Monday, October 31, 2005

Dropping off the Links at the Pool

A few things really worth reading:

1) Michael Elkon on Stewart Mandel's article last week. Really captures what I was thinking, except without the ad hominem attacks and unnecessary expletives. Which I actually think belong. But he's really smart and a good writer, being able to prove his points without using words like "douche" and "hatchet wound." So yeah, I'm late, but it's worth reading.

2) Apparently you can put a price on human feces. $1,693.62. Via EDSBS.

3) The Collective of Six is a breakthrough in college football analysis.

4) And while many may laugh at [GASP!] a Georgia fan in jean shorts, I offer this in response:

There will be no more discussion on whose fans dress worse. As they say, QED, MF.


Flick the Button

Elephant: Another one of those movies where I get a little pissed because a better movie could've been made on the subject, but since this was made nobody's going to make another movie about it. The non-linear (or is it multi-linear) chronology was interesting for a while, but after a while you realize that it's just a trick to keep the focus away from the fact that it's pretty much a 15 minute film stretched out over an hour and a half. Kind of pretentious. And there's one small little detail that I don't want to spoil, but I'd like crush critically - you'll know it if you've seen it. Just unnecessary and courting controversy. It's a movie about school shootings. You'll get all the controversy you want. That detail isn't needed. You're Fired.

Mean Girls: OK, this is actually a good movie about high school. It stays within itself, unlike Elephant. Plus, it's actually really funny. Much moreso than I was expecting. And since I know my readers are like 99.9% male, let me offer this: rent it. You'll get credit for giving in, you'll laugh, and you'll not mind the views. However, I think this movie proves the Law of Conservation of Hotttttness. Lohan and McAdams entered with a 90-10 shellacking in favor of Lohan. However, McAdams has definitely had her Chi jostled loose, and now it's more like 70-30 in her favor. I have to think Lindsay can get it back though. I pull for the redheads. Caddy for the genre.

Hellboy: Well, the title character was at least sort of interesting. The rest of the characters, weren't really. A lot of the fight sequences were too dark to see anything. A lot of the effects definitely felt like an early spring release, not a summer blockbuster. Maybe if I was more of a comic book guy, I'd be more into it. It just didn't work for me. Got bored by the end. Fired.

Kung Fu Hustle: Now here's a movie that does something few American films have done in the past few years - make me sit up straight and actually think that the filmmakers used some creativity. Hilarious, quick, well choreographed, clever, just great. Why can't an American studio make something like this? I haven't seen Chow's other stuff, but I definitely want to. Cadillac.

and two repeat viewings:

The Godfather: One of the few movies where detail means so much. It's so effortless though. One of the few movies worth seeing once a year. Like you need me to tell you how good it is.

L.A. Confidential: Here's my statement. I cannot name a better film, all things considered, made over the last decade. Seriously. Pure, unadulterated masculinity. Pushes the same buttons as The Godfather. Just a classic. Supremely underrated. I'm open to an argument.


Race and Sport

Obviously, I'm no expert on this. But I do think there should be a dialogue on race and disparate treatment. I take no particular side. I instead open the floor to debate.

First, via the Wrangler...

John Rocker, in Sports Illustrated, December 27, 1999:

"The biggest thing I don't like about New York are the foreigners. I'm not a very big fan of foreigners. You can walk an entire block in Times Square and not hear anybody speaking English. Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there. How the hell did they get in this country?"

Jamal Lewis, interview with ESPN's Michael Smith, 2005:

"A lot of people think four months is not a long time, but you try doing 120 days in one place, being in a dorm with a bunch of people of all different nationalities that you don't even know, and not being able to have some of the things that you're used to."

And now another issue, discussed on 2 Live Stews on my drive home today...

Tyrone Willingham after seven games: 7-0.
Charlie Weis after seven games: 5-2.
Tyrone Willingham: no contract extensions over three years.
Charlie Weis: 10 year, $30-40 million dollar extension seven games into his career at Notre Dame.

Comments anyone?


Sunday, October 30, 2005


A little update on things...

Sorry about the light posting the past few days. I've been having computer battery issues. And my AC adapter doesn't charge the battery while the computer operates. Weirdly, when I turn off the computer, it charges immediately.

Thanks to all the one time visitors. I guess the Narrative post passed around message boards pretty well. If you've come back, thanks and have a look around. Always glad for the traffic.

That said, I think it's a good time to mention my own view towards blogging. I started this because first and foremost, I had these opinions and theories on stuff, but a decade of alcohol damage has left my brain wanting. I see this weblog as a sort of zip drive for my mind. I really haven't expected many people to read this, aside from maybe a few personal friends. The hits I've received over the past week has left me feeling a little stage-frightened. I'm not really sure I like the attention. Or, I guess more specifically, I'm not sure I like the responsibility of writing for a wider audience than just people I already know and who already know me well enough not to take me all that seriously. When a commenter hinted that I'm a member of the media I criticize, I got a little freaked out. I'm no journalist. I'm no expert. I'm just a guy with a computer and some opinions. I know there's some responsibility when you click that "Publish Now" button, but if any of you actually knew me, you'd know that I'm not one to take seriously.

Gameday recap will have to wait until tomorrow or possibly Tuesday. Sorry. I'm just not all that excited about rewatching it just yet.

I screwed up last week about the Lebowski rankings. I'll post last week's along with next week's in a few days.

And quickly about the Dawgs: I have this weird sense of zen right now about yesterday's game. I honestly knew we weren't going to win, and, unlike most Florida games over the last 15 years, I didn't delude myself into thinking "it might be different this year." Strangely, this made watching the game a lot easier, and recovering from the sting of a loss easier too. I was almost happy at our performance yesterday. After Florida's first two drives, I thought 38-7 was the likely result. The D stepped up big. Joe T played about as well as I expected. The line and backs on O played pretty damn well. But a win is a win and a loss is a loss. Expectations only affect the attitudes of people who aren't playing. Florida won, and congratulations to them. Now, the SEC race gets very interesting. On November 12th there are basically 3 do-or-die games. Florida needs to beat Spurrier and his recently gelled Gamecocks in Columbia. Both Auburn and Georgia need to win: Georgia to basically clinch, Auburn to stay alive. LSU and Alabama might have even more on the line, since the loser of that game might be out of the SEC West race. Should be an amazing day of football. I really wonder which game will be the CBS game. I'd guess Alabama-LSU, but who knows?

I'll also do a monthlong update of Gameday recaps like I did last month. Might take a few days though.

So that's where I've been and what's ahead. And if anyone knows what I can do about these battery issues, leave a comment.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


It's Georgia-Florida week, and for some of the new readers, let me explain further.

Georgia is in the unique position of having multiple rivals, of varying degrees. Some schools have one real rival and everyone else matters a little less, like say, Clemson and South Carolina. Some schools have two rivals and don't really care about anyone else (Alabama). Georgia has lots of rivals, and the degrees of rivalry change over time and depending on the recent results.

If you asked 10 Georgia fans who the Dawgs most bitter rival is, you might get 5 different answers. Georgia Tech, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, and even Clemson for some of the old guard. And the rival you choose kind of determines what kind of Dawg fan you are.

People who hate Tech are usually from Atlanta and work with a lot of obnoxious Tech fans.
People who hate Auburn are usually from Columbus or West Georgia.
People who hate Tennessee are usually from North Georgia.
People who hate Clemson probably matured as fans in the early 80s.

And the rest of us hate Florida.

It's the recent dominance. It's Spurrier. It's the way we used to own them, and then got lax, starting to think we had bigger rivals elsewhere, then gave the series to them for the last 15 years to the point that now they have bigger rivals elsewhere. It's the way I hate them. Period.

As a college freshman, Florida played in Athens for the first time in 50+ years. I was a fraternity pledge. Spurrier put the starters back in and ran a trick play to be able to be the first visiting team to score 50 in Sanford Stadium. Then the Braves won the world series. The next morning the parking lot of the lodge was about 6 inches deep in coleslaw. Cleaning up was awesome. And I've never thought twice about hating Florida. My mind just returns to that coleslaw. Bastards.

I spent 7 years at UGA. Our record against Florida over that time? 1-6.

So yes, I hate Florida.

And I really know we're getting waxed this weekend.

And I'm ornery because of it. Been so all week. The wife thinks there's something wrong. There is. I've been posting annoying comments at EDSBS all week. Normally I lurk, but this week I can't keep my trap shut. I'm annoying myself.

So we've got three more days of nervous energy and dread, then a week of pissed off "would've should've" bullshit. I can't wait.


I called you a douchebag... I was too kind.

I had a nasty post all teed up on Stewart Mandel's turd today, but I'm A Realist took it on first. I might add a few things tomorrow or something.

Basically my feelings are these:

Before I wrote "Mandel can eat a dick." Now, I'd like to retract that. I'm not sure he's bright enough even to eat a dick. I could see the case being that someone else would have to cut up and chew the dick and then mash the dick into a fine paste and feed it to little Stewie with a spoon while making the airplane landing noises.

