Monthly Archives: September 2011

NCAAF Week 3: Missed Opportunities, The Conference Realignment Thing, and Why Can’t Andrew Luck be More Perfect?

If you’ve ever taken the time to sit and watch a Real Housewives of  – show you know that the drama can at times be seemingly organic (see: New Jersey) or even more fabricated than typical reality programming (see: DC). Sometimes you’re sitting there watching a physical altercation that can’t possibly be fake. Other times you’re watching as show producers are almost on screen coaching these “real” housewives through what drama filled situation they’re supposed to be in this week. Week 3 in college football was very much the same. At times you had legitimate drama (Navy-SC, WVU-Maryland and Penn State-Temple come to mind) that showed how very real the on-field game-by-game stakes can be in college football. At other times you watched as people made an issue over Stanford’s “lackluster” 37-10 win over Arizona and subsequently panicked about conference realignment possibilities that mostly wound up being for naught. Such is the life in college football in 2011, where drama can be as real as actual on-field results and as fake as the Pac-16 and a Big East/Big XII merger. And while I’ll freely admit that I found myself playing out the many conference realignment possibilities in my head (begrudgingly), I would never knock an Andrew Luck stat line that included 325 yards passing and a 2:0 touchdown to interception ratio. In light of that, I’ll try to leave out the extraneous stuff as much as possible, while analyzing the on-field results that make us care about any of it in the first place. Without further ado, here’s what I took away from week 3:

"You are a WHORA!"

  • While Maryland and Navy should be upset over missing out on season changing wins this past weekend, it’s Temple who missed out on a program changing win. For the better part of its long history Temple has been mediocre at best, and down right lousy at worst. The bottoming out came in the early to mid 2000s when the Owls were booted from a lackluster Big East, took on a schedule as an independent that would have given most programs fits (they finished 0-11 in 2005) and transitioned into a new conference (MAC) that largely sucked/s. For a period people were wondering if this small Philadelphia based private school would last in Division IA football for much longer. Then, Temple began one of the best turnarounds of the last 30 or so years. Under Al Golden (now a first year coach at Miami) Temple improved from 1 win in 2006 to a 9-4 record in 2009 that earned them their first bowl bid in 30 years. After finishing 2010 with an 8-4 record (that would have fetched most teams a bowl bid), Temple seems poised to continue its string of success. That success now includes two close losses to the state of Pennsylvania’s resident Big 10 bully, Penn State, a school and team that is the antithesis of Temple. A win over the Nittany Lions would have brought the team full circle from its halcyon days in the 70s, when they stood toe to toe with teams like West Virginia, Syracuse and Cincinnati. Still, while they’ll have to wait at least one year for another shot at PSU, they won’t have to wait long to try for that signature win; they go to Maryland this Saturday for a 12:30 kickoff.

"Needless to say, Temple will have the more understated fashion sense in this match up."

  • Oklahoma’s win over Florida State on Saturday was big for obvious reasons. They knocked off a Top-5 opponent, on the road in a big out of conference match up that most teams are afraid to schedule. The game was important though from a much more subtle perspective. Bob Stoops has spent the better part of the last 5 or 6 years defending his “big game Bob” moniker. He rightfully earned that nickname by winning a national title in 2000 and handling Texas in the early part of the last decade. But the story since 2005 has been a far different one. Since that year Texas has beaten the Sooners in 4 out of 6 match ups. We also saw Stoops lose most of his big bowl game opportunities (including the ’08 National Championship) highlighted by Boise State’s signature Fiesta Bowl victory in 2007. If the sooners were going to realistically compete and put themselves in the right mind set for a national title run in 2011, then needed this win. That it wasn’t a blow out actually made it better for the Sooners. They proved to themselves that they can play in a consistently hostile environment while battling adversity in a close contest that the Seminoles could very well have pulled out. Blowouts in a game like this can make a team feel too comfortable this early in the season. By winning a tough and tight contest the Sooners have a mental edge over other squads that haven’t had to prove themselves that way. It’s the same kind of win teams like Texas, Ohio State, and Alabama have recently gotten on their way to the national title game, and it will serve Oklahoma well down the stretch.

"You could've had giant breakfast omelets on Sunday morning FSU! You guys suck."

