Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bye Week: College Football 11/23

Most important stories of the weekend
The lack of a South Carolina game to recap gives me more space to dedicate to my overall thoughts from the weekend, whether you like it or not.

LSU/Ole Miss: The Hat vs Coach Giggity - Revisited
First let me share the sentiments of the boys over at Everyday Should Be Saturday in that it should be an NCAA mandate that Houston Nutt and Les Miles coach in the same division to provide the kind of nonsensical comedy that is sure to ensue each time their teams face off. Here are the series of decisions that led to the kind of ending that can only result from this legendary showdown of nitwits:
1) Houston Nutt decides to go for two after a second-quarter touchdown, after failing the score is 17-15 Ole Miss
2) Ole Miss scores a second half touchdown to make it 22-17, no insanity there
3) Ole Miss kicks a field goal to make it 25-17 with 3:42 left to play, a great 8:26 drive to milk the clock
4) LSU scores a toudchdown with 1:17 left, then misses the two-point attempt, 25-23 Ole Miss
5) LSU recovers onside kick as Ole Miss players apparently unaware they can touch it before or after 10 yards
6) This sequence of events then occurs:

1st and 10 at LSU 42Jordan Jefferson pass incomplete.2325
2nd and 10 at LSU 42Jordan Jefferson pass complete to Brandon LaFell for 26 yards to the Miss 32 for a 1ST down.
1st and 10 at MISS 32Jordan Jefferson pass incomplete.
2nd and 10 at MISS 32Jordan Jefferson sacked by Emmanuel Stephens for a loss of 9 yards to the Miss 41.
3rd and 19 at MISS 41Timeout LSU, clock 00:32.
3rd and 19 at MISS 41Jordan Jefferson pass complete to Stevan Ridley for a loss of 7 yards to the Miss 48.
4th and 26 at MISS 48Timeout LSU, clock 00:09.
4th and 26 at MISS 48Jordan Jefferson pass complete to Terrance Toliver for 42 yards to the Miss 6 for a 1ST down.
End of 4th Quarter

Important to note that on the first play LSU gets the ball to the 32, and at the time still had two timeouts. The incompletion on 1st down is also fine, but then a sack and an attempted screen pass burn those two timeouts and put the Tigers out of field goal range. Better yet to note that screen pass attempt took the clock from 00:32 to 00:09. Clearly while watching you could see that a timeout could have saved ten more seconds. Imagine what would have happened with
00:19 left? Also there's the much publicized problem with trying to spike the ball with 00:01 after the completion to the Ole Miss 6 yard line. Here are my thoughts on the issue:
- Yes, the timeout should have been called immediately after the 3rd down failed screen pass behind the line
- No, there was not enough time to run the field goal unit out, not with 1 second left
- No, of course you can't spike the ball in less than a second
- Yes, they should have simply run a play with receivers just going into endzone, this call should have been made on the last timeout, or at least a field goal strategy called
- BUT, more importantly that any of that, why was LSU throwing the ball with over a minute left on the Rebel 32? Why not just run the ball, use your timeouts if necessary, rather than
trying to throw the ball? That is the question that needs to be asked. I know that Les Miles was down his top two running backs, but really there has to be someone on the team who can run it up the gut a few times to make the field goal a little easier. You can always throw a pass on second down and then try the field goal on third down. At the end of the day, you just have to accept that with Les Miles there's good and there's bad, and you can't have one without the other.

... meanwhile, back on campus...
Every few years there's a controversy at Ole Miss, and every year it ends poorly. This time it was over the chant from fans that accompany the Ole Miss Band playing "From Dixie With
Love." First let me say that I very much like the song as a musician, if that's what playing in an SEC marching band makes me anyway, and as such it sucks that the song has to be brought into it. Here is a sampling of the controversy, which occurs at the 1:10 mark in the video:

yes indeed, the final strain of Glory is chanted as "The South will rise again" by a good number of Ole Miss fans at the end. So let's see here the timeline of Ole Miss controversies:

1962: Violent riots rage as the first black student is enrolled at Ole Miss
1997: Student leaders passed resolution asking fans to stop bringing confederate battle flag into stadium
1997: Administration then banned sticks, which essentially enforced the student resolution
2003: Colonel Reb, the mascot for Ole Miss banned, due to looking like a plantation owner
2009: Band ordered to stop playing "From Dixie With Love" indefinitely