Seriously, I think Mandel's too stupid to know how to shit himself.

UPDATE: T. Kyle King, who I've been meaning to add to the blogroll forever, throws in a great item on SEC defenses. A line I've been meaning to write myself:

Maybe that's why, when high-flying offenses run up against dominating defenses---such as in the national championship games pitting Alabama and Miami in 1992, Nebraska and Florida in 1995, Oklahoma and Florida State in 2000, and Louisiana State and Oklahoma in 2003---O gets its bell rung by D.

While I'm not sure this is always true (last year I think Oklahoma's D was pretty stout), I think it's a pretty good trend. Something to think about at the end of the year.


The Narrative

I guess the main focus of my posting this time of year is on media coverage of college football. As you may have guessed, I think it's not very good. A few bloggers this week, after Tommy Tuberville's and Beamer's comments, have noted, like I have earlier in the year, the dominance of ESPN in the college football opinioneering world. I think that this hegemony is a bad thing for the sport, since the games are affected by externalities. I think the problems are numerous, and that those who have talked about a corporate bias in favor of the teams or conferences that have direct ties to ESPN and its parent company are probably right. Put it this way, ESPN would be dumb not to cover the Big 10 heavily. With more coverage, there's more interest, with more interest, there's more viewers, with more viewers they can charge more for ad revenue and everyone's happy.

But that is only one of the main problems with ESPN's coverage. The other is a wider, deeper problem with mass media journalism, and isn't specifically an ESPN problem. That problem is with "the narrative," which has become the way all news coverage seems to work these days.

In mass media journalism, there is a greater reliance on profit than in the past. And when profit matters more, the corporate heads want to ensure that the journalists stay within bounds - whatever stories are covered need to be more predictable, so the accountants and such know what they can expect. Things are planned out in advance. Storylines are decided upon weeks ahead of time. It's a matter of certainty.

And in the college football journalism world, certainty matters too. As early as the Spring, storylines are developed and plans are set in motion. Gameday knew probably back in January that the Ohio State-Texas game would be a huge matchup, so ESPN started hyping it a month ahead of time. ESPN decided USC would be a big story, so they've had Shelley Smith preparing in depth stories for months.

The key is that they decide upon the story ahead of time, so when something comes up that doesn't fit the parameters of that story, they don't know what to do.

A prime example was Auburn last year. Preseason, Auburn was way off the radar. They were an underachieving team that just didn't perform. No buzz whatsoever. Of course, they did have every important player returning and an easy schedule, but they just weren't part of the narrative going into the year. Last year's narrative was about USC, Oklahoma or Texas and in the SEC, Georgia. Auburn wasn't part of the narrative. So when they kept winning, people didn't really know what to do with them. The story had been decided already, and that was that USC and Oklahoma were the best two teams.

The truth of the matter is that nobody knows anything until the games are played and it's settled on the field. But that brings spontaneity into the equation, and that isn't something major corporations can allow for. It's a whole lot easier and cheaper to just keep Steve Cyphers in South Bend and have him file stories about Notre Dame than it would be to have him flying all over the country covering teams that have surprised people.

So there has to be a narrative and we have to stick with it.

[as a side note, there also is the ever present, "see how right I was" inertia of punditry that fits into the narrative, but that's another post.]

This year it's pretty easy to see how narratives have developed, and how things change once the narratives don't really work out.

Example: In the SEC, pre-season, most pundits, writers and coverage focused on three teams - Florida, Tennessee and LSU- and one coach, Steve Spurrier. Florida had a new coach who was going to bring a totally new style of play to the boring old 3 yards and a cloud of dust league. Tennessee had a dynamic young QB, a good RB with a great pedigree and a fantastic D. LSU had talent galore. Spurrier is Spurrier. Then Florida started losing and the dynamic offense couldn't move well at all. Tennessee's dynamic QB wasn't good at all. Suddenly the two teams in the East nearly everyone picked to win weren't very successful. So do they change the narrative and bring up how surprising Georgia is instead? Nope, just talk about how the league is "down" and disappointing. Two undefeated teams, three top 10 teams. But when they aren't the teams the wise men in Bristol thought they'd be, the league is down. A shift in the narrative is plainly evident

For the Heisman Trophy race, a narrative is clearly needed to jumpstart any campaign. The USC players had it preseason, along with Vince Young. Guys like Ted Ginn and Marcus Vick had the narrative behind them before a single snap was played. Then the games started, and really the only candidate that has had any traction is Brady Quinn, with a built in narrative behind him.

But for the national title, the narrative takes on a different meaning. As readers of this blog have known, I believe undefeated teams deserve a chance at a title. The reason: nobody's beaten them on the field. Comparing two teams in college football is difficult because there are too many variables (different schedules, different matchups with opponents). I think it is a fool's errand to try to say one team is definitely better than another when both have not been beaten on the field. Nobody knows a damn thing unless it's settled on the field.

And that's why I can't stand the comments like "Team X and Team Y have definitely separated themselves from the rest of the pack." The only way for two teams to separate themselves is if every other team has lost. Those two teams might look better than the rest, but no matter how you slice it, it's just conjecture. Nobody knows how USC would far playing Alabama's schedule, and nobody knows how Texas would fare playing UCLA's.

All this brings me to a fascinating discussion on (I know...) Sunday's episode of The Sports Reporters. Here's a transcript:

John Saunders: ...we also have another system where there is no playoff and that's in college football where the top two teams both won CONVINCINGLY, but we could have a huge logjam at the end of the year. But USC and Texas are CLEARLY 1 and 2

Thomas George: And I think they're going to make sure we don't have that logjam. I think as the season continues on, they're going to separate themselves from those other teams. I see them as clearly better than Alabama and clearly better then the other guy- Virginia Tech and the other teams that are chasing them.

Stop there. The only way there won't be a logjam is if there are only two unbeaten teams. The other teams have to lose. No team can "separate itself" aside from beating other unbeaten teams, which Texas and USC have only limited ability to do. But take note at how the host framed the issue - think Narrative. Now continuing...

Mike Lupica: Do you really think they're that much better than Virginia Tech?

George: I do. I think they're that much better than Virginia Tech and I think they'll show it as the season rolls on. And not only do I believe that, but I think Texas is the team that has the upside, I think they're the team. While USC is the darling and they have the streak going, I think we need to really keep our eyes on Texas.

See what happened there? USC, he hints, is already the darling and is assumed to be a top team. But we need to watch Texas because they're a clear #2. Separation is the narrative, pick out your eagle and feed it, starve the chicken. Continuing...

Lupica: [rants for a while about the BCS ] Is there anything that Virginia Tech can do over the rest of the season to pass Texas if they both end up undefeated?

Saunders: They would have to do something so great, make such an impression that the human voters would put them ahead of Texas.

Lupica: Don't you have a problem with that? Marcus Vick isn't even going to have a chance?

Bob Ryan: There is that chance. It's 45-0 over Miami. That's their chance. They have to destroy Miami, that's their chance, that's asking an awful lot.

Stop right there. More narrative. These guys have already decided on it. Say Texas plays lackluster the rest of the way? Doesn't matter. Did they require Texas to beat OSU by 45? No. The decisions have been made and the coverage must adapt to the decisions. Continuing again.

Saunders then brings up the queer fact that the initial BCS 1 and 2 have never met in a title game. Lupica thinks that's a reason to hope, then talks about Texas-Texas Tech for a while.

Then the most interesting, and HONEST portion of the entire debate:

Ryan: With all due respect to our friends in Blacksburg and Tuscaloosa... We don't want you. OK. [Lupica tries to interrupt] Don't take this personally. We don't want you.The rest of us in America want SC and Texas. We want those 2 programs, we want... That's the only Rose Bowl we want.

Lupica: How can you possibly say that?

Ryan: Because THAT'S THE TRUTH. The generic college football sportsfan wants that battle of the titans and nothing else. We don't want VT, we don't want Alabama. We want Texas and SC, Michael that's the truth.

Lupica: But you don't know that.

Ryan: I'm not saying it's fair, but that's what we want.

Lupica: But don't say that's what we want.

Ryan: We want the horse and the band and the big drum and together in the same place at the same time January 4th in the Rose Bowl. That's what we want. What's the big stick with VT? I don't know. What do we care about Alabama? I don't know. We want Texas and SC.

George: I will referee and agree with Bob. Because I really believe that Texas now... where they've been a team that has flopped and you have a lot of criticism of Mack Brown in the past, the coaching is going with the playing, that team is in synch. I think they're an exciting team and an exciting QB. You get Vince Young in that game with Matt Leinart in the game, and then everything rolls from there.

And if you ever needed a better description of how things work in college football, there it is. Why are Texas and USC the best Rose Bowl teams? The horse, the drum, excitement. Alabama and Virginia Tech cannot provide that (let alone Georgia or UCLA). The national media has a story in their mind and they will promote that story no matter what. They want the story they've already written. They want the game they've already mapped out. Never mind that each team has 5 more games to play. Never mind what the other undefeated teams have done already, or might do. They have a narrative, and they want to see how the book in their own heads ends. Period. Ryan is dead right, and dangerously honest.

