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An Existential Dilemma

Posted by biggusrickus on May 13, 2010

I created this little (updated) blog in the mold of the late, great Fire Joe Morgan, because I thought college football writing deserved to be mocked and they were too baseball-centric. So here’s the problem. I read a thing today that deserves the FJM treatment, but it’s about baseball, which is not my thing. So herein is the breaking point from my stated mission of “mocking bad college football writing” to more general sports journalism criticism. But really, when you write a shitpile like this, what else am I to do? I could not post to a snarky blog about it you say? Well I say, we gonna do the do. Brace yourself for a trip back to antiquity when Poseidon threw Oddyseus off course for beaning Hector and Zeus Prometheus gave man fire so they could play night games.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Baseball

No, this is not by Judy Blume but by some guy named Matthew Futterman. So, the headline’s the set, and here’s spike of a subhead:

Braden’s Perfect Game Bolsters Argument of the Believers

You wanna write about sports in the Wall Street Journal? Use some hindsight to make up shit about baseball being influenced by a hand of god or some such nonsense. 

In the debate over whether there are baseball Gods, score one for the believers.

Is there debate about this? Why the fuck is there debate? There are obviously a pantheon of baseball Gods who play with their mortal subjects as they see fit. Sometimes they make middling starters throw perfect games. Sometimes they make Dwight Gooden snort so much coke his nose falls off, but have no doubt that they are there, all around us at all times. Sometimes, when you’re pitching a no-hitter on acid, you can see them, and they are glorious.

On Sunday, an unheralded Oakland A’s pitcher named Dallas Braden threw Major League Baseball’s 19th perfect game. The accomplishment was extraordinary by any standard, but even more so for a lightly heralded pitcher who wasn’t chosen until the 24th round of the 2004 amateur draft. But when you consider the circumstances, it’s almost otherworldly.

Well, it was the 19th time it has ever happened, so it goes without saying that it was extraordinary. And while most of the guys who have done it were good to great pitchers, there’s also this guy, this guy, and this guy (who did it in a fucking World Series, crazily enough). So that’s 4 out of 19 from average or slightly below average major league pitchers. So it is not “even more extraordinary” that an “unheralded guy” did it. It is the exact same amount of extra ordinary-ness. And it is certainly not fucking otherworldly, no matter how much human interest fluff you try to tie to it. And also because there are no such things as baseball gods.

Late last month, Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, one of the best but most-controversial players in the game, disrepected Mr. Braden by trotting across his pitching mound and then belittled him after the Oakland pitcher had the audacity to complain about the breach of etiquette. After the game, Mr. Rodriguez described the confrontation as “pretty funny” and Mr. Braden as “a guy that has a handful of wins in his career.”

Okay, maybe Cont-Rod (short for Controversy Rodriguez) is a kind of weird dick. I’m undecided on the whole mound controversy. It seems a little silly for a pitcher to get all pissy about it, but maybe it’s part of the dumb unwritten code of baseball. Whatever. This incident, however, has nothing to do with gods influencing baseball outcomes, because, as previously stated, that is made-up nonsense.

Flash forward to Mother’s Day, when Mr. Braden, who lost his own mother to melanoma while he was in high school, took the mound against Tampa Bay, the team with the best record in the American League, and without overpowering stuff (he had a mere six strikeouts) managed to retire all 27 batters he faced.

Whoa, let’s not just flash forward to Mother’s Day. At the conclusion of the start against New York where he was supposedly disrespected by A-Rod, thus getting the gods on his side because they hate A-Rod, he was 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA. His next two starts, both losses, saw him post a combined line of 11 IP, 18 Hits, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. Where were your gods then Mr. Futterman/Braden?

As for the mom’s death/doing something so amazing on Mother’s Day angle, it’s kind of cute that such a thing happened. It is not a sign of divine intervention. I also like to think that somewhere, someone whose mom died when he was a teenager, went 0-5 with 4 Ks on Mother’s Day. After the game he was called into the manager’s office and informed he was being sent down to AAA to work on his mechanics, and he got home to find his wife had moved out and, like, killed his dog because he barked at squirrels, and it drove her crazy. If someone would write  a story about how shitty that guy’s day was I might not be so annoyed with the Mother’s Day-Braden angle.

Granted, it wasn’t Steve Bartman running over a billy goat on Lake Shore Drive before the Chicago Cubs clinch their first World Series win since 1908,

Still with the Steve Bartman references people? Jesus, let it go. Also, does this non-event mean that the gods, in allowing Bartman to arrive at the game, were punishing the Cubs for, like, hubris or something?

but it does add heft to an old theological question that’s been kicked around over many a pint of grog: Is there a God that watches over baseball?

Now we’re getting monotheistic in our baseball theology? The answer to the question is no, there is not a God watching over baseball. That is juvenile nonsense, and why the fuck are we drinking grog?

Whatever the case, there have been many instances in baseball’s Eden-like ballpark cathedrals where things happen that seem to defy all terrestrial explanations. Here are a few such moments:

“Eden-like.” Paradise with everything provided by God does not include $7 hot dogs.

And here are some “things (that) happen that seem to defy all terrestrial explanations:”

Mike Piazza’s home run.

Mike Piazza hit a homerun in the eighth to beat the Braves in the Mets’ first game back at Shea after 9/11. This is truly amazing because Piazza only hit 35 other home runs that year, and retired with a measly 427 for his career. Obviously, gods or a God were involved.

2004 American League Championship Series, Yankees vs. Red Sox.

Okay, I’ll include his reasoning for this one, because it is fucking crazy.

In a series where the Yankees blew a commanding 3-0 lead to lose four straight, it’s easy to overlook the divine characteristics of Tony Clark’s ground-rule double in the ninth inning of Game 5.

But in the top of the ninth, Mr. Clark of the Yankees screeched a line drive into right field with two outs and teammate Ruben Sierra on first. The ball took a hop off the Fenway Park ground and bounced into the right-field stands.

Had the ball stayed in play, Mr. Sierra surely would have scored the Yankees’ fifth run, giving Yankees closer Mariano Rivera a chance to close out the series. Instead, Mr. Sierra was stranded at third when Miguel Cairo popped out in foul territory. The long-suffering Red Sox won the game 5-4 in 14 innings—and we don’t have to remind Yankees fans what happened next.

Think about all the other events that had to come together for the Red Sox to come back and win that series. Even just in that game. They had to shut out an incredibly good Yankees lineup for five more innings. They had just had to plate two in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game, which included a second straight blown save by Rivera (though in fairness, blaming him for giving up a sac fly in a one-run game when he comes in with runners on the corners is unfair). Which brings me to: in the previous fucking game, they’d had to score a run off Mariano Rivera to tie the game that they won in 12 innings. What was I talking about again? Oh, a God or some number of gods in conjunction causing a ball to bounce over a fence. Think about how crazy that is. I SAID THINK ABOUT IT!

The Home Run King Gets No World Series Ring

Bonds struck out one inning and the Giants eventually blew a lead and lost 6-5 in game 6 of the ’02 World Series. They went on to lose game seven. Two words merged to form one: otherworldly.

Update: I checked the box score for the game. You know what else Bonds did? He went 1-2 with 2 BB (one intentional because nobody sane pitched to Bonds unless the bases were empty at that point in his career) and solo HR. He also made an error that led to an unearned run, so, I don’t know, gods teasing him and making him fail? Probably.

Hank Greenberg against the Master Race

Oh yeah, some more crazy:

Before Jessie Owens faced down Adolf Hitler, Hank Greenberg and the Detroit Tigers took their shot.

See, Hank Greenberg’s a Jew, in case his stereotypical Jewish name didn’t clue you in. Hitler: not so much a fan of Jews. So, fine. That a Jew did something good at a time when Hitler was running Germany is neat, but in what fucking way is that analogous to winning a fucking gold medal in the German capital, embarrassing Hitler and all that? Explain yourself!

In 1935, as Hitler was rising to power in Europe, a sturdy Jewish first baseman was belting 36 home runs and knocking in 170 on his way to his first MVP award.

Had he played for a hapless franchise, Mr. Greenberg’s exploits might not have gained the spotlight. But fate placed him on a team with the likes of Charlie Gehringer, Mickey Cochrane and Schoolboy Rowe that won that year’s World Series, turning Mr. Greenberg into a folk hero.

And Hitler watched all of this while gnashing his teeth because Hitler was way into baseball. (Was Hitler into baseball? Anyone?) Greenberg went on to win another one in 1940, but this troubled Hitler less as he was overrunning Europe and really didn’t get to the follow the season very much at all.

Oh, that’s how it ended. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty convinced now that gods are intervening in baseball games, and it’s time we hunted them down and put a stop to it. What do we want?! Free will!! When do we want it?! Now, but how do you kill a god?! Hmm.


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Dennis Dodd Really Hates Spring Games

Posted by biggusrickus on May 7, 2010

There was this from a couple years ago. I imagine he wrote something angry about them last year too. Now we have this:

Springing a few ideas to get rid of spring charades for good

I still hate puns, especially boring ones like that.

I’ve seen 90,000 crazed fans in brilliant sunshine. I’ve seen 2,500 lonely souls in the rain. I’ve seen celebrity coaches and I’ve seen scoring systems so complicated that BCS computers would go cross-eyed.

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend…Oh, sorry.

I assume he means scoring systems that go something like this, which, I don’t know, seems simpler than algorithms used to rank football teams. But maybe it only seems that way to me because my brain is a Cray supercomputer.

Now that they’re done for another year, I’ve seen enough of spring games.

Do you have any idea what the odds are that the exact number played would be enough for Dodd? They have to be astronomical.

I’m done. Finished.

As are the games for the year, so chill out, man.

Not only are the shams currently foisted upon us mostly meaningless,

They’re entirely meaningless.

they’re almost always boring.

I kind of agree here, though excitement level varies from game to game. Excitement, however, isn’t really the point.

In terms of lasting memories, they’re more disposable than a Bic lighter.

I’d have gone with dirty diaper, because that also sort of speaks to the true smelly awfulness of these games, Dennis.

Quick, name the leading rusher in Florida’s 2009 spring game.

Chris Rainey, maybe?

Answer: Doesn’t matter.

Then why’d you fucking ask?

Sixteen starters sat out for “precautionary reasons.”

Why the scare quotes, like sitting some guys who are dinged up so they don’t get further injured is some kind of sinister cover-up?

Quarterback John Brantley accounted for five touchdowns (three passing) and then went back into the witness protection program behind Tim Tebow.

It’s amazing he wasn’t offed, because that is the fucking worst witness relocation in recorded history. They didn’t even change his name!

