Wednesday, November 29, 2006

These are the things I think about.

1) How did the guy who played Moose in the Enterprise Rent-a-Car "Class of 94 Here I Come" commercial get a decently sized role in Studio 60? What's next, the "dude, you're getting a Dell" guy getting a 4 show arc as Meredith's new crush on Grey's Anatomy?

2) Have I gotten progressively dumber, has my hearing gotten worse, or has Dick Vitale calmed down? Or has ESPN lowered the volume on his mic?

3) Does Thad Matta look more like an IRS auditor or a department of labor case manager? Either way, he's definitely a government bureaucrat. He should wear short sleeve shirts with ties.

4) Greg Odom looks 40.

5) Did I seriously TiVo the last 5 minutes of the Hawks' game tonight?

6) The fact that Err and Ignignokt went to LA... that doesn't mean they won't come back, right? I honestly think that Err's monologue on why he's so angry and how he misses his father was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

7) I need to find my Queensryche tapes. Yes, there is an "s" at the end of that last word.

8) How can I figure out a reason to go to France and drive over that really really high bridge there?

9) Whoa, I think I just found one to match #1 above. Flipping by "My Boys" on TBS, I see that ridiculously annoying guy with the bullhorn from the BellSouth commercials. He doesn't seem to have a big role, but still. And I watched a total of 5 minutes of two different episodes, and the main characters were playing poker on three separate occasions. It's like one scene at the office, poker, then at lunch with the main character's girlfriend, then more poker, then commercial, then a different poker scene. Am I not a real man because I don't play poker 6 nights a week?

10) In Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column this week, he writes about how Dennis Green screwed up last week by going for two when down 12 after a TD in the 4th quarter:

Sour Coaching Decision of the Week No. 2: With just more than 10 minutes remaining, the Arizona (Caution: May Contain Football-Like Substance) Cardinals scored to make it Vikings 31, Cards 19. The end-game scoreboard had come into focus, and Arizona needed a minimum of 12 more points. Take the single PAT and reduce the margin to 11! Coaching theory holds that when a deuce try is likely during a comeback, always leave the deuce attempt to the final touchdown, when your guys are pumped and the team that once held the "safe" lead is reeling. If you try for the deuce and fail on the first of two needed touchdowns, the air goes out of your guys because they know the comeback just became less likely. Instead of closing to 31-20, Dennis Green went for two and failed. Then with a minute remaining, the Cards scored again to make it 31-25 and took the single because the deuce was meaningless here. Had Green taken a single earlier, the score would have been 31-26 and a deuce attempt pulls the Cardinals within a field goal of overtime! Arizona proceeded to recover the onside kick; the clock expired with the Cards on the Vikes' 36, from which strong kicker Neil Rackers could have tried for the tie had Green simply managed the point-after attempts according to standard coaching theory.
I don't know how "standard" such a coaching theory is. In fact, I see two pretty divergent views on this. There's the attitude Easterbrook advises, go for one and "extend" the game by keeping it a TD+FG game, waiting until the end to go for two. It's sort of like the team that's behind in basketball getting easy layups instead of 3 pointers. There are definitely merits to this. You're not risking much until you absolutely have to, and you're putting a little more pressure on the other team not to screw up. But I also think there's another way of looking at this. Coaching strategy places a premium on "information". Consider: in the example above, prior to scoring the TD, the Cardinals were down 18. That's a TD+1, a TD+2, and a FG. Using Easterbrook's way of thinking, that scoring pattern has to work perfectly - by waiting to the end to go for two, you have to get it - you have just one chance, and time will be short to change tactics. On the other hand, going for the two point conversion first gives the coaching staff more information as to how they should plan to score enough to get back in the game. If you don't convert the 2 pointer first, you now know that you need two TDs to win. That might mean a completely different strategy of trying onside kicks, or playcalling, or using timeouts. All of that can depend on knowing earlier exactly what needs to happen. Some coaches put a premium on "information" and alter lots of things based upon that. Personally, I'm not sure which I think I'd use as a philosophy, but I know that reasonable people might differ. And Easterbrook doesn't really offer a counterpart to his argument. Maybe what Green did was wrong. But arguably, Arizona was going to miss the 2 point conversion whether they did it earlier or later. And then Arizona would be in the same exact position. Only when considering what actually happened, Arizona had more time to react to their situation. The Cardinals may have had the time to recover that onside kick and drive solely because Green knew earlier that he needed more points - and managed the clock accordingly. At a minimum, it wasn't an atrocious decision and there were clear reasons for trying the two earlier.

And that's enough thinking.



Last week Michael at Braves and Birds told us that "you'll never see a better goal" and showed us a sick flick by Ronaldinho.

A nice try. But, via the Guardian's blog, I think this one tops it. And it's from the NASL to boot. George Best takes on three defenders 10 yards from goal, and embarasses them all.

This is my first attempt at embedding a youtube clip. Apologies if it doesn't work.

I would not be opposed to a youtube war among us over the best goals. Top this, Kanu.


Lebowski Standings

Two more three way circles in the Big XII and SEC are indicated by the double asterisks. Where three teams have all beaten each other once each, I revert to SOS and ignore the head to head results. Single asterisk indicates head to head win tiebreaker.

25. Texas A&M 9-3 (59)**
24. Georgia Tech 9-3 (58)
23. Boston College 9-3 (51)
22. Nebraska 9-3 (48)**
21. Texas 9-3 (33)**
20. Tennessee 9-3 (20)
19. TCU 9-2 (109)
18. West Virginia 9-2 (46)
17. Hawaii 10-2 (108)
16. BYU 10-2 (92)
15. Wake Forest 10-2 (73)
14. Oklahoma 10-2 (65)
13. Virginia Tech 10-2 (54)
12. Arkansas 10-2 (38)**
11. Auburn 10-2 (34)**
10. Notre Dame 10-2 (30)
9. LSU 10-2 (24)**
8. Louisville 10-1 (37)
7. Rutgers 10-1 (53)*
6. USC 10-1 (4)
5. Wisconsin 11-1 (77)
4. Michigan 11-1 (23)
3. Florida 11-1 (11)
2. Boise State 12-0 (96)
1. Ohio State 12-0 (44)


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Gameday Recap

Week Thirteen
Los Angeles, California - Notre Dame at Southern California
November 25, 2006

Early morning local time, plus they're suffering from the hangover of last week's Biggest Game Ever. Will the crew be able to keep up? Will it be too dark to use the fake field? These questions must be answered, in the penultimate recap. There've been some big games already played, so it'll be interesting as to how much will be filled with highlights.