  • I won’t spend much time on the conference realignment stuff until there’s more tangible movement, but I will say this:  if there was ever a reason to disband the NCAA and start over again with a new oversight organization this is it. Actually, if there was ever a reason to disband the NCAA, it’s the Taylor Branch article that was recently published in The Atlantic magazine (titled “The Shame of College Sports”). Still, if there was a second reason to disband the NCAA it is the shameless, greed infused jockeying that the many conferences and college football superpowers went through in the past few weeks. I understand the desire of some conferences to at times add or drop athletic programs that they don’t think fit within in the context of what they’re doing athletically (Temple in the Big East was a good example of this). Still, to sit there and almost blow up two conferences in the name of building three super conferences just exposes the true objectives of most college athletic departments. That there aren’t any NCAA rules to stop it just goes to show you where that organization’s true focus is; lamely calling out minor infractions so as not to truly upset their bread winning conferences as they rake in money they really have no right to. Branch expounds upon all of these things in his expose in a much better way than I ever could, but in my opinion what we just witnessed makes overhauling the NCAA even more urgent and necessary.

"Same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over the most exploitative money making scheme since the discovery of child actors."

  • Finally; Andrew Luck. Sit back for a moment and think about what Andrew Luck means right now in the context of the game of football. For parents with budding quarterback tots he defines what they want their child to be; a smart and talented athlete dedicated to finishing out his degree at a prestigious university prior to making it big in the pros. To NFL teams he could be the greatest quarterback prospect since John Elway in the early 1980s, as close to a sure thing at the game’s most important position as it gets. To colleges he is something to be both revered and feared, at least if you have to play him this season. All those superlatives speak of great potential…and reek of far to great expectations. His hype coming into this season has been overwhelming for a young man trying to reproduce the greatest season in Stanford’s history…which he was the catalyst for less than a year ago! That we sit here and pick apart a game 3 performance that most college teams (or pro, or high school, or pee wee, or CFL teams…) would kill for is just the slanted exclamation point on all the pre mature proclamations of football immortality. The point is this; as great as Andrew Luck is at the college level (and leading Stanford to a 12-1 record is nothing short of greatness) we need to stop all of the crazy expectations. Sit back and enjoy him at Stanford for the remaining 10 or 11 games that he’ll be there, and save the over hype for later.

"Not sure how else to put this but; I MADE STANFORD RELEVANT AGAIN!"

Two big games that you will not miss hearing about this weekend are West Virginia-LSU and Arkansas Alabama. Here are some others flying under the radar that could be huge in a conference title or the national championship picture, or both. Oklahoma State-Texas A&M; a Big XII game that will position the winner to challenge Oklahoma for the conference title and maybe a spot in the national championship game. You can’t sleep on Baylor or Texas in this league, but these two were the most hyped coming in to the season and so far have lived up to expectations. Look for a shootout. Clemson-Florida State; will the Seminoles rebound after that exhausting loss? I think so. Clemson has been a high powered force this year, ending Auburn’s nation leading winning streak last week. Still, Clemson seems to always falter in these games and until they prove otherwise I’ll go with the FSU. Sneaky stat here; FSU hasn’t won in Clemson in their past three tries. San Diego State-Michigan; This is Brady Hoke’s first time playing his former school, where he brought a bowl win last season for the first time since 1969. SDSU has looked great against decent competition, using the talents of Hoke’s recruits to jump to a 3-0 start. I expect them to be excited in the Big House but I don’t they have the talent to contain Denard Robinson. Still, expect a close loss.

"I don't know how else to put this but; I'M MAKING DEATH VALLEY RELEVANT AGAIN!"

That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for; “Remember back in April when I talked about Boston imploding after an 0-5 start? That was at the beginning of the season, it may cease to exist after their current collapse,” “One more game to watch this weekend:  Whichever game FIU’s involved in. That team is 3-0 somehow after beating UCF and Louisville. They had their first winning season and bowl game last year and didn’t even have football before 2002 (like, at all). So long as they’re undefeated, they’re the most intriguing story in all of college football this season.”

"3-0 AND these are their cheerleaders?! Seriously FIU, you may never lose again."


My Time In Beantown: A Yankees Fan’s First Experience in Fenway

In mid-June, 2011 my girlfriend Sarah and I began a very temporary year of commuting back and forth between Annapolis, Maryland and Boston to see each other. The first 3 months of this have left me with at least 2 big sports-related moments, the first of which is presented below. I’ll keep it going as long as there are interesting, sports-related stories to tell from the experience…or until my girlfriend breaks up with me for being too smelly/hairy/generally disgusting. Hope you enjoy.

