Sunday, September 16, 2007

Gameday Recap

Week Three
September 15, 2007
Lincoln, Nebraska - Southern California vs. Nebraska

I heard yesterday that during this week's College Football Live programs, Shelley Smith devoted an extended piece to John David Booty doing sit-ups. Sit-ups. At what point is satirically describing the ESPN college football shows simply unnecessary?

  • The first show listed on the "Saturday Slate" was to be shown on a competing network (Tennessee-Florida on CBS). Good that they didn't shy away.
  • It looks like the crowd is throwing things at the anchors. Stuff seems to be bouncing off the netting.
  • LC: "I think the Nebraska football fans are the best college football fans in the nation." See if he breaks this pander out elsewhere. Corso says this is because they applaud opposing teams that play football the right way, like the Indiana team coached by him 30 years ago (in case you didn't know, Corso used to be a coach. This sentence is one of my programmed "auto-fill").
  • Fowler suggests that the fans sing happy birthday to noted humanitarian Pete Carroll.
  • Herbstreit lists a bunch of teams with big matchups today.
  • Corso wants to see if USC is as good as advertised. Nothing too mindblowing there, but I note that this is the second or third time already in this show where Corso says the following: "I'm excited/I think X. The reason why I'm excited/I think X is...or Here's why I think X..." An odd quirk.
First Commercial Break
  • Desmond Howard joins the set. No online chatting this week?
  • Second Saturday Slate lists the rest of the good games of the day.
  • DH: Brohm and Woodson are two of the best passers in the country, Woodson may be the best QB in the country.
  • Fowler gives an injury update on Matt Flynn for LSU - more of this would improve the show.
  • Discussion on Early Season Polling
  • Fowler suggests Herbstreit is "staunch" in his polling opinions, rather than flexible. KH explains that he'd rather wait to see if his opinions are proven wrong rather than move up someone.
  • DH: The problem with early season polling is that it's so subjective and "measuring intangibles that you really can't measure". Has a problem with giving teams with question marks the benefit of the doubt based on program respect. It might not be the best way of saying it, but I think Howard is on the firmest logical ground here.
  • Corso hints that he prefers resume ranking: this year only, against quality opponents, margin of victory are the factors he considers important. Says his top 4 are LSU, Oklahoma, Cal, and USC. Arguably, USC should not be in the top 4 at all if the factors Corso listed are the sole factors considered.
  • KH: Is it USC's fault that they played Idaho and then had a bye? (ummm... yes.) Herbstreit seems unable to understand the concept of fluctuating ballots. LSU could be #1 this week based upon their performance last week, and USC could later jump them on the basis of good performances against quality opponents later. What's Herbstreit's problem with things changing from week to week? Might it be that he doesn't want to look like his preseason predictions were incorrect, if even for a week?
  • Herbstreit: This whole discussion is ridiculous because who cares about polls in week 2... Well, you seem to, because you're defending your ballot. Also, there is no doubt that early season polling affects coverage of teams the rest of the year, and can potentially inflate a team's position. If Team X is ranked in the top 5 early on and loses a mid-season game to a weaker opponent, Team X won't drop nearly as far as a team not rated as highly. If Team X starts at #4, loses and drops to #9, it's better off than Team Y, which started at #15, lost and drops to #25. If Team X and Team Y both win the rest of their games and end up with the same record, X will be ranked higher than Y. Perhaps this is because X really is better than Y. But also, perhaps the early season perception of X, with limited information to support such perception, was incorrect. Early season polling most certainly matters, unfortunately.
  • Shorter Kirk Herbstreit: It's too early for facts to prove my opinions wrong, even if the facts don't confirm my opinions, so I'm not changing anything.
  • Fowler: Nebraska should be Top 5 if they were to win.
Second Commercial Break
  • CF: Best Matchup of Passing QBs all season is in the UK-UL game.
  • Todd McShay is on site to discuss pro prospects. I'm torn on this new segment. I like the idea of in-depth coverage of particular players and theur specific talents - strengths and weaknesses. But also, this is a college football show. The NFL Draft is 7 months away. I wish they'd break down these players with reference to this game today, rather than from the perspective of the draft.
  • That said, the breakdown by McShay and the graphically enhanced highlights is exceptional and excellent. Really really good segment.
  • Corso reveals that he re-thinks his preseason picks instantly and based on on-field performances. Says he once picked Louisville to clobber Kentucky, but because of defense, now he thinks it'll be close.
  • Fowler and Herbstreit both compliment McShay's segment. Do more of this if you like it so much.
Third Commercial Break
  • OSU-Washington discussion. Washington QB Locker doesn't read newspapers or use the internet.
  • Tom Rinaldi report on Washington drinking chocolate milk. Everything except the interview clips with the team nutritionist is pointless.
  • KH: Jake Locker to Washington is like Tim Tebow to Florida. Start up the Hype-o-nator!
  • LC: Thinks OSU wins close in low scoring game, bases much of that on how well UW defended against Boise State.
  • Fowler twice mentions how OSU losing to UW would be another slight to the Big Ten.
  • Oregon vs. Fresno State. Show the Duck/Houston Cougar fight.
  • Lil' Red (blowup mascot) and the regular Nebraska mascot fight. I don't know if I've written this before, but I think the inflatable mascots are weird and freakish. And the stand on head and bounce thing is overdone. Herbstreit, on the other hand, thinks Lil' Red is his favorite.