Let's face it. The matchups that decide the national title are decided upon in production meetings months ahead of time. The teams that make the sexiest title game are discussed between writers and editors in August.

That's how you want to decide a champion? Not me.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Gameday Recap - Too much to say today... I go off on rants...

First, indulge me a bit. For as much as I've mocked the theme song to Gameday this year, I really should give it a little more credit. Why, you may ask, should I give any credit to that annoying piece of corn-strewed shit? Well, probably because the Gameday version and accompanying video montage is freaking Casablanca and the first two Godfathers combined compared to the actual "Comin' to your city" song and video. I caught the video on one of the country music TV stations on Friday and let me tell you, if there is a worse video ever made, I have yet to see it. Aliens board a guitar the shape of one you might see in Helloween and they travel through a list of cities Big & Rich might visit soon. There are stripper-looking women, midgets and strobelike lighting. It is, in a word, diarrhetictacular. So from here on out, I will think highly of the opener, since it's light years ahead of the actual video. And if you want to have actual human shit hurtle at your eyes, it's on this site.

And on to the show...

Texas-TT might be the longest game in CFB history. "Pack dinner"
This year's Big 10 is "the best race I've ever seen."
Corso hasn't had a chance to fluff his former employers much this year, but he throws in a big push for the Hoosiers.
Big 10: 1. PSU, 2. OSU, 3. Iowa
Admits he was wrong about ND. Good on ye'.
Also brings up an elephant in the room- was it right to fire Tyrone Willingham?- says it was for $$$ reasons.
ND winning out and going to the BCS.
Agrees with Howard about Reggie Bush, but then raves about Maurice Drew. Good comment, actually. I think the dosage is right for Lee today.
Thinks only Texas goes undefeated. But then laughs and says it won't happen.
Loves Texas Tech's creampuff schedule.
Also, considers Texas close with USC.
Unsure if Spurrier has the patience to stay at South Carolina and win. Thinks Vandy beats him.
Game Changer: Maurice Drew. Apparently, Lee had a book report due on him this week.
MSU's D is poor. Northwestern's is even worse.

Hints at emotional games the previous week carrying over to the next week. Is Herbie reading this?
Vols are desperate.
"They're playing Washington, but you've gotta show Reggie Bush every week." Honest words come out from Herbstreit. Sorry, y'all, but the media has already decided the Heisman.
USC's D will get much better as the season goes on, become "dominant".
UCLA cannot stop anybody, and "they represent the Pac-10". I agree to some extent, but watch the west coast get their panties in a wad over that.
"Big 10 has really upgraded the coaching." They added Terry Hoeppner and Ron Zook since last year. That's all. We'll see on Hoeppner, since he hasn't beaten anyone of substance. And Zook? Right. Everyone else has been there for at least what, 5 years? He qualifies it by comparing it to 10 or 15 years ago (I'd still dispute it), but Corso takes offense, which makes the statement totally worth it.
Big 10: 1. Iowa and Ohio State (OSU gets the tiebreaker on h-to-h)
If you think the season is going well for ND, the recruiting is going even better. Another aside (and I've already had a few with Herbstreit today)- it's one thing for a recruiting dude on the internet to comment about how well teams are doing in recruiting, because I think those types have minimal impact on the actual recruiting. But when one of the most prominent CFB talking heads raves about a particular team, I think recruits might pay some attention. I don't think I'd appreciate that comment if I were a recruiting coordinator at another midwestern school.
ND winning out, going to BCS.
Heisman is a 2 man race between Bush and Young, but Bush is at a different (higher) level than anyone, maybe EVER! Whoa! Here comes overpromotion!
Thinks UGA and Alabama both lose. Thinks USC, Texas and VT go undefeated.
Auburn has the best tandem of Defensive Ends in the SEC, arguably the country. There are 4 other teams in the SEC (UGA, LSU, UT, Alabama) about which he could've said the same thing (not saying it's definitely wrong, but I think they're all really good). He was probably right in that it was the game of the day.
Doesn't think South Carolina goes to a bowl.
Alabama's lost their "rhythm". Where's LaChey to provide insight on beat and melody?
Iowa locker room is overrated, but the fans (when Iowa's good) are nasty.
Texas is probably the best offensive line in all of college football (I'll have to check the notes, but I thought he said that about Minnesota a few weeks ago)
Game Changer: Drew Tate

"Every week in the Big 10 is fun. We're going to talk about all 5 games there." And how many of them are broadcasted on the ESPN family of networks? Just askin'... [and, yes, they talked about 4 SEC games, but the same promotion wasn't there.]
In a list of "good" things about the Big 10, he includes "porous defenses". Factually accurate, but the OSU message boards probably just posted his home phone number for death threats.
Tries to push aside Corso's comment on Willingham - "You've gotta get over the whole firing thing, we're moving forward." Then he brings back up how Corso was wrong about ND (which he'd just apologized for). Two interesting dynamics at play with this one little comment: 1) more pointing out how Corso doesn't know what he's talking about (hinting that they might be puching him out the door, to me) and 2) the Willingham firing can only have one storyline (and it's not that it was the right thing to do).
OK, there HAS to be a better anecdote than the one offered when it comes to Mike Tyson and Matt Leinart at a Victoria's Secret party. Seriously, that was a freaking tease. And then he follows it up with a weak joke.
It's a shame Maurice Drew doesn't play in the SEC because he'd get more attention as a Heisman candidate. Aside - This is, without question, the dumbest comment Fowler has said today. First, the SEC has some great backs. Like Joseph Addai or Ken Darby. The SEC has some great straight up players this year. Like Skyler Green, DJ Shockley, Jay Cutler or Brodie Croyle. And guess what? NONE of them have gotten a damn second's worth of serious Heisman hype from ESPN. If Maurice Drew played in the SEC, he'd be completely ignored just like all the other players down here. Second, if Maurice Drew played in the SEC, he'd run up against 5 of the top 25 rushing defenses in the country. The Pac-10? ONE. And that's USC, who, by virtue of whipping ass, forces teams into throwing the ball the entire second half. I think Drew's been pretty great. But he also hasn't played a defensive front anywhere near as good as Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, etc. That statement is just a freaking embarassment. And Corso and Herbstreit nod and agree. Sad, sad, sad.
Thinks Auburn's travel schedule is a big issue.
Calls Cody Hodges a "gunslinger". I love you too, Chris. Mention me again and I'll know it's true...
Game Changer: LSU's Defense.

Totally expects ND to win out and make a BCS game.
Reggie Bush is the most exciting, entertaining and explosive player in CFB. "If I were a singer in a church choir, I couldn't sing his praises high enough."
Maurice Drew is a watered down version of Bush. Vince Young is a good Heisman runner-up.

ND wins out. Makes the BCS. Good thing there are no dissenting opinions.

Truant. Fire him like Trev.

The horserace bit on the Big 10 race is unnecessary overpromotion. Strangely, they don't do this for the SEC West, or the Big 12 North, or the ACC Coastal, or the Big East. The marriage between the Big 10 and ESPN/ABC is not good for college football. There, I said it. What? What?
The piece on the ND-USC game from last week was pretty good.
Game Face: I've got to hand it to Texas. The winner actually didn't look like the biggest tool on earth, unlike every other school they've visited. He still looked like a tool, but not quite as bad.
Aaaarrrrgh!! The Home Depot Demo Field returns, with lance Armstrong. Waste of time, not entertaining or informative. Armstrong provides tepid analysis. "Mack Brown's a great guy."
A lot of commercials in the second half of today's show.
Pink locker room bit was worth showing, but again, Chris Connelly?

All in all, a lot to take issue with today. I would not consider this one of their better efforts.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Football Wonk - Better than Expected

The Blogpoll Rountable this week had a question about margin of victory and whether it should be accounted for in the BCS computer rankings. A few years ago I got to thinking about margin of victory, and while I actually think it can mean something, I got to thinking that a different margin should mean more. The margin between how a team performed against an opponent and how that opponent normally performs. Example: Team X scores 35 points against Team Y. Team Y has one of the best defenses in the country, averaging giving up 10 points a game. Team X therefore score 25 points better than expected against that team.

So in a way to focus on achievement, I looked at the statistics for the seven undefeated teams as of today (USC, Texas, VT, UGA, Alabama, UCLA and Texas Tech). Then I went game by game and tallied up how much better or worse each team played against its opponent in each game. I looked at scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense and total defense. I'd take the scores and yards from the head to head matchup out of the equation, then compared the scores and yards against the averages for the opponent in all games other than the one at hand. Example: UGA-Boise St. I'd take the offensive scores for UGA (not counting defensive and special teams scores), subtract that from Boise's Defense total scores against, re-average BSU's scoring D, and then compare it to the actual score for the Dawgs. In this case, Georgia scored 22.8 points more than they "should" have had Boise State given up their average. I did this for each game played by the unbeatens (not counting TT's 1-AA games). Then I tallied it all up and averaged it out.