  • It is not too dark. And there's a good crowd on hand too, considering the time.
  • Next week they aren't traveling. (like they'd be rolling down to Jax for the Tech-Wake game...)
  • Open with highlights of last year's ND-USC game.
  • Fowler can't count. "Only" 14 Heisman winners between the two, not 15. Also, Fowler says that's more than any other rivalry, including UM-OSU (Michigan only has two, right?)
  • Corso: Charlie Weis is an "offensive genius".
  • Herbstreit thinks ND-USC will be a shootout, classic.
  • Rivalries - lots of teams trying to snap three game (or more) losing streaks, leave with at least one win over a rival.
  • Herbstreit - this might be Bob Stoops's best job ever.
  • Fowler drops Reno 911! when talking about Boise-Nevada.
  • Corso says Boise State deserves a BCS bid because they're good, but watch out because Nevada is good at home. Corso's wrong about how close the game will be, saying 1 point Boise win. Herbstreit pisses on BSU's parade, saying they sort of deserve a bid, but they always get beat by ranked teams (fails to mention the Oregon State and Hawaii wins this year).
  • Herbstreit 'cocks it up, asking Fowler if he'd "really" want to see Boise State against USC in a playoff, again failing to realize that at least Boise State can beat Oregon State. Fowler says yes, he'd like to see Boise State in a playoff, but fails to rejoin Herbstreit by asking him, point blank: "Well, Kirk, Boise State hasn't lost to anyone, so why do you automatically assume that they're not that good? What gives you the all-powerful knowledge of being able to pick games that haven't happened? Why isn't winning every game they play good enough for you, even when they do win with 'style points' or whatever bullshit rationale you want to use this week? Huh? Kirk? Why do you think it's OK for teams who do not lose to be prevented from competing for a title? Why?"
  • Discussion on Larry Coker. Coker to get a $2.5M payoff? Schiano to be the main candidate. They show some highlights/lowlights of Coker's career. 14-10 in the ACC since they joined (same as FSU over the same span).
  • Desmond Howard joins the set. Thinks Miami needs more playmakers and gamebreakers. Herbstreit thinks Miami doesn't spend enough on facilities, which he calls some of the worst in the country. Herbstreit doesn't say how Miami can afford Coker's payoff, a buyout for a new coach AND new facilities with their alumni and fan base.
  • Corso chimes in with how he doesn't like talking about coaches about to be fired, refers back to his Carmak prediction. Thinks Barry Alvarez will be the new AD/HC at Miami. I think Corso has lost his mind.
  • Fowler thinks Miami will have a lot of returning starters and could be pretty good next year. New coach = turnover in roster, lots of guys turning pro.
  • Fowler also thinks Schiano is going to Penn State, not Miami, when he leaves Rutgers.
  • Flashback to a pretty uneventful headgear pick at Purdue. Must be an inside joke.
  • A few bowl bids have been locked up, so they list them.
  • In depth story on Jon Abbate at Wake Forest. Steve Cyphers reporting. Human interest angle, sad story. It is nice to see that ESPN does one of these stories on a team not called USC, Ohio State or Notre Dame. Since the story didn't really get into it, I will: Abbate is a pretty damn good player. Fowler mentions how good Abbate is.
  • Fowler mentions something that the AJC wrote today too, about how Wake Forest is going to be the first ACC team to go 6-0 on the road. I think the AJC qualified it as 6-0 in conference road games. Fact check: Wake is 4-0 on the road in the ACC, with road wins OOC at Ole Miss and UConn. Not that it isn't impressive, just no conference makes teams play 6 road games in the conference. I think the Pac 10 is the only one that even makes teams play 5.
  • Thank you, local cable for messing up the Fathead commercial.
  • Incredible run by McFadden at the end of that LSU-Arkansas game. Great highlights - one of the more fun games to watch all year.
  • Graphic on "What Florida Needs To Reach BCS Title Game". The statements on here are probably conventional wisdom (so it's not wrong that they're saying these things), but I still don't like it (it's the system, not their coverage of the system that I don't like). Florida, if they win out, will have the same or better record than all the other one-loss teams. Only according to this, and the national pundits, Florids needs to win "convincingly" or "big". While I think it's clear that I don't like Urban Meyer and I do think he's kind of a bitch, how can you argue with his questioning statements about style points? Why does that have anything to do with football?
  • Herbstreit also thinks ND needs to win "big" to be in the discussion.
  • Herbstreit on Florida: They deserve a lot credit for playing a tough SEC schedule, but their schedule sucks. Kirk is being a total asshole today. (and can this simple point get across to Kirk Herbstreit, or anyone else in major media: Schedule strength is not something that can be predicted when making a schedule. Florida had 3 OOC teams that played in bowls last year. This year, they all haven't matched last year's performances (FSU, UCF, So. Miss). How a schedule looks on paper at the beginning of the year is a lot different from how it looks at the end. Take a look at ND's schedule last year, for instance. So if you want to use SOS as a way to compare different teams at the end of the year, I think that's fine. But it doesn't say anything about how "tough" a team is. And specifically, as Herbstreit is saying here, just because people (such as, oh, Kirk Herbstreit) in September thought Florida was going to have a tough schedule doesn't logically lead to him trashing Florida now for playing that schedule.)
  • Herbstreit only limits his discussion on Florida's resume to teams they beat, then he goes on and on about how close Michigan played and lost to his beloved Buckeyes. To prove his point, Herbstreit says that Florida has only beaten 2 teams ranked in the top 25 going into last week (LSU and Tennessee), then praises Michigan's schedule mainly for losing at Ohio State. Just fucking guess how many ranked teams Michigan has beaten? Could it be, 2???? And if Florida wins out, will their number go up to 3? That doesn't get mentioned. And does Kirk happen to mention how close Florida's loss was, or how it was on the road, or that there was a pretty questionable call that cost them the game there? Hmmm... No. The SOS difference between Michigan and Florida is negligible (Colley has them ranked 18th and 20th going into yesterday, and I'd guess it will improve for Florida, considering the wins by LSU, Southern Miss and Georgia, and the game next week against Arkansas). This is a seriously poor performance this morning by Herbstreit so far.
  • So now Herbstreit thinks Michigan "without any question" deserves it over Florida. Might I refer Kirk to his October 21 show, after Florida's loss to Auburn, where he said that "Auburn and Florida... and maybe even Tennessee (who has the best OOC win of any of them) will all have to lose again for a one loss team in another conference to have a shot at the title." And since that show, Michigan has played 6-6 Iowa, Northwestern, Ball State, Indiana and lost to Ohio State. Only the Indiana win had "style points". "Without any question". This is so poor.
  • And Corso tops Herbstreit's ignorant rant, by calling Michigan "#1A" because they only lost by 3. Even the most hardened Michigan fans wouldn't say that, man.
  • Now they get back to some slightly more firm ground, arguing that USC, if they win out, deserves to go ahead of Michigan or Florida.
  • (As a complete aside, I take no personal opinion as to which team "deserves" to go to Glendale among the 1 loss teams. "Deserves" got nuthin' to do with it. I don't like the process, and I really don't like specious arguments from pundits that affect the votes. So when Herbstreit says "without any question" one team is better than another, and then cites incomplete, cherry-picked and inaccurate stats, there's a problem there. Also, I don't think this is inconsistent with my other posts on how it could be BS for voters to drop idle Michigan over the next few weeks for the benefit of Florida. The flaw there is that we don't know the rationale of voters and there is an opportunity for impropriety. Indeed, I'd argue that improper voting and Herbstreit's personal ties to the Big 10 and the region (which might affect his statements this morning) are pretty much birds of a feather. We don't know why Herbstreit's making these pronouncements, but we have to assume that there are voters who may be watching this program and listening to his statements, and who might not fact check his edicts. The point I'm trying to make, in both scenarios, is that the system is fatally flawed.)
  • Gillette Game Face: no face paint. Good job, SC.
  • Highlights of the ND-USC debate featuring Brandon Hancock. A top 10 list? In 2006? OK. I guess he's a good sport to do that.
  • Highlights of Texas-A&M. They show the injury hit on McCoy, but they didn't show the previous cheap shot after the INT. That was one of the cheapest hits I have ever ever ever seen.
  • OU-Ok. State: Some info about the injury by Allan Patrick at OU - useful.
  • Fowler says only Oregon has lit up OU all year. Dude, Oregon won by one damn totally undeserved point. Texas beat them by 18.
  • Discussion on Big East Title scenarios. Herbstreit, after calling Fowler "Hot Dog", assumes that Louisville wins out and gets the automatic bid, and that WVU gets an at-large because "if you look around the country, at the end of the day, forget about comparing who's beaten who where, and how many top 10 teams, at the end of the day, who would you put on the field right now with West Virginia who looks to be more deserving, based on the way the Mountaineers are playing... it'll come down to LSU and WVU, who would you choose? I'll choose WVU." (I got one. How about choosing the South Florida Bulls. It has been an awful day for Kirk. Like, a 5 INT day. And oddly, each of his rants that is either incorrect or proven hilariously wrong has been at the expense of the SEC. Interesting.)
  • Meanwhile Corso says the Big East doesn't deserve 2 bids because they don't play anyone OOC. (see my above rant about schedule) Also, he's wrong about how the Big East has only played one team OOC in the top half of their conference (Maryland). Louisville beat Kentucky, who is in the top half of the SEC. Louisville also beat MTSU, who'll co-win the Sun Belt. Louisville also beat Kansas State, who is in the top half of the Big 12. Rutgers beat Ohio, who may win the MAC. Rutgers also pounded Navy, who is in the top half of Independents. WVU beat ECU, who is in the top half of C-USA. Cincinnati played Ohio State and Virginia Tech, both highly ranked. UConn played Wake Forest and Navy. Syracuse played Wake Forest and Wyoming, both in the top half of their conference. So Corso was only off by a factor of 13. Whoever wrote that bit for Corso needs internet access. Of course, Herbstreit calls it "good stuff". They should never go to the West Coast for a live show, because the panel just isn't even close to awake.
  • ASU-Arizona. They both like Arizona. Fowler gives Herbstreit some shit about giving Arizona "0%" chance to beat Cal. You've got a lot of material for next week, Chris.
  • Extended piece on Lawrence Jackson and how he read a book about tennis to make him better. Shelley Smith reporting. Good Lord. Is this the 6th bullshit human interest piece about USC by Smith? 7th? 8th? Let me boil things down: the dude was putting pressure on himself, and a book helped. Add fisheye lens, some quotes that make Pete Carroll look smart, and some peppy beats, and there you have it. Fowler likes that book, and he knows tennis.
  • Musberger, Davie and Herbstreit on the fake field. Musberger thinks USC will be throwing the ball a lot. Davie thinks ND wins if Quinn gets time. Herbstreit likes USC's weapons, and thinks it'll be a shootout. Musberger thinks so too. In a way, they're kind of discrediting USC's defense.
  • Corso gives a great stat: 80% of the games he coached in were won by the team with the better players. (I don't know whether this is right or wrong, but I know it's funny. Let the record show that Corso's all time record is 73-84-6.)
  • The reason why he said that is actually to praise USC - for recruiting and having depth. (and I don't think this is arguable)
  • Rice-SMU - Dillard's consecutive TD streak. (Rice is going to a bowl for the first time in 45 years - awesome.)
  • Some praise for Garrett Wolfe - put together a pretty good season, if not the kind of numbers that blow you away.
  • Howard likes Troy Smith for the Heisman. Mike Hart second? (I know Howard went to Michigan and all, but have you watched Arkansas this year? I can understand people still praising Quinn because of all the hype, but the top RB in the country is Darren McFadden.) Then Howard says Steve Slaton might get into that 3rd slot. Howard's right that it's been a lame race.
  • Corso says Smith, Quinn, McFadden.
  • Herbstreit, correctly, says the race is over. Smith is #1. Says Quinn and Steve Slaton "without any question" is #3. (Without any question, Herbstreit is dead wrong about all things WVU.)
  • Fowler says Troy Smith will be the first Big 10 QB to win the Heisman. I guess Chuck Long was closest?
  • GT-UGA: Fowler returns with "Uhh-gah" instead of "You-Gee-Ay". I was so annoyed by that last year. Corso like Georgia because Richt is better and Tech is looking ahead. Herbstreit likes Tech because of urgency and "redemption". Noticeably absent from the discussion was anything tangible or useful. Fowler says it's a first for an unranked UGA team to beat a ranked Tech team. What's the sample size on that one?
  • FSU-UF: Jarvis Moss is back for Florida, but nobody seems to notice that he was suspended for the cupcake, but back for the rival. Corso adds some actual game analysis, but then he's close to that program so he kind of can break things down. Herbstreit breaks down Florida's D. So he can do some tangible analysis, but then he throws in "look ahead" just to dumb things down for the unwashed masses.
  • They lead into the negative recruiting bit by focusing on Jimmy Claussen. Total cheese.
  • Extended piece on negative recruiting. Fowler himself reporting. Tom Luginbill and Mike Farrell add some anecdotes. Arrelious Benn's recruiting gets some in-depth coverage. This even raises the race question. Luginbill says negative recruiting doesn't work, but I wonder if that's correct. Good piece. I'd prefer if they did more process stories, like this.
  • Howard returns, says parents need to be involved, especially when it comes to negative recruiting. Thinks the more people involved, the less negative recruiting will be an issue.
  • Corso tells an anecdote about Tom Jackson, with the moral being that honesty is the best policy.
  • Noise Meter: 99 dB. Not bad for 8:38 AM.
  • Utah-BYU discussion. Graphic compares John Beck, a player few viewers have heard mentioned all year, and Troy Smith, and Beck's numbers look pretty damn good. Herbstreit, who clearly didn't get a good night's rest, seems affronted that this comparison is even made. Whenever Gameday does a comparison like this, it pretty clearly shows that there are plenty of players who deserve attention but haven't been getting it from this show. It's like an admittance of error.
  • Hawaii-Purdue discussion. Same thing as above about John Beck with a graphic on Colt Brennan.
  • More on One Loss BCS competitors. Graphic compares Michigan and USC. Where did they get the "Schedule Strength" that they show here (UM #3, USC #10)? Colley had USC ahead of Michigan. GBE had USC ahead of Michigan. Sagarin had USC ahead of Michigan. Where did they get this number and why did they use it? They also didn't list the loss, they didn't list games against ranked opponents, ranked opponents at the time of the game, etc. And why didn't they show Florida, West Virginia, Louisville, Wisconsin, Rutgers or Notre Dame (the other 1 loss teams at the time) in the same graphic as well? I understand that they think they're covering conventional wisdom, but they're also creating it.
  • Brady Quinn's legacy is discussed, with Fowler emphasizing Quinn's dramatic comebacks against vastly inferior teams. Semi-extended interview piece on Quinn.
  • Fowler kind of praises Quinn because ND's O-line and running game is weak. Corso, on the other hand, likes ND because of offensive balance, basically disregarding Fowler's last point but adding a "That's a nice point".
  • Herbstreit now chimes in with some in-depth analysis on USC's defensive pressure. More like this - it was definitely useful in approaching the game.
  • Fowler says how ND would be thrilled if they match last year's offense, then lists all the ways that ND dominated the clock and yardage last year.
  • Corso calls Weis "brilliant" three times in the last 3 minutes. "Never underestimate Charlie Weis."
  • Corso calls Gameday the "best pregame show in all of football." He's talking shit about NFL countdown now! I hope Chris Berman isn't still writing checks at the network!
  • Game Changer: Corso: Brandon James of Florida (surprise pick). Herbstreit: Calvin Johnson (No sir!). Fowler: John Beck (good call).
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Maryland Herbstreit: Nevada, Clemson, Georgia Tech
  • I don't think Corso has ever seen or heard a bulldog, because he does not know how to bark like one.
  • Herbstreit used the word "emotions" multiple times during his picks.
  • Chick-Fil-A did not invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich, sayeth Corso. Call the ombudsman and ask him if Corso will disclose his financial ties to Chick-Fil-A.
  • Corso hinted at the line in a few picks, but I couldn't really tell whether he meant a cover or not on a few of them. Is there a rule that they can't pick with the spread?
  • Kirk's Keys to the USC-ND game were pretty right - special teams, pressure, big plays. I wish Kirk had done some preparation for all the other games like he did for the one he was calling.
  • Corso hilariously calls Cal still the best team in the Pac-10. That's 8-3, a game and a half back of USC and lost the head to head matchup LAST WEEK Cal, who is apparently better.
Not a great show, but it had its moments. The negative recruiting piece was good, and there were some pretty good breakdowns of the ND-USC game. Herbstreit had a tough one in terms of predictions. Some pretty clear facts were just not correct, and that shouldn't make the factcheckers happy. The narratives and unqualified statements regarding the BCS I found to be the most important, and in many cases the most distasteful. These guys should be held to task for the statements they make, because no other show has the viewership and potential reach and impact Gameday has.