Well, you see that last one, it just happened, but then this week with the CBS SEC Game of the Week spotlight on Ole Miss there was yet another twist in the story. You knew there'd be a protest, here it is:

Incidentally, eight recruits cancelled their official visits after hearing of the protest. If you don't realize how badly Ole Miss needs to move on then you're not thinking. Also, worth a note, the chant only really began in the last five years. At some point you have to just wonder if some people will ever move on. The best news of all? The dozen members of the Klan were outnumbered by around 250 protesters of the KKK, all of which made it impossible to hear what they themselves were saying. When the KKK is protested by that kind of ratio it proves there is hope.

Carolina/SEC Bowl Scenarios
BCS- Florida and Alabama: winner in title game, loser in at large BCS bowl
Citrus Bowl- Ole Miss: Their win over LSU put them in this position, need to beat MSU to clinch
Cotton Bowl- Winner of LSU vs Arkansas this weekend will end up here
Outback Bowl- Winner of Tennessee vs Kentucky gets this one
Peach Bowl- Most likely loser of LSU/Arkansas OR possibly Kentucky if 'Cats lose to Vols OR UGa if upset GT
Music City Bowl and lower- Georgia OR Kentucky OR South Carolina OR Tennessee OR Auburn

Here's what I will say, based on my these outcomes from Saturday
-Florida beats Florida State
-Alabama beats Auburn
-Ole Miss beats Mississippi State
-Kentucky beats Tennessee
-South Carolina beats Clemson
-LSU beats Arkansas
-Georgia Tech beats Georgia

BCS- Florida and Alabama in some order for title game and at large
Citrus- Ole Miss: strong finish gets Rebs where they campaigned for last season
Outback- Kentucky: rousing finish gets 'Cats to Tampa
Cotton- LSU: LSU will salvage season with win at home vs Hogs for Cotton Bowl berth
Peach- Auburn: My anticipation is that loser of ACC title game ends up here, and either would be good match-up vs Auburn
Music City- South Carolina: If Cocks lose to Clemson then it's either Birmingham or Shreveport, again
Liberty- Arkansas: Good season and offensive fireworks guaranteed w/Petrino vs C-USA champ
Independence- Georgia: Will their fans care or show up? Big time question Tennessee: At 6-6 not sure Vol fans will show up much either

And now, your moment of zen

A guy in a bar leans over to the guy next to him and says, "Wanna hear a good Clemson joke?"

The guy next to him replies, "Well before you tell that joke, you should know something. I'm 6' tall, 200 lbs., and I am a Clemson grad. The guy sitting next to me is 6' 2" tall, weighs 225, and he's a Clemson grad. And the fella next to him is 6' 5" tall, weighs 250, and he's a Clemson grad. Now, you still wanna tell that joke?"

The first guy says, "No, not if I'm gonna have to explain it three times."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

College Football Review 11/18: INT changes everything, again; bowls; you've been Harbaugh'd, again; mediocre supremacy; unrequited horn love

Carolina 14, #1 Florida 24: So close, yet so far
As the clock hit 0:00 to end the third quarter the Gamecocks had the ball at the Florida 22 yard line with a 3rd & 2 to go upcoming, but as the clock hit 0:00 at the end of the game the Gators emerged 24-14. What happened in that fourth quarter was one of the kind of times that shows that while Florida may not have a championship caliber offense, they still are a championship caliber team in their determination to win.
The first play of that fourth quarter was a Garcia pass thrown to Senior WR Moe Brown that he was unable to get a hold of that then bounced its way into the arms of Florida DE Trattou who took the ball and followed his blockers down to the Carolina 26 yard line (53 yards and a pivotal change of possession), eerily similar to Chris Tucker's game-changing interception return in the 2005 Carolina-Florida match-up. Florida took advantage of the turnover 5 plays later with a Tebow 1-yard touchdown sneak.
Carolina's offense the rest of the way: -20 yards.
Why this sudden change? Florida's defensive strategy adjusted following that interception. Up until crucial turnover the Florida defense primarily utilized corner-blitzes and other pressure from the outside, which Spurrier and Garcia were able to take advantage of due to that strategy sacrificing coverage. Time after time you saw Garcia hit a short-route receiver open, but if you look closer you'll see the man who was to cover that receiver was applying pressure. A quick review of the tape will show you this, but suddenly after the interception it all changes. From then on out the pressure of Florida came from the middle. This is surprising only in that it was not the strategy Florida employed from the outset. The Gamecock offensive line is a known weakness, but Florida didn't expose it until the final 15 minutes of the contest. It is unknown how much different the outcome would have been had Florida just used that scheme for four quarters, but one thing is for sure: it is also unknown if the same outcome would have resulted from Florida's first scheme being used for four quarters.
At the end of the day I can assess my Carolina Gamecocks thusly: We've got the quarterback, the receivers, the running backs, the defense, just not the offensive line. It is a painfully recurring theme.