Again the best reason for this system is that playing inferior or superior opponents doesn't really change the equation. If you're playing BFE State, and they normally give up 45 points a game, blowing them out doesn't say anything. But beating a team that's normally very good and blowing them out does, like the Alabama-Florida result.

Here are the results:

Scored 124.9 points more than expected. That's 20.8 points more per game. 3 TDs!
Gave up 84.9 points less than expected. 14.2 points less per game.
Totalled 1415 more yards than expected, 235 more per game.
Conceded 647 fewer yards than expected, 108 fewer per game.
Basically, when teams play USC they give up three touchdowns more than normal, and score two touchdowns less than normal. This is incredibly impressive. Also, their victory over Oregon might be the most impressive win of the year, as compared to the other team's averages (scored 3 TDs more than normal, gave up 4 fewer TDs, and gained 280 more yards than normal while giving up 263 fewer yards than normal) .

Scored 85.2 points more than expected. 14.2 per game more.
Gave up 86.8 points less than expected. 14.5 per game less.
Totalled 886 more yards than expected, 148 more per game.
Conceded 909 fewer yards than expected, 151 fewer per game.
Basically, it's a 4 TD swing when you play the Horns. You're going to give up two more than normal, and score 2 fewer than normal. Also, the Longhorn D's strength really shows here.

Scored 57.2 points more than expected. 9.5 per game more.
Gave up 83.2 points less than expected. 13.9 per game less.
Totalled only 92 more yards than expected. 15 per game more.
Conceded 827 fewer yards than expected. 138 fewer per game.
VT gets a lot of bang for their buck. They don't gain a ton of yards, but they make it count in the scoreboard. 25 point swing is still very good.

Scored 35.3 points more than expected. 5.9 per game more.
Gave up 73 fewer points than expected. 12.2 per game less.
Totalled 512 more yards than expected. 85 more per game.
Conceded 527 fewer yards than expected. 88 fewer yards per game.
The Dawgs haven't been blowing people away. But also, they're the reverse of VT, in that they seem to get less bang for their buck, yardage-wise.

Scored 31.8 points more than expected. 5.3 per game more.
Gave up 100.5 fewer points than expected. 16.8 per game less.
Totalled 327 more yards than expected. 55 more per game.
Conceded 575 fewer yards than expected. 96 fewer yards per game.
Alabama's D really has ben fantastic. Against the average, they've performed the best.

Scored 70.4 points more than expected. 11.7 per game more.
Conceded only 3 fewer points than expected. 0.5 per game less.
Totalled 360 more yards than expected. 60 more per game.
And actually they've given up more yards than their opponents normally gain. 278 total more, for an average of 46 more per game. And this has been the case in 5 of their 6 games.
UCLA are going to be in trouble when they play a team that can stop them. Their defense hasn't stopped anyone. Their numbers are probably the worst of the seven.

(remember, only 4 games, so the numbers might be skewed)
Scored 73.6 more than expected. 18.4 more per game.
Gave up 32.9 fewer points than expected. 8.2 less per game.
Totalled 929 more yards than expected. 246 more per game.
Conceded 59 fewer yards than expected. 15 per game.
As is self-evident, the Red Raider offense is really good, while their D leaves some to be desired. We'll see what happens when they play the Longhorns this weekend.

So there you have it. When you look at the data all together, it seems like USC is clearly the cream of the crop. Texas is a clear second. Alabama, Georgia and Va. Tech are the next level, with Texas Tech not too far behind (and I'd include them too if I had a little more data showing the same results - that FIU game skewed it a little too much). UCLA is the least dominant of this group, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them lose a game they probably shouldn't (though they're probably my second favorite team in this group, the facts is facts).


Premiership Picks

I'm out of town until Saturday night.

Last time: 5/10 right result, 1 right scoreline.
Season: 42/84, 11 right scores.

This weekend:

Blackburn Rovers v. Birmingham City: 1-0. I see Birmingham getting frustrated here.
Arsenal v. Manchester City: 1-1. Arsenal seem to be foggy domestically this year.
Aston Villa v. Wigan Athletic: 0-1. Starting to believe in the boys from up north without fans.
Fulham v. Liverpool: 0-2. Sensing a surge from Liverpool.
Manchester United v. Tottenham Hotspur: 1-1. And stagnation from Man U.
Portsmouth v. Charlton Athletic: 0-1. I like the road teams this week.
Newcastle United v. Sunderland: 1-0. But not here.
Bolton Wanderers v. West Bromwich Albion: 2-0. Or here.
West Ham United v. Middlesbrough: 1-2. Middlesbrough have had some high scoring affairs lately.
Everton v. Chelsea: 0-3. I think this one will be a big time embarassment.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Links Updated

Have a look-see at regularly entertaining and informative spitting:


The Drizzle

and Paradigm Blog.

Links to your right.

Also, if your blog links to me, I'm glad to reciprocate. Just send an email to the address in the top right and I'll tack it on.


Little Lebowski Rankings - Week 2

After a heated and intense discussion with the General, whose knowledge of math and logic far exceeds my own, I've made the decision to change the source of the SOS rankings from GBE to Colleyratings. The reason is that Colley appears to have more sound science, and the results appear more accurate to the naked eye (Texas Tech's schedule is significantly lower). Details are available at their website.

If you don't like it, make your own ranking system. I think this is better. And no, I didn't change it because UGA would become #1. I didn't know they would when I decided to change it, and also they'll drop next week behind the Texas-Texas Tech winner at least once Arkansas comes into the equation.

The Top 25:

25. California 5-2 (105)
24. Iowa 5-2 (76)
23. Florida 5-2 (33)
22. Minnesota 5-2 (27)
21. UTEP 4-1 (113)
20. Fresno State 4-1 (83)
19. LSU 4-1 (22)
18. Toledo 5-1 (112)
17. Auburn 5-1 (81)
16. Miami (FL) 5-1 (65)
15. Nebraska 5-1 (44)
14. Florida State 5-1 (28)
13. TCU 6-1 (92)
12. Boston College 6-1 (69)
11. West Virginia 6-1 (35)
10. Wisconsin 6-1 (32)
9. Oregon 6-1 (19)
8. Penn State 6-1 (12)
7. UCLA 6-0 (97)
6. Virginia Tech 6-0 (68)
5. Texas 6-0 (66)
4. Texas Tech 6-0 (63)
3. Alabama 6-0 (59)
2. Southern Cal 6-0 (56)
1. Georgia 6-0 (46)


Champions' League

Last time around: 9/16 right result, 4 right scorelines.
Today: 5/8 right result, 2 right scorelines.
Season so far: 25/40, 8 right scorelines.


Fenerbahce v. Schalke 04: 1-0
AC Milan v. PSV Eindhoven: 2-1
Olympique Lyonnais v. Olympiakos: 2-0
Real Madrid v. Rosenborg: 2-1
Anderlecht v. Liverpool: 0-1
Chelsea v. Real Betis: 3-1
Porto v. Internazionale Milan: 1-2
Rangers v. Artmedia Bratislava: 2-1


Champions' League Picks

Totally forgot about them today. I'll recap the picks from last time tonight along with tomorrow's picks.

Ajax v. Thun: 2-0
Rapid Wien v. Club Brugge: 1-1
Bayern Munich v. Juventus: 2-1
Sparta Prague v. Arsenal: 0-1
Manchester United v. Lille: 1-1
Udinese v. Werder Bremen: 0-0
Panathinaikos v. Barcelona: 0-2
Villareal v. Benfica: 2-1


Monday, October 17, 2005

Gameday Recap - Digger Phelps Black Undershirt Edition

Hype and Hype and Hype. I find it funny that all last week the whole ND-USC thing was a total Lemon Party. Now, with all the pissing and moaning about the Bush Push and the gloating and LeinartFetish (google search hits just quadrupled) from out west, it's just a scat party. And for the rest of us, well... we're just ready for Texas-Texas Tech and the two pretty big SEC games next weekend already.

But before we move ahead, we must look back...

ND-Nebraska in 2000 was the lowest moment in ND's history.
Watch Penn State run run run some more.
FSU will come out smokin'. But watch out because the game's at UVA.
"I've been coaching 28 years and that's the thickest, deepest grass I've ever seen". Apparently "I've been", when translated from the original sanskrit means "not since 21 years ago".
Says Maurice Drew is considered the 3rd best RB in LA. Calls the WSU-UCLA game exactly right.
"Loves" Georgia. UGA-LSU in the SEC title game. "I'm sticking to it." Fowler then mocks him for changing his story (I think about ND), but here he's actually had the same pick all along. I guess they could give a little credit when due. Or at least if they're going to mock someone for changing their mind, pick the right spot to do it.
This Young kid (at Texas) is "a player." Terrible sportscaster phrase. I thought he was a freaking waterboy.
Calls Howard a leprechaun while disagreeing with him.
Once Carroll leaves, USC's going down. Says he'd leave for the NFL for $$$$.
Now he says he coached for 15 years. Good job, statboy.
Kind of talks poorly of FSU (for the first time in like, ever), but still picks them to win.
Losing destroys your family. And your complexion. Lee is definitely the reason this show is not in HD.
There was once a show called Dragnet and Joe Friday used to say something different from what Corso said. He's funny.
Game Changer: Brady Quinn. Needs to win to be able to talk at pep rallies. Yes, that's a big concern of his right now.

