Dec 15, 2009

The BCS Is The Best Thing To Happen To College Football. Ever.

To mark my return (or whatever) to this webspace, I'll be doing what bloggers do best: complain about things that bug them to whoever will listen. I've already tackled Brett Favre's return to the NFL, and my disgust over how it is viewed by many, and now, I take a look at the BCS.

National consensus is that the BCS is dumb, it gives us an unworthy champion, and that a playoff is the only logical way to decide a champion. Hell, even Congress has been throwing in their two cents. The argument against a playoff usually boils down to a tradition based argument, that the bowl system is too ingrained in the culture to be challenged or changed.

Both positions are, to be put lightly, bullshit.

The BCS is the natural evolution of the long-held bowl system, a marriage of human opinions (some of which suck badly) and computers (which do pretty good, despite my inherent distrust) (seriously, watch that video, and try to sleep tonight. Slap some basic targeting systems and a minigun on that thing, and good luck kids. Wait, where was I?). What more can you really ask for out of a system? It takes what worked in the past (polling) and utilizes available technology (moreso than baseball) to give the best match up. The best evidence?

Of the 12 games that have crowned a national champ in the BCS era, 6 have involved SEC teams.

Personal bias aside, 5 of those SEC teams won the game (and Alabama is favored by 4.5), and I think the results speak for themselves. People point to years like this, and say this is definitive need for a playoff. Why? How would you decide who gets in and who gets Boise Stated? You're left in the same place, but at the cost of other bowls.

But Daniel, the other bowls don't matter anyway!

Tell that to the UConn team that overcame the heartbreaking death of a teammate to get to play on January 2nd or to Joey Harrington who parlayed one good bowl game into a career that went way too long. These bowls matter to most teams, as the opportunity to be nationally televised is a recruiting boost, allowing a program to be seen by potential recruits all over the country. Sure, there is the occasional team that couldn't care about the game, and mails it in (see Alabama, 2009 Sugar Bowl), but for the majority of teams, these games are paid advertisements, and a good performance matters. Plus, for certain other players who just won't go away, this is a great chance to make an impression on NFL front office people who will decide your fate come Draft Day.

But you know what the best thing about the BCS and the bowl system is? Better than the opportunity to end your season with a win? Better than showing the country (or other countries) your school exists? Better than getting a large contract? It creates more discourse, more arguments, and more passion than anything else in sports. The controversy alone has propelled NCAA Football into that rarefied air, usually reserved for the Shield and nothing else. Even the National Football League (what up Gruden!) has to marvel at college football's ability to capture hearts and minds year round (and if you think the NFL doesn't benefit, you're NUTS). I was debating this point with someone this past summer, and they argued what the whole benefit of the BCS is to the fan, what makes it attractive to those of us who want a definitive answer, what does it offer us?

We were arguing about college football at a wedding in June. What more do you want?

I'm returning to the blog by discussing the weird happenings over the 3 months I've been away. NFL and NCAA Football are done, NBA, you're next.

Dec 8, 2009

Q: How do you bring a reluctant blogger back?

A: The wildest freaking 3 month stretch of sports I have ever seen.

A lot has happened since I claimed I was back with that stupid video (a mistake on multiple levels), both in the world of sport and in my own personal life. I've been branching out, learning new skills, being exposed to new cultures wildly different from my own, and basically attempting to grow as a person. I've rediscovered that inner light that allows me to see the goodness in people around me, and learned to appreciate everyone as a special and unique individual.


I'm still me, and life just got too hectic to type out my awful football picks and spread my own personal beliefs and bias'. Until now. Let's see what we've seen so far:

TheRoommate is originally from Wisconsin. Like any good Wisconsinian (?), he is a die hard Green Bay Packers fan, and his soul was rightfully torn asunder watching BrettFavre beat down his former team on two separate occasions this year (he reconciles this by cheering for Favre to do well, but for the Vikings to lose). Undaunted, and still bleeding Green and Gold, he decided to drive the 10 hours to Tampa Bay to watch his team (presumably) beat up on the then winless Buccaneers. Things did not go as planned. A few terse texts later, TheRoommate was home in time to watch Monday Night Football, and discuss what had happened. During our conversation, I made what I thought was an innocuous observation:

Me: What really sucks, is he came back to the NFL, particularly the Vikings, who are in your division, and who you've been bred to hate JUST to stick it to your team.