Bowl Game Breakdown
To figure out the bowl game scenarios we need to figure out the conference breakdown. Here are the SEC teams with current records followed by remaining schedule:

Alabama (10-0): Tennessee-Chattanooga, @ Auburn, SEC Championship vs Florida
Florida (10-0): Florida International, Florida State, SEC Championship vs Alabama
LSU (8-2): @ Ole Miss, Arkansas
Ole Miss (7-3): LSU, @ Mississippi State
Auburn (7-4): Alabama
Arkansas (6-4): Mississippi St (Little Rock), @ LSU
Georgia (6-4): Kentucky, @ Georgia Tech
Kentucky (6-4): @ Georgia, Tennessee
South Carolina (6-5): Clemson
Tennessee (5-5): Vanderbilt, @ Kentucky
Mississippi St (4-6): @ Arkansas (Little Rock), Ole Miss
Vanderbilt (2-9): @ Tennessee

First let's agree that neither Vandy nor Mississippi St will go bowling. OK, that's settled.
Second here's the bowl games listed in order or selection:

BCS at-large, if applicable
Citrus ("CapitalOne")
Peach ("Chik-fil-a")
Music City
*- Outback and Cotton get first pick from East and West divisions respectively unless agreement otherwise, but neither is obligated to select by division

So here is the breakdown by bowl game:
BCS- Florida, Alabama: Winner of SECCG in National Title Game, Loser will be at-large
Citrus- LSU vs Ole Miss winner (assuming each win the other game on their schedule, should)
Outback- Tennessee (if they win out, likely), Georgia (if they win out somehow), or LSU/Auburn (if otherwise)
Cotton- LSU vs Ole Miss loser OR Auburn (if they beat Bama especially) OR Tennessee (if 1-1 rest of the way)
Peach- Ole Miss (if they fall this far) OR Georgia OR South Carolina (if W vs Clemson) OR Auburn
Music City- Georgia OR Kentucky OR South Carolina OR Arkansas OR Auburn
Liberty- Georgia OR Kentucky OR South Carolina OR Arkansas OR Auburn
Independence- Georgia OR Kentucky OR South Carolina OR Arkansas OR Auburn Georgia OR Kentucky OR South Carolina OR Arkansas OR Auburn

The end gets really muddled because after LSU's 8-2 the other records could vary between 9 wins or 6.
Here's what I think happens:
BCS- Florida, Alabama: not gonna pick the winner, but they will be in BCS
Citrus- LSU: Need to beat Ole Miss this weekend, which I think they will, to lock this one up
Outback- Tennessee: They should take care of VU and UK, and at 7-5 w/momentum they get this one
Cotton- Ole Miss: they're going here, change of venue would negate the return to same bowl game
Peach- Georgia: they should go 1-1, but even season-ending loss to Tech shouldn't keep them out of ATL
Music City- South Carolina: I think they beat Clemson, but even if they don't I think this is most likely
Liberty- Auburn: A win over Bama and/or an SC loss vaults Auburn big time
Independence- Arkansas: Best geographic fit for Shreveport and Arky should be happy to be back bowling Kentucky: I assume Cats lose last two to go 6-6, this game will get the left-over

It's important for me to add that one reason Carolina could end up in Nashville regardless is that since it is an SEC vs ACC game there is a distinct possibility of Carolina vs UNC match-up, which would be a great sell in terms of tickets and viewers. Also, I think it Tennessee splits their last two games to go 6-6 there is a strong possibility that the Vols will fall to either Shreveport or Birmingham, as bowl games want teams that will bring out-of-town fans to stay in their hotels and buy stuff. Last year the Music City Bowl was perhaps their worst nightmare with hometown Vandy vs perennial poor-traveling BC. This helps Carolina as the Vols figure to be up for most of the same bowl game slots either way. Also, I've eliminated anything higher than the Peach Bowl for the Gamecocks for a number of reasons. Beat Clemson and it's Peach or Music City, lose to Clemson and we'll be hoping we end up in Memphis. Just please don't end up in Shreveport, only thing there is casinos and apparently the occasional UFO.

