Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gameday Recap

Week Eight
October 20, 2007
Lexington, Kentucky - Florida at Kentucky

Sorry about missing last week. The flu put me out of commission for 3 days, and then making up in other, real-life areas made spending three hours or so recapping something already kind of stale pretty much impossible, and the result would've been lame anyway.

Take note, however, that this is week 8, and the fourth trip to SEC venues. This is not to say that they've necessarily overhyped SEC games, as I don't think they've chosen to go to a venue so far that wasn't probably the "best" matchup of the day insofar as the rankings positions of various teams. Last year, Gameday received appropriate criticism for attending USC vs. Nebraska on a day with two SEC games featuring higher ranked opponents. The opportunity has been there this year for them to ignore a top matchup that happens to be airing nationally on a competing network - but they haven't taken that opportunity thus far. Good for them. Of course, now that the SEC is a big mess and nearly every team has multiple losses, I think it's quite possible that today's visit to Lexington could be the last trip to the SEC this year. As things shake out in all the conferences, I think we'll probably see more trips out west - as some of the best games in the coming weeks are in the Pac-10 (though, interestingly, many of those good games aren't supposed to be aired on ABC/ESPN networks).

  • Opening with the Keeneland bugler playing the post music.
  • HUGE CROWD. Looks like the biggest of the year by far. People everywhere. This is what happens when they go somewhere for the first time ever.
  • First time at a UK game, record 26th game with Florida playing.
  • Recap of upsets from the previous weeks.
  • Highlights from Rutgers-USF.
  • Corso says the SEC needs to be on upset alert (correctly), but cites LSU and Kentucky (not as correct).
  • Herbstreit chastises "players" for not showing up ready to go and believing "the hype". As usual, he fails to acknowledge his own role in hyping teams.
  • Highlights of UF-LSU and UK-LSU.
  • Fowler: Florida "desperate", Kentucky "resilient". Awaiting discussion on "ability" and "matchups".
  • Corso questions whether the bye week actually helps Florida, and also whether UK has enough left in the tank. Good questions. Of course, he provides no predictive answers, and Herbstreit ignores the questions for his own canned quasi-analysis (on Kentucky's resilience in the LSU game).
First Commercial Break
  • Yeah, this is easily the biggest crowd of the year.
  • Fowler mentions how some of the biggest games in previous years (Alabama-Tennessee, USC-ND, Miami-FSU) aren't really on the radar today.
  • Slate of games discussed briefly. It bothers me that some of the best nuggets of analysis and information gets jammed into this quick segment, but then they spend 5 minutes on intangible BS later on.
  • Some Michigan-Illinois talk. Corso says Michigan will win because they've been in more big games than Illinois.
Second Commercial Break
  • BCS standings noted, Fowler predicts USF to drop to 9 or 10, BC to move up to 2.
  • Horserace of the BCS, using well known racing announcer.
  • Graphic shows the difference between human voters and computer averages.
  • Fowler says the computers like the SEC teams because they lose on the road, rather than at home like some of the Pac-10 teams.
  • Herbstreit pats himself on the back for picking Rutgers over USF. Also tells us how he's been telling us for a while how one-loss teams shouldn't give up.
  • Corso begs everyone to let the BCS "play out" and then fix it, because we all agreed to the BCS system. Fowler asks the crowd if they "agreed to" the BCS system and everyone raises their hands in disagreement.
  • Corso then cites the end-of-year success of the Colorado Rockies to show how we should let things play out. Fowler directly says "but they settle that on the field, no?" and looks confused.
  • Herbstreit tells us what we already know, that there's subjectivity in college football, and that "style points" come into play. He does say that it's unfortunate that it's the only way to separate teams. Fowler again says that it's a bad system.
  • They throw to Desmond Howard in the bus, who says the people on cyberspace point out that choosing teams for a playoff would require subjectivity as well as the current system (though says that it'd be the 9th or 10th best team that would complain rather than the 3rd - as if that's an argument against a playoff). Then he says that a "Plus One" system is a "happy medium". I don't buy this. If the problem is subjectivity, a playoff (unless the participants playing in such were chosen by objective criteria, i.e. conference champions) and the current system are bad, and a plus one system would be no better. It wouldn't solve anything with the problem of subjectivity. It's not a happy medium at all.