Moving past his stupid hyperbolic joke and dealing with the point here: fans were excited by the five-touchdown performance. It made them feel some level of confidence that their QB would be good after Tebow left. Even if he’d never actually seen the field all season, it wouldn’t have changed that (he did see it in some mop duty and put up good stats in a very small sample size against shitty teams).

Anyway, back to the needlessly angry bullshit.

And that was from the defending national champions.

This was a paragraph unto itself. He really wanted to stress the fuck out of this point, which is puzzling. Because there isn’t one.

Alabama thought so much of its spring game that its coaches were former quarterback Jay Barker and a radio talk-show host.

Jay Barker, as in the winnigest QB in the school’s history, who led them to their most recent national championship until last year’s. What a lack of…respect for the spring game? Paul Finebaum was the “radio talk-show host.” He’s also pretty fucking famous in the state of Alabama and throughout the south. He’s also an annoying asshole, but that’s neither here nor there.

Nick Saban was still in charge, basically telling an official to throw a flag on the third play of the game.

I’m not sure if Alabama is one of the schools who brings in real officials for these games or not, but if they missed a call that Saban thinks will be called normally, and he wants his players not to make the stupid mistake again, telling an offical to call it makes sense to me.

Nick is always in charge. After the clock expired he decided to keep playing until a tie was broken.

Well, yes, as head coach he decides when practices begin and end. And a spring game is essentially a glorified practice.

I thought about making  a “Charles in Charge” joke but thought better of it. However, please enjoy these opening credits to the Scott Baio vehicle.

That’s not a game, that’s an off Broadway production of an SEC Saturday.

I saw the ArcLight’s production of “Cocktail Party.” It kind of left me cold.

Nebraska trumpeted its use of a television analyst as a side judge. At least everyone was respecting the game that day.

Respecting the meaningless game. Remember? It’s just a scrimmage. You called them “mostly meaningless just a couple short paragraphs ago. Having a celebrity side judge sounds kind of fun actually. Good an ya, Nebraska.

Never mind the injuries … no wait. Always mind the injuries. Coaches have long grumbled about staging those off-Broadway productions for nothing more than serving tradition.

He’s really showing a lot of confidence in that “off-Broadway” trope. I bet he typed it out the first time, and said to himself, “You’ve just nailed that one, Dennis. Nailed it!” 

I call bullshit on the point, and if it isn’t bullshit from Dodd it’s bullshit from coaches. College coaches run three scrimmages each spring (well, that’s what Georgia does, which I assume it’s the norm). The spring game is the third scrimmage. It would be a scrimmage whether fans were in attendance or not. I do not at all believe that the fans being there makes injuries more likely.

USC’s Lane Kiffin, in his second year as a college head coach, might be the newest to bitch.

That he cites Kiffin for this seems absolutely perfect to me.

Kiffin sent defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to the locker room after he hit quarterback Matt Barkley in Saturday’s game in the Coliseum. Barkley, who already had wrist surgery, injured his throwing hand after it hit Casey’s helmet. Because Casey couldn’t control himself — quarterbacks are off limits — who knows, USC could be playing with a backup quarterback in the fall. Hey, but at least everyone had a good time at the spring game, right?

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett broke his foot doing spring conditioning drills. Miami QB Jacory Harris missed most of the spring with a thumb injury. Shit happens. Blaming the spring game for it is asinine. By Dennis’ logic teams should never practice to ensure they remain healthy for live games. And since ultimately the games themselves are pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, we should probably not play them either to ensure that nobody gets injured. Holy shit! Dennis Dodd wants to do away with the entire sport of football! It all makes sense now.

Oh, the “games” are good for a tailgate and a starter tan if you’re not in, say, Minnesota, but other than that give me spring practice over spring games anytime. At least then, no one is pretending. Chatting up coaches and players in a relaxed offseason environment? I’m down. Always. It’s why we college football writers make our spring “tours” to various campuses. In fact, I got to know Jimbo Fisher a bit last month sitting in a conference room at a Florida resort near the Gulf of Mexico. It was, with little embellishment, like talking to Elvis before he went onstage.

First, the sun shines in Minnesota too. Second, who is pretending? What are they pretending to do? What the fuck are you talking about? Third, it’s nice for you that you get to make the rounds and, like, buddy up to coaches in Florida resorts. But for those of us who are not paid to write terrible columns about college football, the spring game is the only direct access we have to see what the team might be like. You arrogant dipshit.

I’m going to skip the part where he actually reiterated his complaints from two years ago about the Spring Bash stuff that some schools were doing, and go to this:

I don’t really care about MSL and its spring circus at this point, but I do have an alternative.

I beg to fucking differ, seeing as you just spent three paragraphs rehashing two fucking years later.

An answer to the meaninglessness, the unnecessary injuries, the quirky scoring: Scrimmages against other schools. It’s not a new idea. It just makes too much sense right now.

Dennis’ answer to the non-problem of meaningless games that could potentially cause unnecessary injuries? Different kinds of meaningless games that could cause unnecessary injuries! The sense, it’s too much for me.

He goes onto run through the plan, but I’m frankly tired of this article. It’s not even that I think exhibition games are terrible ideas, but they are still likely to be boring, with players sitting out or getting yanked early as they do in pro preseason games. Ultimately, you are still risking people getting hurt in a meaningless game, which beyond the tedium of scrimmages seems to be Dennis’ main problem. The point(s) being, I see no reason to change around the system and Dodd’s a fuckwit.

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10 Reasons to Hate Pete Fiutak

Posted by biggusrickus on December 22, 2009

I guess the five-reasons rule is doubled for national title games, which is why Pete came up with 10 “non-X-and-O reasons” why Texas will beat Alabama here. And when you see “non-X-and-O” you can be assured you’re about to get a giant helping of nonsense. Pete didn’t let us down.

Reasons number 10 and 9?

10. The Alabama pass defense

9. The Texas run defense

Those seem a little X-and-O-y to me, a non-professional sports analyst. The reasoning for 10 is where the real insanity comes in:

The Tide finished seventh in the nation against the pass allowing just 164 yards per game while it led the nation in pass efficiency defense.

This is the first sentence under the 10th reason, the Alabama pass defense, that the Texas Longhorns will beat the Alabama Crimson Tide. How many mushrooms must one consume before the idea that Alabama possessing the number one pass efficiency defense in the country is a reason that Texas will win seems like a good one? (Answer: There aren’t enough mushrooms on the planet.)

While that sounds impressive, the defense only faced one bomber of a quarterback, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas.

Who they completely shut down.

While the Hog sophomore started out the season with two great games, this was only his third game with the team (he completed 12-of-35 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown with a pick).

Like so. And what does his third game starting have to do with anything? He torched Georgia (who has a bad defense, not coincidentally) in only his second start.

South Carolina’s Stephen Garcia had some success, but he couldn’t get his Gamecocks into the end zone,

Some success in this case being a line of 20/46, 214 yards, 0TDs and 1 INT. Alabama turned the ball over four times and allowed 6 points. Do you know how good your defense has to be for that to happen?

Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead had a lousy year (‘Bama doesn’t deserve too much credit for shutting him down),

No, they shouldn’t, but they shut basically everybody down, you nitwit.

and Tim Tebow threw for 247 yards.

He also completed passes at a lower than usual rate (57% compared to a career completion percentage of about 65%), had only one TD and one INT. Tim Tebow is also, arguably, the greatest college QB to ever play.

While the Tide secondary is talented, Arkansas was the only team on the schedule ranked in the top 43 among passing teams (the Hogs were ranked tenth).

Yes, they played one really great passing team, and, I hate to keep stressing this, they fucking stifled them.

Florida is fifth in the nation in passing efficiency (and Tebow had a decent 120.1 rating in the title game) and Auburn 18th (Chris Todd’s rating was 139.2), but the rest of the SEC teams are ranked 40th or lower.

Tebow’s season rating was 155.6. Todd’s: 146.45. So, you have a point with Todd, not so much Tebow. I will counter that point on Todd by pointing out that it was probably their worst defensive performance of the season by a fair margin. Which is especially relevant since you close with this:

Colt McCoy didn’t have his most efficient season, and he struggled against Nebraska throwing three picks, but he’s too good to come up with another clunker.

So, Alabama’s awesome pass defense is a weakness because McCoy came up with a clunker last game, and presumably, used up his allotment of bad games for the season? Make sense to everyone? Cool.

The reasoning for 9 is fine. However, skipping down we get:

7. Utah

What? You don’t see the relevance of a team not even participating in the game? All will be made clear.

Yes, it’s a different year and there are different circumstances, but the ‘Horns can learn a lot from the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Alabama was down after the loss to Florida in last year’s SEC Championship, didn’t have Andre Smith at tackle, and didn’t appear to be interested from moment one, but Utah had a lot to do with the butt-kicking. The Utes came out with an up-tempo offense, was in a great rhythm from the start, and sold out on defense to get into the backfield.

So there you go Texas, just emulate the model that Utah followed last year:

  • Have Alabama’s national title hopes dashed a month prior to the game, thus ensuring:
  • They come out flat.
  • Get into rhythm (I suggest having the team reenact the dance training montage from Dirty Dancing).
  • Be agressive.

6. The Heisman Factor

This popular myth – “Heisman = Bad Performance in Bowl Games” – is everywhere, so it pleases me to have a chance to refute it here.

Teams full of 18-to-22-year-old kids always go for the easy motivation, and when they have a prize of a Heisman winner to stop, and with weeks to prepare, they tend to shut down the star and/or get the win in the bowl. The trend doesn’t lie. 2008 Heisman winner – Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. Loss to Florida.

Bradford: 26/41, 256, 2 TDs, 2 INTs. Not outstanding, but not “shut down.”

2007 Heisman winner – Tim Tebow, Florida. Loss to Michigan.

Tebow: 17/33, 154 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 16 carries, 57 yards, 1 TD. Not “shut down.”

2006 Heisman winner – Troy Smith, Ohio State. Loss to Florida.

Okay, he was famously shut down.

2005 Heisman winner – Reggie Bush, USC. Loss to Texas.

Bush: 13 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD, 6 catches, 95 yards, 5 kick returns, 102 yards. I guess you could argue they shut down his kick returns. Otherwise, not “shut down.”

2004 Heisman winner – Matt Leinart, USC. Win over Oklahoma.

A direct refutation since his team won, but to keep up the stat thing, Leinart: 18/35, 332 yards, 5 TDs.

2003 Heisman winner – Jason White, Oklahoma. Loss to LSU.

Shut down.

2002 Heisman winner – Carson Palmer, USC. Win over Iowa.

Palmer: 21/31, 303 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT

2001 Heisman winner – Eric Crouch, Nebraska. Loss to Miami.

Shut down.

2000 Heisman winner – Chris Weinke, Florida State. Loss to Oklahoma.

Shut down.