Three final thoughts of the week
"Mr. Harbaugh, we've got a few calls on hold for you when you have a moment."
So the hottest name in college football right now looks like Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Just off hanging a double-nickel on the Trojans it seems the Cardinal are alive for the Pac-10 title, but more apparently it seems every big name job will be offered Harbaugh's way. Here's my two cents of advice for him: stay. It's that simple, just stay at Stanford. If you were at Northwestern or Vanderbilt I'd say just leave, but Stanford can be competitive. Stanford has facilities, their brand new stadium for one. More importantly, at Stanford you can build a winner and not be fired once a couple of down years come around due to the natural cycle of college football. More importantly, Stanford could really use some stability. Ty Willingham once gave up the gig and has to be regretting everything but the paychecks since.
Another quick point about Harbaugh needs to be made. Some have criticized him for going for two while leading 48-21, a blatent attempt to hang a half-hundred on Pete Carroll's defense. The problem is that against anyone else it would be a valid criticism, but we are talking about Pete Carroll and Southern Cal here. The same Southern Cal team and coach that many times over went for fourth downs and touchdowns while beating teams when they could. You pour it on when you can, because you want him to feel the kind of embarrassment he once dealt and will likely deal again. Harbaugh's got just the right testicular fortitude to handle it all.

Congratulations Clemson, you're above mediocre, too bad mediocre is so down this season
Make no mistake, CJ Spiller is being talked about nationally as a Heisman Trophy candidate and Clemson appears poised to pack their bags for the ACC Championship Game in Tampa. It's worth noting that Spiller didn't emerge until the Tigers won at Miami (FL) in overtime after the season's mid-point. Clemson started the season with a seemingly half-hearted attempt to hype Spiller for the hardware, but outward appearances were that this team could not win the kinds of games needed to showcase his talents. It should be noted that Spiller is a special kind of player, and should get some votes for ACC Player of the Year and make the All-ACC Team. The problem is that Georgia Tech RB Jonathan Dwyer has more yards (1203 to 836), more touchdowns (11 to 6), and a higher per-carry average (6.6 to 5.5) than Spiller. So I ask you this question, should the Heisman Trophy winner be the second best running back in their own conference? How about the being fourth in rushing yardage in conference? I submit that if the Heisman comes out of the ACC that Jonathan Dwyer should get the award. Yes Spiller leads the conference in all-purpose yardage, but Dwyer is in a triple-option offense that does not throw the ball very often and even then never to the running back.
As far as Clemson finally winning their division for an appearance in the ACC Championship Game? Read these standings and explain to me where to be impressed:

Team Conf Overall
* - Clemson5-27-3
* - Boston College4-27-3
Florida State3-45-5
x - Wake Forest2-54-7
x - North Carolina State1-54-6
x - Maryland1-52-8

You're seeing that correctly, it's perfectly possible that only Clemson and BC will go bowling unless FSU can beat Maryland this weekend, and those bottom four please careful as they can induce vomiting.

Horned Frogs Horned, Royally
The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, which as Lee Corso said are actually lizards, seem destined to finish 12-0 and win the Mountain West Conference. They will also likely play in a BCS bowl game, but not the BCS National Championship Game. Most years there are BCS conference teams that are dominant enough that it's not rational to call for a non-automatic qualifier to participate in the National Title chase. This year is different, this year there is no consensus stellar team. In the SEC we have Florida and Alabama, whose defenses are stellar, but their offenses seem like vintage 1923 without opposing a grinder every week on the other side. The Texas Longhorns scores show dominance, but the rest of their conference has greatly disappointed a lot of people off their strong 2008 campaign. Oregon and Ohio State have lost too many games to get either the Big Ten or Pac-10 into the title game. Cincinnati and Georgia Tech give the Big East and ACC respectively some cache, but for them the rest of the conference doesn't provide a good foundation for the argument. I'm not saying TCU belongs in the National Title Game, I'm just saying they belong in the conversation, which is the best we can do without a play-off.