TheRoommate: No, no, no. He just joined them because he wants to win. He loves the game, and saw this as the best chance to win another Super Bowl.

Me: (Incredulous) You sound like Chris Berman; he came back to stick it to Ted Thompson and it just so happened that the Vikings are a decent team...he's human and wanted vengeance. Nothing wrong about that.

TheRoommate: Take that back, Brett would never do that to his fans. (Picks up battle axe) TAKE IT BACK!!!

(Heavily edited for length, language, and to add a battle axe)

No matter how badly I screw up around the house, or beat his head in playing Madden, this was far and away the closest we've come to actual physical violence. I thought his Midwestern head was going to explode, so naturally, I belabored the point further. My evidence:

1. On July 16, 2008 (mid-retirement 1), the Packers filed tampering charges against the Vikings, alleging improper communication between BrettFavre and Minnesota offensive coordinator Darrell Bevel. In 'retaliation', the Packers refused to release him, and allow him to sign with a team of his choosing, instead trading him to the third circle of hell, I mean the New York Jets, with penalties in place to punish all parties if Favre was then shipped to Minnesota.

2. BrettFavre retired again on February 15th, 2009, and requested to be released from the Reserve/Retired list less than 3 months later. Allowing him to sign with any other team. Including the one that the Packers did everything to stop him from signing with.

3. Number4 signs with the Vikings on August 18, and starts an NFL game less than a week later. Pretty tough to assimilate a new playbook in less than a week, no matter how familiar you are with the language (Bevel had been his OC in the past). Pretty tough, that is, unless you've been studying the aforementioned playbook for, oh I don't know, A YEAR.

Pretty damning, no?

Well, not to TheRoommate. He deemed me insane, unworthy to continue speaking to, and to sate him, I conceded that I may be wrong. Well, I was lying. There is no freaking way that I was wrong, and the fact that this man went out of his way, so far as to suffer a year as a Jet, just to stick it to someone who had tried to retire him. His competitive nature that people gush over every Sunday? Wouldn't it also drive him not just to prove that he still has 'it', but also to go out of his way to drive a dagger into the bloodless corpse of Ted Thompson?

I think it would.

The rest of the week will be me detailing different crazy things that have happened over the last three months, and my takes on them. NFL, done. NCAA, you're next.

Wait, what...

Rick Reilly has gone stark raving mad...

No, really. He's freaking lost it.

Sep 27, 2009

I'm Still Alive!!!

And this is pretty freaking cool

Aug 27, 2009

First Fantasy Draft

People have been bugging me, asking why I don't do anything fantasy related on this page, and the reason is simple, really: No one reads this damn thing but my friends, and I play fantasy football with my friends, so what benefit would there be in showing my hand? But, after problems with the ESPN servers, chat conversations about what awful people we all were, and a tentative agreement to do this next year in Vegas, my first fantasy draft of the year is finally over.

Now, I know you don't care about this gentle reader, but you should know that I care. Know that I care so much that my overreactions to small things regarding the league will undoubtedly be humorous for you, so maybe you should care, but only about how much I care. Here is my squad after applying a last second trade of picks. Don 't you care a little?

QB: Phillip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub

RB: LaDanian Tomlinson, Derrick Ward, Willie Parker, Felix Jones, Le'Ron McClain, Jerious Norwood

WR: Randy Moss, Patrick Crayton, Kevin Walter

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Randy McMichael

D/ST: Patriots

K: Who cares?

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how I did having the 8 pick in a 10 team league. And that was before I heard Roy Williams broke his collarbone, making Crayton more valuable...someone has to catch for Romo...

Well, there's the draft recap for wholly unoriginal "Team Palmer".

Got any better names? Nez, I'm looking at you.

Aug 25, 2009

Preseason Power Poll Part 2

Here comes another one, just like the other one...