The point of all of this is that there is no trend, you numbskull.

Going back further, the Heisman winners rocked in the 1990s, but in this decade they’re just 2-7 in bowl games and 1-6 in national championships.

And two of those six national title game losses involved good performances by the Heisman winner, three of the seven total losses. More important, the “Heisman winners rocked in the 1990s” completely refutes this entire point. Sometimes players perform well in bowl games and sometimes they don’t. There is no magical Heisman effect.

Of course, Alabama knows this and Mark Ingram should be ready, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a marked man.

I think it would behoove Texas to ignore the best offensive player Alabama has, myself.

There’s more, but I’m tired of taking this apart. Here are 5-1:

5. “Nobody Respects Us” (Teams never lose when they are disrespected.)
4. Colt McCoy is better than Greg McElroy (So was Tebow, but fair point.)
3. Air Travel (The entire Alabama team suffers from aviaphobia.)
2. The No. 2 vs. No. 1 thing (2 always wins, except when they don’t.)
1. Texas really is good (Well, you’ve got me there.)

Look, I think Texas has a chance to win this game. They play good defense, and they have a great QB. The ball bounces funny sometimes. Bowl games are inherently unpredictable (well, I guess all games are, technically) due to the month off. The point is that the reasons listed in this article are nearly all stupid, stupid reasons to assert that Texas will win. Come back next week when I take apart Pete’s “10 Reasons Alabama Will Win” article (seriously: he’s doing that).

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Gregg Doyel: Self-Loather

Posted by biggusrickus on December 14, 2009

There’s nothing quite like a media member criticizing his own profession, especially over things for which he is partially responsible. It’s a bizarre combination of self-loathing and a total lack of self-awareness. If it were done tongue-in-cheek in a self-deprecating way I guess I could understand it, but when it’s angry and strident, like this, I’m just left shaking my head. So here’s the beginning of this shit storm:

Heisman race, BCS matchup products of media’s self-fulfilling prophecy

It’s like he isn’t responsible for hyping up teams or players. He doesn’t even give a nod to his own culpability in the hypefest anywhere in the column. It’s stunning really. You’d think he was a blogger ripping on shitty journalism, when he is in fact part of the shitty journalism problem. A big part. Anyway, let’s get going with the article.

These past four months were a complete waste of time. The 2009 college football season? It was superfluous. Unnecessary.

I suppose in a big-picture thinking sort of way this is true, but since this is not how you mean it Gregg, I’m going to ask you to defend this nonsense.

Back in August, if not earlier, the media foretold the 2009 season. We told you who would play for the national championship, and we told you who would be the serious candidates for the Heisman Trophy, and then — dammit — we made it happen.

To some extent this is true. Predicting that SEC Champion would play the Big 12 Champion was kind of a no-brainer in the world of predictions. A Big 12 team has played in five BCS Title Games this decade. The SEC has won the last three. So way to go media. You predicted something sort of correctly. As for the Heisman, was anyone pimping Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart or Suh (I’m not fucking up his first name) before the season? Those are three of your five finalists. Also, you all probably don’t know this, but the media has willed every outcome of every game for the past seven seasons. This was immediately after the R&D team at ESPN produced the Willamatronic T930. It’s housed in a secret mountain laboratory in the Catskills and serviced by gnomes.

Never mind that we were wrong in August. Never mind that we didn’t see Cincinnati coming, or Texas Christian, or Boise State. We saw Texas or Oklahoma playing Alabama or Florida in the BCS title game. So it was written, and so it was.

Preseason polls are dumb, but TCU and Boise State started the year at 17 and 14, respectively, in the AP, which is voted on by the media. Cincy was so off-the-radar they were 26th. Sure, none of those teams were considered likely to go undefeated, but they were thought of as quality football teams who could potentially make runs at a BCS bid. Texas, Alabama and Florida, all playing tougher schedules than the three “overlooked” teams went undefeated leading up to their conference championship games. The media thought they would be good. They were good. They are not good because the media has some sort of supernatural power to affect the outcomes of games.

The same goes for the Heisman. As soon as all three finalists from last season announced they were coming back for 2009, we decided they would be the most serious contenders again. It was obvious, after all. Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford won, and he was back. Florida’s Tim Tebow and Texas’ Colt McCoy almost won, and they were also back. That would be your top three this season, and if anyone insisted on injecting a slice of fresh meat into the conversation, fine. We’d scan the roster of the other best team in the country — like we told you, that team was Alabama — and we’d pick someone from the Crimson Tide. We settled on Mark Ingram. If he had a good season, he’d be a finalist, too.

So it was written, and so it was.

And the media in their collective wisdom decided to will Sam Bradford to be injured, because Fuck Sam Bradford, they thought. Nobody thought Ingram would be a serious Heisman candidate heading into the season. Then he had some monster days in nationally televised games and people thought, Hey, this guy is pretty f-ing good and plays for a title contender. Maybe we should consider him. Because that’s the way the Heisman shit works. Tony Pike of the little-known Cincinnati Bearcats was climbing the Heisman ranks too, and then he was hurt. If he’d played in those four games he missed he’d probably have another 1,200 yards and 10 TDs or something, and he’d probably have won the Heisman. He certainly would have nudged Tebow off the finalist list. But the media didn’t want that, so they willed his injury too. The media are assholes.

It’s embarrassing. We turned the 2009 football season into a self-fulfilling prophecy by determining before the season began who should get the biggest team and individual awards, and then by refusing to consider other alternatives as the season unfolded.

And this is why your national title game features preseason number 1, Florida and preseason number 2, Texas. Colt McCoy won his Heisman, based in part on his gritty performance against a one-loss Oklahoma team that saw Texas win 56-54 as McCoy’s desperate heave to the end zone as time expired was caught by Jordan Shipley. It will be known in Texas history as “The Play.” Now, Ingram won the Heisman, but seeing as Doyel is lying about him being a front-runner before the season I’ll call him an alternative to the Big Three. Toby Gerhart, who nobody considered at all before the season finished second, barely. A God damned defensive tackle was one of the five players invited to New York. That’s two out of five alternative cnadidates by Gregg’s own logic. Three out of five in reality.

I don’t know why I’m so angry,

I’m a little baffled too, seeing as you’re a media member and everything.

but I am. It’s not like this is news. The gaseous media likes the smell of its own hot air? Good Lord, I already knew that.

Take this article, for example…

Most people, and sportswriters are no different, prefer not to think outside the box. They don’t want to even consider the possibility of life outside the box.

You’re all sheep! Sheep, Gregg says!

Put me in a box and I feel claustrophobic, but put them in a box and they feel safe. Protected. There is structure inside that box, and structure matters for a group of people who see possibilities in only one shade — the same shade as the slacks most of these people wear: beige.

Are sportswriters known for wearing beige slacks? That sounds like a made-up stereotype. That’s just the kind of antiauthoritarian rebel Gregg is though. He thinks outside the box and invents his own stereotypical attire. “Why can’t Dutch people drive?!,” he might wonder…angrily.

That’s the 2009 BCS national title game. It’s beige. Alabama clearly belongs, and I won’t suggest otherwise, but you know what Texas is? Texas is a boring pair of khaki pants.

So it’s more like a pair of beige slacks with an ironic t-shirt.

Texas Christian beat the crap out of everybody it played, and Cincinnati beat more Top 25 teams than Texas, and Boise State beat the highest-ranked opponent of the bunch (No. 7 Oregon), but those teams are unconventional. TCU is a pair of horn-rimmed eyeglasses, and Cincinnati is a funky shirt with a wide lapel, and Boise State is a camel-hair blazer that’s just out there

And Florida is one of those crazy island shirts with bright colors and parrots and shit. And Georgia Tech is a pair of Wrangler jeans. And Oregon is a pair of Lennon-style glasses. And Oklahoma is a pair of old ratty underwear. And what are we talking about?

and the media doesn’t relate to things that are out there. So the media will stick with what it knows. And the media knows Texas, which is why Texas is in the BCS title game despite having probably the fifth-best résumé in the country.

Well, perhaps they don’t go for things that are out there as a rule, but you know, I’m betting a lot of them would like to have seen TCU play for the title. I mean, your counterpart in shitty college football writing on CBS Sportsline is mocked a little ways down this page for not really feeling Texas.

And when the Heisman is awarded this weekend, the anointed quartet, minus the injured Bradford, will be there. Colt McCoy was pretty good this season, then absolutely horrific in the Big 12 title game, and somehow pretty good plus absolutely horrific equals a Heisman finalist. Tim Tebow was nothing special in more than half of his team’s 13 games. Check out his stats. They’re nothing special. But he’ll be in New York as well. And Mark Ingram? He’s not the best running back in the South (that would be C.J. Spiller of Clemson), or even the SEC (Dexter McCluster of Ole Miss). But he’s going because he’s the most famous player on the most famous team. He’s Gino Torretta.

McCoy was not as good as last year, when he should have won the award. However, even with his bad performance in the championship game, he completed 70% of his passes for over 3,500 yards and threw 27 TDs to 12 INTs. He added another 300+ yards on the ground and three more TDs. I don’t think he deserved to win (and he didn’t), but he certainly belonged in New York. Tim Tebow accounted for 31 TDs, and over 3,200 total yards in his worst season. He also protected the ball for the most part. From purely a running back perspective Ingram is obviously better than Spiller. He outrushed him by 400 yards, scored four more rushing TDs, averaged .5 more yards per carry and had similar receiving stats. You could make an argument that Spiller’s return stats make him a better Heisman candidate, but they don’t make him a better running back. McCluster was awesome the second half of the season, but that’s the problem. He wasn’t a running back for half of it. Are you going to give him the nod as best running back when he has 600 fewer yards and nine fewer TDs? Do you really think he could have taken the pounding over the course of a full season as a running back? He’s like 4’8″ 140 lbs. However, the worst part of this paragraph is comparing Ingram to Toretta. There should be a new word to describe that kind of stupidity. I’m going with “asininipidity.”

Neither Spiller nor McCluster is going to New York, of course. Ingram will go, and probably even win, because voters are idiots.

Or because he’s been really good for one of the best teams in the country.

Simple as that. Mark Ingram’s serious Heisman candidacy confirms that voters are idiots. Hell, Mark Ingram wasn’t as good this season as the true freshman running back at Pittsburgh, Dion Lewis, who had more carries, yards and touchdowns. And Lewis won’t finish in the Heisman Top 10. If he’s in the top 20, I’ll be shocked.

Well, sure. He also played fewer good defenses. When you consider that, the fact that he outrushed him by about 100 yards and scored one more TD is not quite as impressive. There’s also the fact that he averaged .7 yards less per carry and caught six fewer passes for more than 100 fewer yards and two fewer TDs. So, I do not buy your argument that Ingram is worse than Lewis.