The running game is the most important ingredient in the ND-USC game.
UT-Colorado is a preview of the Big 12 title game.
Now thinks UGA and Alabama will play in the SEC title game, but neither undefeated.
Texas is mature, on a mission, won't lose the rest of the year. But Colorado will challenge them.
USC will be a dynasty as long as Pete Carroll is there. Work ethic + fun is why.
"We'll be back here every year." Thanks, Captain Obvious.
FSU is going 9-0 until losing at Clemson (which he calls "a great team"). Not a very sharp comment there, Kirk.
NSFMF, Michigan State. And then he counts it twice.
Herbstreit's talking a good amount, but he's not saying much today.
ND D doesn't have the manpower, but the crowd might.
Game Changer: Drew Weatherford.

ND is a title contender with a win.
Things are getting shaky in Orgeron's first year at Ole Miss. Guess the Home Depot's going to have to rebuild that set when Coach AfterschoolSpecialBenAffleck breaks it in half and jams it up Herbstreit's a-hole.
Auburn holds all the cards in the SEC West.
Kind of admits that he's on the Baylor bandwagon.
Texas is on letdown alert.
LenDale White is feisty.
Got Howard's back on USC. Sort of.
Digger Phelps' speech was "inspired, if not completely captivating." He needed a whole roll of Charmin to wipe the area around his lips for that one.
Talks about how Ted Ginn is turning away from contact. Just call him a pussy and be done with it.
Totally calls out Corso for using press releases for his "research". Most interesting comment of the day and it's a throwaway right before the last commercial. Seriously, that's the kind of comment someone makes if you're trying to get someone else to quit. I'm thinking they're thinking Corso's dead weight and they'd love to replace him. This is really an interesting thing.
Game Changer: Brian Brohm. Corporate pick - no hype for that game up to that point.

Nice suit, Deion. I'm sure lots of Michigan fans are proud.
USC's dynasty ends this year. They cannot duplicate the offensive productivity in the future. "With that [talent] drop off comes a uh uh uh mediocracy". Let's go to the judges... no, sorry, that's not a word. And you failed to phrase it in the form of a question, so we'll have to take $1600 away from you. But you're still in control of the board, so select... And thank you, Kirk, for doing my job.
Ted Ginn doesn't have the determination and drive to succeed.

Suggests winking at the other team to intimidate. He appears high as a kite.
Picks ND to win. Shocker!

No show. Should've shown solidarity with Trev.

GameFace winners look like high schoolers.
Matt Leinart loves ND. Watching Rudy made him want to go there. Like watching Laguna Beach made him want to bang bitchy Kristin.
Shelley Smith, believe it or not, had an in depth piece that had something to do with the USC program. Shocking, I know. I hope she's getting USC course credit for her stories this year.
Have I been missing Chris Connelly pieces this whole year? Shame, 'cuz he's some good fodder for jokes. When he covered shitty movies for MTV, he made John Norris look straight.
I'm not the first to say this, but the Digger Phelps bit was shameless and useless. Thank the Lord that the crowd had the good sense to drown him out. And use those buttons, dude.
In depth story on Temple - should've saved it for next week when there aren't many big stories.
They need to show more footage of sharks jumping out of the water and eating the shit out of other fish.
I'm not wasting my time compiling their picks anymore, since they pick enough no brainers and similar games to make their picks look better than they really are, and they really don't prove a thing.
No astroturf walkthrough, thankfully.
No team breakfast footage, sadly.
I was a little surprised that they covered a lot of the other games this week. Seemed like a conscious decision to spread the wealth, almost that they realized most of us were sated with the hype. I vote this as one of their better shows this year.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Football Wonk: Free Football!

A few weeks ago I remember someone on Gameday mention how some team played an overtime game the week before and so they might be worn out. I started thinking how this could be an interesting topic to look into and to find out if there are any trends to look for.

Using's scores going back to the beginning of 2003 (I couldn't find any scores before then) and going forward all the way to last weekend, I catalogued every overtime game and then checked out how each team played the very next week. I also broke it down by home and away. There are a few somewhat interesting trends.

First, let's look at the initial overtime games themselves. I always wondered if there was an advantage for the home team in overtime games (my thinking was that it wouldn't really matter, since the two teams were already tied and you might say the home field advantage hadn't worked all that well up to then). It turns out there appears to be a significant advantage for home teams in overtime. Home teams since 2003 have gone 50-29 (63%) in OT. The intensity of the crowd probably increases, I suppose.

Next, let's look at how teams perform the next week. If a team had a bye the next week, I didn't count it, since they'd have plenty of time to rest. I also didn't count the Division 1-AA teams involved in OT games.

Overall, teams that played in an overtime game the week before went 58-68 (46%) the following week. Pretty close to fifty-fifty, and considering the variables (playing a more difficult opponent, etc), I'm not prepared to say this is a real trend.

However, splitting the results up by scenarios does seem to show a few trends.

The week following an OT win, teams have gone 30-37 (45%). Strangely enough, the week following an OT loss, teams have gone 28-31 (47%). Statistically, this isn't all that significant, but it may hint that teams suffering a tough loss might regroup.

What about after a Home OT game, as compared to a road OT game. If an OT game takes more out of you than a normal game would, logic would suggest that traveling back home afterwards might affect performance the next week. However, the data doesn't show that. The week following an OT game on the road, teams are 33-27 (55%). Meanwhile, the week following an OT game at home, teams are 25-40 (42%). I've got a theory on this, now that I've seen the data. After a tough, energy draining game like most OT games, the traveling team usually gets on a plane where the players pretty much sleep. The home team is already in their own town, where there's wine, women and song to distract the players.

Taking it to the next level, after a road win, teams are 13-9 (59%) the next week. Appears to me that teams may get some rest on the way home and regroup. After a road loss, teams are still 20-19 (51%), showing that shattered confidence might not be as bad a problem as one might think. On the other hand, after a home loss, teams are 8-12 (40%). But the real trend is after a home win. After a home win, teams are only 17-28 (38%). Too much celebrating after a tough win? Perhaps.

What about travel problems affecting both weeks (the OT game and the subsequent game). Travel is annoying. Playing consecutive road games may affect a team's performance, and when one of the games is a tough OT game, the effects of travel might be more evident. The data doesn't show many trends here. When a team has an OT road game, but they return home the next week, the teams are 22-19 (54%). Not too bad, but not statistically significant. When teams follow a road OT game with another road game, the teams are still 11-9 (55%). Again, statistically insignificant, but hints that travel doesn't cause that many problems. When a team plays an OT game at home, and then doesn't have to travel the next weekend, the teams are 15-10 (60%). Too small a sample to really say all that much, but it hints that not having to travel at all after an OT game may be an advantage to a team. Finally, and what is perhaps the biggest trend of all concerning OT games, when a team plays an OT game at home and then has to travel the next week, teams are only 10-30 (25%)! To me that suggests that win or lose, after a tough OT game, players are probably celebrating or blowing off steam afterward, and when that's added to a short week with travel on Friday, the lack of rest and recovery might catch up to them the next week.

I guess the numbers might say something, or they might not say much at all. I definitely wouldn't say that teams are automatically disadvantaged the next week after playing an OT game. But I'd also worry about a team coming off a home OT game and going on the road.


Flick the Button

Double Indemnity: Great script, great plot, MacMurray is fantastic, and the style is just right. The only thing I saw as slightly off was how Stanwyck just didn't seem hot enough to cause that sort of reaction so immediately. One of the best noirs I've seen. Clearly a Cadillac.

I, Robot: It's another expectations movie, as in I had really low expectations. But it wasn't that bad, until the last 30 minutes or so. Will Smith wasn't obnoxiously willenial, and the robots didn't freak me out nearly as much as I thought they would. The end nearly forced me into firing it, but I'll be generous and call it a set of steak knives.

Monster: Not exactly a fun thing to watch. It stays with you though. Maybe an oversimplification, and way too many scenes seemed like staged for the Oscar reel. But the acting is really hard to ignore, as Theron gives a pretty remarkable performance and Ricci is surprisingly good. Steak knives (and obviously a nicer set than I, Robot).

Sahara: I think what I dislike about a lot of action movies is the way they expect you to suspend your belief in reality, but then try their hardest to inject what they think the target audience's reality is back into it. Nearly every Bruckheimer movie has this flaw. I guess refreshingly, this movie doesn't even think about reality. It embraces ridiculousness and I went along for the ride. Much much much better than National Treasure. Obviously not in Indiana Jones territory, but what is? An enjoyable 2 hours. And Steve Zahn rules. Steak knives.


