*Content Removed For Language

      Dafuq Did LSU Do?

     So LSU pulled the trigger. They have been teasing us with it for some time. The trigger was pulled and a guy that won 77% of his games and a national title at LSU was canned. No, not Nick Saban, the OTHER guy that won 77% of his games and a national title at LSU, Les Miles. So why would LSU fire Les Miles, you would ask? Because of expectations, silly. This is a program that won 62% of their games and zero national titles in the 40 years before Saban and Miles. Yes, I know Miles had slipped a bit in recent seasons. Bear Bryant went 12-10-1 in a two year stretch at Bama. Before that, he went 16-5-1. I wasn’t alive then, but I am sure some people were grumbling that he lost it at that point. All he did was win 3 national titles in the next 9 years. The Bear also went 8 years without a bowl win. You know who lost 7 bowl games in a row? Tom Osborne right before he went 60-3 and won 3 national titles in 5 years. Speaking of Nebraska, they fired a coach that won 75% of their games and played for a national title, because they “didn’t want to gravitate toward mediocrity.” Well, in the 13 seasons since, they have lost at least 4 games every year. That’s pretty fucking mediocre.

LSU has a &^*%ing Plan!

     LSU dropped their coach 4 games into the season, after two close losses and a couple of wins. Why did they drop a coach midway through the season, a rarity in college football? Because they could promote their defensive line coach, a guy with previous SEC West experience. He has THREE wins in 24 games, you just can’t pass up talent like that! Or, a much more likely option, is they have a guy in mind. Oklahoma, Texas and USC all could be wanting a new coach at the end of the year.(Not sold on Texas just yet). Does getting rid of Miles now give them an edge for the guy that is likely number 1 on their list, Tom Herman? The guy is in Mensa, he knows exactly where his stock is, and he is in the middle of a potential playoff season. I don’t think the bright lights of Baton Rouge are going to sway him to rush to a decision. So what’s their plan B?

There Are No %&*^ing Guarantees in Life

     So if Tom doesn’t work out, there is no consensus number 2 guy. If they don’t get him, then you have factions in the boosters trying to get “their” guy as the next coach. This can KILL a program. When one guy is selected, the boosters backing the other guys get a case of the butthurtitis. Any mistake the new coach makes, and they pounce and say “I told you so.” It doesn’t even have to be a loss, it can be not covering a couple of spreads in a row. Some of the best programs have slipped into this mess. Michigan with Rich Rod, Texas since Mack Brown, and 20 years before Mack Brown, and so on. I don’t want that to happen. I think college football is better when LSU is a contender. Unfortunately, I think that EXACTLY what is going to happen. Because history tells me winning 77% of your games at LSU, a national title and playing for another is pretty darn good. The next guy is more likely to win 62% of his games, and not play for a title.

Week Three, Time For Totally Legit Rankings

Yes, I know it’s too early to do rankings, but I am going to predict how the season is going to finish, anyway. I am not going to rank them 1 through 25, because I always think that’s silly. How can anyone really know if 21 is better than 22 if they play completely different schedules? So I am going to do who I think is going to be in the playoffs, the teams I think are knocking on the playoff’s door, and some good teams. Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3.

These rankings aren’t who I would have in the playoffs if the season ended today, but who I think are going to be there at the end of the year. Same with the other tiers. It’s based on what they have done so far, how much respect I have for their coach, how much talent they have, and how much respect I have for the program. When all things are equal, I am going to pick the teams that I like the most.

Tier 1

     I think Alabama is all but a lock out of the SEC. I would be shocked if they don’t win the SEC. There is a slim possibility that Bama could lose this year, based on the performance of the other teams as much as how well Bama has played. Even if they do lose, I don’t see another dominate SEC team to challenge them for the title and the guaranteed playoff spot that comes with. Ohio State is my pick out of the Big Ten, based on rule number 5. Michigan or Michigan State could win the East, too. I am starting to believe in Nebraska and Wisconsin. They might not be as good as the teams in the east, but could win a one off for the Big Ten title. Louisville is looking really good at this point. Now time for the coin flip for the 4th spot. Houston, or Stanford. At Oregon, At Notre Dame and At UCLA. Houston it is. So my way too early playoff predictions for week three are Bama, OSU, Houston and Louisville. Which means I think we will have a two time playoff winner this season. I am going with Ohio State, again because of rule number 5. And they didn’t play a great game to beat Oklahoma on the road by 3 scores. Watching them have to take a delay of game penalty in the second quarter because they were out of timeouts was painful. Their ceiling is really high.