On the day the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins held their Stanley Cup victory parade I woke up groggy in a studio apartment in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. Usually that grogginess (and waking up in a strange city) would mean I had had a particularly “good” time the night before with some friends and a veritable slew of libations. While I wouldn’t label the experience from this Friday as bad in any way, splitting a bottle of champagne after driving a U-Haul 10.5 hours and then unloading it at 8:30 P.M. on a Friday night with my girlfriend also couldn’t be labeled as a particularly epic night either. Nonetheless we’d done most of the unpacking and apartment organizing by early Saturday and needed to get the U-Haul truck back across town to a relatively dreary looking neighborhood 4 miles away. You can imagine my joy at the thought of sitting in traffic while watching Boston celebrate yet another fucking championship (regardless of how little I even watch or have a rooting interest in hockey). Still, it had to be done so I sighed heavily and we resigned ourselves to the thankless task at hand. In the luckiest of situations we not only got the truck across town in under 15 minutes but were left with a beautiful day to walk through the city back to the apartment. What transpired next can only be explained by one of two things. Either it was an incredibly rare occurrence where I wanted to walk into the holy grail of a team I’d rooted against above all other hated rivals for years, or it was a brunch-booze infused desire to go see one of America’s great sports landmarks. From this day forward I will deny anything but the booze story (and say I was nothing short of rip roaring drunk) but secretly I will tell my obscure current readership of my girlfriend, 10 good buddies and my dog that I actually wanted to enter the belly of the beast. That’s right, I went into my girlfriend’s first weekend living in Boston wanting to see the green monstrosity known as Fenway Park. The really crazy part? It wasn’t until I actually sat in the cramped right field grand-stand seats that we had bought on Stubhub that I realized just how good of a decision I had actually made…

"Bruins' Stanley Cup blah blah blah. Decade of Boston blah blah blah. 7 Championships blah bl - Go fuck yourselves."

I have always known Fenway Park, first and foremost, as the weird stadium that houses the “Green Monstah.” In my youngest days following the Yankees I was able to identify the near-mythical home of their hated enemies only by the strange 30 foot wall sitting behind left field. That it took me a while to understand just what this hated rivalry was and what it meant to both teams can simply be explained by the fact that, for most of my youth, the Yankees were winning championships, and the Boston Red Sox, well, sucked. This all began to change in the early part of the 2000s. A group of Yankees that had been more accomplished than anything seen in the franchise since Yogi Berra’s playing days (they won four championships in five years) was beginning to splinter either by retirement (Paul O’Neill) or trade (Tino Martinez). A young core remained (yes, once upon a time Jeter, Jorge, Andy Pettite and Rivera were considered youthful), but the team and chemistry fans had grown accustomed to seeing were beginning to fade.

"I can be forgiven for my ignorance as a 10 year old. I mean, that thing is just unnatural."

Meanwhile, Boston was beginning something of a small dynasty in its own right, acquiring guys like Manny, Papi and Damon while watching the growth and emergence of Pedro Martinez. When the 2003 ALCS rolled around it featured a pair of rivals that had firmly re-awakened the vitriol of old. When the series ended in a game 7 Aaron Boone walk off home run for the victorious Yanks it only exacerbated the point, working the fan bases into an all out frenzy of hatred that probably hadn’t been seen since the days of Munson and Yaz in the 70’s. Consequently, that was the last time the two teams had been truly great at the same time as both clubs combined for 4 World Series appearances between 1975 and 1978. This would prove prophetic when, in the 2004 ALCS, Boston famously vanquished all demons after being down 3 games to none to the Yankees and stormed into their first World Series since 1986…and first championship since 1918. From there it was another championship in ’07 for the Sawx, the low point of the Derek Jeter era with a missed playoff run in 2008 and the Yankee’s subsequent resurgence with a new crop of players in 2009 that ended in a World Series victory.

"Oh how I long for the days when the Red Sox having the few best years of Pedro Martinez still didn't matter..."