Maybe you think I’m giving the media too much credit for the scummy residue on this college football season, but I’m not. The media poll doesn’t contribute to the BCS formula, true, but the media poll sets the tone, and the BCS-approved coaches poll mostly follows it. The media poll went into this season with Florida first, followed by No. 2 Texas and No. 5 Alabama. Boise State was No. 14. TCU was No. 17. Cincinnati was unranked. Assuming all six teams went undefeated — which they did, until the SEC title game — the bottom three had no chance of surpassing the top three. Sad but true, and I offer the coaches’ poll as proof.

As proof of something that everyone already knows? Really, you could have left this whole paragraph out. I will also add that Oklahoma was no. 3 and finished behind TCU, Cincy and Boise State, because they lost. I only include that because he made a big deal out of Oklahoma earlier and chose to leave them out when they weren’t useful to his argument.

The Heisman situation is even worse. Week by week, McCoy and Tebow and Ingram put up modest numbers, and week by week that trio stayed near the top of most of the most prominent Heisman lists online. And you can imagine where the typical voter goes for Heisman information: to the most prominent Heisman lists online. Maybe a maverick voter here or there will substitute a new name into the Chosen Trio — They have Ingram, McCoy and Tebow; I’ll put McCoy ahead of Ingram, and add Toby Gerhart — but by and large, the names are the same. And we have the NYC invitation list to prove it.

I think there is an argument to be made that Spiller should have gone over Tebow, but Spiller finished sixth and Tebow fifth so I don’t see much of an injustice. Ingram and McCoy put up awesome numbers most weeks. Tebow was a little spottier, but he pretty much was the Florida offense. Toby Gerhart barely lost to Ingram. All things considered the two players were almost the same. I’d have gone with Gerhart because of his larger TD total. That said, it is not a huge injustice that Ingram won.

Prediction: Lots of college football voter-types will read this story, and a bunch of them will look up Dion Lewis or Dexter McCluster, because until I wrote those names, lots of voters had no idea how good those guys were this season. You’ve already looked, voters, haven’t you? Good. And look up Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore while you’re at it. He had a better year than one Colt McCoy, and he had a better year than two of Tim Tebow.

That’s nice and smug. I’ve already refuted your Dion Lewis/Dexter McCluster nonsense. Boise played the 98th toughest schedule in the country. There are only 21 teams out of 119 who played lesser competition. You might want to factor that into your votes people who read Gregg’s column and actually take his argument seriously.

But Kellen Moore didn’t fit into the media’s narrative for 2009. We knew how the season would start, and we knew how it would end.

All that stuff in the middle? Details. Pointless details.

Details like Texas and Alabama going undefeated while playing tougher schedules overall than TCU, Boise State, and Cincinnati. Pointless.

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Stewart Mandel Still Likes Arguing with Himself

Posted by biggusrickus on December 10, 2009

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The Not-So-Great Debate Part II

Posted by biggusrickus on December 7, 2009

A quick look at an over-reaction from Pat Forde’s 3-Point Stance:

1. Texas coach Mack Brown spins so well that if he owned ice skates, he’d be favored to medal in Vancouver. Maybe when the disbelief evaporates and my jaw returns to its upright position, I’ll return to thinking that the Longhorns deserve to play in the BCS National Championship Game. But the slapstick finish to the Nebraska game, coupled with the inability to put mediocre Texas A&M away the week before, are reason enough to believe that the wrong team from Texas will play Alabama.

Pat Forde writes jokes so badly he’d be voted off “Last Comic Standing” the first week. What is so unbelievable about a very, very good Nebraska defense, a defense that carried an abysmal offense all season, holding Texas’ offense in check? I don’t really want to carry water for Texas. I wanted them to lose, so we could find out just how good TCU is. I find them intriguing too. However, you can’t just discount Texas’ total body of work because of two bad games to close out the year. They averaged to win about 40-15 over the course of the season. They had two very poor offensive performances against Oklahoma and Nebraska. They had one very poor defensive performance against Texas A&M. TCU beat Air Force, a military academy with players who are undersized and less athletic than those at every major college by a fair magin, 20-17. They beat a four-loss Clemson team who lost by 17 to a very average South Carolina team, 14-10. Are those games less meaningful because they happened earlier in the season? If so, why? Also, to beat this point to death, TCU played the 84th toughest schedule in the coutry and Texas played the 44th.

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The Not-So-Great Debate

Posted by biggusrickus on December 7, 2009

Well, we’ve come to the end of another college football regular season. And so, the annoying jabber about fairness, playoffs, non-BCS teams, etc. begins anew. Some of these “takes,” to use a Rome-ism, will be rational. Some will be emotional. Most will suck. One will come from the keyboard of Dennis Dodd. It will be emotional. It will suck. It will be headlined:

Messy BCS: Longhorns in title game doesn’t seem right

I’m not sure that Texas, or Alabama for that matter, is better than TCU or Cincinnati. Statistically speaking, both certainly look better on paper than Cincinnati. The evidence is less compelling in TCU’s case. That said, both teams have been ranked ahead of TCU and Cincinnati all season, they haven’t lost, and neither TCU nor Cincinnati has played a particularly tough schedule. Cincinnati’s is ranked 63rd toughest by Sagarin, TCU’s 84th. Alabama (20th) and Texas (44th) both played tougher schedules. Sagarin is imperfect, but it does try to apply some scientific method to the process of deciding who the best teams are. So, it kind of seems right to me.

It just doesn’t feel right, not when the two happiest men in college football Sunday were Dan Beebe and Walt Anderson.

Ah, but does it feel right? I didn’t consider that in my opinion. I don’t know. I mean, I’m kind of curious about what sex would feel like, but I’m also kind of nervous. I mean, this is a big step. You want it to be more than just an awkward backseat encounter. Maybe if the mood was right and it was with the right person (Johnny is really dreamy), I’d be ready. What were we talking about?… Oh right, national title game participants. It feels wrong…because…two guys are happy. Um, huh?

It doesn’t feel right because the Big 12 commissioner (Beebe) and his supervisor of officials (Anderson) were just as much a part of Saturday’s furious finish to the season as was the football.

The commissioner and the supervisor of officials were a part of Satruday’s furious finish? Is Dodd insinuating a conspiracy? Defend this statement, Dennis.

It doesn’t feel right because half of the BCS title-game matchup was decided from the video replay booth. The commish and his supervisor had to put the final stamp of approval on Texas’ 13-12 non-loss over Nebraska. Yeah, they got it right even after Texas almost got it unforgivably wrong.

So, you’re blaming them for…getting a call correct in an immensely important game.
Many of you saw it and you still can’t believe it.
It was kind of amazing how nonchalant McCoy was on that last play, but I totally believe it happened.
Colt McCoy rolled out with eight seconds left with a timeout in his pocket and treated the play like it was a seven-on-seven drill. His leisurely pass out of bounds was flat enough — and Ndamukong Suh was a split-second late enough in sacking him — that it hit the ground with one second left. And as we all know, “The clock doesn’t stop until the ball hits something,” Anderson said.

Yes, we all know that, but do we feel it? That’s the important thing.

Cue the confetti streaming down from the rafters. Wait, first clear the field of celebrating Huskers. Given that precious extra second, Texas’ Hunter Lawrence punched it through from 46 yards for the winner.

Hunter Lawrence defines clutch.

That’s how the 12th BCS title matchup was decided — Texas not so much celebrating as exhaling. It was finalized only after Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini screamed at Texas, “You should be ashamed to accept that trophy,” at least three times according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Well, it was, you know, settled when the replay official made the correct call and Texas made a last-second field goal. You know what might also have made a difference? If Bo Pelini’s kicker hadn’t kicked the kickoff out of bounds after they’d taken the lead or Carl Pelini’s defenders hadn’t horse-collared a guy after a completion, setting Texas up at the 30. Shouting that someone should be ashamed to accept a trophy after you blew your shot at it defines sour grapes.

His brother, head coach Bo, dispatched legend/AD Tom Osborne to the middle of the Cowboys Stadium field to fetch Beebe. The commissioner had some ‘splainin’ to do. The pair talked out of earshot although the World-Herald reported hearing curse words.

Rumored cussing aside, they got the call right however much Nebraska wishes otherwise.

“BCS,” Bo was quoted as saying, “That’s why they make that call.”

Really guys, you lost. You melted down. It’s not a conspiracy.

In the fog of war we all say, do — and write — stupid things. No, it wasn’t a BCS call, Bo. If Texas would have lost, it would have guaranteed the Big 12 more money by getting two teams in the BCS.
You’re all over the place Dennis. You alluded to a conspiracy. Then you said the call was correct. Then you listed quotes and rumors about Nebraska feeling cheated. Then you come back and say it wasn’t a conspiracy. Jesus Christ, pick a side.
As it is, the conference has a team in the BCS title game for the second consecutive year and third time in five years. We’re going to be asked to celebrate a title game featuring grand programs with two brand names. But something doesn’t feel right because Texas is TCU is Cincinnati at this point. Might as well throw Boise State in there too because after Alabama, no one can convince me that the Longhorns “deserve” anything.


If only there were some way to compare these teams in a dispassionate, scientific way using some sort of “thinking machine” that compiles a bunch of different statistics and takes this “data” to rate the teams accordingly. Boise’s schedule is ranked 98th. Texas has an overall rating two points higher than TCU, about three-and-a-quarter higher than Cincy and nearly five higher than Boise. So inasmuch as anyone “deserves” to play for a college football national title, Texas does.

Their best victory is over an Oklahoma State team that couldn’t beat Houston. Please, hold your applause. Their closing statements were anything but convincing, giving up 39 points to Texas A&M, then having Anderson clear up any misunderstanding about how they mismanaged the clock. Texas was one silly second from making Chris Webber’s timeout in the Final Four look like a mere oversight.

Per Sagarin, their best win was over Oklahoma (no. 23),  Nebraska (no. 24), then Oklahoma State (32).

At least TCU went on the road twice in the ACC to win. The Frogs beat two other ranked teams. Cincinnati beat three teams ranked in the top 20. But Texas is in and when Saturday blows over we’ll spend most of the next month flogging its honorable place in that brand-name final.

TCU went on the road to beat Virginia (no. 70) 30-14 and Clemson (no. 21) 14-10. Cincy beat Oregon State (no. 15) 28-18, Pitt (no. 18) 45-44, and I think, maybe he means WVU (no. 27) 24-21. Did I mention that Cincy’s schedule was 63rd and TCU’s 84th overall while Texas’ was 44th?

Texas’ biggest advantage it turns out is starting higher in the polls. TCU and Cincinnati finished a fraction behind in the BCS because they are Holiday Inn Express to Texas’ Ritz. If you want to celebrate, look beyond January to a year when one of the non-traditional schools playing for the title. Soon. We came within a second of it happening this season.