Tier 2

     Clemson hasn’t shown me much yet this year, but I have faith in Dabo and even more faith in Watson. Had Louisville only won by a couple of touchdowns, I would probably have put Clemson in the playoffs. Michigan State answered some questions against Notre Dame. Michigan has looked impressive, too. The SEC might still have the best team, but I think the Big Ten is going to be the most exciting conference this year. I really only see Stanford competing for a title out of the Pac 12, and even then I am not sold on them. I’ll put them in the playoff conversation because I think the Big 12 is all but dead at this point. If Houston loses to Louisville, then the Pac 12 champ is almost certainly in.

Tier 3

     These are supposed to be the teams that wouldn’t completely shock me if they played their way into the playoff picture. Man, this tier is awfully empty at this point in the season. I just can’t pull the trigger on anyone out of the Big Ten west. Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota could possibly do it. The same with Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas and LSU out of the SEC. WVU might win 9 or 10 games in a save the coach’s job season, and Texas isn’t quite dead yet, but this tier 3 picture is very muddy, to say the least. Toledo has looked pretty impressive this season and using the graduate transfer rule to great effect. They get BYU next, and if they can win that, and run the MAC, would they be in the conversation if Houston plays their way out of it, and the Big 12 and Pac 12 champ have 2 or more losses? I hope we find out.

Gang Of Nine Redux

Back in 1979, a New York Times reporter wrote an article about the gang of nine. http://www.nytimes.com/1979/09/16/archives/an-appeal-to-break-up-that-ol-gang-of-nine.html?_r=0 . It’s a great article, but if you don’t want to read it, I will paraphrase it real quick. Going by the rankings, 9 teams had dominated college football. It would be easy for a college football fan to name them, Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC, Michigan, and Ohio State. These teams won a large majority of the championships, and were much more likely to finish in the top 10. He went on to predict the season, guessing Michigan would challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten title, Georgia would battle Bama for the SEC and so on. His only basis was that the gang of nine always win. The final top 4 were Alabama, USC, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Kinda proving his point.

A New Era, or At Least A Few Additions

     Enter the 80s, and you added a few teams to the gang of 9. Florida State and Miami in particular. Florida State finished in the top 4 14 straight seasons. Miami finished 1 or 2 in 10 out of 20 seasons. Florida won a title in 96 and was close a few more times. With the split championship the traditional powers were still winning titles. So did the new kids on the block out of Florida, and even Georgia Tech, Clemson, Georgia, Washington and BYU got titles, or at least a share of one.  Then came the BCS. It was your gang of 9, the new kids on the block and LSU, Auburn and Tennessee winning the titles. 3 programs that were well regarded from the SEC, a traditionally strong conference.

Enter The Playoffs, Where We Settle It on the Field!

     We are now into our third season of the playoff era. Sure, the first two playoffs were won by two of the original gang of nine, but that was just a fluke, wasn’t it? I mean there is unprecedented parity in college football. FCS teams have knocked off top 15 teams multiple times, and took others to over time. It barely raises the meter when a non power 5 knocks off a power 5. After watching Louisville smash Florida State, it would be easy for their fans to dream of bringing home the trophy. And this could happen. It probably wont. Whether by design, or by the landscape of college football, more people will be invited to the dance, but it just got easier for your traditional powers to win it all.

     In the old days, you needed to win all your games, or possibly have 1 explainable loss. This was very difficult to do for all but the most loaded of teams. It’s the nature of football and 20 year old kids. They don’t give 100% every week in practice, or even in every game. Having numbers really upped those odds. Now, you still have to do it, though a loss can be more forgivable. The real problem comes in for the “lesser” schools once the end of the regular season hits. Most will have to play a conference championship game against a ranked opponent. Then, if they manage that win, they have to win back to back games against a top 4 opponent. That’s hard for anyone to do, but much harder for a team that is at a depth disadvantage to begin with. Ohio State famously won the first playoff with a backup QB, after the original back up QB went down with injury. Does anyone on the planet really believe Louisville would be within 50 of Bama if Louisville is on their third string QB at that point?

