LSU.
  • Herbstreit: The Swamp is the best home field advantage in all of college football. (Didn't he say something similar last weekend in Iowa?)
Decent show. Seems like the show has gotten better as the season has progressed. I'd hypothesize that as the season goes along, they are actually covering the sport more and not relying on pre-planned human interest stories and pre-season predicted narrative bits. The surprise of the weekend was Desmond Howard actually doing a good story and not bragging about himself. Corso got addled a few times. A lot of SEC boosting and hype today, which deserves some comment - it's kind of surprising to me, and I'm not sure how deserved a lot of the hype is, but at least it's not ESPN/ABC ignoring the conference entirely.

If I missed anything important, let me know in comments.



Well... what can you say?

Yesterday's Tennessee-Georgia game was a mess of confusion. Lots of things went the opposite of how they normally had.

  • Georgia's offense in the first half was very good. Receivers caught balls and converted third downs. The Dawgs ran out of the I-Formation and picked up big yards, pleasing many fans.
  • Georgia's defense, normally ridiculously good after the half, couldn't stop Tennessee at all and really couldn't get off the field. Now, a few of those second half drives weren't necessarily the D's fault (short field after turnovers), but in the past Georgia has been able to buckle down. Not last night.
  • Special teams, normally Georgia's strongest positive, was, well, mixed. Sure, we can give credit where due for the two returns. But did the Brown kickoff return make up for the three other times his failure to let the ball go into the endzone with UT defenders already downfield resulted in drives starting within the 10? And Georgia's kickoff coverage was as bad as it's been in 3 years, leaving UT in great starting position, most painfully in the kickoff right after Brown's return. As for another blocked punt, that's just inexcusable. Strange how when Joe T was a backup, and he'd call out the blocking schemes on punts, we rarely had them blocked. Can we get him back out there on punts?
  • Turnovers, as mentioned before, really hurt Georgia in the second half. And the Dawgs' D couldn't come up with anything, really. UT had been net negative this year, UGA had been net positive in turnover margin.
  • This game, aside from the high scoring, just wasn't a typical UGA-UT-UF game. Normally both teams of those three come in with the same gameplan: run the ball, control the clock, win the battle of field position, and make as few mistakes as possible. In some ways, I think Georgia may have had that plan in mind (especially since they actually ran the ball out of running formations), but UT was significantly more vertical on offense, and both teams played softer on D than I've seen out of SEC teams in a long while. It was just kind of weird to watch - I don't think many fans are used to seeing a game like that.
So what did we learn about Georgia? Well, I think the Dawgs can move the ball if they want to. The receivers aren't as terrible as we've been seeing. The running backs will get yards and the OL will open holes when the formations actually commit to the run (and those I-formation packages also helped receivers get open on playaction. We also learned that we should just expect some mistakes from the QB position this year (though I wouldn't say any of the INTs or the fumble were all that terrible from Joe T - one good play from UT, one tipped ball, and one thousandth of a second too slow getting the ball away). On D, I think we learned that we'll go through some growing pains in the defensive secondary. Allen and Miller both made some key mistakes. The DBs have been good so far, but they had a rough night last night - lots of tentativeness when they were playing zone on third and longs.

What's ahead for Georgia? Well, I'm not ready to give up on the season and say we're rebuilding. I think the next two weeks should be fine for Georgia. The Florida game should be a really tough one, but I'm not foolish enough to put that game in the loss column just yet (last time we lost to UT, we beat UF; and ask how many people thought Arkansas had a chance yesterday). Speaking of that, Auburn should be really tough as well, and (as I've pointed out before) Tuberville and his staff have outcoached Richt and his staff in nearly every head-to-head matchup, and they should have a talent advantage this year. Georgia Tech seems to be having its best year since Gailey became coach, but they'll be susceptible to losses against lesser talented teams (and I'm not sure Georgia is lesser talented). 1-2 against those three teams and a win in the bowl game still means 10 wins, unless Georgia loses against a team it should be a double digit favorite against (and that's never happened under Richt). 9 wins wouldn't be so bad either, considering the youth that's seeing the field.

Yesterday was a tough loss, but there were positives in there. Let's hope the special teams fixes their problems, the offense notices how great they looked in the I-formation, and the D figures out how to get off the field on third down. There's a blueprint we can take from this game and use against the rest of the schedule. Let's hope we do it.