Well, yes, that was good for them, but they also rank higher in at least one of the computer rankings, the most well-known one, and probably most others.

That’s why it doesn’t feel it right. It’s the same feeling we all got in 2001 when Nebraska lost by 26 at Colorado, didn’t win so much as its division and still played Miami for the national championship.

Look, I’m on record in this blog saying that the Nebraska championship game year wasn’t nearly the travesty people make it out to be, but the two situations are not comparable at all. Texas won their division and their conference. They are undefeated. They have played better competition overall than the other undefeated teams except Alabama. Not. The. Same. But, then I’m not really using my feelings here. Let me just emote here…. Oh, wow. He’s right. It totally feels the same.

Something is missing.

That something? Love.

Drama, maybe? The whole season seemed to be a prelude to Florida/Alabama winner vs. Texas. When it actually happened it was a huge letdown for me, at least. What looked like a good game on paper a few weeks ago now looks like Alabama 27, Texas 14.

And who can forget the drama everyone felt heading into 2008 Championship Game between LSU and Ohio State. It was palpable.

I was just as intrigued about the Fiesta Bowl when it began considering Boise State and TCU. The Sugar Bowl is giving us Tim Tebow’s final college game against Notre Dame’s next coach (Brian Kelly) who may or may not be in attendance with Cincinnati.

Yes, those are pretty interesting games. I will watch them. They are not more compelling than a national title game.

The end doesn’t feel right because there are voters in the Harris and coaches polls who can’t give me a good reason why their No. 2 is the right choice.

Unlike every other year when it is set in stone. If you’re reading this Dennis, and I’m sure you are, you have plenty of reasons why Texas should be number two. Of course, I’m not a voter, so fuck me, right?

They still can’t tell me how to separate Longhorns from Horned Frogs from Bearcats from lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

I bet some of them can, not that I really think you’ll ask.

Something bothers me because those coaches have been hiding in anonymity all season. That’s what the coaches do with their votes. For all we know some voters have had Kelly’s next team at No. 2. We’ll know this week when the coaches go legit and release their final ballots.

Maybe some did. They would be foolish to have done so, but it’s possible. And why are you whining about secrecy when the final ballots are about to be released, you dummy?

Until then we’ll have to rely on the text of one Gary Patterson. He’s the TCU coach who I asked Sunday if he was upset at the prospect of being left out of the championship game.

You mean, the coach of one of the teams in question? I bet it will be completely unbiased.

“I don’t know about upset,” Patterson wrote, “but I did vote us No. 2. I had voted us No. 4 up [through] the games of yesterday. I watched all of them and this is what I thought.”

Dick Cheney, 2000: “I have considered all of the potential candidates for Vice President and determined that the one who is best qualified, gives us the best possible chance at taking back the presidency for our party, is the sexiest man alvie is…me.”

Gary Patterson, 2009: “Having watched college football games one weekend this year, I have decided that the second best team in the country, the team most deserving of playing Alabama is…mine.”

After a strange, strange finish to a strange, strange process, that feels about right.

Too bad we have to rely on feelings, because I think if there were some way to quantify these teams objectively we might really know who should be ranked second.

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Breaking News! FSU Not as Good as They Used to Be!

Posted by biggusrickus on September 24, 2008

I decided to see what stupid thing Dennis Dodd wrote this week, and lo and behold I found this:

‘Noles down low, ‘Dores up high … what’s going on?

The same thing that’s been going on for the last couple of years as far as FSU is concerned, and a large amount of luck in the case of Vandy. There, you can stop writing now.

One is a football factory, a flat-out jock assembly line with various classes and professors getting in the way.

One that has gone 14-12 the last two seasons.

The other operates without an athletic department, without much care, it seems, whether it contends for championships.

Which is probably part of the reason they haven’t been to a bowl in 26 years.

Florida State or Vanderbilt. Which would you rather be this week?

Florida State always and forever. They actually devote money to their football program and build facilities and have gone to a bowl game pretty much every year that I’ve been following football. We’re only three years removed from them winning their conference title. Vandy hasn’t won a conference title since 1923 (in the no longer existant Southern Conference). This is a no brainer. FSU, for all of their difficulties, would likely have beaten Vanderbilt each of the last two years.

If you said Vanderbilt go to the head of the, uh, class. If you can. Ninety-five percent of the school’s freshmen score at least 24 on the ACT.

Ugh. Vandy has high academic standards?! I never knew that.

At Florida State — where ACT used to mean Always Catching Touchdowns — the ‘Noles would settle for a score, any score.

Then they should be pleased by their field goal the other night, you unfunny hack.

The two programs are headed in opposite directions for the first time in, well, forever.

No. No they are not. If anything you could argue that FSU is slouching towards Vandy, but even that would be an overstatement.

College football awoke to a bizarro world Sunday that saw Vanderbilt ranked for the first time since 1984. Florida State was just rank.

That rank-rank trope is an affront to comedy. I love the mention of 1984, which was one of the other seasons Dodd mentions later where they started 4-0. Their final record was 5-6.

If you wanted an example of parity, folks, here it is. Vandy is 4-0 for only the fourth time since World War II.

First, this is not an example of parity. Vandy has played four of their seven potentially winnable games, including two of the most likely. Second, they have been outagined by three of their four opponents (by a combined 283 yards in their two SEC wins). They have won largely because they have a +9 turnover margin. While it’s possible they could ride this wave of flukishness to a seven win season – as Mississippi State did last year – it isn’t likely, nor is it sustainable over time – as Mississippi State’s fall back to the bottom of the SEC this year would indicate.

Playing an easier schedule than the Commodores, Florida State is 2-1.

Vandy was largely dominated by a team that lost to the same Wake Forest team who represents FSU’s only loss so far. It might be a bit premature to compare the two teams.

FSU continues to sink into the tar pit that has become the latter part of Bobby Bowden’s career. Two 7-6 seasons have been followed by Saturday’s statement that a turnaround isn’t near.

Yet those two 7-6 seasons are still better than Vandy’s 4-8 and 5-7 records over the same period.

You want an indicator? For the first time in five years, Joe Paterno is ahead of Bowden on the all-time victories list, 376-375.

What. The. Fuck? Indicator of what? What does this have to do with Vandy vs. FSU as a football program?

You wonder if Papa Bowden is ever going to catch up again. The coach himself has hinted that this might be his last season. A pity that we would have to stick a fork in a great career, instead of remembering Chief Osceola flinging that lighted spear into the Doak Campbell turf.

He probably won’t if this is his last season, as Paterno has managed his program better in recent years than Bowden. This still has nothing to do with Vandy as compared to FSU.

If it’s only a painful week at Mega U. that would be a good thing. But FSU’s problems look deep and profound.

Their main problem seems that Bowden let his son run their offense into the ground and they are only in the second year of recovery with a lot of new assistants. That doesn’t seem all that deep or profound considering the kind of talent they can attract.

The 12-3 loss to Wake Forest marked the second-worst offensive performance at home by the ‘Noles in the Bowden era. The worst was two years ago in a 30-0 skunk job by Wake.

So they lost by three fewer touchdowns and played defense pretty well this time. That’s an improvement, yes?

There were seven turnovers — seven! — before an adoring public just waiting to see if the ‘Noles were showing signs of returning to prominence.

That will sometimes happen when young quarterbacks are playing against their first quality opponent.

Oh, and wasn’t this about the relative merits of Vanderbilt compared to FSU?

“We’re not where I hoped we were,” Bowden said. “That was evident.”

Hey, a useless quote!

It appears that there is more than academic fraud at FSU, where the school started the season missing several players, suspended for cheating on tests.


It’s never good to have more penalties (12) than points (three),

You don’t say.

especially after your quarterback, who is making his third career start, feels compelled to guarantee victory …

Especially after that? It would have been somehow more acceptable to have more turnovers than points if he’d said something like, “They’re a tough team. We just want to go out and compete, and hopefully we come out on top.”

… Over Wake.

Who is still not Vandy. We’ve gone about six or seven paragraphs now with no comparison between the teams referenced in the fucking headline.

Also, Wake has won the conference title within the last two years and has beaten FSU two (now three) years in a row. Why was the guarantee thing so shocking. (Fun fact: Wake beat Vandy worse than they did FSU last year.)

It’s time to face a stark reality in Tallahassee. Wake Forest has the better program. Tiny Wake. Laughable Wake. Sure, the Seminoles recruit better players — the 2009 class is ranked No. 5 by Rivals.com — but the Demon Deacons do more with their guys. That’s what makes it even worse.

All true. Wake Forest is still not Vandy. Had you started out to make the point that Wake Forest has passed FSU you could easily make that point. You have three years of solid evidence to support that assertion. You, however, were arguing that Vanderbilt has passed FSU and have spent about two sentences trying to support that claim. This is bait-and-switch journalism.

Bowden is passing the baton, at some point, to offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. Deacons coach Jim Grobe has a 10-year contract, and now owns three consecutive victories over the school that dominated Wake from 1992-2005.

I suppose the point of these facts is that Wake is more stable at the moment and thus a better program or something like that. Wake, however, is still not Vandy. And it just goes on like that for a few more paragraphs. This is the journalistic equivalent of listening to an eight year old tell a story. It rambles along with no clear line of logic and at the end you’re left wondering what the fuck just happened. I’ll skip to where it finally veers back into Vandy.

The ‘Dores are suddenly two victories away from bowl eligibility. Here’s a brain-teaser: What comes first, Vanderbilt’s next bowl game — the last was in 1982 — or Florida State fielding a capable quarterback?

Vandy has two games left that they should win: Mississippi State and Duke. They’ll probably lose the rest, but they will be bowl eligible if they win the ones they should. So, in summation, this is a stupid question posed as a brain-teaser because Dodd suffers from some sort of disease that causes him to write stupid things.

Chris Rix, please come back. All is forgiven.

For example, this implies that Chris Rix was a capable QB, which is disproven by Chris Rix’s career.

By some cosmic chance, the underdog subjects of this column, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, end the regular season on Nov. 29 in Winston-Salem. Florida State plays Florida the same day.

Cosmic chance or their ADs scheduling the game? You decide.

The label is waiting for one or both games: The SemiNo Bowl.

One or both? What the fuck will Vandy making a bowl have to do with FSU not making one? For the record, I’d go with option C. Neither.

If something positive doesn’t happen quick in Tallahassee, FSU’s dynasty will be a footnote because this is not just about the decline of a football factory.

This rates a 3.1 on the Mitzelbaum Scale.

The Seminoles were embarrassed twice by institutions of higher learning over the weekend.

Don’t do it Dodd.