  • Fowler says "plus one" would be an improvement, but still not great. Herbstreit likes "Plus one". Corso says it'll never happen because of the Rose Bowl, the college presidents, and because the current system is too big a moneymaker. I think Corso has the most logical and salient take on this - because he focuses on realities rather than what could be.
Third Commercial Break
  • Some ACC talk - Maryland-UVA. Fowler says Virginia's record is a bit of smoke and mirrors because of close wins.
  • Extended piece on Chris Long, Howie Long's son. Sounds like Wendi Nix reporting. Good highlights. Not a whimsical piece, which is nice.
  • MD-UVA. Corso likes the Terps close. Herbstreit also likes Maryland because of confidence.
  • FSU-Miami. Fowler points out the terrible offensive numbers for both teams. And the game ends up kind of a shootout. 20 years ago the Miami-FSU game featured 67 players who went on to play in the NFL (WOW).
  • Herbstreit says it's sad how FSU is sucking under Bowden, but Miami is killing it in recruiting.
  • Corso comes along to defend the old guards who were forced out (the previous offensive regime at FSU, Larry Coker).
Fourth Commercial Break
  • They open this segment with some commentary on the signs in the crowd. Seems like they might be a little short on material this week, but actually this bit is better than ham-fisted, intangible ridden quasi-analysis.
  • Some metal-backed highlights of LSU-Kentucky with soundbites from Kentucky players and coaches. Long bit. Again, seems like they're a little short on material.
  • Auburn-LSU talk. Les Miles press conference clips. Some historic game clips.
  • Herbstreit thinks LSU's defense will come back from the UK game big, especially against Auburn freshmen linemen. Some actual matchup-based analysis from Herbstreit... but then he descends right back to intangibles, and says LSU wins because they've heard too much about Auburn this week and playing at home.
  • Corso instead looks to Auburn's defense and special teams. Then says LSU's defense has been "exposed as a fraud", cites red zone defense stats. Herbstreit says "emails, note, the guy in the center said that". Why does Herbstreit care about e-mails? If you can back up an opinion with numbers or, y'know, facts, why would you concern yourself with what e-mailers think?
Fifth Commercial Break
  • Gillette Game Face. This week there was a guy actally shaving.
  • Howard joins the set.
  • Nebraska-Texas A&M. Fowler calls it the "Buyout Bowl" because of embattled coaches. Fowler praises the Nebraska fans for their patience and class.
  • Extended piece on Tom Osborne's return to Nebraska as AD. Shelley Smith reporting. Former marketing guy Paul Miles says "we need to find a way to put a band-aid on this." That seems like a really bad quote to me. Seems like more than a band-aid would be needed. This was a good piece, though it could've been a lot longer. Might be better as a 12 minute story for E:60. Also, was this Shelley Smith's second story in the state of Nebraska in three weeks? Has she kept missing her flight back to LA? Not that I'm complaining.
  • Howard says Nebraska's problem is intensity and passion, and that's because of the coach. Herbstreit blames passion, but also athletic ability, leaving the option to the past, the great defense.
  • Herbstreit - wow, he's annoying me today - channels his executive consultant and, no shit, says Nebraska needs "to embrace the past but not live in the past" and "think outside the box". Herbstreit has become a Dilbert cartoon.
  • Corso says Osborne will do the right thing, bring in the right guy - predicts Turner Gill who Corso says is doing a great job at Buffalo (who is 3-5).
  • Howard predicts A&M to win, but Nebraska to rally the troops. Herbstreit picks Nebraska. Corso picks A&M. Everyone on the set seems unclear as to which of A&M and Nebraska is favored.
Sixth Commercial Break
  • Wow. Kentucky is on the wrong side of the second and third longest winning/losing streak between two opponents - Florida and Tennessee. ND-Navy is the longest.
  • Tennessee-Alabama talk. Total 4 TDs in last 3 UT-Alabama games, and "that's the kind of game Saban wants" according to Fowler. Actually, I think Saban wanted the game he got- lots of passes to DJ Hall.
  • Desmond Howard says Erik Ainge is one of the most improved players this year. Extended interview piece with Ainge and Howard. Good question/answer about playcalling at the line of scrimmage. Ainge is big (or maybe Howard was downhill or something).
  • Corso says Ainge lights it up for the Vols because Ole Miss could pass on Bama.
  • Herbstreit says UT lost a lot of confidence early on, but now they've got it together. Then he actually discusses some "tangibles", by saysing UT's balance on offense is difficult for opponents to defend.
Seventh Commercial Break
  • Kansas-Colorado talk. Interesting how Kansas is one of the least-covered unbeaten teams - and even Fowler calls them "Kansas State".
  • WIRED!!! with Mark Mangino (interspersed with some soundbites). It's much better when they edit in clips of interviews, but the wired stuff is still pointless.