Now, in 2011, both teams consistently stand near the top of the league (along with Philadelphia in the NL) and one of the greatest current (and past) rivalries going in sports. So, you can imagine my trepidation as a Yankees fan marching into the home of that big green wall as I walked towards Yawkey Way and the various (relatively speaking of course) banners celebrating their AL pennants and World Series victories. Indeed, the nervousness was only slightly helped by the fact that they were playing the Brewers, a team I knew little (and cared even less) about.

"I must admit this is pretty awesome...I'm still shitting all over the Green Monster though."

On the day the Boston Bruins celebrated a Stanley Cup victory with hundreds of thousands of Bostonians I walked down Yawkey Way, past the ticket scalpers, the beer vendors and the gigantic team store and through gates of baseball history…and I honestly couldn’t have scripted the experience any better. For one thing the Red Sox lost. John Lester gave up solo home runs to the first two batters he faced and, while he managed to keep the score close the rest of the way, Milwaukee did enough to pull out a 4-2 victory. On top of that it was a beautiful Boston summer night during which my girlfriend didn’t complain once about the temperature and we got to watch an un-impeded view (Fenway does have some obstructive pillars in front of the grandstand level seats) of the whole game. We also sampled plenty of good Fenway park cuisine including a Fenway sausage with peppers and onions, fries, peanuts, Coors Light (gross) and Smithwicks (awesome). Lastly, the park was simply breathtaking. You can’t be a fan of baseball and all it represents about nostalgic americana and athletic history and not appreciate Fenway for exactly what it is; a grand old ballpark without a bad seat in the house (unless of course you count the seats behind those damn pillars). From the old fashioned press box, to the Green Monster, to the classic Budweiser sign lighting up the Boston skyline it truly is one of the only magical sports stadiums left. Indeed, I was envious just sitting there thinking about the fact that the old Yankees Stadium had been replaced in 2009 by the nearly identical, yet somehow exceedingly more gaudy, monstrosity that became the new Yankees Stadium. It pains me to admit it, but Fenway Park is just awesome.

"Touche Boston...Touche."

The best part of the night though? Walking home hand in hand with Sar completely full on beer and bar food after visiting a local Fenway haunt after the game, and only taking three blocks to make it back to her apartment. I’ve never been able to walk home to any major league ballpark, let alone take three blocks to do so. That I was able to make the trek in perfect New England summer weather with my girlfriend under my arm only made the night that much sweeter. Indeed, in the end I may never fall in love with the city of Boston, and I most definitely will never become a Red Sox fan, but I will have no problem going back to Fenway from here on out (you know, unless they’re playing the Yanks…that’s something I’m going to have to work up to).

NCAAF Week 2: The New Texas Two Step, The Cowboy’s Ascendency and Why Notre Dame Doesn’t Matter

Week 2 mostly maintained the status quo in the college pecking order, but there were still important things to take away from a collection of outstanding college games. With top 10 teams like Florida State, LSU and Texas A&M playing patsies, and others like Boise and Oklahoma taking the week off entirely, some “lower level” (remember, were only two games in at the most) match ups came to the fore front. Obviously Notre Dame-Michigan was a big deal, if for nothing else than the excitement that these increasingly pedestrian looking squads generate in their games against each other. Alabama–Penn State once again showed off the SEC’s dominance and exposed PSU as a pretender (of course we already knew that) while keeping Alabama in rightful top 5 status (which wasn’t necessarily a lock). Texas-BYU was an ugly but wild game (that also generated as many answers as questions for Texas), while Oklahoma State-Arizona cemented the former as a national title contender. At the end of it all I took away the following:

Alabama: "I will eat you. You should be used to this."

  • Auburn may not be a national title contender this year, but the rest of the SEC can’t overlook the Tigers either. In a meaningful early SEC match up they went up 14-0 early on Mississippi State before holding on for dear life at the end with a goal line stand. After the insane way they beat Utah State last week, you might think that this Tigers team is no where near what they were last year. And yet you’d be mistaken. As good as Cam Newton, Nick Fairly and the crew made Gene Chizik look last year it has to be remembered that they didn’t blow very many teams out (you know, besides Arkansas State, ULM and Chattanooga). They skirted around Clemson (who was mediocre in the ACC), and then proceeded to win a ton of tight SEC games against Arkansas, Alabama and Kentucky. Indeed, their only really dominant performance against a “good” team came against South Carolina in the SEC Championship…and that’s a stretch. Watch out for Gene’s gang. They don’t have Cam anymore, but with guys like Michael Dyer they may not need to.
  • Speaking of mediocre SEC teams, how about South Carolina-Georgia? As if Mark Richt wasn’t close enough to losing his job as it was, he just blew a huge early conference game to drop the Dawg’s record to 0-2. Even with a relatively easy conference slate (that misses LSU and Alabama) this team might still struggle for 8 or 9 wins, said to be the bare minimum for Mark to keep his job. The Gamecocks didn’t look great either. A week after struggling mightily in the first half against ECU (they were down 24-14), they proceeded to barely beat a Georgia team Boise State mostly coasted past in week 1. Is it me, or is the SEC East starting to do an awfully good impression of the (former…) Big XII North?

