Thursday, September 28, 2006

Week 5 Useless Predictions:
Sleeping With The Enemy Edition

Rooting for Auburn, Tech, and Tennessee in the same week will be strange for sure.

Auburn -14 @ South Carolina
Loss. South Carolina 17-24 Auburn

Syracuse -5 v. Wyoming
Win. Syracuse 40-34 Wyoming (2OT)

Wazzu +17 v. USC

Win. Washington St. 22-28 USC

Cal -9 @ Oregon State
Win. Oregon St. 13-41 Cal

UCLA -24 v. Stanford
Win. UCLA 31-0 Stanford

Georgia -18 @ Ole Miss
Loss. Ole Miss 9-14 Georgia

Colorado +14 @ Mizzou
Loss. Missouri 28-13 Colorado

GT +9.5 @ Va. Tech
Win. Va. Tech 27-38 Ga. Tech

Michigan -9.5 @ Minnesota
Win. Minnesota 14-28 Michigan

Tennessee -13 @ Memphis
Win. Memphis 7-41 Tennessee

Total: 7-3 (70%)

YTD: 15-12-2 (55.5%)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Troubling Trend

Dexter Manley (for whom I wish a speedy recovery) would have been a great UGA player...

...because he wouldn't have read the press clippings after a big win about how great Georgia is.

I'm no Richt-hater who demands perfection normally reserved for deities; hell, I went to UGA during the Goff & Donnan eras, so I certainly have a massive appreciation for how good Coach Richt is and how much we have achieved in recent years. It is well known amongst Dawg faithful that for all of Coach Richt's various strengths & accomplishments, his weaknesses lie in game and clock management and occasionall play calling.

There is another troubling trend that I have noticed in recent years, and it occurred for the 4th time in less than 2 years this past weekend. Typically the pattern goes something like this:

1) Georgia does something very impressive in a football game

2) The slightly myopic Athens/Atlanta media (680, 790, AJC, etc.) cater to the more than slightly myopic Georgia fan base by overaccentuting the positive and somewhat ignoring realistic weaknesses.

3) Georgia's team seems to spend more time reading the press clippings and listening to the radio about how great they are than focusing on the upcoming opponent, over whom they are favored. A general consensus is established that Georgia will defeat said opponent easily.

4) Georgia comes out flat as hell/unfocused and sleepwalks against said opponent, which results in either a massively disappointing loss or an escape-by-the-skin-of-their-teeth, semi-embarrassing win that a good number of neutrals would say they deserved to lose.

Though certainly not nearly at stubborn
or utterly inept as this genius, Georgia has been
known to take its opponents far too lightly as well.

This certainly happened against Colorado. After 2 consecutive shutouts (impressive) over S. Carolina and UAB (perhaps they are not that great to begin with), Georgia's D is hailed by the media and UGA fanbase as the greatest thing since Zona's Desert Swarm 93, and certain destruction of the 27 point underdog Buffs is assumed. The talk turns from "Will Georgia win?" to "Will Colorado even score?", and the team seems to buy into the hype. They seem to think that all they have to do is show up and watch Ralphie run in order to win. Cue unfocused sleepwalking, flat out embarrassing play, and (fortunately in this case) miracle great escape.

Other recent examples off the top of my head:

2005. After an amazing performance destroys #3 LSU 34-14 in the SEC Championship Game, Georgia doesn't seem to take the Couchburners from WVU seriously, even though the Dawgs are only a modest 6 point favorite. The consensus is that Georgia will have no problems with a Big East team; after all, they are the SEC champions. By the time they wake up it is 0-28. Their valiant comeback is of the heroic-but-not-enough variety, 35-38.

2005. After completely dominating widely heralded #18 Boise State 48-13 to open the season, the talk is not of taking South Carolina seriously but rather of conference and national championships. Georgia, 17.5 point home favorites, come out flat and sleepwalk against a team that has historically played them tough and given them fits. They barely hold on and win the game 17-15 although I am sure that neutrals could argue that Spurrier's Cocks deserved to win.

2004. Georgia welcomes #13 LSU and completely annihilates them 45-16 in a nearly perfect performance. After this it is almost assumed as a given that Georgia will handle a fairly pedestrian (by their standards) #17 Tennessee team over whom they are favored by 12.5 points. One terribly unfocused performance later sees UGA lose 14-19 to the Vols.