Premiership Picks

Two weeks off for international games. Some interesting results in the World Cup qualifying. I think the USMNT result is very good, in that I think it'll help solidify a top 10 FIFA ranking, perhaps getting us a better draw.

Last time: 6/10 right result, 1 right score. Cash.
Season: 37/74 right results, 10 right scores.

This weekend:

Wigan Athletic v. Newcastle United: 1-1. I'd like to pick Wigan here, but I have to think Newcastle will put it together for at least a couple of games.
Chelsea v. Bolton Wanderers: 3-0. Rolling.
Liverpool v. Blackburn Rovers: 2-1. I actually think this should be a pretty entertaining match.
Sunderland v. Manchester United: 0-2. Big crowds on hand to be disappointed.
Tottenham Hotspur v. Everton: 1-0.
West Bromwich Albion v. Arsenal: 0-3. Arsenal are gimpy, but still outclass the Baggies.
Middlesbrough v. Portsmouth: 2-1.
Birmingham City v. Aston Villa: 1-0. Ain't picking Villa for a while. Birmingham Derby goes to the home team.
Manchester City v. West Ham United: 2-1. I think City won't let the break slow them down.
Charlton Athletic v. Fulham: 3-1. Charlton too.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Pepidemiology meets Gastrology

I direct your attention to the cookbook Norbizness is compiling of mascots that can be eaten. I seriously believe this is his book deal [pause] MEAL TICKET (rimshot).

Jay Leno's blog squad is stealing that shitty joke as we speak.


Little Lebowski Urban Achievers - Week 2

For background go here. Asterisk indicates head to head victory. And no, I have no idea how Texas Tech has the 10th toughest schedule either. Ask these guys. They must not count the 1-AA opponents or something like that.

Top 25

25. Louisville 4-1 (92)
24. Kansas State 4-1 (79)
23. Notre Dame 4-1 (74)
22. Michigan State 4-1 (77*)
21. Colorado 4-1 (56)
20. Indiana 4-1 (50)
19. Miami (FL) 4-1 (36)
18. Nebraska 4-1 (31)
17. California 5-1 (113)
16. Boston College 5-1 (102)
15. Wisconsin 5-1 (72)
14. Texas Christian 5-1 (68)
13. West Virginia 5-1 (57)
12. Minnesota 5-1 (49)
11. Oregon 5-1 (19)
10. Florida 5-1 (18)
9. Texas 5-0 (97)
8. UCLA 5-0 (83)
7. Southern California 5-0 (73)
6. Alabama 5-0 (65)
5. Georgia 5-0 (63)
4. Florida State 5-0 (53)
3. Texas Tech 5-0 (10)
2. Virginia Tech 6-0 (48)
1. Penn State 6-0 (21)


Welcome Message Board Readers

Strangely enough, I'm not a reader of message boards. Not my thing. But it's truly amazing to see my daily hits rise 30 fold just after a few posts on message boards. I think the traffic is hilarious, but then again I started this thing just as a zip drive for my ever-shrinking-due-to-alcohol brain and I'm surprised that anyone else reads it.

But more than anything else, I feel like I've arrived today. Seriously, I know I've made it when a Notre Dame poster calls me arrogant. Wow.

If nothing else, thanks for the traffic, and if you like the ignorant, myopic rants of a redneck, come on back sometime.

Now, if I could only get some real pipe-hittin', OMG teh Nd rulz trolls up in this mug, I'd really be sitting pretty. The comments thing, go ahead and use it. I won't bite too hard.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Douchebag College Football Pundit of the Week

Stewart Mandel can eat a dick.

He clearly didn't watch the UGA-UT game, but thought he'd file a column trashing the Dawgs anyway. This sentence reveals such:

Georgia jumped to a 13-0 lead thanks in large part to Tennessee QB Rick Clausen's first-half interception at the goal line and subsequent fumble.

Points off those turnovers: 3. Georgia got to that lead thanks in large part to an impressively powerful 84 yard drive, a 63 yard drive, strong special teams play, winning the field position battle, and efficient production by DJ Shockley, especially on third down, not because of Tennessee miscues. Georgia's veteran offensive line blocked solidly against probably the best defensive front in the nation.

He knocks the ugliness of the game. I didn't realize they gave bonus points for winning pretty (and did he hold that against Ohio State a few years ago?). It was not an especially pretty game. But that's what you get when you match strength against strength (OL vs DL), and both defenses are playing at a level that high. It was as hard hitting a game as I've seen this year. And that's real football as much as double reverse shovel passes and whatever bullshit offensive theory the Keyboard Koordinators think is perfect today.

Further proof Mandel suffers from recto-cranial inversion:

That Georgia's defense is playing at the same dominant level as it has the past three a credit not only to VanGorder's understudy, Willie Martinez, but a to a core of previously unheralded veterans (defensive end Quentin Moses, safeties Greg Blue and Tra Battle, cornerback DeMario Minter) who have taken their games to another level.

First, Van Gorder worked under Martinez at Central Florida. Their paths have tracked each other pretty closely. I think calling him an understudy is unfair. Second, "previously unheralded" should read one way: "guys that I don't know about because I don't do any research about teams I'm paid to write about". Greg Blue has been a stud his entire career at Georgia. Moses should have had publicity, but national media guys knew about Pollack and Pollack only. Minter has been a 4 year starter. If these guys are previously unheralded, it's Mandel's fault.

This sentence is just moronic:

But when push comes to shove, there's only one SEC team, Alabama, who I'd give a fighting chance against a USC, Texas or Virginia Tech -- because the Tide are explosive both offensively and defensively.

Alabama is good. They had a fantastic game against Florida. I have nothing against Alabama. But there is very little evidence that Alabama is any more explosive offensively than Georgia. Or any evidence that USC, Texas, and VT would be able to move the ball on Georgia or that they would be able to stop Georgia. Up until any of those teams prove on the field that they'd beat Georgia (or any other undefeated team out there, like Penn State, UCLA, or FSU), saying they would is just conjecture.

The games matter. Singing over and over again about how great a team is and how nobody can beat a particular team is a bad idea. It affects the games. It's why two years ago the national media bukkake for Oklahoma resulted egg on the faces of so many pundits by the end of the year. And last year the on-field performance by Auburn was discounted in exchange for again, Oklahoma's supposed dominance. The teams Mandel mentions have proven no more than any other undefeated team, and elevating three teams to Godlike status at the expense of others makes teams play on what is not a level playing field.

This column is a perfect example of why national writers for college football are at best uninformed, at worst biased ignorami. It is impossible to file a story or column by noon on Sunday having watched more than portions of a few games. And when you rely on highlights to tell the story of games, you miss out. Unfortunately, these writers do have an effect on coverage of teams, and in turn polls, which affect the national title picture. I'm not so naive as to think that if an undefeated team takes care of its business, everything else will work out. It hasn't two years in a row. And people like Stewart Mandel are part of the problem, especially with foolish columns like this.

UPDATE: Also, let's require some logical consistency. I've hit on this before with Bill Simmons, but if a particular pundit picks against a team, he ought to be completely precluded from saying that he isn't impressed by that team when they win. If you thought they'd lose and they don't, you cannot say you're underwhelmed. It's just this kind of arrogance and refusal to ADMIT YOU WERE WRONG that infuriates me. If you're wrong, you don't get a "yeah, but they still suck". Nope, pretend you have a sack and fess up to your own incompetence.


College Football Discussion Question

For all the hype propping them up, I wasn't all that supercrazy about the Ohio State linebacking corps. In fact, I'd consider them inferior to Alabama's corps, and probably a few others too.

Here's the question, and I'm not necessarily taking one side or another...

Is the hype behind Ohio State's linebackers deserved? If not, do you think they get more publicity because the stars are white? As in, if AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter were black, would they get as much attention? And if the racial angle makes you uncomfortable, do you think it might be that because Carpenter's such a good quote, he gets more publicity?


Gameday Recap - Fowler Haircare edition

Computer crashed and destroyed my post about halfway into it... I'm not wasting another hour doing this, so the first 45 minutes is from memory.

Opening line was insane: Texas seniors haven't beaten Oklahoma in five years, like since the seniors were juniors in high school. Then he follows that up with the totally unrelated comment about how FSU hadn't beaten Miami in forever. Stars are aligned. He's lost it already.
Texas Tech has played ATO and Sigma Nu. heh.
Feels important enough to point fingers even if Florida won't. Well, I guess it is part of his job.
Best D: Ohio State.
Gives some love to VT defense.
Likes Cal. He's said that a bunch. To the point that Herbstreit is actually calling it strange (and Kirk, how many times did you rave about how good Cal was last year? STFU).
ASU gains confidence after losing to USC.
Most impressive about Paterno: tougher with the media, softer on players. This doesn't impress me all that much.
No coach has done more for his university than Paterno.
Texas defensively is the best team I've seen in years mentally and physically. Interestingly, he didn't mention them when talking about the best Ds above.
Talks a lot about the personal attitudes and motivations for USC. I wouldn't presume to know.
On the money with his analysis of UGA-UT: importance of the lines, tight ends, and that UGA wins.
Kudos to Corso for praising Penn State's offense despite the weight of ESPN hyping Ohio State's D.
Henne and Hart together are "impossible to beat". The crow goes to the old guy at the table alone with the makeup on.
Vince Young is a legit Heisman candidate.
GameChanger: Ohio State LBs ("The best in the country")
Anyone know what Corso was doing with his hands while picking UGA? Looked like the Kentucky Wildcat scratching.