Wake on the field and Vandy in the polls.


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College Football Is Destroying This Country

Posted by biggusrickus on September 17, 2008

Fortunately, there’s a man…no, there’s a hero championing justice and righteousness, and perhaps saving our very freedoms in the process. You may remember him for his good works in taking on perfidious bloggers. His name is Buzz Bissinger. You may have read his book about trying to score weed on Friday nights or something like that (I never read it). Whatever. The point is, he’s turned his bile spewing on the college football world, and we’re all a little worse off for it.

EDSBS touched on it on Friday. But there’s so much more wrong with it. Take it from the top Buzz:

It’s a couple of weeks ago and I am watching the Alabama-Clemson football game.


It’s a pretty good contest, actually.

As a hater of all things orange I enjoy watching Clemson get dominated as much as anyone, but this was not a pretty good contest. It was a thorough ass-kicking.

The Crimson Tide is in the groove against a Top 10 team. But that’s not what truly interests me.

For someone who purportedly enjoys sports this is a strange statement. You’re basically saying, “Fuck the game. I want to focus on the periphery.”

I am watching the fans in various states of rabidity, wondering how long it takes to wash all that school-color gunk off your body once you lacquer it on, not to mention what precisely motivates someone to apply such gunk in the first place.

I stopped wondering about that when I was about 14. Apparently, Buzz just can’t let it go.

I am watching the cheerleaders in their somersaults and squats of perfect synchronism with those slapped-on smiles.

Some of them could be genuinely happy and excited, performing for the crowd giving them a rush and all that. I’m cynical but damn.

I am just watching the crazy spectacle of it all — frenzy and bloodlust and the low rumble of moans and the high-pitch of screams.

Yeah, it is pretty awesome.

I wonder why we need any more studies showing our nation’s education system to be in the tank when all you have to do is attend a college football game.

Oh, that’s not where you were going with that. Apparently sports fandom is a uniquely American trait. Our new peculiar institution. Far be it from me to call a serious member of the media ignorant on a blog, but read a story about soccer riots you ignorant fucktard. 

There’s also the claim of a connection between a poor education and exuberance at an entertainment venue. You know how bad our education system must have been in the ’50s and ’60s because you can see the rapturous adoration of acts like Elvis and The Beatles in those old clips.

But mostly I am watching Nick Saban.

That’s just weird. I’ll skip past the stuff about Saban’s personality since EDSBS already covered it.

When I watch Nick Saban, it is hard for me to tell how much difference he is really making out there, notwithstanding the nervous pacing and urgent back-and-forth over the headphones.

Trust me. He’s making a difference, discussing strategy, trying to motivate players through chastisement or encouragement and so on. You wrote a book about Texas high school football and don’t know what coaches do during games? Knowing that, I’m kind of glad I never read it.

Despite the millions of pages that have been dedicated to the genius of the American college football coach, the game still seems quite wonderfully helter-skelter to me, ultimately determined by the successes and failures of the 22 players on the field who actually play it.

Again, this is just pure ignorance of the game. There’s gameplanning and grueling hours of practice to get eleven members of the offense to work in conjunction in order to advance the ball and eleven members on defense to work together to stop them from doing so. If it were helter-skelter then the coach who had the 22 best athletes on the field would always win. Such is not the case.

Does Bissinger really not know this or is he just pandering to those New York Times readers who look down upon sports fanatics as some sort of inbred mongoloids?

I get bored after a while. The spectacle wears off, and watching Nick Saban coach is about as much fun as watching a traffic cop conduct rush-hour traffic.

You could try watching the game. You know, the spectacle that is the central reason you’ve been able to watch Nick Saban on television?

But I still need my college football fix. So I do what has become my favorite pastime of late — I read the database of contracts for major college coaches compiled by USA Today.

Now this is just a bold-faced lie. Nobody’s favorite pastime is reading anything in USA today, let alone fucking contract details. And nobody who needs a football fix turns to contracts either. I think you’re full of shit, Buzz.

I read the one for Nick Saban, and it is a very good read, in particular for anyone who wants to know why the United States has become a second-rate nation and will remain so until we figure out what is important and what is not.

Second-rate in what regard? We have the largest GDP in the world. We live alone in spaces that many countries use to house entire families if not multiple families. Our system of higher education is widely considered the best in the world. Unemployment is low. We want for nothing in this country. Our poor people are fat for Christ’s sake. Get some perspective.

I learn that his pay this season, his second at ’Bama, is $3.75 million. Given that the average pay for a University of Alabama full professor is $116,000, that strikes me as a lot of money, even if all of it does come from revenues associated with athletics and not from state taxpayers. But the contract also makes it clear that the University of Alabama board of trustees don’t think $3.75 million is enough for Nick Saban. There need to be more perks. After all, he is the football coach.

What an original take on priorities. I’ve never heard this from anyone, ever, in my life. To give you an idea of how freash this take is, here’s a Bear Bryant quote on the difference in pay: “How many people watch you give a final exam? [About fifty is the reply.] Well, I have 50,000 watch me give mine – every Saturday!” This quote was attributed to him while he was coaching at Texas A&M, which was from 1954-57.

There’s a section about the Miami thing, which was necessary reading for no one. There’s also a lot of bitching about incentives and graduation rates and so on. This pretty much sums it up:

Alabama is 2-0 this season and currently ranked 11th in the Associated Press’s most recent poll, so the investment in Nick Saban may well pay out the dividend that Alabama is so desperately seeking in trying to restore itself to national prominence. Of course, the season is still young, and the fortunes of the Alabama team could still go in a downward spiral. Not that I think it will have much lasting impact on Nick Saban.

Because Saban’s an asshole who doesn’t care I presume. Which runs counter to that angry visage he permanently wears and you noticed while you were watching him instead of the football game.

If his team misses out on a big bowl game, he misses out on some hefty bonuses. But there will still be the country club membership. There will still be the use of the two automobiles for him and his family. There will still be the use of the non-commercial plane for 25 hours. All on top of the eight-year contract he signed for $32 million.

All of those things are paid for by the athletic department budget, which takes in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Buzz actually did point that fact out, but it doesn’t seem to make him any more understanding of the salary and perks.

All in the name of college football.


Which is why Nick Saban should try to look a little happier on the sidelines. When you’re laughing all the way to the bank, you should at least be smiling.

See, he’s getting money for nothing. He doesn’t spend 80 hours a week coaching and breaking down tape and gameplanning. He doesn’t travel around trying to convince fickle 17 year olds to sign on with his program. He’s just down there watching the melee on the field, gesticulating and making jokes about the “student bodies” – if you know what he means – with the other coaches via his headset. It’s not as if there’s any pressure to win at Alabama. If only our priorities were straight.

Thanks Buzz. You’re doing God’s work.

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I’ve Been Baited

Posted by biggusrickus on September 16, 2008

But it’s just so shiny that I can’t resist. Georgia played an ugly football game against South Carolina on Saturday, which is surprising to exactly no one who has ever watched Georgia stumble through this game in most of its recent incarnations. Gregg Doyel is so surprised by this occurrence that he thinks Georgia should fall five spots in the polls for winning a game in an ugly fashion against a mediocre opponent. For some perspective, let’s list a few Georgia-South Carolina outcomes and the end results of Georgia’s seasons:

  • 2002: 13-7, Georgia. Season results: 13-1, SEC Championship, Sugar Bowl victory, no. 3 final ranking.
  • 2004: 20-16, Georgia. Season results: 10-2, Capital One Bowl victory, no. 6 final ranking.
  • 2005: 17-15, Georgia. Season results: 10-3, SEC Championship, Sugar Bowl loss, no. 10 final ranking.
  • 2007: 16-12, South Carolina. Season results: 11-2, Sugar Bowl victory, no. 2 final ranking.

Perspective. The South Carolina game has been indicative of nothing during the Richt years. Now onto the column.

National ranking biggest issue for overrated Bulldogs

No, it’s the biggest issue for you regarding the Bulldogs. They were probably cool with being ranked second.

There’s a problem with Georgia, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. That’s the good news.

That’s a relief.

The problem is more fundamental than Georgia’s bad group of receivers,

based on a sample size of one game.

bad pass coverage

Can’t really argue there.

and bad play-calling.

Based, again, on a one game sample.

Georgia is ranked No. 2 in the country. That’s the problem.

Oh, SNAP! Man, is my face red. I thought you were going one way, and you completely fucking flipped it on me. This is good sportswriting.

But it’s a fixable problem.


It can be rectified as soon as Sunday night when coaches and media make their newest Top 25 polls and drop the Bulldogs like a left hook to the jaw. 

Seems like an overly violent simile there. I assume this is a boxing metaphor or something, so in the vein, considering your argument later that they should be dropped to seventh isn’t this kind of an overstatement? Seventh is not “out for the count” or whatever people say about boxing. Also, and forgive my ignorance as a non-fighter, but do left hooks always drop people?

South Carolina almost made it easy on pollsters by landing a haymaker of its own,

More boxing. Can’t we get some good war metaphors in here? That’s the norm for football after all.

but Georgia bobbed and weaved and avoided being knocked out of the BCS championship picture with a season-saving 14-7 victory Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

That’s it. I’m creating a “boxing metaphors” tag. (RIROHG: Ripping off Fire Joe Morgan since its inception).

If Georgia’s victory was season-saving doesn’t that undercut your drop-in-the-polls-like-someone-hit-them-really-hard-in-the-jaw thing from earlier? Is it season-saving or season-killing? Does CBS employ anyone who can write down ideas in any sort of coherent manner?

Now it’s up to voters to do the right thing and smack Georgia in the mouth.

Again, this seems a touch on the ultraviolent side. Can’t they just give them a stern warning, or put them in timeout or something? I get the feeling that Gregg Doyel is a drunk and abusive husband and dad.

Say, by dropping the Bulldogs to somewhere like seventh.

Seventh? That’s a slap on the wrist, easily correctible later on. If you want to smack them in their metaphorical mouths you need to take them off of your ballot completely. That’ll teach them to play a shitty game early in the season. Much like a woman, they probably won’t learn though. Am I right, Gregg?

But there’s a problem with the polls, and it’s something that rarely gets fixed. That’s the bad news.


Nobody likes to admit they were wrong, certainly not until they have no other choice, and pollsters are no different.

Well, sure. Rational people also don’t change their minds about things based on small sample sizes.

Pollsters are notoriously slow to admit their mistakes, even though mistakes in the polls are so simple to make.

Sure, but these things have a way of working themselves out over the course of a season. Cal was mistakenly ranked second at one point last year. They played themselves out of that ranking by losing some games. These kinds of things happen every year.

Picking the preseason Top 25 is impossible to do with any accuracy, and everyone knows it, yet that initial poll sets the tone for the rest of the season.