Btw, here's what a play-off would look like by my plan:

First Round (Jan1)
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati/Big East Champ vs Georgia Tech/ACC Champ
Sugar Bowl: Alabama/SEC Champ vs Texas Christian/Non-automatic qualifier #1-Mountain West Champ
Fiesta Bowl: Texas/Big XII Champ vs Boise State/Non-automatic qualifier #2-WAC Champ
Rose Bow: Oregon/Pac-10 Champ vs Ohio State/Big Ten Champ
Semifinals (Jan 8)
Eastern Semifinal (Atlanta, GA) - Orange Bowl Champ vs Sugar Bowl Champ
Western Semifinal (San Diego, CA)- Fiesta Bowl Champ vs Rose Bowl Champ
Final (Jan 15)
National Championship Game (Indianapolis, IN)- Eastern Semifinal Winner vs Western Semifinal Winner

It's that easy!

Here's your moment of zen...

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Monday After: 11/09

First Quarter Issues Resolved : Third Quarter Issues Revealed
November Swoon? There is just no other way to put other than the month of November has been the most detrimental month for approaching a decade now, and that's just because before then it was often a lost season in October. Really there is only one way I can reasonably address the feelings of Gamecock Nation:


Third Quarter Collapse In a nutshell there was again a single quarter where the entire game was simply lost. As a reminder, Tennessee's 21 turnover-induced points put the Gamecocks in a 21-0 hole from which they never recovered last week. In this game the first quarter went reasonably well with an early Spencer Lanning field goal and an Arkansas touchdown to make it 7-3 Hogs at the end of the first. The second went better as the teams were able to even the score at 10 going into halftime. Then came the disaster. The fourth quarter started with the Razorbacks leading 26-16, the Gamecocks ran the ball exactly once the entire quarter, and Louisville Atlanta Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino's squad emerging as the victor 33-16.

Stats that don't lie Examining the detailed box score would show you that the yardage totals indicate a close game. Arkansas won the total yardage 405-380, passing yardage 329-327, and the rushing battle 76-53. Both team rush 2.1 yards per carry, and so the disparity in rushing yardage is simply a result of different in attempts. Here is the series of drives that comprise the third quarter you need to know about to tell the story of the game:

- SC - 1 play, 80 yards, Garcia 80-yd pass to Jeffrey TD (botched PAT), 16-10
- AR - 11 plays, 73 yards, Mallet 1-yd run TD (PAT good), 17-16
- SC - 7 plays, 41 yards, Garcia INT in endzone, 17-16
- AR - 7 plays, 80 yards, Green 2-yd run TD (PAT good), 24-16
- SC - 3 plays, -10 yards, Maddox recovered fumble in endzone SAFETY, 26-16
quarter ended on ensuing Arkansas possession

You can see it all there. An 80 yard bomb from Garcia to Jeffrey set-up what was supposed to be a high-scoring quarter, and possibly more, of offense. Instead the Gamecocks followed up Arkansas' TD with an INT thrown into the end zone from the Arkansas 25 on 1st and 10. From there things just feel apart as even 24-16 was still a one score game. Then on a first down following a nice first down pass to Wesley Saunders the ball was snapped over Garcia's head, he was unable to recover it outside the end zone, but Brian Maddox was able to recover it for a safety to prevent a defensive touchdown.

Three College Football Thoughts for the Week

Did you say over? Okay, this one is a two for one deal. First, while watching some other games I heard an ESPN host break into the game to give the score of the Cincinnati-Connecticut game, which was 30-10 Bearcats at the half, but was it? The Huskies would eventually lose 47-45, but were a two-point conversion away from tying the game at 38 in the final minutes. Also, following Southern Cal's loss at Oregon last week it was pronounced that their hopes to continue their Pac-10 title streak were done, but were they? Right now the Trojans sit at two losses, behind only Oregon and Arizona (one loss each). Oregon lost just this past weekend at Stanford, and still have Oregon State (the biggest thorn in their side the past decade) left on the schedule. Arizona? Well, Southern Cal hasn't played them yet. Can you see it now? Can you see the three-way tie coming where Southern Cal wins the tie-breaker? I can : it's not over.