15. Chicago - Happy now? Jay Cutler, you left behind Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and thin air for Devin Hester (a returner), Soldier Field (a snowy, windy mess) and a receiving corps from the island of misfit toys. John Clayton said that he is the most celebrated quarterback to step under center since a certain Sid Luckman (CU! Anybody? Anybody?) An elite quarterback can make any weapons that already exist infinitely more dangerous than they would be in mediocre hands, and no matter what you think about the exit from the Broncos, Cutler is nothing short of elite.

14. Miami - Well, it was cute while it lasted. Now that the Wildcat (Wildhog, Wild-sea mammal, whatever) has proliferated the world of the shield, what does Miami really do better than the teams they are going to be playing on Sundays? An above average defense, sure, but not nearly as dominant as other teams that rely on the 'protect the ball' offense. Then again, it's never smart to bet against Parcells. And the lesson here, as always, is that I know nothing about nothing.

13. Houston - I don't feel good about that at all. I mean, I like Matt Schaub, I LOVE Andre Johnson, and Steve Slaton makes me feel very uneasy. The offense looked great down the stretch...but there's always a smoke and mirrors team that looks good late, and falls on their faces early. Plus, with the Colts and Titans in the division, and getting better every second, can the upstarts in Texas finally make some noise in the AFC South? My rankings would say so, my head says something completely different. This was an 8-8 team last year! They gave up 394 points last year, the most in the division, and the defense didn't get any better! Why the hell are they this high? What is wrong with me?

12. San Diego - LDT, it's show time. Since the playoffs two years ago, the alleged best player in the game has been MIA to say the least. And this could be the last hurrah for this group...and that includes Norv. On the upside, a lot of players in contract years means a lot of players going out to earn that extra money. On the downside, there isn't a great chance that all these players can come back...or that bringing them back would even be a good idea. The passing game was AMAZING last year, the defense is welcoming back Shawne Merriman, the only question is if LDT can remind us why he was once upon a time a decent running back. Or if he'll pull Shaun Alexander on us. Remember him? Me neither.

11. Dallas - Here you go Tony, you got your wish. Ran your most talented (and troublesome) player out of town, and now the team is truly yours. What are you going to do with it? Jerry Jones cast his lot with you, and the best thing he can do is to take the ball out of your hands. The only guarantee that has made itself known during the Romo years is that he will do (at least) two things in the second half to lose your team the game. EVERY TIME. With three super talented running backs behind him, why wouldn't the Cowboys just run, run, run? Oh what's that? Jerry Jones has a new, super-expensive building to fill in a down economy? Nevermind.

10. Atlanta - Pat Riley has often written about the disease of more; once you start winning, everyone wants more. More credit, more of the spotlight, more exposure. And in this corner...Roddy White, demanding more money. Gee, thanks Roddy. Like I needed another reason to hate Pat Riley. The line got better on both sides of the ball. The defense (which got by on smoke and mirrors last year) got better top to bottom. The offense added a first ballot Hall of Famer at tight end. Mr. White finally showed up and has looked great. There is no reason this team should slip from the heights of last year...except the universe hates to see me happy, the franchise has never put back to back winning seasons together, the historic sophomore slump, and of course, the disease of more.

9. Minnesota - Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit. Too bad Bret Favre had to come back, and ruin my plans for betting against Tevaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels all season. I have no pity for the Vikings if this doesn't work, because Favre is all they have, and if he's bad, they will have been left with a bare cupboard...except for the best running back in the NFL, the Williams boys stuffing the run, and a devastating pass rush. The only time I'll feel sorry for the Vikings is when they replay the 1998 NFL Title game on television. Just kidding.

8. Indianapolis - Tony Dungy is gone. He's off chastising Michael Vick for drinking girly drinks or something, and he isn't walking through that door. Although, two other faces are walking back through; with the NFL's decision to allow two former staffers to come back to the franchise as 'consultants' (read: they are keeping their jobs and grooming replacements. And getting paid. That's really important) look for not too much drop off with the Colts. Bill Polian and Peyton Manning are still there helming the ship, and having cut ties with Marvin Harrison, this is a franchise ready to move forward. Even with this new coach at the helm. Ole-what's-his-name.