Provided you win enough games to remain highly ranked. If you don’t, you drop.

Be lucky enough to be ranked higher than you deserve in August, and you’ll stay higher than you deserve most of the season.

If you start number one and lose one or none during the regular season, are you ranked higher than you deserve if you’re still in the first spot at the end, assuming you have a better record than other teams who played relatively similar competition?

Get screwed in the first poll, and you might as well get used to the feeling.

I’d love to see his example that proves this point. Auburn in 2004? Oklahoma and USC destroyed people all year and played for the title. Let it go.

Georgia was the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Voters swallowed enough pride a few weeks back when they dropped Georgia to No. 2 behind Southern California,

Based upon the very wrong idea that blowing out a bad Virginia team warranted such a change.

but based on history, that was as much pride as you’re going to see swallowed. And so that’s as far as the Bulldogs will drop. You watch.

I love how emphatically he makes this point. I can hear him grumbling, “You watch.” As it turned out, Georgia fell to third. Which I have no problem with, for the record. It’s the third week of the season. Things will change. I have a feeling we won’t see these kinds of columns written when Oklahoma and USC struggle with some average conference opponents later this year, though.

But did you watch this game?

Yes, every minute of it.

Georgia looked abysmal against South Carolina.

Abysmal is a bit strong. They controlled the game for three quarters but blew too many chances to put South Carolina away. The run defense was good, and the defense got stops when they had to late in the game. The offensive line and receivers had bad games. These things happen.

South Carolina’s defense is good, no question, but Georgia has alleged Heisman Trophy candidates at running back and quarterback, and Georgia managed just 252 yards.

See above comment about offensive line and receiver play. Blaming Stafford and Moreno is like blaming a pitcher for an unearned run.

South Carolina’s defense isn’t that good.

Probably not, but as I mentioned in the open, for whatever reason they manage to shut down Georgia’s offense nearly ever year.

South Carolina’s offense, meanwhile, isn’t any good. Tailback Mike Davis is a dime-a-dozen back notable only for fumbling at the goal line midway through the fourth quarter and for breaking into a locked refrigerator in the USC weight room in August and getting busted by a surveillance camera. Quarterback Chris Smelley has been jerked around by coach Steve Spurrier. Star receiver Kenny McKinley has been injured.

All of this is true. Points scored by this craptastic offense on Saturday: 7.

The Gamecocks have issues. And still Georgia couldn’t put them away. Couldn’t come close.

Well, they came close a few times. They twice blew touchdown opportunities and had to settle for field goals. A couple of other drives were killed by drops. Would 21-7 have been an impressive enough score to only fall to fourth or fifth?

The Bulldogs’ best player Saturday was their punter.

I’d give the nod to Rennie Curran who won SEC Defensive Player of the week honors for his play. Mimbs did have the best game of his career though.

Brian Mimbs launched kicks of 45, 51 and 77 yards in the fourth quarter when alleged Heisman candidate quarterback Matthew Stafford and alleged Heisman candidate tailback Knowshon Moreno were factually useless.

Yeah, fuck you guys for not blocking better on running plays, catching passes better or calling better plays.

Stafford and Moreno did have great moments earlier. Stafford darted 30 yards on a keeper, threaded a 39-yard needle to A.J. Green and stuck his head into the scrum as a lead blocker for Moreno. And Moreno’s touchdown was one of the prettiest 4-yard runs in the history of football.

Those moments didn’t actually affect the outcome of the game though. Results of the first three quarters are thrown out the window. Only the fourth matters.

But when it mattered, Stafford and Moreno didn’t.

Those shitheads. I bet they bagged it on purpose.

Stafford was 1-for-2 for eight yards in the quarter, and was sacked twice. Moreno had five carries for 16 yards. Coach Mark Richt didn’t help matters by calling strange plays throughout the quarter, running when he should pass and passing when he should run and generally doing nothing to showcase his two alleged Heisman candidates. And don’t get me started on the Georgia receiving corps, which dropped five passes and couldn’t be bothered to dive for a catchable ball on another throw.

First, Mark Richt no longer calls plays. Mike Bobo handles those duties now. The play was a little odd though. Second, wouldn’t the two sacks and 16 yards on five carries indicate that maybe the line was not doing its job? I don’t care what plays you call. When you don’t block, they don’t work. Third, I’m kind of annoyed by the receivers too, but they played like crap against South Carolina last year and got over it. It’s one game.

Richt blamed his team’s play on the steamy conditions. It was 92 degrees at kickoff.

“When you play in a hot, muggy, miserable day against the type of resistance we came up against,” Richt said, “you’re just not sharp.”

Sounds reasonable, but it also sounds ominous. Georgia plays in the SEC, and the ‘S’ isn’t for “Siberia.”

Ooh. Awesome joke man.

It gets hot in the South. It’ll stay hot in the South.

In perpetuity. It will be 92 degrees with 90% humidity on October 25, because the weahter never ever changes in the south.

If Georgia’s offense is capable of looking sharp only on those hot, muggy, miserable days when it’s facing Georgia Southern and Central Michigan, Georgia is in trouble.

And we should expect this to be the case, because they played a fairly bad game against South Carolina, much like they always do.

Unless the Bulldogs get the chance to hang 50 on Western Carolina and Eastern Illinois.

And these are two teams that Georgia does not play, which is fucking puzzling. What does this mean? Why is it here? Is it code? Is it shitty writing? It’s shitty writing isn’t it. I really overthought that.

The schedule isn’t cooperating.

I hate cantankerous schedules.

The schedule says Georgia still has a trip next week to Arizona State, where it won’t be snowing,

Nor will it be humid, because it’s in a fucking desert.

as well as SEC games against Alabama and Tennessee in Athens and visits to LSU, Jacksonville (to play Florida) and Auburn.

I will predict that by the Sept. 27 game against Alabama the temperatures will no longer be in the 90s.

Not a lot of polar bears in any of those places.

This is the dumbest bit of sarcasm I’ve ever read. The whole paragraph, start to finish. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Gregg Doyel : Sarcasm :: Carlos Mencia : Racial Humor

So there is time for this problem with Georgia to be corrected. If voters won’t do the right thing later this weekend and drop the Bulldogs behind any of a half-dozen superior teams —

Oh man. I love this list.

I’m thinking Southern California (fine), Oklahoma (cool), LSU (has played nobody), Florida (struggled mightily on offense against what is probably only an average Miami team) and possibly Missouri (secondary was a sieve against Illinois) or Alabama (struggled with Tulane) — then some of the teams on Georgia’s schedule will have to do it later.

Which makes me wonder, why the fuck are you writing this?

That’s one of the charms of the college football season. Sooner or later, mistakes in the polls get rectified. Even a mistake as glaring as the “No. 2” next to the word “Georgia.”

Seriously, why?

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The Worst Analysis Ever

Posted by biggusrickus on September 10, 2008

Matt Hayes of the sporting news wrote an article that I criticized below in part because it listed Terrelle Pryor as a reason the Ohio State Chokists would be able to compete with the USC Starlet Fuckers. Not to be outdone, Dennis Dodd devoted an entire fucking column to this asinine theory. For the record, it’s not that I think Pryor will not or should not play. It’s just that he will not be the key to Ohio State competing with or defeating USC. He is a true freshman who will play a few series and mostly try to run the ball. He may be marginally successful with his limited package of plays, or he may panic in his first truly meaningful playing time, or he may simply be shut down by a very good defense. Regardless, his impact on the outcome will be minimal. This post will also begin my new policy of not linking to Dodd columns.

Playing Pryor should become a priority — maybe necessity at USC

Priority? Probably. Necessity? No.

There’s a quarterback controversy at Ohio State, just in time for the game of the year.

No. No there is not by the standards of what is commonly defined as a “quarterback controversy.”

It’s not your generic speculation-fest about who is starting, although that might become an issue later this season.

However, if you want to go ahead and just up and change the definition, then sure you could call it a “quarterback controversy.” You can do this with anything. There’s a hurricane blowing through Jacksonville right now. It’s not your generic 100mph-hour-wind-dropping-heavy-rain-fest, although one might land here later this hurricane season. 

It’s about how much Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor is going to play Saturday against No. 1 USC.

It is raining though.

Seen as the quarterback of the future, the freshman super-recruit might have to be the quarterback of right now.

If he has to be the quarterback of right now, it means Boeckman has been injured and the Ohio State defense better play the game of its life if they want to have any chance of winning this game. Actually, even if Boeckman is the quarterback of right now I think that’s what will have to happen for Ohio State to win.

Pryor has been eased into the lineup, playing a total of 30 plays in two games.

And he is 4/8 for 35 yards passing with 0 TDS or INTS and another 94 yards on 14 carries with a TD. That’s not bad for a guy just getting his feet wet and everything, but it’s hardly a sign that he’s ready to lead this offense against the top ranked team in the country at their stadium.

He also gives No. 5 Ohio State the best chance of winning Saturday night.

I’m really going to need you to explain yourself.

What about Beanie Wells, you ask?

Now that you mention it…

What about him?

Yeah, fuck that guy. He only ran for 1,600 yards last year.

To the locked-in Trojans defense Beanie is a conventional weapon for the Buckeyes, whether coming off an injury or not. Currently third nationally in rush defense, the Trojans have finished in the top 10 in five of the last six seasons (No. 1 in 2003 and 2004).

They’ve played one game against a terrible Virginia offense, but they have an outstanding front seven so they will probably finish in the top 10 against the run again. That doesn’t automatically mean that Wells won’t have an impact. And who gives a shit about 2003 or 2004 or last year for that matter? Their past statistical performance has nothing to do with the game Saturday.

What’s another stud running back to a defense that picks them out of their teeth?

A guy that they have to worry about beating them. I doubt he’ll have huge success, but he could break the 100-yard mark. He’s also the best player on their offense, so I’m guessing he’s something to the USC defense.

The dual-threat Pryor is an unguided missile, a mystery, a human X-file.

Brent Musberger read this and thought it was a tad hyperbolic.

“When you have a weapon (like that) we’re going to use him no matter what,” Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

Well sure, as a change of pace guy, trying to catch USC off guard a little bit. It might be mildly successful.

Follow the logic:

Oh dear. This is going to end badly.

Wells might or might not play.

He’s playing.

Even if he does, Beanie might not be 100 percent.


Quarterback Todd Boeckman is coming off an uneven performance against Ohio.


The last time he faced a defense this good, things did not go well. Boeckman was sacked five times and threw two interceptions against LSU in the BCS title game.

Partially true. He also threw for over 200 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

There are those who think Pryor, the nation’s No. 1 prep player last season, is merely keeping the seat on the bench warm for Boeckman.

I think these people are dumb, but keep going.