"We will ride Alabama's, LSU's and Florida's coat tails as long as they'll let us!"

  • Please just go watch highlights from Oklahoma State-Arizona. Actually, just go watch the two fade routes Brandon Wheedon tossed to Justin Blackmon. After going scoreless for the first time in over a year in week 1, Blackmon hauled in both of those passes for scores in such an effortless way you wondered if Arizona was playing a mannequin at cornerback. Seriously, he looked completely unaffected by the Wildcat player he was essentially wearing on both touchdowns. Next go look at Oklahoma State’s defensive performance. They have not done that very much against solid BCS competition in recent years. Guess what Big XII? They’re doing it now.
  • This is the last time I’ll instruct you to look at a highlight, but please check out Jaxson Shipley of Texas. If that’s not his older brother Jordan suiting up I will honestly bull ride Bevo…after branding him with Boomer Sooner. In all seriousness though, they’re carbon copies of each other, but (hopefully) minus Jordan’s injury history.

"You know on second thought..."

  • Ok I lied, but it’s worth it. Go watch replays of Michigan-Notre Dame. Seriously, I’ll wait. That was an epic game, and a phenomenal showcase of Denard Robinson’s status as college football’s most exciting athlete. Too bad none of it will really matter by the time this season hits late October. Michigan is sitting pretty at 2-0 but they’ll drop at least 2 Big Ten games this season based solely on their level of play through the first 7+ quarters of this year. Don’t believe me? They go to Michigan State and get both Ohio State and Nebraska at home. Toss in a deceptively good Northwestern squad and there’s big potential for some maize blues in Ann Arbor by the end of November. Still, at least they’ve won a game.

"Be careful Brady, Michigan's totally capable of firing you after 2 years."

  • Notre Dame is 0-2 (admittedly against good competition) and still has an almost guaranteed loss at Stanford to worry about. In fact, they still have about 2 or 3 teams that, while not as talented, could realistically give them fits. They have to play a Navy squad they’ve now amazingly dropped 3 out of 4 against after beating them 44 times in a row. That this Navy team looks as good as any they have had under Paul Johnson or Ken Niumatalolo (yes, that’s how you spell it) just adds to the pressure on Chip Kelly and crew. Factor in a date with Sparty this week, a trip to Pittsburgh the week after, and games against Air Force, USC and Maryland left on the slate, and this is beginning to have the looks of a potential 8-4 or 7-5 season. If one of those scenarios (or worse…) happens Notre Dame moves dangerously close to firing yet another coach in a new millennium that’s largely been one to forget. If that’s not an exclamation points on their 20 year run of mediocrity then I don’t know what is.

"See above."

Two big games that you will not miss hearing about this weekend are Ohio State-Miami and Oklahoma-Florida State. Ho-hum, we knew those would be big coming into the year. Here are some other games to watch for in week 3 that might have slipped under the radar. LSU-Mississippi State on Thursday: MSU is still ranked despite blowing it against the Gamecocks. An upset here would have their supposed breakout season back on track, and they’re down by 3 at the half as I finish writing this. West Virginia-Maryland: WVU is the highest ranked Big East squad and the prohibitive conference favorite. Maryland’s trying to follow up its (fashion show?) win against Miami with another attention grabbing performance.  Tennesse-Florida: This could begin to shake out some things in that weak SEC East division. Navy-South Carolina: The best team in Navy’s 10 year resurgence? A win here would ignite that discussion nationally. Utah-BYU: A massively underrated rivalry that seems like its getting played really early in the season (probably because of BUY’s new independent status). This could be BYU’s redemption after blowing it against Texas.

"Navy's awesomely badass Polynesian coach Ken Niumatalolo. Yeah, I spelled that without looking it up."