     Match ups are a huge part of college football. There are pro style teams. There are hybrid teams that run a pro style offense out of the pistol. There are triple option teams, and teams that run every other type of offense you can think of. There are just as many defenses. A schematic advantage lets David beat Goliath. If David then has to follow that win up with another Goliath, but a Goliath with a schematic advantage, we’ll be burying poor David. Recruiting rankings don’t matter much in one game. In a three game stretch against championship caliber opponents, it means everything. Having a bigger pool of players lets a coach lessen a schematic disadvantage, lessen injury problems and lessen focus problems. Kids that want to win championships generally don’t go to Louisville. It’s easy to see how a kid could be happy just making it to the playoffs, or securing a spot in the NFL. Or, gasp, being happy with the education he is receiving, and just soaking up the moment.

     If I had a vote, I would vote Louisville number 1 right now. Predicting them to win the championship? I would almost guarantee it’s not going to happen..Without looking too much into it, it would be easy to pick Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State to win the playoff. Then I would pick Michigan State, Stanford, Wisconsin, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee over Louisville. While they are not as good as football teams at week three, they are deeper.

I Need a New Team, So I am Now a…

I love my Buckeyes, but that’s just one game a week during the season. And let’s face it, if the Bucks are contenders for a Big Ten title, that’s really only 4 or 5 games all season. If they are national title contenders, it’s really only 2 or 3 games until the playoffs. That’s just not enough football. They are still my favorite team, but I need a little sompten sompten on the side. I love the Browns, and really like the Bengals. The Browns are a disappointment waiting to happen. The Bengals have potential, so I will watch some of both their games. But there are a few problems with them being my football concubine. I love college football, and watch it pretty much all day Saturday. I am a family man. Watching 4 hours, or more, of football on Sundays just isn’t going to fly. Call me whipped if you must. Another problem is these guys make so much money. Now I don’t count another man’s money, and I am probably one of the few “normal” people that are glad they make it. But it also makes the game about money. Guys change teams for contracts, they retire for health reasons instead of dying on the field and a boat load of other things I don’t particularly care for. Concussion sonsmussion, if these guys can’t tie their own shoes at 40, it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make. As I watch the game on TV from the safety of my living room, but not too close. Don’t want to damage the eyes.

Political Statement Incoming.

(Skip if you like to keep your politics and entertainment separate. I usually do, but I want to get this off my chest and it is relevant to why I picked another college team to root for.)

     Because I like to keep my politics and sports separate, these anthem protests are a little stomach turning. There is a time and place and a need to discuss police brutality and past oppression and current racism in this country. During our national anthem probably isn’t it. Our national anthem on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks certainly isn’t it, and only shows the selfishness of these millionaires and discredits the movement. I fully understand blacks were oppressed in this country, and we still have gains to make in regards to that. They(being certain players and activists, not black people) seem to think they have a patent on suffering, and slavery and everything victim. We all know this person, and we avoid them. “Hey, I had a bad day.” and before you describe anything that happens, they jump in with how they had a worse day. Your lung cancer isn’t near as bad as their eczema. Do you have any idea how much that stuff itches?

See, I went all political on a sports blog. I hate that. Separation of Church and State is a good thing. Separation of politics and sports should be equally a focus of our Constitution. Sure, college kids might even be more likely to make a political statement, but I can forgive it, because they are just kids. Getting F’ed by a system that lets college coaches be millionaire pros but God forbid a kid sells his own jersey. Another rant, another day.

And the Lucky Winner of My Fandom Is…

      I know there are a lot of people that root for their entire conference. I do that too, but with limits. It is VERY easy for me to root for Wisconsin one week(take that, LSU!) and then root for them to get beat by 500 the next week.(Their fans put batteries in marshmallows and throw them at opposing teams trying to take them out of the game). I want a team I can show real loyalty too. I thought about picking a d1aa team, I am sorry, I mean FCS team, but there aren’t any around here that I have any ties too. D2 and D3, the same thing. So I decided on a MAC team. Which MAC team was a little bit of debate.

     OU isn’t a far trip, just straight down 33. I know quite a few people that went there. I know nothing about their football team, however, other than Solich coaches there. At least I think he does. I do know he kinda got F’ed by Nebraska, and for certain he did coach at OU, but I can’t honestly say he still does. I know a few people from Bowling Green, too. A kid I grew up with actually made the top 10 plays of the week on ESPN while playing for them. Keylan Cates did a little fliparoo while scoring a touchdown. I just looked his stats up and he ended his career there with over 1800 yards. Nice. They also have the same color scheme as the Browns. Nice. Very “Ohio Football”. But I didn’t pick them.