  • Corso is affronted because he doesn't have a vote for the mascot hall of fame in Newark, Delaware.
Fourth Commercial Break
  • Gillette Game Face: no face paint. Good job not laming it up, Nebraska. On the other hand, at least 4 of the guys in the Game Face thing clearly had not shaved that day. Someone at Gillette is pissed.
  • Buy or Sell
  • UCLA (playing Utah today). Corso is buying because of a good home schedule. Herbstreit also is buying and says this team is "for real" and can get to 10, maybe 11 wins. (UCLA lost by 38 points).
  • Hawaii (playing UNLV today). Corso is buying because of a QB and coach and can outscore anyone (analysis so canned it may as well be spam). Herbstreit likes Brennan, but is selling Hawaii; doesn't want to put them on the same level as Boise State last year, doesn't think they deserve a BCS bid. (Hawaii won by 35). Herbstreit dodges Fowler's question as to whether he'd rank Hawaii if they went undefeated. Herbstreit says "it'd be difficult to put them up there", which neither answers the question nor is a concrete response one can hold him to.
  • South Carolina (playing SC State). Corso is buying because the defense is good and Spurrier knows offense. Herbstreit also is buying, likes their schedule and sees 8-10 wins. South Carolina had 5 games remaining against then-ranked teams, several of which are on the road. If anything, South Carolina's schedule is a reason to sell them. Herbstreit's opinion is fine, but the rationale, to me, is lacking. (South Carolina won by 35)
  • Texas A&M (playing Louisiana Monroe). Corso is selling because they travel to Miami, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri. Herbstreit also is selling and adds Texas to Corso's list. A&M's schedule too tough, they both say. (A&M won by 40).
  • Fowler and Herbstreit suggest that Texas could have trouble with Central Florida. Corso says the new stadium is nice, but doesn't give the full name correctly.
  • Now Desmond's in the bus and chatting away. Fowler says, "Stop fake typing and listen to me." and they all laugh. Is this a reference to the recaps' accusations of fake typing? Howard says it's the real stuff.
  • Howard takes a different approach to South Carolina, saying the defense looked better than it is because of UGA's young offensive line, and says that Spurrier is good for one big win a year at USC, and perhaps Georgia was it. Also Howard is selling Clemson. Howard, almost overnight, has become the pundit on this show with perhaps the most salient analysis.
Fifth Commercial Break
  • Extended Human Interest Story on the death of Mario Danelo, USC kicker. Shelley Smith reporting.
Sixth Commercial Break
  • Northwestern-Duke discussion. Duke has lost 22 straight. Fowler mentions that Duke and Northwestern play again next year and #34 for Duke would be against Northwestern, tying the all-time 1-A record. No worries for Blue Devils fans, as Duke won 20-14.
  • Chart of longest active losing streaks. Duke, NC State and UAB all won this week, so only FIU, Colorado State and Utah State remain on that list.
  • Michigan. Piece on disappointed faces of Michigan fans with opera backing.
  • "Internet chatter" breaks the story on Demetrius Jones transferring to NIU. Fowler doesn't confirm it, but passes it along.
  • Montage of bad plays by Notre Dame and Michigan. I think we saw the same thing a week ago, only shorter.
  • Another week, another clip from Charlie Weis's press conference. It is interesting to me how nearly every coach in America has a weekly taped press conference, but Gameday rarely shows any of them, except Charlie Weis appears almost weekly.
  • LC: Notre Dame is more desperate for a win because Notre Dame has won 19 games over the last few years and everyone wants payback. (Just in case you were wondering, Michigan has won 18 games over the same stretch, but apparently those teams didn't want payback so it isn't as hard for Michigan to get wins... or something. This makes no sense.)
  • Howard: "There's two things in coaching... it's your legacy and your money". I suppose legacy could include wins, losses, titles. But what about whether you've improved players, gotten them to the next level? What about educating men? There are probably a few more things that matter to coaches, and many of them may actually rank higher than money.
  • Howard also makes a Freudian slip here, but corrects himself when he says that Weis got his big contract extension when he beat USC... err, lost to USC. That's the rub.
  • KH: makes a big deal about home fans booing Michigan players/coaches. This is shaky ground, I think, that Herbstreit is treading on. Home fans booing is an issue that is certainly fair game for discussion on the show. But it's Herbstreit that brings it up. Fans booing players is a very touchy subject in the world of recruiting. Herbstreit is an active alumnus of Michigan's biggest rival - and against whom Michigan fights several recruiting battles every year. It'd be one thing if Fowler raised the issue. But to me, this is a conflict of interest for Herbstreit to bring it up.
  • KH: Thinks the ND game is bigger for Michigan. Says Michigan's only chance of winning the Big Ten is by winning a non-conference game against ND and getting confidence.
  • KH: Penn State is the best team in the Big Ten.
  • KH: Charlie Weis is just beginning, he's not on the hot seat. Note: was Ty Willingham "just beginning" in his third season, as many have written already? There's a narrative in place that Weis needs more time.
  • Fowler also thinks it's bigger for Michigan because ND is a year away and because Michigan has been favored in all of their games so far. Note: will "ND is a year away" become the favored narrative of pundits, or will it be "What has happened to ND"? Watch next week to see. If it's the former, there's no reason to cover ND this year. If it will be the latter (as I suspect it will be), why is Fowler making this excuse now?
  • Corso breaks down Notre Dame's zone blocking and pass protection quite intelligently, surmises that Michigan will blitz more than any team in the history of college football today. He's on point: Michigan tallied 8 sacks.