They aren't who we thought they were Going into the season the general assumption was the Florida was poised for another title run, and that Alabama could be as well if they could find replacements at quarterback and running back. Well, both now find themselves on the verge of another National Championship Semifinal SEC Title Game showdown. Florida's offense lost three cogs: Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, and Dan Mullen. The first two are players and the third the offensive coordinator. Mullen is leading a dormant program seemingly in the right direction in Starkville, Harvin is providing a spark to a potential Super Bowl team in Minneapolis, and for Murphy we're just going to say no one is getting the Raiders out of the cellar anytime soon. The Gator offense looks sluggish and predictable, but is getting by on a tremendously talented defense loaded with experience. Alabama has found their running back, as Ingram should be a Heisman Trophy contender at year's end, but their quarterback leaves something to be desired (four touchdowns to three interceptions in six conference games). Yet they will play for a berth in the BCS National Championship game because they can stop you, even if you can stop them.

Since we all need a reminder I've already mentioned that the Southern Cal Trojans appear to be in position to sneak back into the Pac-10 title race we should also mention the Big 11 Ten appears to be once again in the hands of Ohio State. Thanks to Penn State blowing it at home vs the Buckeyes 24-7 and Iowa finally losing both the game and their quarterback who missed most of the loss and will likely miss the next game... at Ohio State. Since we all need a reminder, here's a Rose Bowl preview:


and here:

and now your moment of zen!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Tuesday Vent 11/03/09

Three from the outside
Urban Values
The annual Florida-Georgia game (aka: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Fruit Punch Party) ended on Saturday as it always does: with Georgia losing again and sportsmanship being the biggest loser on the weekend. Each year one side or the other does something that just intensifies the rivarly: team celebration after the first touchdown, calling timeouts with the game well in hand to allow fans to cheer louder and demoralize, or wearing black helmets and pants for the first time in school history
The real story this time is that Florida Senior LB Brandon Spikes was caught by the CBS cameras gouging the eyes of Georgia RB Washaun Ealey after a play when the score was 31-10 in Florida's favor. What this continues is a pattern of what can only be called unsportsmanlike conduct in this heated rivalry. Here's the vent - Florida coach Urban Meyer suspended Brandon Spikes... for a half... against Vanderbilt. It might be a stronger punishment to just not allow him ice cream for a month or to take his video games away for a week. At the end of the day, Urban Meyer is a joke on this, because anyone with any sense of reality and perspective on life that extends beyond winning the next game would know that anything less than a full game suspension is an empty gesture that begs for further actions not to be affected by this punishments.

Judge for yourself:

This is not NASCAR
NASCAR just doesn't seem satisfied ruining their schedule, Bristol, Labor Day, and alienating their base. They decided to ruin Talladega, and thus the AMP Energy 500. NASCAR decided that after restrictor-plate races (aka: the only NASCAR races that had not had their souls removed already) they needed to take some extra special measures in the vein of driver safety. To that end they told drivers in pre-race meetings that they would be strictly enforcing penalties for aggressive driving, most notably bump-drafting in the corners, that had up until that morning been just, well, racin'. The result? Well, with 50 laps remaining in the race there were very few cars out of the race, mostly start-and-park operations. So what happens when more cars are on the track at restrictor-plate races towards the end than usual? What happens is the big one happens with 50 laps to go, and the follow-up bigger wrecks occur right around the time the race would normally be settling into what would usually becomes the final stages. Instead a major red flag clean up happened during those final stages, and the race never really came to the dramatic finish it normally becomes and so richly deserves.

The most mindless banter of all
I like watching baseball, but I hate when managers are questioned on in-game management or pitching decisions that involve far more than simply numbers and statistics. This year's World Series is the perfect example. Here are the two managers who must suffer from the endless fish bowl that is baseball in two of the three big Northeast media markets:

Charlie Manuel is the manager for the Phillies, the reigning World Champions (trust me, I watched every game, pissed off after four of them). Manuel has been questioned primarily for his decisions regarding the starting pitchers, most notably Cliff Lee. The former Cy Young winner was lights-out in Game 1 giving the Phillies their lone victory in the first three games. The problem is with the entire sports world watching the Yankees have started their ace CC Sabathia for Game 1 and 4 with Game 7 a decision already made. Many thought Manuel should start Lee on the same schedule, but there's a problem with this decision. The problem is that Lee has no positive history of three days' rest, and in recent history that theory has a more than losing record.