7. Baltimore - Sophomore slump? Won't even matter. Sure, history has taught us that the only players that make a huge jump in their second season is wide receivers (and Adrian Peterson), but the strength of the organization around Flacco won't let it bring them down. All of a sudden last year, B'More was the well-oiled machine of years past; all the running backs had fire, Ray Lewis was looking like it was 2003, and Ed Reed remained the best safety in football (I'm STARING at you Jacqueline Tatum. Cut your hair). If they can survive the wars with the Steel City, these guys should roll.

6. Arizona - They were in the Super Bowl last year. Yup. That's the only reason they are this high. This is a team that is hitching it's star to Kurt Warner, is bringing back an unhappy Anquan Boldin, and lost their offensive coordinator. But, they've still got that young secondary, and the grinningest player ever, Larry Fitzgerald. You know what? His smile makes me forget about the numerous misgivings I have about this team. They think Beanie Wells is the back of the future? They didn't actually improve an offensive line that looked decent to bad all year until the playoffs? The team openly gave up for way too many weeks down the stretch? Who cares!

5. Tennessee - No more Albert Haynesworth? No problem. Sure, the automatic double team is gone, and so is a lot of the freedom that he created for the linebacking corps that have not-so-quietly gotten old, but there is one reason that Tennessee will continue to be a force in the league next year. Three little syllables. Chris. John. Son. And the fact that they get to play the NFC West featuring such run stuffing defenses such as San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle. In other words? Kerry “Sure, I'd love another” Collins won't do THAT MUCH damage under center. (Isn't it creepy how irrelevant the four principles in the greatest national title game ever have become? Vince is riding pine here, alongside LenDale White, while Reggie Bush is a situational back in New Orleans, and Matt Leinart is cashing checks in Arizona)

4. Giants - Are they good? Are they bad? Certain times last year, the offense looked anemic, and other times, they came out like gangbusters. It certainly doesn't help their case that the last time we saw them, Eli Manning was literally killing his team by losing the ability to throw the football in the wind last playoffs. Even through his inconsistencies, that crushing pass rush kept a lot of games close. That defense is one of the strongest in the NFL (they had 12 wins last year!), but can this offense stay alive when the entire fan base (and front office) is waiting for Eli to shoot himself in the thigh? Too soon?

3. Philadelphia - RIP Jim Johnson. Taking your defense against weak quarterbacks was one of the most enjoyable (and lucrative!) sports moments I could count on annually. Now, all I've got is counting on Donovan McNabb NOT to win an NFC title game. Just kidding Philly fans. Kind of. This is a team that, while adding versatile pieces like Jeremy Maclin, still lacks a true, dominant number 1 receiver if Mr. Jackson doesn't step up and overcome his size. Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown (UGA!) are both solid number 2 or even number 3 receivers, but who is getting the ball on 3rd and six? Because, on 4th and six in the NFC title game LAST year, McNabb hit Curtis in the hands, who was being tackled by Roderick Hood...and since he has no profile as a receiver in the NFL, the refs did not call the pass interference. The preceding comment is brought to you by the NFL Network and my own abject boredom certain nights in bars.

2. New England - Pending just how good that knee looks, the ceiling here could be that number 1 spot, but not just yet. Once again, the Pats had a great offseason (shocking, I know) by jettisoning some emotional favorites on defense who had lost a step or five. Offensively, it's just going to be more of the same. And by, the same, I mean the routine beat downs they handed out two years ago while setting records for passing touchdowns in a season. Add in the running back by committee model popularized by Mike Shannahan in a nefarious scheme to destroy fantasy football, and you have a football machine ready to remind us that the kid under center last year was a career backup, and Mr. Bundchen has rings. Lots of them. And he wants more.