  • Howard thinks Mallett will get into a rhythm and Michigan wins.
  • Herbstreit already has the narrative in mind: Michigan wins and ND goes to 0-3 and "that's a huge story". Is it? Fowler just told me it didn't matter because ND's so young.
Seventh Commercial Break
  • Miami-FIU talk, referring to last year's brawl.
  • FSU-Colorado. LC thinks FSU, his alma mater, wins. Interestingly, Corso picked FSU, Howard picked Michigan, and Herbstreit picked Ohio State. Crazy, isn't it?
  • BC-GT. Fowler says GT has been superb against ND and Samford. "GT could emerge as the ACC's closest thing to a contending team." Fowler says BC could take control of the division, and that Clemson is also unbeaten in the ACC, but apparently neither of those teams can contend.
  • WIRED! with Jon Tenuta. Complete waste of time. Shorter cuts, so this has even less context than we normally get, which is zero. The set seems to like it though.
  • KH: "I think the Yellow Jackets are for real."
  • LC: BC wins with an NFL-style attack that'll hurt the Texas, no, Tenness.., no Tech defense. Great cutback highlight though. Also says senior leadership leads to the BC win.
  • Fowler adds that BC is going to learn about Tashard Choice because teams that play against him end up respecting him.
Eighth Commercial Break
  • Segue to Penn State discussion by mentioning Turner Gill, coach at Buffalo, but they don't mention how Buffalo enjoyed one of their biggest wins ever last week.
  • Wisconsin-Citadel. Corso mentions that Citadel scored a lot of points against a bad team last week, but then says Wisconsin wins big.
  • Iowa State-Iowa. Fowler suggests that in the coming weeks they'll be OK because they've had recent success against Wisconsin, Penn State.
  • Corso: the perception of the Big Ten is low because of bowl games last year, Appalachian State, etc. Then says the Big Ten really has to win 2 games today: Ohio State- Washington and Northwestern-Duke (no mention of Iowa-ISU).
  • Herbstreit: perception is important when it comes to the Big Ten, BUT, it's too early to tell because the good teams in the Big Ten haven't played anybody. Further tracking the Herbstreit "facts haven't yet completely confirmed that I'm wrong, even if they haven't supported my opinions, so I'm not" thesis. Also: if the good teams haven't played anybody good, the Big Ten schools are at least partially to blame for that - and this time Herbstreit comes back to that perspective.
  • Herbstreit ranks conferences this way: 1) SEC, 2) Pac Ten closing ground to SEC, HUGE DROP, 3) Maybe Big East? Big Ten way behind the other power conferences. I don't know whether I should praise Herbstreit for not pandering in Big XII country, or wonder why he didn't mention them - there are 6 unbeaten teams and 2 of the top 6 in the rankings.
  • Trevor Matich is a big guy.
Ninth Commercial Break
  • Arkansas-Alabama. Replay of highlights from last year.
  • WIRED! with Nick Saban. THIS IS A REPEAT WIRED. "That ain't how you play cover-2!" has been shown before. If you're repeating these stupid segments already in week THREE, you need to find some new content.
  • Extended piece on Darren McFadden's stiff arm. That dude is a freak of nature.
  • Matich and Howard on the REAL field to show how a stiff arm works. Desmond has changed into a sweat suit. Matich's info is technical and informative.
  • Fowler seems a little frustrated that nobody's picking upsets.
Tenth Commercial Break
  • Number 5 is now a trendy number for tailbacks.
  • Semi-extended piece on Marlon Lucky changing numbers from 20 to 5. Punchline: Lucky "chose" #5 because it was the only one left.
  • Lots of Californians on Nebraska, no Nebraskans on SC.
  • Highlights of Arizona State-Nebraska from 2 years ago, short interview with Sam Keller.
  • Corso says Nebraska needs to throw the ball and attack SC.
  • Herbstreit sarcastically suggests SC isn't afraid, that SC's defense is great, waiting for a big moment.
  • Herbstreit says Nebraska needs to throw the ball on first down to have a chance.
  • Herbstreit thinks '07 USC would be just fine against '95 Nebraska and '71 Nebraska. I respectfully disagree with him about '95 Nebraska - probably the best team I've seen in my lifetime.
Eleventh Commercial Break
  • Tennessee-Florida. Florida is whipping its rivals lately.
  • Shelley Smith (doing double duty) provides an extended piece on how the families of the coaching staff come to practice on Thursday night. The producers really must think Shelley Smith draws in the occasional viewers. I could do without all of this, and I bet most of the people reading this think the same. But we're not the ones they care about, I guess. Maybe some other network will put on a college football preview show for fans of college football, rather than for people who aren't really fans.
  • Fowler: questions Florida's defense, says first time starters for Florida typically struggle against UT.
  • Jesse Palmer and his douchetacular hair make an appearance to discuss Florida. His analysis is actually good, or at least isn't terrible or vacuous, but I can barekly pay attention because of the gel in his hair. HDTV has drawbacks.
  • Corso: Ainge can throw the ball like a pro and Cutcliffe has it working well. Thinks Tennessee will score a lot of points because Florida's defense has little experience and doesn't cause turnovers. Florida recovered 3 turnovers, including one for a TD.
  • Herbstreit thinks Tennessee has been tested because of the Cal game. Also thinks Tebow will be unleashed.
Twelfth Commercial Break
  • Pontiac Game Changer: LC - Art Carmody, Louisville. KH - Andre Woodson, Kentucky. CF - Tim Tebow. Herbstreit and Fowler tie.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: LC - Louisville, Tennessee to cover. KH - Georgia Tech,
  • Corso takes pandering to the crowd to a new level: "If I could live anywhere by Orlando, I'd live in Lincoln!"
  • Also: Corso wears jeans on the set, not suit pants. Nice.
Heavy on the human interest stories, but a few nice new segments. Todd McShay's segment worked well, though I was afraid it might not. I hope that one comes back again.