Clearly when Kirk saw Fowler's hair and the gallon of jizz he put in it, the first thought in his mind had to have been "Quit copying me, loser."
ATO and Sigma Nu would be an upgrade for Texas Tech.
Winner of Oregon/ASU is the second best team in the Pac-10. Err... UCLA vs. Cal...
Sounded like he almost called Chris Leak "Chris Rix". Said something like Chris Reek. Heh.
Says the problem with Florida is no legitimate threat in the option. Yes, that kind of is the point.
Best D: Ohio State and Alabama.
Bruins are the next team to test USC. Uhh, the ND fluffer programmers just fainted.
Talks about how well Paterno's recruited (opposite of every other year this decade) and the high character of the players. I think talking about character is the last refuge of a weak pundit. Penn State has had their share of shitbags and thugs. Every school has them. No team has cornered the market on class.
Both OSU/PSU QBs are great leaders.
Vince Young trumps all the stuff about losing to OU.
Seems to know a lot about USC's attitudes, like Corso.
Tennessee is probably the best D Line in the country.
Michigan won't lose again until the Ohio State game. The crow must be tonight's special.
Right call about Texas being able to throw the ball.
GameChanger: Tyrell Sutton. Good call there.

Perhaps it was the weather, but whatever Chris put in his hair might spout a head and make some predictions itself.
Keen insight: on OSU sucking after a week off.
"My crimson tide"... Objectivity? Screw it.
Vandy is our adopted team - Herbstreit shrugs it aside.
"Joap-uh" only 4000 times today. I am annoyed. Say it... JOE [halfpause] PAH.
Best D: FSU
Complete agreement that the ACC has hands down the best Ds (I dispute it!).
Kellen Clemens is having a quietly good year. I get so annoyed by pundits who say things like this (or how a team is underrated or "under the radar"). You control the national football discourse more than anyone else. If you think Clemens needs more coverage, cover him! You've got 90 minutes, throw a couple his way, instead of running a Shelley Smith piece on Matt Leinart having famous friends for the 50th time.
Add "Uck-lah" for UCLA to the list of annoying mispronounciations.
Cute bit on Paterno's age compatriots (Castro, Greenspan, Lewis, Hefner)
Repeats a line I've read a few places this week about how the visiting team wins between UT and UGA. UT won last year in Athens, but UGA won the previous 4, 2 at home, 2 on the road. Before that, UT won an asston in a row, both home and away. This line of thinking just isn't factually accurate.
GameChanger: Joel Klatt.

Best D: nobody's all that great - kind of ballsy.
Interesting comment (as in nobody else really said this) on how Ohio State gave up that last drive to UT shows they aren't that great.
Says VT hasn't played anyone and everyone agrees.
A juggs machine to a receiver is like a piece of cake to a fat kid. Awesome, Fiddy.

Very excitable, but doesn't say a damn thing. Something about eating hot dogs and drinking cokes.


Paterno looked hilarious jumping around at the pep rally. Almost as good footage as a team breakfast.
Question: Since Maurice Drew added the Jones to his jersey, does he want to be called Jones-Drew by the media, or is it just for the jersey? Fowler calls him Drew throughout, the announcers during the game used just Drew. Is there an official ruling on this?
I finally broke down and downloaded "Comin' to your city" as my cellphone ringtone. Then I smashed my phone into 8 million pieces the first time I received a call.
Paterno might be crazy. Thumping his chest like that, looked like he was having a heart attack.
Keith Jackson: "One moment in a game like [OU-UT], can make a whole life." That's the most depressing comment on this show all year. Keith, they all aren't Biff and Happy Lomans.
Weak GameFace this week.
Lachey still missing.
No walkthroughs because of the weather. Too bad. The show definitely suffers.

Saturday Selections:
Corso: 11-5, 98-30 season.
Herbstreit: 11-5, 102-15 season.
And real ballsy picking Fresno over NMSU. A lot of their picks this week were no brainers.


Phil Simms, Genius

Key 4th quarter drive, Falcons down by 8. Schaub scrambles to his right and stretches for what looks like a first down. Referee says he stepped out of bounds 4 yards short of first down. No whistle blows the play dead. Replays clearly show Schaub didn't step out of bounds. Falcons prepare to challenge the ruling on the field. Referees confer and decide that because the call was "out of bounds" it is a dead ball and not reviewable.

Let's review:

Referees blow the call.
Referees decide that because there was a whistle (which there wasn't), the play isn't reviewable.
Referee's initial bad call doesn't get reviewed, I perceive, on a technicality.

And Phil says, verbatim: "Good call by the refs, that it isn't reviewable."

Yes, the erroneous out of bounds call and nonexistent whistle deserve no comment, but the way the refs covered their own asses sure was worth a compliment.

And also, we get it that Tom Brady is good and that you feel cheated for not getting to see Vick.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Light posting tonight

and maybe tomorrow... Been paying the bills and shit.

While I'm away, have fun imagining how mindblowing it must've been to watch a python eat a gator and fucking explode. And this happened in Florida? What kind of banana republic is America's Wang, anyway?

And Tim Hudson, no more walks. And Chris Reitsma, pretend your arm has no feeling in it. Not helping.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Little Lebowski Urban Achiever College Football Rankings

Polls affect college football, and I don't like that. I'm not one of those playoff guys. I don't mind that there are often controversies. I like that the entire season means a whole lot. But the polls bother me. First, because they're made up of humans, who are flawed. Second, because they affect bowl selections, which in turn affect the budgets of the programs polled, and without anyone really noticing that a lot of the people contributing to the polls happen to have financial interests in the results of those same polls.

Now some say that we need to take the human element out of the game - leave it to objective facts. I can get behind that idea. However, that doesn't mean that I'm all gung-ho behind the computer rankings. In fact, I don't like the computer rankings, because I think their formulas are actually too complicated.

I think it'd be a better system if the rankings used were objective, without any human element introducing bias, and also clear and concise so that every team knows what they have to do to succeed before the season begins. And that's why I've come up with this set of rankings. I called it the Gunslinger poll in an earlier post, but I don't like that name, because it isn't a poll, and I don't want my name on it if it ends up sucking, which it might.

Here's how it works:

A simple set of rules, applying to every single team. You rank the Division 1-A teams from 1-119 following the following rules:

1) Start from the bottom, with the teams which have lost the most. Example: all 0-10 teams are ranked ahead of any 0-11 teams.

2) Next, moving toward the top, slot in the more victories achieved so far. Example: 5-1 teams are ranked ahead of any 4-2 team. Also, all 5-1 teams are ranked ahead of any 4-1 team. The rationale is that each game presents another opportunity to lose, and a risk a team takes. Therefore, teams who play in conference championships are given an advantage over teams which don't (an unfair disadvantage in the current system, in my opinion).

3) Assume that every game remaining for a particular team may be a win, which is why the first slotting is done with losses. Example: an 0-3 team will be slotted ahead of a 1-4 team, since the 0-3 team can end up winning 8 games in an 11 game season while the 1-4 team cannot.

4) After taking the first three steps, you should have all 119 teams slotted with all teams matched up with the other teams that have the same record. The reason for doing this is simple: at the beginning of the year, the goal for every team is to win every single game on the schedule. Period. No matter whether that team is in a BCS conference or a mid-major, the goal is the same. If a team, like Utah last year, does not get beaten, who is to say that any other team is better. Nobody beat them, nobody can say with absolute certainty that anyone else would. Now, the flaw you may say is that teams play more difficult schedules than others. That's true, and you'll see how I deal with that below. But the truth of the matter is that the guys giving their all on the field don't set the schedules. Schedules are set sometimes a decade in advance, by people who have no idea whatsoever how good the opponents are going to be when they get around to playing the games. Yes, conferences make a difference in terms of schedule strength, but the system accounts for it. I continue...

5) As between teams with the same exact record, rank the team who has played the tougher schedule higher than a team with a weaker schedule. Example: 2 teams, both 4-0, one has played the 10th toughest schedule, the other the 50th. Rank the 10th toughest higher. Schedule strength should be important, but it should have secondary importance to actually winning the games. Also, as the season progresses, schedule strength is fluid, and the stronger conferences end up with better schedule strength because of the conference games.

6) One exception to Rule 5: when two or more teams with the same exact record have played each other head to head, and the team with the lower schedule strength beat the team with the higher SOS, the winning team beween the two shall be slotted immediately above the losing team, even if it jumps several others to get there. Example: Michigan State, with a worse SOS than Notre Dame, will be slotted above the Irish. In the event that there are three teams who beat each other, all with the same record, revert to the SOS.