1. Pittsburgh - They're the champs. They got younger and healthier at all the most important places (Offensive line, running back , defense), and they kept most of their players out of civil court. But, they've gotten older on the edges, as Hines Ward's (UGA!) performance catching footballs in the playoffs did not exactly inspire a lot of confidence. With only one other serious contender in their division, and getting the chance to pick on the AFC West, look for them to feast on the weak, look strong against the good teams, and re-establish the history of running that has carried this franchise throughout the years. Not the “what the hell” offense of last year that was contractually obligated to suck for 3.75 quarters every game. Ugh. They're the best so far, but man, they were not fun to watch last year.

*This column can also be found with greater production value (better lighting, clearer sound) at by clicking this link*

Preseason Power Poll Part 1

Alliteration on ya, like WHOA. Had to break it into two parts, because it's long as sin, but here's a look at the field. Division by division previews coming later...

32. Detroit - Well, it can't get worse? Can it? First ever 0-16 team...and looking at this schedule, they seem to be a lock to win...well, none of them. They've got Calvin Johnson. They've got a young, strong armed quarterback under center, provided Dante Culpepper is really done. The Lions are doing their best to sell a franchise that exemplified futility throughout recent memory, and they should be commended for that. Here's a mortal lock for you: Detroit will more than double last year's win total. You're welcome.

31. St. Louis - Oh look, another first time head coach. Another disappointing 2008 campaign, and another team that looks to have 'lather, rinse, repeat' printed on their season already. Their quarterback got older, their receivers got more ambiguous, the running back is getting more wasted in that backfield, and the staff they brought in is mostly defensive in background. Well, they should lose by less this year, so that's something.

30. Seattle - Jim Mora Jr., welcome back. I was never a fan of how you left Atlanta all those years ago, but I understand why you had to go. I have some bad news though; your quarterback has chronic back problems (you don't fix back problems; you live with them), you have no running back of note besides Julius “I Smoke A Pack A Day” Jones, and it's Seattle, the most beat-down sports city of the 2000s. Pretty much, the season will come down to if Seneca Wallace can develop a rapport with Housh. I'm betting not.

29. Oakland - I can't even make any jokes. Look for Garcia to either win the quarterback battle by end of camp, or at the latest, under center by Week 6. Look for Darren McFadden to improve on an underwhelming, injury laden rookie campaign. Finally, look for Al Davis to continue to do his best to destroy any positive memories of his once proud franchise.

28. Kansas City - With his big, fat new contract, do you think Matt Cassel bought Bernard Pollard an Aston Martin, a Bugatti, a Maserati, or one of each? What a weird, circular story that was; Brady gets hurt against the Chiefs, Cassel goes on to play better than expected, getting Josh McDaniel the Denver job (that should not have been vacant anyway), leading McDaniel to make an ass of himself trying to get Cassel, only to have him end up in Kansas City. Bernard Pollard directly altered the destinies over the past 10 months of the Pats, the Broncos, the Bears, and the Chiefs. Though in the case of the Chiefs, not enough.

27. Cleveland - Brady Quinn or...that other guy. Neither a slam dunk choice, because neither gives guaranteed results. Derek Anderson was a Pro Bowler one year, and a section 8 the next. Quinn wasn't impressive pre-injury last year. And Ken Dorsey...well, thanks for coming out. The offense should improve, as Braylon Edwards can't play any worse than last year, and maybe they can find a running game to compliment. Tough to do and be successful when the top two teams in your division were in the AFC Title Game last year.

26. Tampa Bay - I've decided that Raheem Morris' introductory press conference was the exact opposite of Al Pacino's “Peace With Inches” speech in Any Given Sunday. This was given way too much thought by me, but since Pacino's speech makes me want to tear somebody apart for the inches that are everywhere around us, and Morris' speech made me want to give that same somebody all my inches, and limp away sadly, I think this is about right. Questions at quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive line, and defensive back, this is right where they belong.

25. Buffalo - Everything says this team should be better. They signed a talented wide receiver on the downside of his career who won't allow teams to lock in on their number 1, Lee Evans. The offensive line is mostly intact, and if they can keep Trent Edwards on his feet, and if Trent Edwards can keep TO happy and if the defense gets better, and if the team as a whole survives the whole 'no running back for five games' thing, and if we ignore the signs that this team is moving to Toronto, they should be fine. That is a lot of 'ifs' though...