Next week: I have very little idea where the Gameday crew will travel. The only matchup of ranked opponents is South Carolina at LSU, but they traveled to Baton Rouge just last week. Penn State at Michigan was probably the early season choice, but with the Wolverines' issues they might not go there. USC plays Washington State at home. Oklahoma plays on Friday night. West Virginia plays East Carolina (whom Gameday has already covered). If ESPN ends up with Georgia at Alabama, it wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility for them to go to Tuscaloosa.


Aureliano said...

Good work, saves me from actually watching that p.o.s. that used to be College Gameday. :)

Do you have NFL Network? Wonder what your thoughts are on their college football show. Saw part of it last week and really enjoyed it. It was midweek at some point, but had really good analysis of key games/matchups, much like McShay's piece. And, hey, if they talk about NFL prospects at least this is the right venue.

LD said...

I do get NFL Network, but I haven't seen the show (I think I saw a highlights show once a year ago - unsure if this is the same show you're talking about).

CBS needs a pregame show, especially now that they're showing games on CSTV and Versus. They just can't (and shouldn't) expect ESPN to promote CBS games adequately.

The General said...

ESPN does a much better job catering to "real" college football fans with the weekday College Football Live shows, even if there is the occasional Shelley Smith piece and daily youtubish segment of clips sent in by douchebag fans. They rotate the hosts and eschew entirely the three stooges of the Saturday show. The variety of perspectives and opinions provides a broader base of info from which the viewer can form his own opinions. McShay, Robert Smith, and Matich Mountain are all high-quality regular contributors. Jesse Palmer is on there sometimes, and his cogent, articulate analysis surprises me, too, hair notwithstanding.

Kanu said...

I noticed the NFL Network show last week but didn't get a chance to watch it; looking forward to trying to catch it this week.

On that same note, the midweek "Crystal Ball" show on CSTV is actually pretty good. I know many people dislike him, but I think that Trev Alberts give pretty good analysis & football information on that show. Worth checking out at least- at it's worst it is still miles better than GD.

LD said...

Gameday will be in Tuscaloosa.

And now that Alabama's ranked, UGA-UA is also a matchup of ranked opponents (USC-LSU is the only other one).