     I went with the Toledo Rockets. The biggest reason is I always rooted for them to win, even if I wasn’t a fan. My uncle played there back before I was born. My father taught me about Chuck Ealey, when I was a young lad. Not because he was a great football player(he was) but because he was an oppressed black man. Denied opportunities based solely on his race. Who does that benefit? Someone that fails at a job he isn’t qualified for? Fuck, I went all politics again, my bad, back to football.

TLDR; Toledo is now my team on the side! I missed their first game, so my next blog post will be about their second game against Maine.

The Refs Blew the Oklahoma State game, and I am glad

I am not a fan of Central Michigan, nor do I drink haterade for Oklahoma State. I was happy CMU won, only because I almost always root for underdogs, if no pony in the race. I feel bad for the refs, because they know they goofed and feel terrible, probably. But I have a really good reason for being glad they blew it, and that’s because the rule is a terrible rule. Hopefully the rules committee will discuss it at the end of the season. You should not be able to win a game on an intentional penalty. Cheaters never prosper, or so we are told as kids. In any sporting environment, that should be the focus of the rules committee.

Mac Brown admitted to teaching his players to cheat. He didn’t word it like that, but that is what he was saying, and under the current rules, he is 100% correct. It’s 4th and long, his team is up and has the ball deep in their own territory. There are only 10 ticks on the clock. You can do a punt, which is potentially blocked(ask Michigan), you can do a run that gives the other team the ball, or you can do what he taught his players. And the correct play under the current rules. Call a pass, hold the ball as long as you can, and then throw it as high as you can out of bounds. Intentional grounding call? Who cares, just don’t do it in the end zone. As long as time expires, the game is over. On a play you intentionally cheated. Bad rule. Heck, you could even have a specialty package for when you are around the 50. Put your fasted guy in the shotgun, have him run backwards 40 yards, turn and toss the ball a foot in front of him. You could probably run 15 seconds off the clock that way. I don’t want to see a close game end that way anymore than I want to see a 3 point basketball game end with an intentional foul forcing a player to take 2 free throws. Intentional fouls should be 3 free throws in that situation. Don’t reward bad behavior, I.E intentional fouls. It’s not sports, it’s loop holes.

MORE BOWL GAMES

There isn’t much better than having the day off of work, propping my feet up at 11am, and watching college football till midnight. The following week of kissing my wife’s ass so she doesn’t divorce me isn’t so great, but it’s a sacrifice I make every year. It’s not just football games. It’s football games I have had a month to read about. Games that have a myriad of story lines. This region playing that, the big school vs. the small school, and so on. The problem with the current line up of bowl games is they are competing with pregame shows about the playoffs, and that takes away from just how great they are.

Move Them To Labor Day!

     With the playoffs, it’s a new world in college football. It’s time to think outside the box a bit. This year is the perfect year to discuss it, because we almost already have it. Lacking catchy titles named after fruit and flowers, we have a lot of great match-ups week one. Alabama vs. USC could be a Rose Bowl match up. Clemson vs. Auburn, LSU vs. Wisconsin and Kansas State vs. Stanford almost seem like rematches of bowl games from years gone by. Let’s just make it official. It doesn’t mean we have to stop playing the New Year’s bowls, but we could limit it to teams with winning records.

Lots of Options

     There are a variety of scheduling options to choose from. The old way, where the bowl committee invites teams they think will generate buzz would be great. There could be a way to include the preseason AP poll, and slot set match-ups every year. My preferred option would be incorporating it into the playoff system. Guarantee the big 5 conference champs are playoff bound, and then have 3 at large spots for an 8 game playoff. That way no one gets butt hurt too bad by losing opening weekend in a clash of titans. No seasons ruined week one. The Big Bowls and their money could still get the key games early, thus a diminished New Year’s Rose Bowl of number 9 vs 13 isn’t so costly.

Conference Show Down

     As I said, it’s a changing world. When I was a kid, no one cared how conferences fared. The joke here was I am a fan of Ohio State and whoever is playing Michigan. As recently as 2007, Buckeye fans cheered like the Super Bowl when Michigan lost to Appalachian State. I remember my dad turning beet red in the face, trying to explain that non conference losses to Big Ten schools cost the Buckeyes. The listener would nod for ten minutes as he tried to make his point, and then go back to the old joke. Well, now everyone roots for their conference. Why not settle it on the field?