  • Herbstreit says Kansas is capable of losing to anyone, but very much benefiting from not playing Texas, Texas Tech or Oklahoma. Herbstreit doesn't seem to rate Kansas very highly but thinks they'll have just 1 loss going into their final game.
  • Corso likes Colorado because Kansas isn't good on the road over the last 20 years or so. Herbstreit and Fowler call him on this illogical analysis.
  • Texas Tech-Missouri. Everyone thinks it'll be a shootout, which wasn't exactly that hard to predict. Fowler does say that Missouri tends to bounce back under Pinkel after losses, and Corso mocks him that he's relying on history (though arguably, wouldn't Fowler's statement have a lot more relevance than Kansas' road record 15 years ago under a completely different coach?)
  • Corso says Oklahoma's the best team he's seen all year.
  • Fowler tells us how stupid the media are. He says "they'd love to give some publicity" to Crabtree and Harrell at Texas Tech, but Leach doesn't give them access after Monday. God forbid they go down there and accommodate unpaid students' time. And the horror of covering something newsworthy even if you don't get complete access! Fowler should be ashamed of this comment - and the ombudswoman should have something to say about it.
Eighth Commercial Break
  • Energizer spirit meter says 112 dB, and Herbstreit calls that a new record. It's pretty high, though I don't know if it's an all-time record. I know I've seen 112 before.
  • Ohio State-Michigan State talk. Good, fact-based analysis. Herbstreit thinks there's a psychological edge because Dantonio used to coach at OSU and Cincinnati (?) but then he breaks down some plays well.
  • Fowler seems to be hinting at a Michigan State win by saying "nobody gives the Spartans a chance".
Ninth Commercial Break
  • Cal-UCLA briefly mentioned. No talk.
  • Oregon-Washington also briefly mentioned.
  • Herbstreit thinks Cal is fine this week, but Oregon might have a little more trouble.
  • Corso picks Oregon huge (right) but picks Cal.
  • USC-ND talk. The least meaningful game with a Pac-10 team gets the most attention.
    Lots of highlights from the game 2 years ago. Ugly numbers going into this game.
  • Clip of Digger Phelps at the ND pep rally. This stuff looks so dumb after knowing the result.
  • Corso thinks the Irish will cover, but says USC is better in every aspect of the game (???).
  • Herbstreit thinks the momentum from the end of the Arizona game will carry over to the ND game. Really? Not because USC is a lot better? He does think USC would win big, but his reasoning is strange.
Tenth Commercial Break
  • Extended piece on Andre Woodson and his friend who nearly died in a car crash. Tom Rinaldi reporting.
  • Fowler balances it by mentioning the memorial service for the death of the Florida defensive back walk on.
  • Quick segue into interviews on Locke and his emergence as a threat.
  • Howard rejoins the set to talk about Locke for Kentucky. Says just because Locke is a track guy doesn't mean he's not tough. Adds that we should watch out for him in the 2008 Olympics in the long jump.
  • Corso analyzes UK in the red zone, sort of. "Wow, what a player!" is about the extent of it.
  • Herbstreit provides analysis on Tim Tebow's ability to throw and versatility of running the ball. Canned.
  • Howard thinks Kentucky will win, surprising the rest of the set. Seems to me like this was pandering to the crowd - they knew Herbstreit and Corso were going to pick Florida, so they needed to throw the crowd a bone. Howard doesn't usually make picks
Eleventh Commercial Break
  • Quick on-site shot of Penn State-Iowa, but no Erin Andrews.
  • Game Changer. Corso: Chase Daniel. Herbstreit: Erik Ainge. Fowler: Dennis Dixon. Fowler and Corso share it this week.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections. Corso: Kansas State, Colorado, Cal, Tennessee. Notre Dame to cover, FSU, Herbstreit: Cal, Tennessee.
  • Herbstreit likes Oklahoma State because of passion after the coach yelled.
  • Fowler again calls Kansas, "Kansas State".
  • Herbstreit thinks whether Mike Hart played for Michigan is the key to that game, because of passion and leadership (but apparently not because he's really good - and they win anyway).
Seemed like there was a lot of filler this week, but that might've been because there was one fewer commercial break. Herbstreit's war on tangible analysis continues. Corso had some moments of anti-logic. Also, the large number of upsets in the last few weeks made it seem to me like they were a little unsure of themselves and hedged a little bit more.

Next week probably the best game of the week is Thursday night, with BC-VT. I'd have to think that they'll travel to either Oregon-USC or Cal-Arizona State next week. Both are really big games with huge conference title implications. But then again, they may go to Ohio State-Penn State because it's #1 playing a decent opponent, and it's on ABC (unlike those Pac-10 games).