Next week they're back in the studio, so we'll be free of the fake field (I hope), and it'll be interesting to see how they work people into the set (Howard, May, Holtz, etc). It's a shame, because had they been on the site at Alltel Stadium for the 1500 Wake and Tech fans making the journey, well, I just would've loved to have seen the decibel meter in the single digits, and the Gillette Game Face would've been some homeless dude who just happened to wake up in the parking lot.

Next week will probably be the last one of these for me, too. I don't envision doing a recap after the bowls are done, when I'll be working through my 205-part 2010 World Cup qualifying preview, and maybe even doing some normal blogging about jackoff actors from 80's movies, crappy music, and the buildup to Reno 911!: Miami and the Aqua Teen Movie. So be sure to check back often!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lebowski Standings

Some tiebreaker explanation needed: 4 ACC teams are in the top 25. As between Georgia Tech and Virigina Tech, GT has the head to head win, so GT is ahead. As between Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Boston College, each has beaten one of the other two head to head, but lost to the other, so between them, the SOS remains the only tiebreaker.

25. California 8-3 (2)
24. Tennessee 8-3 (27*)
23. Houston 9-3 (108)
22. TCU 8-2 (109)
21. Hawaii 9-2 (116)
20. BYU 9-2 (95)
19. Wake Forest 9-2 (74**)
18. Oklahoma 9-2 (65)
17. Virginia Tech 9-2 (36**)
16. Georgia Tech 9-2 (58*)
15. Texas 9-2 (35)
14. Boston College 9-2 (34**)
13. LSU 9-2 (32)
12. Auburn 10-2 (38)
11. West Virginia 9-1 (45)
10. Louisville 9-1 (30)
9. Rutgers 9-1 (47*)
8. USC 9-1 (6)
7. Arkansas 10-1 (62)
6. Notre Dame 10-1 (41)
5. Florida 10-1 (20)
4. Wisconsin 11-1 (70)
3. Michigan 11-1 (18)
2. Boise State 11-0 (114)
1. Ohio State 12-0 (40)

Asterisk indicates head to head win. Two Asterisks indicate three-way head to head circle.


Monday, November 20, 2006

General Football Ramblings

I guess there is a cure for Scarlet Fever. Kudos to Cincy for laying the whoopin', but it was clear that the Bearcats were coached to cheat. Every time Teel aired it out, the Cincy DB just murdered the receiver. The refs flagged 'em each time, but the 15-yard penalty was a mere fraction of the likely gain. There is no defensible reason for the differing punishment for interference in college versus the pros. I'm not saying the outcome definitely would have been different, but it just felt dirty for Cincy to benefit from repeated illegal play. That rule has got to be changed. Nevertheless, Rutgers will still go to the BCS if they win out, and they'll be in the same place they probably would have been if they hadn't lost, which I would guess is the Orange Bowl. Although it hurts to lose a chance at an undefeated season, the real loser in the Rutgers-Cincinnati game was West Virginia, because if the 'Neers could have faced an undefeated Rutgers and beaten them, the Big East title would have gone to WVU, since the three-way tiebreaker is BCS rank. Now, Louisville would have to lose again for West Virginia to win the Big East. WVU's better hope at the BCS is an at-large bid. More on that below.

Game, set, rematch? In addition to the points raised by LD below, this AP article brings up a few other interesting issues. For instance, the writer seems to imply that one way or another, we are going to see a Michigan rematch, either in the title game or against ND in the Rose. ESPN's Mark Schlabach disagrees, inexplicably predicting that the Rose Bowl committee will avoid the rematch and take ...Oklahoma! Um, the Rose gets first pick because the Big Ten Champ is in the NCG, and if USC also goes to the big one, the Rose gets the second pick as well. OU is currently ranked #15 in the BCS, so if the season ended today, they would be ineligible to be chosen for a BCS game. The Sooners might sneak across that Top-14 eligibility threshold with another Rutgers loss, but even so, there will likely be 7 non-tied-in teams ranked higher than OU for the Rose to choose from. With all these options, I can't say a rematch is inevitable, but I think a UM-ND Part II is likely since dollars talk and people would tune in to see if Weis and Quinn could avenge their early-season embarassment. Still, if I have to see a rematch, I would vastly prefer to see UM-OSU Part II. In fact, after watching OSU-UM Part I and Rutgers' collapse, I'm actually in favor of 60 more minutes of Blue against Buckeye. (And yes, I'll use that crowbar to extract my own head from my ass.)

A Rose grows in the desert. I find it interesting that this year the BCS has created a controversy where there would not have been one in the traditional bowl system. These days it's easy to forget the purpose of the BCS and its predecessor agreements was to relax the traditional bowl-conference ties so that the two best teams could face off in the postseason and prevent split titles. Last year, the system did exactly what it was set up to do. This year's probable matchup would have happened anyway under the old system, just at a different stadium. That is, if this year had been played under the pre-BCS/Bowl Coalition/Bowl Alliance system, we would have had Ohio State against USC (the Harris and Coaches Polls' current consensus #1 and #2) in the Rose Bowl. Would anyone have said back then that Michigan deserved to displace the Pac-10 champ to get another shot at its rival? The only factor driving a possible rematch for the title is the computers.

Forget #2. Who's #10? I saw a story on today called "Who's #2? Who Cares?" I would have linked to it, but I can't find it now, and I think the puppeteers at Fox (which controls must have taken it down since it minimized the hype of the January 8 game they paid so much for.[It appears this article still exists, although I still can't get to it from the frontpage or search function, like I did originally.] The writer argued that Ohio State should not have to play another game, since no other team is a clear #2. He said something like "each team lost its right to gripe when it lost a game." LD's Lebowski Standings and I agree with that statement, but then less than a breath later, the writer dismissed Boise State without explanation. He also pointed to Buckeye wins against two #2s, and said that no team should have to do more than that. If Ohio State has earned the right to not play a difficult opponent, let 'em play Boise. The writer scoffed at the smurfturfers, but really, the Broncos are the only other unblemished team, and if they were able to pull the upset, who wouldn't call them champions?

Anyway, my heading isn't about who'll be ranked #10 at the end, but who gets the 10th spot in a BCS game. That AP article made this cliffhanger statement with no follow-up analysis: looks like only one of the four at-large bids is still in play [after Michigan, ND, and Boise have the first three all but wrapped up].

The article balks at discussing who may get the last invite, and that's probably because it's really hard to tell at this point. When it's all said and done, the team with probably the most deserving resume will be Wisconsin, who is already 11-1, with the only loss to Michigan, but they're frozen out because no conference can have 3 BCS teams. After that, it's probably a toss up between the Big East and the SEC as to who gets the lucrative double-invitation to the BCS (but again, Schlabach amazingly thinks it'll be the Big XII). The loser of the SEC Championship will have a good argument, unless Arkansas loses to both LSU and UF, or UF loses to both FSU and Arkansas. But the Big East also will have a strong bid for that last spot.

If Louisville and WVU win out, with WVU's final win coming against Rutgers, Louisville gets the automatic bid as the Big East Champ, owning the head-to-head tiebreaker in a two-way race with WVU. If that happens, current BCS #7 WVU will likely be in the top 5 of the final BCS rankings, with the losers of both USC-ND and UF-Arkansas likely falling behind the Mountaineers. With the Big East earning more respect this year, the selection committee should take a one-loss WVU over a lower-ranked SEC runner up. On the other hand, if Rutgers beats WVU, Rutgers would win the Big East, owning the head-to-head against Louisville, but the one-loss Cardinals may still get the at-large bid over the SECCG loser who will have at least two losses. It wasn't that long ago when everybody had Louisville in the NCG, and they were only 3 points short.

One interesting thing is that if both UF and Arkansas make it to the SECCG with just one loss each, from a strictly financial standpoint, Florida should be rooting against Florida. That is, between a two-loss Florida or a two-loss Arkansas, Florida would have a better chance at being the final at-large pick over a one-loss Big East team, so that the SEC would split 2 portions of BCS money. On the other hand, if Arkansas loses to UF, West Virginia (or even Louisville if Rutgers wins the Big East) would probably be a more attractive pick than the Hogs, and the Big East would get to divvy up the two purses. predicts that after USC jumps Michigan, the Rose Bowl committee would eschew the ND-Michigan rematch, and overlook a higher ranked, one-loss WVU to take a two-loss Florida. I think that Meyer's current premature bitching, particularly since UF benefited from a rematch in the 1996-97 bowl season, is going to come back to bite him in the ass--twice--against both the Noles and the Hogs, and the Gators will be on the outside looking in.