     There are two ways it could be done. First, individual rotating head to head match-ups. A committee or the AP would rank each team in a conference, and then just play them based on seed. A point system could be implemented to weight the higher seed games a little more, but who wouldn’t tune into an Indiana vs Vandy match-up if the honor of the Big Ten and SEC was at stake? For the 6th conference, you could just use the non power 5 and the independents. The other option would be to compete the conferences in a point based challenge, with the number 1 from the Big Ten playing the number 1 from the SEC, then the number 2 from the Big Ten against the Pac 12 and so on. A rotation every year to insure different match-ups would be preferred, and a lot of math, which is why I am championing the head to head battles. A nice bonus to the latter plan, however, is the playoffs could be seeded based on the finish of the conferences, with the higher seed actually hosting a playoff came. It would give the “play in the snow” crowd what they want, plus let towns generate money that normally wouldn’t get to do so. Imagine the economic boost to Happy Valley if Penn State made the playoffs. Of course if the powers that be are worried about being able to handle the load of some of these smaller towns, the home field a venue could be of the conference’s choice, like Atlanta for the SEC.

     The third option would be to do both, one at the beginning of the year, and one at the end, and just kill a lot of the meaningless regular season games at the beginning of the year. Before the first bowl weekend, you could have an exhibition game to give teams a chance to tune up before the season, and the smaller schools their paycheck. You could also do a smaller version of the conference bowl challenge at the end of the year(like Thanksgiving Day Weekend), with possibly the champ putting their team into the playoffs or some such thing.

      It’s something to think about. Just don’t ask the wife, because I am sure she would say no.

WE’RE NUMBER TWO!

No one ever shouts that, but they should. One thing ESPN really hammers home in college football is, “Who is the BEST?” The best team, the best player, the best coach. They don’t know. After all the games are played, they still don’t know. They can say which team won the most games, though 99% of the time, there are at least 2 teams with that many wins. They can make up their phony strength of schedule stats and all that, but it still doesn’t tell us. In a 12 game season, we CAN’T know who the best team is. It’s just not possible. Especially when 4 or 5 or 6 of those games aren’t real games. If you beat Coastal Carolina by 50 does that mean you are better than the team that lost to Alabama by 5? Probably not.

    The same goes for players. Let’s take the ultimate QB challenge, Brady vs. Manning. Is Brady better because he has more titles? Manning better because he has more yards? Head to head? Who knows? They don’t play on the same team. They don’t play the same schedule, and they don’t play in the same stadium. All of this factors in, plus 100s of other things I didn’t mention. When I was a kid, Montana was the best ever, and it wasn’t open for debate. Why? Because he never lost a Super Bowl. However, in one of those Super Bowls, he threw a sure pick that would have cost his team the game. The second string corner dropped it. The first string corner was in a crack house at the time. That’s difference between Bengals number 1, and 49ers number 2 that year. That’s how close all these teams and players are, at least in regards to the best of the best. That’s why number 2 isn’t such a bad place. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

  YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME

     I get that. I also get that checkers is more popular than chess. We like it simple. Winner=winner, loser=loser and be done. And I am ok with that. I don’t believe in making excuses as to why you lost. Be happy you gave your best, and move on. If you didn’t give you best, that’s on you. However, there is no shame in second place. You shouldn’t be called a loser, when you have won way more than you lost. Probably someone that finished 23 places lower shouldn’t tell you that second place is the first loser. Certainly someone that couldn’t even make it to D1 should call you a loser.

     I am not saying everyone should get a trophy. When I was a kid, we all got ribbons for participating, a plaque for placing and a trophy for winning. That’s the way it should be. But we shouldn’t knock the kids for placing or participating. We should understand that we don’t know what each person went through to get to where they are. We shouldn’t over analyze it, because we can’t know everything, though. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to competition. We also shouldn’t dig too deep to see what they each had to go through, because there is no accounting for everything. Celebrate the winners, celebrate the “losers” and move on to the next year.

    We need more positive in this world, but not more PC positive. Honest to goodness positive, where we give credit where it’s due. The second place team worked their ass off, and because of circumstances that may, or may not, be their fault, they fell just short. Don’t call them losers, because they don’t deserve that. The deserve to be hailed as competitive and really good. Understand it’s really hard to win a championship. In the history of sports, the numbers are staggering how many teams don’t win the championship. It’s not always their fault. So I will be happy if my team finishes number 2 next year. Not as happy if the finished number 1, but happier than if they finish number 3. And that’s the way it should be. Win it all or bust might be great for a coin flip, but it’s not the way you should view a game where there are over 140 teams, that play 12-15 games, and there is an element of judging. Plus bad calls. Plus scheduling. Plus a million other factors that go into a college football season.