Joe Girardi is the manager of the annoying new yorkers Yankees, the team with the highest payroll in the history of the game (trust me, it's just sickening). Girardi has shockingly been questioned for starting A.J. Burnett on three days' rest, but undoubtedly had Burnett won game 5 (and the series, incidentally) there would be no one questioning Girardi.

My point is this: Let's just watch the games and enjoy. There's a distinct possibility these two managers could both have rings by the end of the week, and could very easily meet again next year about this time. Bottom line? Shut up and play ball.

Personal vents
South Carolina Gamecocks (31-13 loss at 3-4 Tennessee): With all the talk about New Carolina and all the Lane Kiffin trash talked in the off-season this game should've been one with no need for motivation. Instead I saw the same listless end-of-the-season Carolina squad I've seen the last few years. The good news? Still three games left to prove me wrong, now do it.
Jacksonville Jaguars (30-13 loss at 0-6 Tennessee): Jeff Fischer is a fantastic coach and his team looks its best when he has time to fully prepare them. Vince Young is a fantastic athlete who is limited in the passing game and mental fortitude, but that athleticism when combined with confidence makes him a tough out regardless of any other limitation. All that said we should all acknowledge Jacksonville's passing defense may be the worst in the NFL, their run defense had its first off day of 2009 (first time this season they allowed a player to run for more than 83 yards as Chris Johnson gashed them for over 200), and the offense that seems so good and balanced at home has a hard time traveling. At the end of the day the problem is that the depth of multiple draft classes simply isn't there, and that is hopefully starting to change.

My Top Three Tweets of the Week
1. When Aikman says "that's one of greatest catches I've ever seen" my first thought is "if only he remembered the 90's"
2. Agreeing to a running clock has to be the worst right decision to make in high school football, but necessary when down 55-14 in the 3rd qtr
3. No need to worry Panthers fans, I started Arizona's Defense in my money league, just what they needed

Good night everybody

Sunday, November 1, 2009

College Football Thoughts: Week 9

South Carolina loses in Knoxville 31-13
Stats lie A quick look at the box score and you'd think South Carolina would've been in the game. The Gamecocks actually out-gained the Volunteers 365-341 in total yards. A harder look would tell the whole story, as 300 yards of that total Carolina offense was through the air on 25 completions (50 attempts). Tennessee added 142 yards passing, but won the rushing battle 199 to 65. Only two more stats really matter in this game that explain the rest, 4 Carolina turnovers and 24 Tennessee points off those turnovers.
Papa Kiffin bringing home the bacon The Tennessee defense did a tremendous job early by creating turnovers by using the fundamental concept of putting a helmet on the ball. The first fumble by back-up TE Justice Cunningham at the time just seemed like a tough spot for the young guy, but then the team's leading rusher (Kenny Miles) and even Stephen Garcia fumbled to show it was the defense causing turnovers. Sure the Gamecocks could've held on to the ball better, but it was Tennessee's defense that caused the fumbles plain and simple.
Just slide I know Stephen Garcia prefers to fall forward rather than slide when running and I know Spurrier has endorsed the method as it doesn't lose yardage, but please slide. I know I've never played a down of organized football, but I know you can't fumble if you slide. That's just a fact so please do it.
This offense is not good enough to spot the other team points Quite simply this offense is far better than it has been in previous years, but that doesn't mean they can just gift-wrap 21 points to start the game and expect to come back. None of that even takes into account that Tennessee's defense was going to do a good job keeping Garcia & Co under control.
Always look on the bright side of life South Carolina did score the first offensive touchdown against Tennessee in 10 quarters for play.
The road ahead The next three games are all going to be tough for the Gamecocks, but will make the difference between another ho-hum season and something special to build on. Next week a early start in Fayetteville is the first step. The Hogs are coming off a 63-20 pasting of Eastern Michigan. Make no mistake, Ryan Mallett is the best quarterback our defense will see all year (although there is still that QB/FB/LB we play in a couple weeks).