My predictions for the BCS matchups:

Fiesta: Texas v. Boise State
Orange: Georgia Tech v. Louisville
Sugar: Arkansas v. Notre Dame
Rose: Michigan v. West Virginia
NCG: Ohio State v. Southern California

As for the Dawgs, chicken nuggets are falling from the sky!!!


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Armagideon Time

Not that it was all that outrageous of a prediction to make, but I called it.

The BCS standings are in, and Michigan sits at #2. So with all of the Wolverines' and Buckeyes' games played, according to the system in place, the people and computers believe that Michigan and Ohio State have put together the two best resumes in the nation.

Yes, I understand that USC, Florida, Arkansas, Notre Dame, West Virginia and other teams haven't completed their seasons yet, and each team could sway voters strongly that their resume is better than Michigan's. But when Michigan finished their season, the system said it was second best.

Now it gets interesting. We all will be able to watch how financially interested and biased coaches and the panel of biased voters in the Harris Poll alter their views of Michigan to create an outcome they might find more aesthetically pleasing or financially advantageous. We'll see coaches starting to play politics in the press, like Urban Meyer already has started doing in this AP article.

The system is bad. Now we can watch one of the major flaws in practice. Watch Michigan's position in the Coaches' and Harris Polls drop. Watch coaches, players and public figures pander in the media, attempting to achieve the result that benefits them the most. Dozens and dozens of voters in the two BCS polls have specific personal biases and financial incentives to vote particular ways.

Is this the way you all want to decide who gets to play for a title?


Gameday Recap

Week Twelve
Columbus, Ohio - Michigan at Ohio State
November 18, 2006

A titanic matchup. Normally I'm among the first to mock ESPN's hype machine, but honestly, if any game deserves overbearing hype, it's this one. I'll be sure to make fun of forced hype but this game had it all - rivalry, incredible talent, individual stars, national implications. In a way, the death of Schembechler subdued the show, and the hype almost was a little less than I was expecting.

  • Opener starts the mentions of Bo Schembechler. A lot of people, and Fowler here, have mentioned that Bo's death is ironic. I'm not exactly sure if that's the right word to use. It's sad, tragic, unfortunate timing and probably a bunch of other words, but I'm not so sure I'd use the word ironic.
  • Desmond Howard on the set to talk about playing for Bo. The OSU fans boo his eulogy. Not very classy, despite all the nice posters shown in the opening.
  • Herbstreit tells us that he wanted to be recruited by Bo, even though he knew he was going to OSU. Kind of an odd anecdote.
  • Corso (in a ridiculous Burberry scarf - Bentley Fonzworthesque) has his own personal story about Bo, this time about how Bo and Woody were the first to call him after he got canned at Indiana. (Is it rude for me to write that they were calling because they were afraid IU would replace him with a more capable coach? Yes. It is rude.)
  • Lisa Salters on the scene with the Michigan team about the effect of Bo's death.
  • Bonnie Bernstein (in a ridiculous hat) is on the scene with OSU - but she focuses less on Bo and more about Senior Day with the Buckeyes. Bonnie provides some insight on how the OSU team really respects one another.
  • About 8 minutes in they start covering the game (don't get me wrong, I think that's about right).
  • Loud crowd - Fowler's hard to hear.
  • Just occurred to me that Big & Rich got the week off because of the death of Bo Schembechler. One final great thing Bo has done.
  • Corso has kind of a non-sequitur story about troops watching Gameday in Iraq. Not that it's a bad story, it just kind of came out of nowhere.
  • They talk for a second about the Ohio Stadium field getting replaced. Fowler says it's going to be as good as any Big 10 field and don't worry about that sod. After watching the game and seeing players slipping and taking huge chunks out of the field, I can say with supreme confidence that Fowler was wrong about this entirely.
  • What to Watch For: Florida against a 1-AA opponent is listed, but really, should that game be something we should be watching out for? They also list Notre Dame vs. Army. Let's face it: people are really watching out for 2, maybe 3 games from a national perspective.
  • Corso gives us a slightly interesting thing - that the computers and the human pollsters only agree on one team - Notre Dame. As for what that means, I don't know. But evidently there's some kind of consensus about the Irish.
  • Herbstreit raises the spectre of a choice between Notre Dame and Michigan for the BCSNCG. Fowler chimes in that in the past polls haven't always been perfectly logical about title choices.
  • Flashback to an Ohio State-Michigan game in the snow in 1950.
  • Herbstreit chimes in with the upset pick for UVA over Miami.
  • Some discussion on Florida State's disastrous season. Corso unbelievably says that FSU has "a lot of problems". Corso, with I believe some insider info that he doesn't cite, tells us that Jeff Bowden's resignation will be a big problem for FSU for a long long time. Herbstreit adds that FSU will have some trouble hiring a great coordinator because Bowden can't coach too much longer.
  • Game Face: No face paint, they show the guy who'll dot the I.
  • Fowler says Ohio State has the better band, Michigan has the better fight song.
  • Troy Smith's numbers against Michigan are really good.
  • Herbstreit says the two best individual performances for OSU players ever against Michigan both belong to Troy Smith.
  • Extended interview between Herbstreit and Troy Smith. I know the interview is new, but the highlight part seems the same as a few segments on Smith so far this year.
  • Herbstreit says he's never seen a player change so much and grow so much off the field as Troy Smith. (Just askin', how many players has Herbstreit been close to enough off the field to make that statement? Is he spending that much time around the 85+ players on 118 other teams? Face it, that statement is pretty much meaningless maudlin tripe.)
  • Corso and Howard add in the praise on Troy Smith.
  • Another freaky dude painted like the Heisman.
  • Herbstreit chimes in with a strawman, saying that Troy Smith isn't Vince Young. "The only thing in common is that they both play QB and wear #10." More transparency on what you're getting at here, Kirk... Kirk thinks Smith is more like Drew Brees.
  • Howard calls Smith a competitor more than anything else. Intangible-riffic.
  • 37 minutes in and we hear Big & Rich for the first time.
  • Papa Roach song is inserted. Apparently Bo Schembechler's death didn't impose a ban on that.
  • Interesting Football Theory (I'm AMAZED that they're actually discussing this!!! It's not an intangible or a platitude!): Friedgen's football formula. Turnovers + penalties + sacks + dropped passes / total offensive plays is less than 16%, then you win.
  • Corso is having trouble picking Maryland-BC because he recruited both coaches and likes them both. (How about just picking the team you think is better, rather than the coach you like better?) Herbstreit finds a way to talk about Ohio high school football in "discussing" this game, then picks BC because they're at home. Virtually no analysis from either "expert" on this game.
  • Herbstreit admits that he's late to the party on Wake Forest, says "there's something going on there." Jeez.
  • Shelley Smith joins to tell us how awesome USC is. "Atmosphere at practice this week was absolutely electric!" I don't want to be sexist, but I find it incredibly difficult to call Smith anything more than USC's designated fluffer. Seriously, this isn't journalism. She is a pure and simple propagandist for the Trojans.
  • Howard says he judges teams like he judges people: not just what you do, but who you do it against. Likes USC for the BCSNCG. Corso agrees, Herbstreit agrees and says "America agrees" as well. I suppose all Notre Dame, Florida and (before Saturday) Rutgers fans aren't Americans anymore.
  • Herbstreit starts to put the kibosh on a rematch. Says the loser doesn't deserve a rematch. No reference as to Herbstreit's own comments on who deserves it between ND-UM.
  • Fowler chimes in with the prospect of everyone else having multiple losses, and then what if for the loser of OSU-UM.
  • Some passing reference to Rutgers, but they all give the impression that WVU will beat them. (Now this is beside the point, but when they were saying it, they really weren't giving Rutgers any credit for being undefeated, unlike how they gave Louisville credit for being undefeated in the Big East.)
  • Flashback to 1969, and the biggest win in Bo Schembechler's career.
  • Head to head lineup of Woody and Bo.
  • Pregame speech from 1983 by Bo Schembechler.
  • Fowler again says Bo's death was ironic.
  • Wendi (I've been spelling her name wrong all year, apologies) Nix joins to discuss the scene on campus at UM for mourning Schembechler's death.
  • Brent Musberger joins the set, and not on the fake field this time. Gives some historical perspective of Schembechler's impact on Michigan.
  • Some talk of Tressel's success against Michigan. It's gotta be the hovercraft.
  • Herbstreit thinks Michigan fans are crazy for wanting Carr gone because of his record against OSU. References the post-game call-in show for Michigan after the OSU game last year. I'm going to make a rule: If you are a pundit and you refer to the heat-of-the-moment jackasses calling a post-game show as representative of all fans, you, sir, are an idiot. Angry callers after a tough loss aren't the entire fanbase. Some dude on a message board or a blog (myself included) isn't the voice of the _____ Nation. And painting with broad strokes based on individual or isolated instances of ignorance only makes you look foolish. There. I feel better.
  • Corso praises Tressel to the heights. 30-7 in big games at OSU and Youngstown State. Very impressive.
  • Fowler says that Carr has made some changes in the staff, and that might make some difference.
  • Noise Meter: 114 dB. Fowler calls it deafening. One of the louder sites of the year. I think Clemson is still tops though.
  • Auburn-Alabama: Herbstreit focuses on negativity about Mike Shula, but lists tangible problems with Alabama. Both Corso and Herbstreit seem to have short memories about Auburn.
  • Archie Griffin talks about what UM-OSU means.
  • Some discussion on Chad Henne's problems against OSU. The highlight package was ridiculous - all bad plays. If you only watched this TV show you would think that Troy Smith had never thrown a pass imperfectly, and that Chadd Henne couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
  • Extended piece on Michigan's Defense. Steve Cyphers reporting. Not a bad piece.
  • Fowler starts the discussion on a rematch. Fowler presumes a defensive, close battle. Corso says that if OSU loses by a field goal, they should get a rematch (he doesn't mention what happens if Michigan loses by a field goal, on the road) unless USC wins out. Herbstreit continues his statement that the loser of this game shouldn't get a rematch. See my post from yesterday for more of what I think about this. It doesn't matter whether it should happen or not, the process is what matters.
  • More personal views of UM-OSU: Eddie George, Charles Woodson, Cris Carter. They all say pretty much the same thing.
  • Recap of 1 vs. 2 matchups over the years.
  • Extended piece on Rutgers. The Single Worst Reporter on the Show Chris Connelly is reporting. I've mentioned irony a few times today. Here's an appropriate example of irony: Rutgers was pretty much ignored by Gameday all season while they just kept winning, running their record to 9-0. Then they finally get an extended piece on the show and go right out and lose. That's ironic.
  • Herbstreit talks about whether Rutgers is mature enough, mentally tough enough not to let down against Cincinnati. No mention of whether Cincinnati's defense can stop the run, or whether Cincinnati can control the clock by running the ball well, or something tangible about the game.
  • Corso raises the idea that the winner of WVU-Rutgers could be the other team in the BCSNCG. Nobody really disputes him because ESPN/ABC is probably showing that game.
  • Flashback: BYU-Utah in 2004. Not sure why Corso was wearing a freaky ass bird head at that game. Does Utah have a bird mascot? I thought they were the Utes.
  • Cal-USC discussion. Herbstreit talks about how Booty has gotten better. Then Herbstreit says, unlike other Pac-10 teams Cal has a chance because Tedford makes the Bears "believe" they can win.
  • Extended piece on James Laurinaitis. Tom Rinaldi reporting. They focus on how his dad's a wrestler. This is somewhat interesting, if not exactly informative about football. This should've bee Chris Connelly's piece. An actual football aside: from what I've watched of Laurinaitis on the field, I'm actually more impressed by his speed than by his hitting.
  • UM-OSU: actual game discussion, 1 hour and 44 minutes into the show. Corso calls OSU the most balanced offensive team in the nation. Herbstreit thinks Michigan's front 4's pressure is the key to the game. Corso thinks Hart has to run for a lot to have a chance, says OSU uses bend but don't break D but is great in the red zone. Corso thinks UM needs TDs not FGs and should take risks. Herbstreit talks about OSU's defensive pressure and secondary. Herbstreit also thinks UM needs to take chances on 1st and 2nd down (and I think they did, so good call).
  • Note on OSU-UM special teams - both teams' returners are mentioned.
  • No on-site report for the noon ESPN game.
  • Pontiac Game Changer: Corso: John Parker Wilson for Alabama. Herbstreit: John David Booty. Fowler: Nate Longshore.
  • Saturday Stupid Selections. Corso: Alabama, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Oregon, Cal, Michigan. Kirk: Vanderbilt, Alabama (and it comes down to "emotion"), Rutgers (though he picked Cincinnati to cover), Wake Forest.
  • Again, let me voice my thoughts that it's stupid that Herbstreit can't pick the game he's calling. He's calling the game for his Alma Mater, in the city where he's employed. If the point in not letting him pick is to preserve some sense of impartiality, that's moronic. He's not picking who he wants to win (which is readily apparent anyway), he's picking who he thinks will win. Picking who he thinks will win can actually show his impartiality.
This episode had a lot of things to take note of and it took forever to recap. The first half hour or so was subdued with the Schembechler stuff, but then they kind of went back to the planned materials for the second half. There was some pretty good game strategy discussion at the end on OSU-UM. But the show also had some pretty useless segments (Shelly Smith, in particular).