Pryor’s high school coach, Ray Reitz, believes Pryor will be the starter by the end of the season.

And if you want unbiased opinion you go directly to the player’s high school coach.

Jeannette (Pa.) High quarterbacks coach Roy Hall spoke to Pryor on Sunday night, trying to determine if the kid would play more against USC.

And if you want to really back up that unbiased opinion you go to an assistant coach on the same staff.

“Put it this way, it would be my opinion I would think he would,” Hall said. “Believe me, I know that has to put Coach Tressel in a tough position. I’m sure he can he handle it. You hear other people say they don’t want to cause a quarterback controversy.”

You also hear people say that they don’t want to start true freshmen at the hardest position on the field to learn. Especially when they have a serviceable senior to put out there.

There is little controversy if you win, but Ohio State hasn’t won enough for some.

I call these people “spoiled assholes.”

There is already the SEC stigma that is the subject of every fan message board from the Sun Belt to the Rust Belt.

When I think rational human beings, I think message board posters.

It doesn’t need to fly 2,000 miles to prove that an immobile 6-foot-5 pocket passer (Boeckman) can get beat up by the Trojans.

No, they need to prove that a talented true freshman can get beat up by the Trojans.

The much-celebrated Human X-File has the admiration of his teammates, if not the playing time from the coaches.

Those asshole coaches.

“It wasn’t easy for him to come in here and gain our respect,” defensive back Malcolm Jenkins said of Pryor. “He was going to have to earn our respect. At first he didn’t expect that. Once the summer was over he understood why we made him prove his worth. … He has been accepted with open arms.”

Then he should definitely start against USC. What was the guy going to say? “He’s a lazy, stupid shithead. That fucker shouldn’t even be attending a University, let alone playing for a football team.”

“The only thing I see that Boeckman has over Terrelle is the experience and a little bit of the reads. Terrelle is a competitor,” Hall said.

Oh good, you’re quoting his high school coach again. Was his mom unavailable for comment?

“They’ve lost that (title) game the last two years. If Terrelle can help them get over that hump, I don’t think Coach Tressel will hesitate.”

And if he can he will no doubt get more playing time as the season progresses. [Full disclosre: He can’t, at least this year.]

After getting 22 plays in the first game against Youngstown State, Pryor saw action in only two series (eight plays) against Ohio.

Huh, weird. So he played a lot against a I-AA opponent in a game that was never in doubt, but then he played less against a MAC team in a game that wasn’t decided until midway through the fourth quarter. If I didn’t know better I’d think he was, you know, a backup QB that they bring in sometimes as a change of pace.

Here are some possible reasons why:

So, no? Not a backup quarterback who comes in sometimes as a change of pace?

1. Tressel didn’t trust a freshman at quarterback during a tight game.

Seems reasonable.

Maybe, but that was a heck of a gamble.

More of a gamble than putting a freshman in the game and possibly have him force a pass into double coverage or do any number of other stupid things that true freshman QBs are prone to?

Tressel was losing with a senior at quarterback.

And he played a decent fourth quarter in a comeback. Nice thing about seniors is that they don’t panic when things are going bad.

While Saturday’s performance had a lot to do with an unmotivated offensive line and dropped passes, Boeckman didn’t exactly lead by example.

Seriously, Boeckman’s blocking and pass-catching was shitty. Set an example man!

Pryor can create plays with his feet. Why not give him a shot?

Because he’s a freshman, and if he makes a few mistakes you might very well lose to fucking Ohio University.

2. There was a preparation issue. In other words, Pryor wasn’t ready because he doesn’t know the offense.

I’m quite certain he doesn’t know the offense as well as a guy who’s been in the system for four years. That has nothing to do with preparation and everything to do with him being a true fucking freshman.

Not likely. The Kremlin is more forthcoming with information than Ohio State football is in 2008. But you’d think something would leak out if Pryor was becoming a bad seed or a slacker in practice. It has been just the opposite. Teammates seem to have taken to him and he is working hard.

I’m quite certain he is working hard, but for the sake of argument let’s say he’s not. Do you think the players are going to tell you or anyone else in the media about it?

The crowd at the season opener gave Pryor a standing ovation.

A sure sign that he has full command of the offense.

“It gave me chills,” said Hall, who was at the game.

Okay, but how does this tie into understanding the offense? Dodd? Hello?

3. Tressel is saving Pryor for USC.

Yeah, why let him get comfortable against two crappy opponents. You really want that first big experience to be on the road against arguably the best defense in the country. Dodd thinks you’re a fucking idiot apparently, Jim Tressel. Are you going to stand for that? [Crossing fingers and hoping Tressel sees this, hunts down Dodd, and slits his throat with a Bowie knife]


See Tress? Can I call you Tress?

The less known about Pryor on the West Coast, the better. USC did have the added advantage during its bye week of sizing up Ohio State. The Trojans saw only those eight plays.

And the 22 that were on film from the Youngstown State game. Also, how surprising is a fairly basic package involving a mobile QB really going to be?

“When Pryor’s in, it’s runs for him and quarterback draws,” USC linebacker Rey Maualuga told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re going to have a big emphasis about which quarterback is in.”

Sounds like they have a pretty good grasp of what Pryor is going to do.

The transition — if and when it comes this season — won’t cause upheaval. Pryor has earned his place on the team, chatting up Boeckman for advice, working hard in the weight room, going through the mental hazing from upperclassmen.

Leave off the “and when” in that first sentence and I’m fine with this.

It’s obvious, though, that Terrelle Pryor’s time is soon.

Why the fuck is that obvious?

The question is, will it be Saturday?

Fuck. And. No.

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Matt Hayes Vomits Forth Stupidity

Posted by biggusrickus on September 9, 2008

The University of Southern California and Ohio State University are a few days away from engaging in a game of football, in case you hadn’t heard. Matt Hayes thinks it will live up to the hype, and his reasons are typically Hayesian.

1. Ohio State is desperate:

Desperate? Really? They’re like the second winningest program this decade.

This is a manhood game, plain and simple.

I’m not going to argue that emotion has no impact on the outcome of a football game, but the idea that OSU has more to play for than the number one team in the nation is fucking batshit. Also, if you assume that he is using ‘manhood’ as a euphemism for ‘penis’ this sentence gets a lot better.

The last two times we’ve seen the Buckeyes in big games, it was utterly embarrassing.

I guess. The two times prior (Texas and Michigan in ’06) were okay. Also, I’m not sure the 14 point loss to LSU should be thought of as utterly embarrassing.

It wasn’t so much the score as it was them coming completely unhinged mentally — something so out of character for Jim Tressel-coached teams.

Florida game: yes, complete meltdown. LSU game: beaten by a better, more experienced team in what was a reasonably competitive game for a while.

Every player who has been through those emasculating losses in the last two BCS title games knows this is a statement game.

And everyone playing for USC recognizes the same thing, and they probably have the better team.

Let’s see if they respond.

Isn’t the whole basis of this that they will, in fact, respond? I assumed that was why you headlined your column “Buckeyes and Trojans won’t disappoint” and then listed Buckeye desperation as the first reason out of five. Own your opinions, Matt.

Also, is there like a standard rule in college football journalism that you can only list five reasons in a column?

2. The matchups: It’s obvious now that Ohio State has problems with teams that run the spread option.

Well, they’ve lost to two of them – Florida and Illinos – the last two years, but they held Michigan State to 185 yards and Northwestern to 120 just last year. Those two teams run variations of the spread. If I might posit a theory that runs counter to Hayes’ mindless hyping of the spread, OSU sometimes struggles against teams with talent equal to or greater than their own, like every other team in the NCAA.

USC does not run it, and the Trojans’ pro-style offensive scheme plays into the Buckeyes’ strength: athletic bruisers in the front seven and cornerbacks who can get physical with receivers.

Possibly. If they stay in this game it will definitely be because their defense contains USC, but in one of those embarrassing losses you mentioned earlier they were playing against basically a pro-style offense.

None of the USC receivers will run away from coverage,

What? The point of running routes is to get away from coverage. Apparently the USC receivers have agreed that this would be unsporting and will not be doing it.

which will allow CBs Malcolm Jenkins and Chimdi Chekwa to jam at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the Trojans’ timing-based passing game.

Receivers in the spread offense are apparently universally unjammable. I realize you can’t jam every  receiver when there are five on the field, but you can damn well jam a couple. I’m also going to guess that USC won’t be running two-wide sets all fucking day. Hayes’ obsession with the spread as some sort of unstoppable beast is truly amazing.

3. The next USC Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Sanchez is the most physically gifted of all Pete Carroll’s quarterbacks at USC, and that’s saying plenty. He has it all: big arm, accuracy, mobility. And his teammates love him. “The biggest goofball on the team,” says USC defensive tackle Fili Maola. The biggest star, too.

This is a reason to think this will be competitive and live up to the hype? The fact that one team has a Heisman caliber QB and the other has Todd Boeckman (more on him in a moment) is a good thing?

4. USC when it matters. These aren’t the games that sidetrack what is annually the nation’s most talented team. When healthy, USC owns these games. And this Trojans team hasn’t been this healthy in two years. It’s the Stanfords and Oregon States that give the Trojans fits — games in which USC is expected to roll, but they sleepwalk until it’s too late to turn it around.

Again, not really helping your initial point…that this would be a good game. USC “owning” these games might make one believe that they will easily cover the 11-point spread.

I feel like this last point should get a drum roll or something.

5. The Terrelle Pryor factor:

Yes, asking your true freshman QB to contribute heavily in a road game against maybe the best front seven in the country is a fucking brilliant idea.

No doubt, a healthy Chris Wells is important — and until he returns healthy, this Ohio State team is fourth-best in the Big Ten.

Okay, this is actually true, I think. Let’s move back to stupidity now.

But just as important is the emergence of Pryor, the nation’s No. 1 recruit from last year.

And to beat this point to death, you should really expect him to emerge three games into his freshman season, on the road, against a frightening assembly of defensive talent.

QB Todd Boeckman doesn’t scare teams — not with his arm (because OSU has no deep speed outside), and certainly not with his legs (he’s a statue in the pocket).

Pryor has played against a I-AA team and a MAC team and hasn’t accomplished much. I don’t think anyone is frightened of him either.

Pryor, on the other hand, can completely flummox USC’s speedy defense.

He could conceivably break off a decent run or two, but flummox? Wake the fuck up, Matt.

When fast defenses are forced to think and react to options (see: zone-read play), the tempo slows, and everyone on the offense immediately gets faster.

Seriously, the zone-read deducts two-tenths of a second from every offensive player’s 40 time. That’s why the spread has never, ever been stopped and why you should think that it can be run masterfully by a true freshman in his first road game against a very, very good team. Matt Hayes, you are epically wrong.

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