Defending the computers
Shut up Craig James For the second week in a row I caught an ABC regional broadcast where Craig James and his play-by-play counterpart indicated that the computers were discounting Southern Cal's win at Ohio State due to what the Buckeyes had done since, basically arguing that you have to count the game as it was then not what we see it as now. The problem with that is simple: you are counting the game as you thought it would be based on the human biases of tradition and hype.
Computer formulas don't include hype The computer don't give a rat's behind that Ohio State has been to seven consecutive BCS bowl games or that they've won thirty-five Big Ten titles. The computers see a team that has no quality wins, and one that incidentally had just barely escaped Navy as their only game prior to their showdown with the Trojans. The computers are unbiased, and that's why I defend the computers, because they don't calculate hype, tradition, or the name on the front of the jerseys.
The real problem is the voters Each week the AP, Coach's, and Harris Interactive Poll are released, and each week we collectively scratch our heads. Take last week's Coach's Poll as just one example: After week 7 the top three were:
1. Florida: won at Mississippi State 29-19 (close game for three quarters)
2. Alabama: won vs Tennessee 12-10 (two blocked FGs, on missed)
3. Texas: won at Missouri 41-7
I know Missouri isn't a great team, but neither is Mississippi State or Tennessee. The problem is that the top three went unchanged for the Week 8 poll. What?
Iowa the new Silicon Valley Another problem the national media has with the computers is that 5 of the 6 computer polls had the Hawkeyes at #1. That would be a problem if not for the fact that the children of the corn are undefeated, and have beaten Penn State and also I'm sure their win over Iowa State (doing well, and beat Nebraska) to get their computer average that high. Here's the thing, the week before 4 of the 6 computer polls ranked Florida #1. This week, expect some other team to be loved by the computers, don't bang on the computers because they fluctuate. If people did the same thing we'd have a true poll, based on resume and how you look each week.
Second worst story of polls Last year when Oklahoma played at Oklahoma State a newspaper writer who holds an AP vote was asked who he thought would play for the national title. He said at that moment he'd say Alabama (undefeated at that time) and Penn State. The man asking him the question asked why Penn State, to which the writer said "because they're undefeated" (the Nittany Lions had lost two weeks earlier at Iowa).
Worst story of polls Earlier this year I was listening to ESPN Radio and they were talking to their "college insider" Joe Schad. They asked Schad about the idea that polls shouldn't be released until week 4 or something like that, but he said it was a stupid argument that held no merit. Later in the same interview he was asked about ranking Notre Dame so high, to which he argued that he ranked them that high because they would finish that high due to schedule. I spent the next 25 minutes screaming at the radio... "He should not be allow to vote!!! Fire him now!!!". You see, that's the reason people shouldn't vote on these things, because each voter votes a different way and almost none vote on what happened last week and how the team looks right now alone.

Three other stories from Saturday
Quack, quack, quack, quack For those who are unaware, the Oregon Ducks destroyed Pete Carroll's Trojan defense 47-20, scoring more points against Southern Cal then any team has since Carroll was hired. That makes four straight losses in the state of Oregon for the Trojans, and it also effectively ends the Southern Cal strangle-hold on the Pac-10. It may result in Pete Carroll not playing in a BCS bowl, but it's far too early to be sure. By the way, anyone playing better than Oregon right now? I think not.
Tebow's tainted record Tim Tebow scored his 50th and 51st rushing touchdown to set the new all-time SEC rushing TD record over Herschel Walker. Here's the problem, Herschel only played 3 seasons, only played 11 regular season games not 12, there was no SEC Championship game which also counts (Tebow will be playing in his 3rd this year), and bowl games did not count back then. End result, Herschel Walker remains the most prolific scorer on the ground in SEC history regardless of what the record books say.
In heaven there is no beer, because they drink it here every week heavily Iowa just keeps on winning, despite the kind of turnovers that kill many teams (*cough* Cocks *cough*). They just keep on playing and finding ways to win. I will say this now, if Iowa does find itself undefeated at season's end I dare not be the team playing them in a bowl game, because can anyone say for sure they won't win again? I think not.