Next week I'm guessing they'll be in Los Angeles. And depending on that game. I won't be recapping any mini-gameday preview shows they sometimes do on Thanksgiving week.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Perspective with Some Foresight

Michigan-Ohio State should be an incredible game today. I have no ability to comprehend the mixed emotions Wolverine fans must be feeling today. It could be surreal, but I have a feeling that once the opening kick happens, fans of both teams will put aside whatever emotions they might have and focus just on the game.

A lot of national writers have been writing all week about the possibility of a rematch of these two teams. As to whether that should or shouldn't happen, I'll leave it to others to opine. I prefer to address the process, and whether the current situation is more or less likely to produce a rematch.

Here's the thing: I think the current numbers, especially the computer numbers, strongly suggest that a rematch will be likely, and it doesn't really matter who wins. Michigan currently holds a very strong position in the computer polls. A loss, on the road (which many computer rankings consider), will probably not drop Michigan much. On the other hand, Ohio State may, as strange as it may seem, improve in the computer rankings, even with a loss. Ohio State sits behind Rutgers, but a very strong opponent getting added to the Buckeyes' schedule (while Rutgers plays a more pedestrian Cincinnati), may lead to a closer gap between the two. I do not think it is too far beyond the realm of possibility to think that in the computer rankings released tomorrow, Michigan and Ohio State could be 1 and 2, regardless of the outcome of today's game.

If that happens, then the question will be in the human polls - how far down will the loser drop? If the result is extremely close, I wouldn't expect the loser to drop very far. And if USC loses to Cal (a very possible result), the likelihood of the loser of UM-OSU staying in the #2 spot is pretty good. Michigan is over 240 points ahead of Florida in the Harris Poll, and 140 points ahead in the denser scaled Coaches' Poll. Even if Michigan were to lose and drop behind USC and/or Florida, the gap in the polls might not be significant enough to make up for Michigan's potential lead in the computer polls. Now, if USC beats Cal, expect USC's computer ranking to improve. But Florida and Notre Dame's computer rankings could actually drop with wins over weak opponents today. As for a loss by Ohio State, their lead in the Harris and Coaches' Polls makes it even more likely that they'd remain in the top 2 in the next released rankings.

Now, the reason why I think this is all interesting is because I think Sunday's released BCS rankings could cause more chaos than any other BCS controversy.

Here's why: if Michigan and Ohio State sit at 1 and 2 in the rankings on Sunday, and since both teams play no more games, we all will be able to watch exactly how the BCS rankings can be manipulated by humans. And considering that there is greater transparency in the human polls than ever before, we'll be able to see exactly who is doing the manipulating.

All of the other teams potentially involved in the BCS National Championship Game hunt have at least a few more games remaining. Ohio State and Michigan do not.

If writers, pundits, whoever else take note of Sunday's rankings and begin voicing concerns about a rematch in Glendale, it will be very interesting to see what effect that has on subsequent BCS standings. Do voters opposed to a rematch drop the loser of the UM-OSU game further in subsequent weeks, even though they aren't playing and simply for the purpose of creating a specific matchup in Glendale? We'll be able to watch it happen. Of course, individual voters could argue that the remaining games simply showed how they were impressed by other teams. Of course, that argument could simply conceal personal motivations.

So ask yourself... if Florida sits in third place on Sunday, do coaches in the SEC that happen to vote in the Coaches' Poll drop the loser of UM-OSU further in their specific poll? If they can help engineer a spot for Florida in the title game, that may mean a second at-large BCS team from the SEC, since the Sugar Bowl would have an early pick. That also means millions more to be divided among conference teams, and possibly a full complement of SEC teams in bowls (as potential bowls go right now, the SEC may have one team left out and searcing for an open slot). And consider, coaches do not operate in a vaccuum. The SEC coaches with a personal incentive to vote a particular way have worked with and dealt with coaches all over. An SEC coach makes a call to a former assistant who now coaches in the ACC and asks for a favor, "say, how about voting Michigan a spot or two lower? It'll really help us out down here, and I'll owe you one." Unethical? Probably. Wrong? Definitely. Possible? Absolutely.

So if the loser of UM-OSU doesn't drop below No. 2 in the BCS standings released tomorrow, be ready for chaos. If that team drops in subsequent weeks, without playing, we'll all be watching very closely. And personally, I kind of like that. Because it'll display in full view of everyone how these rankings can be manipulated and directy affected by individuals who have personal biases and incentives. And that will be an enormous story, especially if the drop is at the expense of one of the big market, big coverage teams (like Ohio State or Michigan). If you thought Auburn fans were disgruntled a few years ago, just wait until Ohio State or Michigan fans react to getting dropped without playing, and as the result of human polls directly affecting the BCS National Championship Game. It'll be a Shit Cyclone.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The extremely rare MLS post

I watched some of the MLS Cup final on Sunday. Crazy ending, with Taylor Twellman scoring in the second half of overtime, but Brian Ching equalizing merely seconds later, forcing a shootout won by Houston. What I saw was pretty good. Clint Dempsey seems to me to be too good to be playing in the US.

But it reminded me of something I meant to post on forever ago: the name of Houston's team.

A bit of background...

Houston's MLS team was established after the San Jose Earthquakes moved. After fans suggested names, the owners of the team announced that the name of the franchise would be Houston 1836, referring to the year the city was founded. Before the club played a match, the name was changed.

A vocal group of locals of Mexican descent opposed the name because the year 1836 also referred to the war for Texan independence, and in some ways a brutal war against Mexico.

So the owners then changed the name to Dynamo, as an homage to the various Eastern European teams called Dynamo or Dinamo (Kyiv, Moscow, Dresden, Bucharest, Tblisi, etc).

Assuming for the sake of argument that the 1836 name is offensive, my question is why anyone involved would think that Dynamo would be any more historically offensive than 1836?

Eastern European and communist era football clubs had a specific place in society. Each major communist nation typically had teams that were sponsored by and related to particular public entities. The clubs known as CSKA, Partizan or Steaua were sponsored by the Army. Lokomotiv or Rapid were run by the railway systems. Levski were sponsored by the civil service.

But probably the best known of all Eastern European clubs are the Dynamo clubs, especially Dinamo Kyiv. The name Dynamo refers to one thing - each of the Dynamo clubs was directly sponsored by, founded by or related to the secret police. After the 1917 revolution, a club named OKS Moskva came under the control of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the long time chief of the Cheka, which became the GRU, a section of the NKVD, which inevitably became the KGB. OKS was renamed Dynamo in 1923 and ever since then the club (and pretty much every other Dynamo club) had a direct tie to the state secret police. The tie was so great that many of the clubs were considered the most detested by everyday fans, though few would say so publicly. As for the success many of the Dynamo clubs had, many people thought the influence of the KGB or other state polices had a bit to do with it, whether by steering top players there, or more overt influence over officiating or other on-field actions.

That's the backstory. So the question is, if the year 1836 is offensive to some, why wouldn't a team name that evokes the worst parts of communism also be offensive? The state secret police raises historical facts like thousands dead in the Gulags, pogroms against Jews and other religious sects, espionage against the US, etc. I'm not sure there is a more "anti-american" thing on earth than the KGB. In some ways, it's pure purpose was to destroy the American way of life. And that's what Houston's name suggests now.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Don't miss it...

It's been like 6 months since one of the other writers on this blog actually posted, and I went and buried it.

So make sure you scroll down and see The General's thoughts on the Georgia game and Rutgers.

I'll have my own thoughts on Rutgers possibly tomorrow.