24. Cincinnati - This week, on “Why Won't They Fire This Guy?!?”, we sneak a peek in Bengals camp, and see signs of a repeat of every other year of the Marvin Lewis era everywhere we look. Middling start? Check. Off season troubles with your self-proclaimed best receiver (and he might be, now that Housh is a Seahawk)? Check. Injury questions about important players? Check. Look for them to get beat up on by everyone they play, and look for Chad Johnson's (I refuse to acknowledge that idiotic new last name) ego to tip the boat over once they get a rocky start.

23. Jets - Well, that was nice. The whole Brett Favre experiment re-energized the fan base, re-lit some dormant rivalries...and demolished any future for your young quarterback (Clemens) and got your coach fired. Good job? Nothing's changed this year, except the young quarterback gets his ego bashed in not by an old man selling Wranglers, but by a young man selling...well, I'm not sure yet, but I bet the commercials will annoy me...

22. Denver - And now, for a very special, "Why Won't They Fire This Guy?", Josh McDaniels angles to get fired before coaching an NFL game. While I admire his ambition to break the land speed record for firing, the person I feel most for is Pat Bowlen. Not only did he fire the most iconic coach in franchise history (not to mention his best friend), and have his rocket-armed quarterback of the future bolt for the greener pastures of Soldier Field, but he's got Lane Kiffen 2.0 doing his best to derail everything he has built over the years. Too bad it's his own fault. Well, his and Brandon Marshall. (I want to start a Madden Franchise with the Broncs so digital Brandon Marshall can get digitally arrested by week 9.)

21. New Orleans - Finesse teams haven't traditionally done well in this NFL lately. The Colts only got to (and won!) once their defense started playing least, physically enough to push around the Bears. This team is only as good as their quarterback, but as long as his running game is on the back of a man with a French first name (Pierre Thomas...this is football!), and an oft injured glorified kick returner. We'll see if the defense can do anything and compete in the NFC South.

20. San Francisco - Different city by the bay, same story. Just not any good. But, I have to give credit where it's due, and Singletary had this motley crew playing better than every down the stretch last year. If his not-so-notable quarterbacks can keep up, and Frank Gore can show more consistency than the past two years, they could make some noise in the NFC West.

19. Washington - The Zorn Supremacy. Year two. I think that this new habit of undervaluing Clinton Portis is going to bit all of us right in the face. This is a guy who consistently has run hard all year, and he'll have a quarterback that is in year two of this offense, and a rich defense that can control the game, if these players live up to a fraction of their paychecks. Too bad the NFC East is so stacked this year.

18. Carolina - Jake Delhomme. Welcome to the hot seat! Can a non-coach be on the hot seat? After that debacle of a playoff performance last season, how can he not be? I mean, it was really just a super-sized version of his usual exploits, but that was so bad, no Carolina fan dare even attempt to explain it away. It just can't be done. But, the twin running backs are looking to avoid their vanishing act in that game, and based on last years results, they seem very able to deliver.

17. Jacksonville - Jack Del Rio. Welcome to the hot seat! After the debacle of last season, including a veteran running back saying this was the most dysfunctional team he had ever seen, he needs to come through big here to solidify his hold in J'ville. We (the gambling public) all waited for the week they would turn it on, and look like the team from two years ago. My bet would be that they middle around 8-8 and just miss the playoffs.

16. Green Bay - Aaron Rodgers, take two. This time, not only does our young quarterback have the unforgettable shadow of one Bret Favre, but also the unfulfilled promise of a season that looked special early last year, but ended acrimoniously. My new roommate is a lifelong Packers fan, and he sees them finishing around 11-5. At times, Aaron Rodgers looked competent last year, but he (and that defense) fizzled hard down the stretch. They need him to be lights out if they hope to finish in the top half of this division, especially since on paper he is the 3rd best quarterback in the NFC North.

*This column can also be found with greater production value (better lighting, clearer sound) at by clicking this link*