That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for: “That creeping sensation crawling up the spines of Red Sox fans? They’re very used to it, and its not the New England weather,” “That gradually increasingly tight chested sensation coursing through Yankee’s fans hearts? That’s AJ Burnett,” and “That relaxed drunken sensation felt by Indianapolis players? That’s what they’ll feel in 3 months…sitting next to their TVs watching the playoffs.”

"This is my (postseason) nightmare."

Coaches Say They Want Bowls, Lose Souls On Live Television

Whenever I decide to use the treadmill at the gym I try to position myself in front of the one TV (out of six in the cardio room) that is actually showing ESPN. There’s a good reason for this. When I’m sitting there drenching myself in sweat there are very few things that can hold my interest long enough to distract me from the mile ticker, calorie counter, heart beat monitor or whatever the hell else my treadmill is trying to tell me about my exercise.  One of those nice distractions is Sportscenter. The other one is pretty much any sporting event outside of golf. I would rather watch the World Series of paint drying than watch live golf. The other typical TV choices at my gym? CNN (on this day it was Al Sharpton’s show…yes, seriously. CNN has officially given up), Fox News (yeah…), HGTV (seriously?!) and a slew of other talk “news” programs like Nancy Grace (I could, but I won’t).


Back to the treadmill. Not only did I get a spot in front of Sportscenter for the duration of my run, but they were also having a panel discussion about a playoff system in college football. I love watching these Outside the Lines debates between pundits, coaches and whoever else ESPN thinks might be somewhat pertinent to the college football discussion. It’s great theater and, as I’ve stated in the past, one of the most compelling debates in American athletics. Plus, I have a bias towards a playoff system and it gets my adrenaline pumping to watch pundits (many from ESPN, which benefits from the bowl system) go against many coaches who have called for a playoff. So you can imagine my dismay when, after listening to a few idiots talk about the “integrity” and “tradition” of the bowl system, the coaches got on the air and…did the exact same fucking thing! What? You guys are the ones that have been calling for a playoff for years! Out of everyone involved (besides the players) you’re supposed to be the ones fighting for the most equally competitive way to play the game and decide a champion. You’re supposed to bash the bowl system endlessly because of its blatant hypocrisy and inequality, not praise its (bullshit) nostalgia and tradition!

"It's not an oligopoly if the rules don't intentionally favor a select group of highly influential parties...Wait."

It began with Urban Meyer, a guy that parlayed a career making Utah into a BCS busting mid major football power into the Florida job where he won two national titles. At Utah he was unequivocally a playoff guy because his undefeated Utah team (despite winning a BCS bowl) got the shaft when it came to competing for a national title in 2004.  Of course at Florida things changed when he realized that, not only could he make the national championship game, but he could do it with an actual loss on the resume. What a turnaround. You think that constipated feeling in his heart (the one that forced him to leave football) was caused by a complete lack of moral fiber?

"My black heart needs to take a shit!"

It didn’t just stop there. I watched Nick Saban, the legendary coach at the University of Alabama, not only laud the bowl system, but claim that a playoff would take away from “time spent in the classroom.” Are you fucking kidding me? Look, I’ll be the first one to talk up the merits of the average NCAA athlete in the classroom. When people take time to look beyond football and basketball there’s evidence that correlates playing an NCAA sport with higher GPAs and graduation rates when compared with the average American college students. The structure that training for and playing a varsity sport year round requires often translates to the classroom (student-athletes would fail otherwise for lack of time). Still, that doesn’t diminish the fact that NCAA football and basketball players tend to be the major outliers from the otherwise successful academic numbers associated with being a student athlete. That the Division I versions of each sport are by far the worst offenders only exacerbates how trumped up and ludicrous Nick Saban’s academics spiel is.

"No ref, academics is spelled e-x-p-l-o-i-t-a-t-i-o-n."