As for the Georgia game, I thought it was incredible. I really didn't think Brandon Cox was going to play the second half. Something looked seriously wrong with him. But don't think that I'm not giving Georgia's D credit. The D line was unreal all day. And the secondary played faster than they've been all year. As for Stafford, I'm getting more and more excited. He really looked like John Elway at times. And he's a better runner than anyone's given him credit for (like Elway was when younger). This was the kind of Georgia game I love seeing, the kind that totally stuns me. Like Boise State last year, LSU last year in the SEC Title and the year before in Athens, Tennessee in '03, 51-7 adainst Tech and a handful of other games under Mark Richt. Meanwhile, this game was a little different from the recent series between Auburn and Georgia in that I didn't think Tommy Tuberville outcoached Richt. Tuberville guessed wrong all game and handled his QB totally wrong. He gave up on the run too early (and then he was forced to throw because of the throwing errors). He punted a few times when he probably should've given a try for the first (especially with the poor day by Bliss). It was almost as if Tuberville wasn't really coaching. Weird.

A few other thoughts on college football...

Stanford's win this weekend was one of the biggest upsets of the year. Didn't Washington almost sniff the top 25?

Don't be too stunned by Boise State's result last weekend. The Broncos have struggled in San Jose before, and back then the Spartans were really bad. This year, San Jose State isn't comatose.

Rice beat Tulsa last weekend. Rice is 5-5 and might make a bowl. ECU this weekend should be tough (and ECU's a good story this year). But that and the SMU game are both potential wins (at least there's a possibility if they can beat Tulsa and UTEP). The Owls have won 4 straight. I think Rice has done alright for themselves this year. I'd like to see how they'd do among the supergenius schools that I think should form their own conference instead of being BCS bottom feeders (Vandy, Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Army, Navy, maybe Tulane, maybe Wake Forest).

And finally, after the Georgia game Saturday, I had a little drinky drink, and ended up watching some of The Dukes of Hazzard. As I've probably written before: Kyle King is right. It's actually way better than I expected, pretty funny, not very offensive to the South or about the South, and the soundtrack rules. I stand by my earlier comments that Jessica Simpson was miscast (Daisy should be a brunette, and from that point I will not move), but she wasn't even as bad as I expected her to be. And, of course, anytime Farva has a relatively prominent role, I'm down for it.


Peter King - Put the College Football Down.

Every now and then, I read Peter King's Monday Morning QB for some kind of information about the NFL, and I usually don't learn a thing. Especially when Peter King slums down in the college football ranks.

For example, last year Peter told us how there was nothing in sports quite like the excitement generated by a game between a few borderline wildcard NFL teams that happen to be situated on the Eastern Seaboard.

Now, after seeing a Thursday night college football game (albeit a great game) in a stadium that seated 44,000, Peter decides that college football is teh aw3sum. If you've been reading King for a while, you know that he's got a style all his own. Basically, he's Larry King with about the same depth. Whatever thing he's happened to stumble across while flipping dials or the dudes behind him in line at the Starbucks were talking about, that's the biggest, bestest, most impressiveest thing.

And since Rutgers football is suddenly big and dominating his local media market, Peter pays attention. He's the same kind of guy that acts really surprised when an All-American 4 year starter first round draft pick turns out to be actually good in the NFL.

So click the link, and you'll see Peter really really excited about a big win. Yes, it was a huge win for Rutgers. It was a great game and the fans were great, and Rutgers is a very good team. But let's also put it in perspective a little bit. It wasn't the biggest upset of the year. It wasn't even the biggest upset of the weekend. Rutgers' history has been awful, and it's a great story about how far they've come. But Rutgers made a bowl last year. They've beaten everyone they've played. Had they lost to Louisville, they still would've been ranked. There have been bigger games this season. There's a bigger college football game going on this weekend. Without denying that it was a great story, King's hyperbole is overdoing it. And it's because King doesn't know much about scale. See, the rest of the country has a view of college football that people who live between Boston and DC generally do not have. The elation that Rutgers fans (and King) had last Thursday was fantastic. But it's also something that fans at Arizona, Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas State, and probably a half dozen other places felt last weekend. And over the last few weeks, fans felt the same at LSU, Oregon State, Kentucky, Louisville, and dozens of other places across the country. The elation that Peter King is stunned by and thinks it necessary to push all NFL news aside for is actually a pretty standard occurrence in college football. And that's why we all love it. And we're all kind of OK without the NY media market getting involved and ruining things for the rest of us.

And one other thing about Peter King and college football. Apparently someone let him watch the end of the Florida-South Carolina game and reminded him that he spent some time covering Steve Spurrier (I can almost see him in his La-Z-Boy jumping up with shock when he sees Spurrier on the sideline - "Hey, I know that guy! What's he doing at North Carolina? My how the mighty have fallen!"). Anyway, here's what he wrote about the USC-UF game:

Watching a good chunk of the 17-16 Florida win over Steve Spurrier's South Carolina team was so reminiscent of how unprepared Spurrier's Redskins teams were. Here the Gamecocks were, playing a competitive game against a good team, AND THEY HAD THREE KICKS BLOCKED. One is too many. Two is absurd. Three is fireable. I don't have a horse in this race, but this game is a perfect example why Spurrier's coaching star has fallen so precipitously. How do you field a team so ill-prepared that it has three kicks blocked, including the potential game-winning field goal as time expired?
Yes. Indeed. The fact that Florida had a 6 foot 6 inch guy with a 35+ inch vertical and 3 and half foot long arms who was lined up two yards behind the defensive front went unblocked and leapt into the air and blocked kicks has nothing to do with a single athlete making a play, but it had more to do with Steve Spurrier (and not his special teams assistant) not preparing the team. If only they hadn't wasted those hours on Wednesday afternoon practicing tackling and set plays on offense. Instead, they should've spent that time figuring out how to teleport kick team blockers through the defensive line and tackling a guy 4 yards behind them who happens to be tall. And seriously, what was Spurrier thinking not pointing out in meetings how important it would be for USC to neutralize Jarvis Moss's height. I mean, what a boneheaded coaching move Spurrier made in not calling that special play earlier in the game... you know the one... split backs, twin tight ends, sprint out draw, and the left tackle takes a hacksaw and carves off Jarvis Moss's appendages. What an idiot that Spurrier is. He should be fired because Florida's players are tall and can jump.

If this post isn't clear, I really don't like Peter King. Mainly because he just made me praise and defend Florida and Steve Spurrier in the same post. Go back to blowing Brett Favre.


Lebowski Standings

25. Nebraska 8-3 (34)
24. TCU 7-2 (111)
23. Hawaii 8-2 (117)
22. BYU 8-2 (95)
21. Virginia Tech 8-2 (56)
20. Oklahoma 8-2 (52)
19. Maryland 8-2 (49)
18. Boston College 8-2 (42)
17. LSU 8-2 (35)
16. Georgia Tech 8-2 (33)
15. California 8-2 (9)
14. Auburn 9-2 (40)
13. Texas 9-2 (37)
12. West Virginia 8-1 (44)
11. Louisville 8-1 (30)
10. Southern California 8-1 (10)
9. Wake Forest 9-1 (88)
8. Arkansas 9-1 (57)
7. Notre Dame 9-1 (28)
6. Florida 9-1 (24)
5. Wisconsin 10-1 (46)
4. Rutgers 9-0 (41)
3. Boise State 10-0 (105)
2. Ohio State 11-0 (63)
1. Michigan 11-0 (27)


Gameday Recap

Week Eleven
Fayetteville, Arkansas - Tennessee at Arkansas
November 11, 2006

Another visit to SEC country. I don't mind saying it - the early season worries that ABC/ESPN/Disney/Cthlulu would ignore the SEC for the benefit of the conferences that have primary contracts with its networks have become largely unfounded, and my presumption that there was an unfortunate order from above appears to be misplaced. Yes, the UT-Ark game was on ESPN2, but they surely could've gone to a few other games without people being stunned.