And that's it. Simple. No algorithyms. No humans deciding who's best. It's a simple formula, the teams know what to do to finish first: win all your games.

Is it a perfect system? Well, no. But nothing is. But the idea is to reward the team that does the most to win every game. A focus on actual achievement. Then, when trying to compare apples and oranges, an objective tiebreaker is used.

So that's how it works. I use the GBE Schedule Strength Ratings for the scale. Here are the top 10 as of last weekend:

10) Georgia: 4-0, 86th
9) Nebraska: 4-0, 84th
8) Texas Tech: 4-0, 65th
7) Southern California: 4-0, 58th
6) Florida State: 4-0, 28th
5) California: 5-0, 119th
4) Wisconsin: 5-0, 77th
3) Alabama: 5-0, 60th
2) Virginia Tech: 5-0, 48th
1) Penn State: 5-0, 25th

The rankings are fluid, especially the SOS portion, and bye weeks shift things around a lot. It does show to me, at least, that Penn State might be slightly underrated by the pollsters. They've played the toughest schedule of any undefeated team so far.

How should teams approach this system? Well, win every game, and schedule good teams in advance. Winning is the key though. If you play a weak schedule, you might be toward the top because of a good W/L record. But playing a weak schedule will pretty much prevent you from winning a title if there are any other teams who run the table.

So that's the system, and those are the current top 10. When I can figure out how to do it, I may link to the entire 119 list on a separate page.


Flick the Button

Haven't done this in a while, because I've been drunk and watching football for the last six weeks.

The Lady Vanishes: I kind of liked it, though I thought the opening half hour was for the most part unnecessary. Once they got on the train, it finally got, er, moving. Reminded me, I suppose obviously, of The 39 Steps in how the political intrigue simmered until the very end. I also think I liked that a little better. Oddly, it's only 90 minutes, but it felt like it probably should've had some stuff cut. Still, it's interesting, and nicely acted and set up. Steak knife.

21 Grams: Really well acted. Not as mindblowing as Amores Perros (and it covers the same territory), but Gonzalez Inarritu is a talent. Also, it totally ripped off Body Parts and Treehouse of Horror IX. Definitely kept my interest, but in the end it felt emptier than I thought it would/should/ought to be. On the fence, but leaning toward You're Fired.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Gameday Recap: Lee Mistakes his Crestor for Crystal Meth edition.

Day late, dollar short, etc. Nonetheless, here's my recap. With added snark.

The crew is in Tempe this week, where they're full of crap, but it's a dry crap...

"Slim and None" chance for ASU to beat USC.
Advises the dink and dump style to beat USC (I think CFN hit on this a few weeks ago)
VT needs to watch out.
ND passing D is suspect.
Texas loses to A&M, Tech or Oklahoma.
NSFMF for Nebraska 5 minutes after the others talked about that game. Soft foods and incontinence pills time.
Announces that he coached in the Big 10 for ten years, saw great offensive football. Clearly he has not taken his medicine. When Corso coached in the Big Ten, the average team passed the ball like, never.
Michigan State won't win the Big 10 because schedule is too tough.
Mississippi State needs to throw the ball 50 times to beat LSU. Lee has obviously never seen MSU play. Says LSU wins close. Lee does not have it today.
Pulls the whole "they don't have a chance...NSF" routine with Florida. Says Florida wins because of coaching and Leak. Just a red letter day for wrongness.
Corso's going on and on about how great USC is. Last few weeks he took the opposing side. It's like Hollywood Hogan turning his back on the NWO.
Talks about the "Michigan" attack with Cupito and Maroney.
Same NSFMF after talking up ND. Sign of the Cross was kind of out of place. He's goofy today.
This wasn't the focus of his comment, but Corso when talking about VT-WVU, Corso said that NC State was "[whistles, does gay looking hand gesture]". Is he saying the Pack are gay?
Cal can beat USC.
Drew Stanton leads the NFL in something. Lee, if you have been drinking, stop. If you haven't, start.
Game Changer: Reggie Bush
Florida wins with special teams passing. Wow. Just a fantastically deranged performance by Lee.

Same advice about clock control against USC.
Alabama D is one of the more athletic, experience in the country.
Big 12 North sucks except for Colorado.
Michigan State has a long tradition of melting down. Contender, but need to play better D.
Uses the word "composure" in the same sentence with "Fulmer" without laughing.
Now Kirk is fluffing USC too. It's getting to the point where they're trying to one up each other by saying "you don't think they're quite as incredibly awesome as I do - How dare you say they're merely totally dominant!"
VT won't lose at home. Today is a test for them.
Knocks Sam Keller for mocking Leinart and his hobnobbing with the stars. Kirk needs to know the audience better here, 'cause they side with Keller. While, yes, most dudes watching want to bang Jessica Simpson, they also like their football players not to be metrosexual hollywood douches. The producers know this, and that's why they left Nick Lachey locked in the boiler room at Ohio Stadium a month ago.
Game Changer: Brodie Croyle
Bush impression? OK, then.

Day of Unbeatens - hints at undressing (knows what he's talking about)
Mike Hart's health is key (Fowler seems to know what he's talking about - Guess the end of Tennis season has finally made a difference)
Some pub for the Texas D. Nice to see a national dude talk about someone other than a Young.
Knochs Texas Tech's schedule.
Nice little jab at Desmond for being "objective"
Interesting little comment about how Shula needs to start winning big games. That's definitely the comment of a guy who gets it. Compares Shula to John Cooper.
More JOE-puh. Annoyed.
Claims "history says you don't play well the week after an overtime loss". Is this true? I have a hypothesis that it's conventional wisdom, but maybe not true. I smell a football wonk episode, if I can track down the info.
Repeats that Marcus Vick is ready for the WVU crowd. (Ready to cuss em out. Also, everytime I read about an "obscene gesture" I imagine something more gross than just flipping a bird, something like the blowjob mouth thing).
Jokes about how VT might lose at home, unlike what the others say. Keep it real, dude.
Game Changer: Matt Trannon.
Now he says "JOE-puh" and makes fun of Corso for "Joe-Papa". Say it... "AAHHHH"

Gets a thumbs up from Herbstreit for his induction into the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. That looked silly.
Calls out Michigan State for not acting like they'd been there before. He doesn't even try to hide his contempt.
Doesn't disagree with Fowler when he said Howard's the only guy on the crew that can demo a Reggie Bush move. I'd pay to see Corso try. Broken hips galore. Also, I hate this segment.

USC lead fluffer. No team in history of football faster. The added bonus is that May's goatee is hidden behind Matt Leinart's balls.

Michigan is good because the players had a meeting. Good job on limiting his camera time, producers.

Lloyd Carr quotes Churchill and that's supposed to mean something.

Keith Jackson says he cannot remember a better offense than USC. This would be important if Jackson didn't seem a bit Beanoesque.
We might have the season GameFace leader today. This douche is wearing a costume muscle chest and of course that's painted. This, more than any other contestant, says "weird junior still living in the dorms but not an RA because he couldn't get the job."

General impression:
Fowler talked more than usual, Herbstreit was definitely more restrained. Corso insane.

Hindsight picks:
Corso: 18-6, 87-25 season
Herbstreit: 18-6, 91-20 season


Foggy Bottom Awesomeness

Washington, DC is a fun town for lots of reasons.

1) Dan's Cafe in Adams Morgan features bartenders that purposefully act like cocksuckers toward patrons; also serve "a jack and coke" in the form of a tupperware bowl of ice, a pint of Jack Daniel's, two glasses and a can of coke.

2) Rhino Bar and Pumphouse in Georgetown features loud as fuck Penn State Alumni upstairs and asstons of Bostonians bitching about Fox's blackout rules, whilst I have 18 Yuenglings.

3) Five Guys might be the best burger I've ever had, but 18 Yuenglings may have clouded my vision.

4) Millie and Al's in Adams Morgan features a decorative skeleton which dances at the same time a huge lightbulb goes off, and at that precise moment jello shooters are served happily. And Dinosaur Jr. rocked the jukebox.

5) Old Ebbitt Grill made me feel like I was a member of the Rat Pack.

6) Chloe (and no, I'm not a club-type guy) featured a DJ who played stuff the crowd knew (top 40 hip hop), but the biggest pop of the night came from him playing "Don't You Want Me" by Human League. Yes. Gold Digger was played twice, Candy Shop got a pretty good cheer, but the noise was far loudest for Don't You Want Me, BAY BAY, Don't you want me OHHH-OH-OH-OH. I love it. Plus, I watched bouncers break up 2 fights between women.

7) Raddest music I heard all weekend was outside Ghana Cafe. Still Flyin' need to hit that shit when they tour the Tidewater.

8) Not really a DC bar tour, but talk about AirTran. Roundtrip fare: $88. Now that's an exceptional thing. Of course, everything else was pretty much screwed up (luggage, delays). But I think AirTran's new slogan is really great: "It's $88. Shut the Fuck Up."

9) The weather was great. Comedy was golden. A great bachelor party.