In Saban’s case this aversion to a playoff shouldn’t actually be that surprising, but it has nothing to do with academics. The one time a team of his played a non-BCS conference football team at the height of their powers (Utah in the 2008 Sugar Bowl) his 12-1 Alabama juggernaut got demolished 31-17 in a game that was never even that close. In fact, going back to 2004 the non-BCS teams, more often than not, have beaten their big bad brethren. Discounting Boise State’s win over TCU in 2009 (one of the biggest cop out match ups conceived in the BCS era) the little guys have beaten the big guys 4 times (with 3 different teams) and lost once on the college game’s bigger stages (they haven’t been given a shot at the biggest). What was the largest of those wins? A 35-7 evisceration by Utah of Pittsburgh in that first BCS buster game in 2004. The coach of Utah at the time? Urban “I shit you not he is this much of a douchebag” Meyer. Utah deserved as much of a shot at the title game that year as anyone. Instead they got to watch USC pummel Oklahoma and cement itself as the “greatest team ever”…until of course it lost to Texas in 2005’s national championship.

"It's ok guys, the BCS will collectively forget about this by Tuesday."

This is what kills me most about a guy like Meyer who despite not coaching right now will remain one of the most visible coaching minds in modern college football for years to come (especially if he gets back into, you know, coaching). He deserves the accolades. One of the few complements I’ll give the guy is that he is an amazing coach, who worked his ass off to get to where he did. He won 2 national titles (one of which without Tim Tebow as the starter) and should have had an opportunity to coach in another at Utah. Indeed, he said as much after that historic win back in 2004. Still, the next year he’d understandably left  for greener (get it?) pastures and completely changed his stance. The worst part? He already has his national titles. Switching to a playoff, even a 4 team set up, won’t diminish that, at least not in his life time.  Still, he’ll continue to pump up the BCS system, if for no other reason than to have an opportunity to step back into the driver’s seat of another national power that begins every year with a head start over at least 50% of the field. Well done asshole.

"I love you."

That’s all for now folks. Tune in next time for, “Let’s recap: Jesus Montero has a 1.235 OPS with 3 homers, 6 RBIs and 6 Runs through 6 games. He can DH or catch, and the Yanks are in the middle of a big September. We could just nickname him the savior now.”

NCAAF Week 1: Maryland’s fashion statement, Boise’s Predictable Start and Why Aggie Must Mean Asshole

If week 1 of the college football season didn’t remind you of why this is one of the most exciting sports in all of America then you’re either not watching or have some kind of moral aversion to excitement. We had some meaningful upsets that happened to be high flying shootouts, a top 5 match-up that may have already knocked out a serious national title contender and another massive out of conference match up that once again proved why no one wants to see “Boise State” on their team’s schedule. Not to mention the fact that Texas A&M seriously upped the drama factor by deciding to be major d-bags leave the Big XII. This was only made more ridiculous when the rest of the Big XII, led by none other than Baylor (seriously!), decided to block the move in the same way NATO embargoes entire countries. If you’re a fan of the Big XII, or really any of its member institutions not named Texas or Oklahoma, you should be circling any home game against the Aggies on your calendar now (more on this later) just so you can call them assholes in person. And can we talk about Maryland?! As a massive supporter of their attempt to look like the Dallas team in Any Given Sunday I feel a need to defend how awesome Under Armour, the Terps and Randy Edsall are. So, now that we’ve had ample time to catch our breaths from last week, let’s review as we near week 2.

A&M in the SEC will be this...over and over and over again...