  • Not an enormous crowd on hand, it looks at first, but the hill off to the side looks pretty packed.
  • Corso nuts up and goes without a coat.
  • Herbstreit brings up how the Rutgers-Louisville result probably encouraged coaches to tell their teams how destiny lies in their hands and stuff.
  • Corso: 2 lookout games in the Pac 10 - Cal-Arizona (nailed), and USC-Oregon (not so much).
  • Fowler says there are a lot of "lookout games".
  • Corso: "The Noles are back on Defense!! Watch out Wake Forest!"
  • Herbstreit: Game of the day is USC-Oregon.
  • Fowler makes the Commander's-in Chief Trophy joke about Notre Dame.
  • BCS review - Fowler loves the idea of chaos in the BCS. Corso thinks the SEC better not get screwed this year, because there'll be a revolution. Herbstreit likes the teams with big games left, like USC, Cal, Arkansas.
  • Herbstreit again gives props to a +1 game.
  • A little recap of the Rutgers win and historic implications. Fowler: Celebration at Rutgers unlike anything we've seen in a while (and the Arizona game gave us pretty much the same celebration later that day)
  • How high can Rutgers go? Herbstreit shrugs off questions of how good Rutgers would be in the Big 10 or SEC. (This is crazy for Kirk - those are the specific questions that should be asked if the system is human poll driven.) Corso thinks Rutgers doesn't belong in the title game because the Big East doesn't play enough good teams (allegedly). "That league is not good enough to have a national title participant." Herbstreit chimes in with "nobody is saying that they should be there" (Why the hell not? These are the same people who thought Louisville and WVU would be good enough out of that conference at the beginning of the year. Why shouldn't Rutgers be given the same respect if they win out?)
  • Coverage of Brian Pata's murder. Oddly, Larry Coker almost looks younger right there. Desmond Howard comes on to talk about it, since he lives in South Florida. First hand coverage. Serious discussion, which is appropriate. It's good that they didn't do the stereotypical fuzzyvision story.
  • "Conference record" for signs behind them.
  • Gameface has no face paint. Good on ye', Hogs.
  • In depth piece on Spurrier's return to Florida. Tom Rinaldi reporting. He's missing! Not as funny as it probably seemed in staff planning meetings. Or maybe Rinaldi isn't that funny. The Daily Show has prevented something like this from being hilarious. Awesome fake laughter from the on-set crew.
  • Semi-extended piece actually interviewing Spurrier.
  • A little indepth coverage of Florida's offensive semi-struggles. "Harder to watch than the wrestling scene in Borat" More fake laughter. Gameday has become a local soccer mom radio station's wacky morning drive crew.
  • Herbstreit - Florida is in the driver's seat in the BCS, but Leak and an inexperienced O-Line are worrisome.
  • Corso - Florida isn't scoring in conference as well as Michigan or USC. Of course, they play in different conferences, with different defensives. Then Corso goes into how Florida plays good defense. Corso likes Florida's O to come alive today.
  • Fowler shrugs off the Carolina game, is ready to talk about the SEC title game.
  • Howard mentions Reggie Nelson as one of the best defensive players in the country.
  • One Loss Teams: They list all of them, except Wake, Louisville, and West Virginia. Clearly, those one loss teams shouldn't be listed for some reason that isn't mentioned.
  • Herbstreit thinks Texas is the best 1-loss team. Colt McCoy is the reason. Cal is the next best 1 loss team. (and they both lose...)
  • Corso thinks Florida is the best 1-loss team but he wouldn't want to bet on things. Florida wins over Texas or Cal on a neutral field. Herbstreit thinks the others beat the Gators. Fowler - What about Auburn? Herbstreit says that Arkansas still has something to prove to him over the next few weeks, but if Arkansas wins out, then they're in the top 3-4 teams. Way to take a stand there.
  • Apparently fraternity flags are the rage. As a member of Phi Gamma Delta, I humbly ask my more foolish brothers never to fly a Fiji flag at Gameday again. It's not cool.
  • Closeup shot of the backup QB's locker. OK. Mustain's delivery is a little off to the side. He looks strong though.
  • Semi-extended piece on Houston Nutt benching Mustain for Dick. Mustain seems pretty mature and quite indie with those specs.
  • Corso thinks if Arkansas wins out, they deserve a slot in the title game. Herbstreit tells us to wait because of all the big games ahead of them. Herbstreit seems really sure that Arkansas is getting beat, but he's afraid to just say it.
  • A small bit on Hawaii's Colt Brennan. Shot at the all time TD pass record. Nice of them to mention a guy like that.
  • A small bit of hype on Michigan-OSU. Next week will be ridiculous, I'm sure.
  • Extended bit on Michigan emulating Cinderella Man. The Worst Reporter On ESPN Chris Connelly reporting. This piece would've been fine just interviewing players about how they've wanted to restore pride at UM. The Cinderella Man stuff is OK, but intangibillient. There might be a few more reasons why Michigan is better this year, like more in-game experience and harder work from Hart, Henne, Manningham. Might be a commitment to training in order to stay in games better late.
  • Corso thinks Michigan needs to prepare for OSU by getting some rest for Hart, working hard on special teams, getting the D healthy. Herbstreit thinks "it's all about emotions". (Why is Herbstreit considered the more serious pundit on this show?)
  • UNC-GT: Fowler thinks Calvin Johnson has a big day because of UNC's bad pass D. Herbstreit thinks Butch Davis can win at UNC next year because of the talent there. Hang on here. We're talking about a team with ONE win all year, and that was a 3 point last minute win over FURMAN.
  • Wake-FSU: Now things get serious. Fowler clearly doesn't buy into Wake. (Aside, why is it that if Clemson, Miami, or FSU had gone through the ACC with 1 loss, they would be right in the title hunt, but since it's Wake _in the same conference_ they're still no good? It's the same thing as Rutgers. These teams have to win AND convince supposed know-it-alls that they were wrong. And the latter is the more difficult task.)
  • WIRED! With Steed Lobotzke of Wake Forest. They could've spent this time telling us how Wake's offense works. I don't understand it.
  • Herbstreit doesn't think Wake can compete with FSU because of the lack of athletic ability. Clearly, Herbstreit hasn't watched Wake this year.
  • Corso likes Xavier Lee. Thinks FSU wins BIG, Really BIG! Wow, these guys haven't watched FSU or Wake all year. Their picks were crazy on this game. Wake hasn't been blown away by anyone, and FSU has struggled all year against even mediocre defenses. When I was picking in my pool this week, I thought Wake +8.5 was a lock.
  • Spirit Meter - 110 dB. Not that great, Hogs.
  • Extended bit about Ian Johnson at Boise State. Steve Cyphers makes the trek to Boise to do the story. Of course, the story's kind of lame. All about crocheting. You could show a few more of his highlights. The guy's pretty damn good. I do like the "wink wink" people can contact me, but I can't promote the sales, when it's quite clear that this is definitely promotion.
  • Howard comes back to talk Heisman. Fowler says that there aren't many good Western candidates for the Heisman. DeSean Jackson? Colt Brennan? Howard doesn't think the choices for the Heisman are good enough to earn his vote (and for that, I think Howard deserves a lot of credit. He's probably right about this. Of course, I'm not the guy to ask about the Heisman - I think it's a team sport and the Heisman is an afterafterafter thought.
  • Fowler takes a shot a the provinciality about the SEC for not caring about the PAC-10. I get upset about this kind of statement. SEC fans are jingoists, but they're not isolationists. SEC fans love college football as much or more than anyone, and I'd argue that SEC fans are probably more likely to pay attention to the west coast teams than guys in the northeast who only watch Pro Football and I'd guess at least as much as midwesterners.
  • Herbstreit: Cal is a machine, offensively/defensively. Arizona has "no shot" even though it's at home, it's at night (it was broad daylight when Arizona fans rushed the field, Kirk). Cal's too strong. Zero percent chance of Arizona winning that game. Kirk's so firm on this that Fowler thinks he's joking around.
  • I would be fine never to hear Fowler's Beano Cook impression again. Not that it's bad, per se.
  • All Access with USC (basically, something they do every damn week on this program). Shelley Smith reporting (sort of) on the USC center. To his credit, Ryan Kalil is pretty funny. A lot funnier than Tom Rinaldi.
  • Herbstreit chimes in on USC's resilience after the Oregon State game. All about confidence and intangibles and stuff.
  • Flashback to a few years ago Penn vs. Harvard. Corso looked ri-damn-diculous.
  • Big day in the Ivy league. Princeton, Yale and Harvard are all 7-1.
  • WIRED! with Yale. If they're going to cover the Ivy, they should at least cover them, not do this stupid, useless stuff.
  • Countdown clock to OSU-UM. New sod. A little bit of hype. They're just warming up.
  • Erin Andrews joins to give an on-site report for Northwestern-OSU. Weather report is useful for gamblers. They should do that more often.
  • Herbstreit plays the expectations game with his precious Buckeyes.
  • My favorite sign: Nutt - Bringing SEC Titles and Sexy Back.
  • Georgia is bad. Why? They don't really get into that, just list some facts that result from Georgia being bad. Fowler points out how bad Georgia's pass defense is (prescient).
  • Extended piece on Darren McFadden. Dude's good.
  • Tennessee has been giving up rushing yards, not rushing themselves. Herbstreit offers some actual analysis. Corso puts it on the Arkansas O-line. Some actual game analysis. Good.
  • On-site report for Iowa-Wisconsin. Tells us that Stocco isn't starting. Useful gambling information. More of this - it pleases the core audience.
  • Game Changing Performers: Corso: Mike Goodson (A&M) is "the Reggie Bush of the Big XII". Herbstreit: Darren McFadden. Fowler: Matt Moore (Oregon State).
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Cal (though he picked Arizona to cover), Yale, Auburn ("big, REALLY, big"), Amherst, FSU, Texas A&M, Iowa. Herbstreit: Cal ("Arizona has Zero percent chance of winning that game"), Auburn (but Georgia to cover), FSU, Iowa.
  • They didn't even pick the Texas-K-State game.
  • The Lady chimes in: "I don't like it when Lee Corso yells, 'Look at the size of this thing!'". And yes, she meant it that way. I love my wife.
They didn't really predict how crazy a day it would end up being. In fact, they didn't really pick well at all. There was a little bit of actual information, but they had several useless segments. In a way, this episode was just filler until next week's armageddon of matchups. Not as bad as last week's mistake of an episode, but also not one of their best. They did handle the Miami situation appropriately gently, though. Next week, surely they'll be in Columbus. But they should cover the game in LA pretty heavily too.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

General Football Thoughts

Pounding on the Plains. Where the fuck did that come from? Hell yeah, Dawgs! I'm so excited that I won't even ask where that kind of effort was the rest of the season, particularly from the DL. Battle may get all the headlines, but he needs to thank the big'uns in the trenches. Gant and Johnson had Cox so rattled that he thought it would be a good idea to swing at them after the whistle. Yeah, something good will come from fighting a 270-pounder they call "Big Bully." Did the D watch the Rutgers game and decide that it would be a cold winter if they didn't start chopping some wood of their own? Which brings me to...

What if: Scarlet Fever Edition. Since my full handle is "The New Jersey General," I don't feel too bad about jumping on the bandwagon of the state university of my birthplace. Schiano is a total badass, and his warrior wood-choppers really deserve a shot at the Crystal Pigskin. The computers agree, ranking them #2, AHEAD of the bespooged Buckeyes. The concrete sneakers of the Harris Poll on one foot and and Coaches' on the other are dragging the Scarlet Knights down to #6 in this week's BCS rankings, but it's not a too far-fetched scenario that would send the boys from Piscataway to the second game in Glendale in January. Here's how it would work:

1. Obviously they need to take care of their own business, which is no small task, with three conference games left, including the 'Neers lying in wait for the unofficial Big East Championship game on December 2 (the 3-way tie breaker is BCS rank, so if WVU beats RU, they'd likely get the rings).

2. A recently irrelevant Cal scrounges up enough dignity to catch the Trojans napping/looking ahead to ND.

3. USC, scrounging their own dignity after the Cal loss, exposes the Irish, who have grown soft in the FUDA from dining on late-season cupcakes.

4. The Razorbacks expose the Gators in the SEC Championship. Fucking lucky lizards block TWO Cock kicks to win by one?!? Arkansas will eat them alive.

I'm no Brad Edwards, but I think that puts the Scarlet Knights in the big one. Of course there are a few other factors that would affect Rutgers' chances. For example, if step 4 above happens, Arkansas might jump ahead of Rutgers in the BCS. That won't be a concern if LSU beats the Hogs on 11/24 when they're looking ahead/hungover after wrapping up the SEC West against MSU on 11/18. Another concern would be the UM-OSU loser staying ahead of Rutgers in the BCS. That would be the evil stepsister squeezing her fatass foot in there, shattering the glass slipper before Cinderella had a chance to try it on. If you honestly want to see a rematch, here's a crowbar to help get your head out of your own ass.

Keep on choppin', Knights!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lebowski Standings

Counting games played through Sunday night. Asterisk indicates head to head exception.

