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!