  1.  Let’s get this out of the way: If Boise State goes undefeated this year they’re in the national title game. Period. They’ve done everything we’ve asked of them with that evisceration of a ranked SEC team on the road in a primetime Saturday night game. This team is at least on equal footing with the major BCS powers not in the SEC. They’ve beaten Oklahoma. They’ve beaten Georgia. They’ve beaten Oregon. If 12-0 happens, it should put them on the other side of the bracket from the SEC rep and let them have at each other.
  2.  This Big XII thing is a mess. Don’t get me wrong, the storyline is intriguing and the idea of Texas A&M moving to the SEC only to become its 12th best team is hilarious, but I still don’t have to actually like it. While A&M has done virtually nothing (save for a few upsets of Texas) to vaunt themselves into the national conversation during the past 10 years, the rest of the conference has been making moves into the national spotlight at various points. Nebraska, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Colorado and even Kansas (yes, that Rock Chalk Kansas) can all boast at least one season in the past decade that was better than any of A&M’s in the same time frame. Now A&M is crying over the Longhorn network (a deal Texas tried to partner with them on!), while making this the straw that breaks the conference’s back. This is all so that it can move to an SEC where it will be even tougher for them to break .500. The Big XII has arguably been the second best conference in the country the past 10 or so years. Oklahoma and Texas have played at as consistently high a level as any other team during the past decade and various other members have had their successful shots at the national stage throughout. What other conference (including the SEC) can say the same about any two of its members? The SEC is absolutely a better conference top to bottom, and its been stronger year in and year out, particularly as of late. But save for LSU, no one in the conference has been able to string together a decade quite like what the Longhorns and Sooners have done.  It would be a shame to lose the last vestige of SWC and Big 8 power to the Big 10 (ugh…), Pac 12 (god no) or (oh for the mother of god!) ACC. At least the SEC kind of somewhat, sort of makes sense for a few of these teams. It’s just too bad that they’re getting about the 5th or 6th best team the Big XII has to offer (if that). So long Big XII. Thanks for (literally) nothing Texas A&M.
  3. Unless you’ve been hibernating inside a turtle shell for the last 4 days you’ve no doubt heard about Maryland’s epic week 1 win fashion statement. First things first, I loved the uniforms. As a guy who has spent the past 7 years begrudgingly becoming a Marylander I can finally grasp how unique the state flag is and thus the pride so many of the state’s residents take in it. For Under Armour (a Baltimore based company with a former Maryland football player as the founder and CEO) to so boldly splash that pride all over the state university’s uniform just makes it that much better. Not only did he and the university broadcast how proud they are to represent the state (and endear themselves to residents in the process), but they sent a message to local recruits (which are a formidable group in the DC and Baltimore metro areas) that this is what they can expect from Maryland football going forward. On the flip side I do understand people’s issues with the uniforms. They were loud and exceedingly outside the tradition of simple uniforms that established programs like Alabama, Texas, Penn State, Ohio State and USC have employed throughout their illustrious histories.  But when you don’t have the history that those teams do, what do you have? You have a need to break in some other way. Nike and Oregon have managed to do this successfully due at least in part to their infamous uniform combinations. It looks like Maryland and Under Armour will try to do the exact same thing.

Maryland's response to all that hate? "1-and-0..."

There are a few other things from week 1 to consider. Baylor’s win over TCU flew under the radar but it’s important for a couple of reasons. First, it shows how dangerous Baylor and Robert Griffin are one year after their first bowl appearance in ages. They could be the 3rd or 4th best team in the Big XII. It also showed how vulnerable TCU’s defense will be in 2011. Things will smooth over in conference play, but they need to plan now for Boise. Oregon’s loss certainly had a lot to do with how good LSU should be this year, but it also had a lot to do with a lack of polish on Oregon’s part. In the couple of years prior to 2010 the Ducks started slow with tough non-conference games only to turn it around for double digit win seasons down the stretch. Last year they started the season off by beating Portland State 72-0 in game 1, allowing new QB Darron Thomas, among others, time to acclimate to running Oregon’s complicated offense. LSU didn’t allow them that luxury, and four turnovers were way too much to overcome. Expect Oregon to regain its footing against a rebuilding Nevada team this week and still be a major threat to Stanford in the Pac-12 North.

Get your shit together TCU, or it's gonna be a whole lotta this.

Games to watch for in week 2: Alabama-PSU is an obvious one so we’ll go with a couple of others that might slip under the radar. Texas-BYU is a big non-conference match up for two teams coming off disappointing seasons. Look to see if Texas’ Garret Gilbert can get his footing against a tough Cougars defense. Wisconsin-Oregon State is still a big game regardless of OSU’s upset loss to Sacramento State. The Beaver’s tend to start slow, but they’re always good for an upset or two, albeit usually in Pac-12 play. Wisconsin would like to instill more confidence in Russell Wilson heading into Big 10 play, although he looked awfully good last week (as expected). The Oklahoma State-Arizona game is happening as I type this and OK State is running away with it in the first half. Still, I’ll mention it purely to showcase how much better the Cowboys have become over the past 3 seasons. With an actual defense stifling opponents in the first six quarters this season, this team should seriously threaten the Sooners for the Big XII crown.

This is how I feel every time I watch him field...or hit...or play baseball.

That’s all for tonight folks. Tune in next time for; “If this NFL season even remotely resembles the first half of this Packers-Saints game I will literally make out with Roger Goodell,” “I have never been more happy about a 25 point win over Rice in my entire time rooting for the Horns…Shit,” “Eduardo Nunez Yanks? He needs to go…”