25. BYU 7-2 (102)* (head to head win over Tulsa)
24. Virginia Tech 7-2 (55)
23. Maryland 7-2 (48)
22. Oklahoma 7-2 (42)
21. Oregon 7-2 (33)
20. Boston College 7-2 (25)
19. Tennessee 7-2 (24)
18. LSU 7-2 (32)*
17. Georgia Tech 7-2 (17)
16. Texas A&M 8-2 (78)
15. West Virginia 7-1 (49)
14. Southern California 7-1 (18)
13. Wake Forest 8-1 (103)
12. Arkansas 8-1 (73)
11. Notre Dame 8-1 (28)
10. Florida 8-1 (19)
9. California 8-1 (8)
8. Wisconsin 9-1 (56)
7. Texas 9-1 (47)
6. Auburn 9-1 (44)
5. Rutgers 8-0 (80)
4. Louisville 8-0 (57)
3. Boise State 9-0 (107)
2. Ohio State 10-0 (40)
1. Michigan 10-0 (26)


Monday, November 06, 2006

Gameday Recap

Week Ten
College Station, Texas - Oklahoma at Texas A&M
November 4, 2006

Chris Fowler made his choice. Now we see what really matters to him. I hope he's happy with what he's done, how he's disappointed his fans. Where will we get our misplaced effette-ness? Nonetheless, I like the choice of location. A&M fans are nuts. Looks like a huge crowd on hand for a game 10 hours away.

  • Corso likes the kissing tradition. He seems to get wood thinking about the red zone.
  • Herbstreit: A&M is the best student section in the country. I'm pretty sure he's said something similar about Penn State, Iowa, and probably 15 other locations. Herbstreit complimenting the home team's fans is akin to the lead singer saying "Hello Springfield!!"
  • Corso says that coaches remember the games they play in November.
  • Herbstreit: Coaches that win in November got rest for their players, both physically and emotionally. (I'm sorry, but I don't buy this BS. Plenty of champions won multiple emotionally draining games during their title years. I'm thinking Tennessee in 98, Ohio State in 2002, etc.)
  • National College Football Day is today. What does that mean?
  • No sexy matchups, says Davis.
  • Herbstreit tells us how impressed he was with USC in last week's loss. John David Booty showed heart and stuff. (My point? Is that really what we should've been taking note of in the USC game?)
  • Corso: Spurrier gets one good win a year, so watch the Cocks tonight.
  • Who should Michigan State hire? Corso thinks they should hire John L. Smith. Always defend the coaches, Scooter. Always. Herbstreit thinks the Spartans need discipline, accountability, respect. Suprisingly, he didn't say "better players, better scoring, better defense" or anything else that actually means something in terms of winning games. Herbstreit always focuses on the intangibles.
  • The Aggie yell leaders have interesting uniforms.
  • WIRED with the Aggie 12th Man. They could've done something better with the 12th man bit. Wired is a useless segment.
  • A&M has a lot of traditions.
  • Corso likes Army-Navy, somehow makes the awesome tradition seem boring.
  • Herbstreit says "besides, of course, dotting the I" Howard's Rock is the best. Always defend the Buckeyes. Always.
  • I've forgot to mention this, but I'm not sure I like how Papa Roach has replaced "Shoulder Lean" as the downloadable song.
  • Highlights of Temple breaking their losing streak. I like the shot of the coach - context.
  • All Access - Officials. David Amber reporting. Fascinating segment. Useful, atypical. Why don't they do stuff like this more often? Amazing bit showing the communication on the fumble TD review. Great Great Great segment.
  • Herbstreit says referees are sucking this year because of instant replay. Says it's amazing, the contrast between NFL officials and college officials. Ummm... NFL officials are paid better, and it's the peak of the profession - of course they're going to be better.
  • Recap and highlights from Thursday's Louisville-WVU game.
  • Herbstreit tells us how he and Big East insiders knew all along that the WVU-UL game was going to be big, but the UL-Rutgers game would be just as big. Right, dude.
  • Bobby Petrino joins the show. Ridiculous greenscreen behind him. I'm not sure Petrino's ready for prime time in terms of self promotion.
  • BCS projections are wrong. Florida was 4th, not 5th.
  • Chris Fowler joins the set. Says Louisville is good, if not better than most 1-loss teams because all 1 loss teams have close wins too (doesn't mention UL's close win over Cincinnati).
  • Corso says Louisville isn't title-worthy because no D.
  • Herbstreit says the Big East needs more respect. Thinks Louisville's D is pretty good. Says UL is a solid number 3. Also wants to reserve judgment until they play Rutgers and Pitt. So ride that fence.
  • Fowler brings up the importance of style points again. (I think that's the dumbest phrase pundits have been overusing all year. Football isn't figure skating. Plenty of teams don't need "style points" to get votes (ND, OSU, USC, etc.). It's just a way to say "wow, they played well enough to make me rethink my own underinformed opinions."
  • Fowler tries to compare Breeders' Cup horses to football teams, but makes no sense doing it. He compares Bernardini to OSU and Michigan for "having a great pedigree", then Lava Man to Louisville for being "blue collar". He has watched the flashy offense of Louisville, and the grunt it out in the trenches game of Michigan, right?
  • Game Face: Facepaint returns. I'm disappointed in you, Aggies.
  • ND-UNC: Herbstreit says expect a big day from Brady Quinn. Against a 1-7 team that's only beaten a 1-AA team by 3? You sure that won't be a tough matchup for him?
  • Desmond Howard joins to talk about the Heisman. Says Quinn needs a big game against USC and a bad game by Troy Smith in the Michigan game. Herbstreit agrees, says how far ahead of everyone else that Smith will win it.
  • Corso says Quinn had a good chance to win the Heisman for all the obvious reasons. He's working off a crib sheet that was written forever ago.
  • Davis tells us that the George Bush Library is named for the father of the current president. Please, expect more out of your audience.
  • Some coverage of OSU and Michigan games against lesser opponents. Davis calls Illinois "improving". The line is "getting better and better", Rece, but we'll give you some credit.
  • Extended piece on Troy Smith. Tom Rinaldi reporting. Good highlights, but I get the feeling like I've seen this before, or maybe I'll see it again. The question and answer under time pressure bit is kind of stupid.
  • Musberger, Davie and Herbstreit on the fake field to talk about games they aren't covering. Musberger is antsy, probably lit. Herbstreit has the look of "why must I be surrounded by frickin' idiots". For good reason.
  • Corso and Davis talk about OSU-UM rematch. Corso is dead right about this - and how unfair it is - that Ohio State would get a rematch if they lose by one (at home), but Michigan wouldn't (on the road). But then he veers off into rambling about how a 1-loss SEC team or USC should be in it ahead of an undefeated Big East team.
  • Discussion about the ACC, BC-Wake. Corso likes BC because BC has beaten teams this year that represent the same school as past year's ACC champs. (Is my sarcasm about these pundits' logic dripping enough? Sometimes I think I need to make it worse).
  • Flashback to the crew flying with the Air Force Academy.
  • Corso plays to the crowd by picking against Texas. Herbstreit thinks Texas will win big because they're tired of hearing about how they're behind in the first half only to come back and win. That's a weird motivational tool. They're disrespecting us by talking about how we're resilient and win? Also, more intangibles from Herbstreit in lieu of actual, y'know, game analysis.
  • Montage! With highlights set to All American Rejects. Sometimes I think they make this show tailored towards 13 year old boys, instead of the college age degenerate gamblers that actually are their main audience.
  • Biggest Surprise of the Season: Corso - Wake. Herbstreit - Boston College. (Rutgers?)
  • Biggest Disappointment: Corso - Colorado. Herbstreit - Miami. (FSU, Iowa, Georgia?)
  • Decibel Reader says 116. Not too shabby. Still behind Clemson.
  • Last weekend was bad for USC because they lost and a bunch of players that used to play for them also lost.
  • Extended piece on how USC will bounce back. Shelley Smith reporting. Pete Carroll talks for a while about how good the loss to Oregon State is for his program. Every other 1-loss team got this kind of coverage, right? I can't seem to remember. Tommy Tuberville got 5 minutes on Gameday to talk about how he kept his player's spirits up and stuff after the Arkansas game, right? Bret Bielema too? Mack Brown after the OSU game? Just asking... For the record, this was the longest segment of the entire show.
  • Davis cites Mark May making excuses for USC. Consider the source.
  • Howard is back to talk about USC. Howard thinks USC will lose again, thought so because of all the talent they lost. Thinks the Trojans might lose 3.
  • Corso likes USC to lose to Cal, but thinks they'll be great next year.
  • LSU-Tennessee. Davis calls LSU's performance against good teams "disappointing." I remember the Auburn game. If not for a terrible PI non-call, LSU probably wins that game. I wouldn't call the Auburn loss all that bad.
  • Herbstreit's top 1-loss teams: Texas, Tennessee, Cal, Auburn, Florida (in that order).
  • Herbstreit thinks LSU looked "awful" against good teams on the road. Again, was the Auburn loss all that bad? I don't remember it being an embarassment for LSU.
  • J. Lane for A&M. He's big. Extended piece on him. No reporter. Why isn't this guy playing D line?
  • Actual analysis for the OU-A&M game. Half as much time given to discussion about the actual game that they're at as they allotted for Pete Carroll to remind people he's still a good coach after a loss.
  • Some discussion about Wisconsin, but it's jsut because ABC's showing the game. Bonnie Bernstein is on site wearing a ridiculous hat. She offers some useful last minute injury information. More of this please (especially ridiculous hats).
  • Corso thinks Wisconsin loses to Iowa. Herbstreit likes them to win out, thinks Bielema might be coach of the year, apparently forgetting that Terry Hoeppner might get Indi-freaking-ana to a bowl AND HE HAD A BRAIN TUMOR DURING THE SEASON.
  • Game Changer: Corso - JaMarcus Russell. Herbstreit - Matt Ryan (BC). Davis - McGee (A&M).
  • Saturday Stupid Selections: Corso: Oklahoma State, Clemson, BC, Georgia, Lava Man Herbstreit: Clemson, Virginia, BC.
  • Herbstreit nailed Invasor and Bernardini in the exacta.
Perhaps I'm cranky, but I think this was one of their worst shows of the year. The segment on refs was great. But Herbstreit was intangible-riffic. The cross-promotion was overbearing. Corso was off his rocker. And they didn't even cover a lot of games. They didn't pick any of the Pac-10 games, they didn't even mention the fact that the SEC East title could've been won by the #7 team in the nation (playing a team that pushed them to the limit last year). The biggest game in Conference USA all season was Saturday, and they didn't mention it. I don't think it was Rece Davis's fault, either. They wasted way too much time with prepackaged bits on USC and Ohio State, when neither was playing a big game. They even didn't take advantage of all the great traditions at A&M. They could've shown us yell practice. This was just a wasted episode. Hope they're better next week. I've got no idea where they'll be though. Only two matchups of ranked teams - Tennessee at Arkansas and Oregon-USC. Maybe Notre Dame at Air Force, since they like to visit service academies occasionally. The ABC games aren't too promising next week, either.