Four times in 2 years seems like alot. Is this on the coaching staff or is is just part & parcel of dealing with 18-22 year old men? A little of both I would guess. And as fans we should all make a concerted effort to be a bit more realistic - for some reason Georgia fans tend to be more myopic than most. Finally the media need to be more realistic as well. Even the Gameday crew was playing up the whole "the only storyline here is if the Buffs will even score", when any rational neutral who did their homework would find that maybe South Carolina (barely beat Wofford at home) and UAB aren't the most dynamic offenses, and although Colorado lost at home to Arizona State 21-3 they moved the ball but had several turnovers including 2 inside the ASU 10 yard line. Herbstreit went so far as to mumble speculation that Colorado wouldn't get 100 yards on UGA's D, which is just a ridiculous statement. Hell 1-AA Western Kentucky got 193 yards and 12 points on our D.

I just hope that the next time a Georgia team does something really special, like blow the doors off of Tennessee or Florida or Auburn, that we ignore some of the insane hype that will surely ensue and come out and focus on the next opponent and take care of business.

Must focus. Always look (underdogs) eye.

Lord Byron Is Dead. Long Live Lord Byron.

Byron Nelson.

Plain and simple, one of the greatest golfers of all time and one of the kindest most gracious professional athletes ever in any sport. The Golf Channel website has an outstanding article about his life here. That and his Wikipedia article are must reads for anyone interested in his life.

There is "In the zone",
and then there's this dude in 1945.

He was most famous for his amazing 1945 season where he won an incredible 11 PGA Tour events in a row and 18 in one season (out of 31 tournaments entered), both records that most likely will never be broken (Hogan won 6 in a row in 1948 and Woods won 6 straight in 1999-2000). He also finished 2nd 7 times that year and never finished out of the top 10. Throw in 1944 and Nelson won 31 of the 54 events he entered, batting a cool .574 against the field over a 2 year stretch.

He won 52 PGA Tour events (6th all time) including 5 majors (2 Masters, US Open, 2 PGA), then after the 1946 season, while still at the top of his game, he retired at age 34 to work full time on his ranch. Raised in Texas, he always wanted to own a ranch and work it, and basically he played professional golf until he could earn enough money to live his dream. According to The Golf Channel, Nelson is quoted as saying:

"When I was playing regularly, I had a goal. I could see the prize money going into the ranch, buying a tractor, or a cow. It gave me incentive."

Amazing. Given his 10 year career that ended at 34, it is fair to say that if he played the Tour until age 50 like players in the modern era do, he would have the all time record for PGA Tour wins (82, Sam Snead) by a wide margin.

Forget bling. Dude was ballin' for a tractor and a nice spread.

Like many players from his era, he taught himself to play with secondhand hickory shafts after becoming a caddy. He won the first major he played in, the 1937 Masters, and won it again in 1942. The most famous bridge at Augusta National, which golfers cross to get to the 12th green, was named the Byron Nelson Bridge in 1958.

He held the single season scoring average record (68.33) for over 50 years until one T Woods broke it, and his record of 113 consecutive cuts made was a record for over half a century as well until Woods surpassed it on his way to 142. However, when you read this from Wikipedia, Nelson's streak seems more impressive then even Woods':

It should be noted that the PGA Tour defines a "cut" as receiving a paycheck, even if an event has no cut per se. In Nelson's era, only the top 20 in a tournament received a check. In reality, Nelson's "113 consecutive cuts made" are representative of his unequalled 113 consecutive top 20 tournament finishes. Woods has only managed 21 consecutive top 20 finishes in his career.

In 1968 he became the first player to have a PGA Tour event named after him, the Byron Nelson Classic, and he remains the only player ever so honored (although starting next year the Bay Hill Invitational will be renamed the Arnold Palmer Invitational). With the help of his personal involvement in the tournement, the Byron Nelson Classic has raised and donated more money to charity than any other event in the history of the PGA Tour- more than $94 million to date. He was personally involved and present at his tournament every year up to and including this year when he was 94 years old.

The USGA has long used a robotic swing arm to test clubs to ensure that they meet specifications; it has always been nicknamed the "Iron Byron" which tells you that his swing was as fundamentally sound as it gets. He is also considered by many in golf to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, gentlemen in the history of the sport.

If you consider golf + character, he was
quite possibly the greatest of all time.

AJBW: Top 25 Eurotastic Goals

Since it is a Champions League week this week, we're celebrating Arsenal Joga Bonito Wednesday with the top 25 Champions League goals ever scored by Arsenal according to "hmason"*. Enjoy.

*Apparently this was made before last spring's run to the Champions League Final, which is why this little gem didn't make it.

Is Plan B Finally Available?

No, not that Plan B.

Wrong Plan B.

Champions League Match Day 2
Arsenal 2-0 Porto.
Henry 38
Hleb 48

For years the knock on Arsene's Arsenal was a lack of a plan B, so when their quick short passing and fast running 4-4-2 work, they thrashed teams 4-0 playing the prettiest soccer out there, but when it didn't work, mainly against teams playing very defensively behind the ball, Arsenal banged their heads against a wall for 90 minutes rather than adapt. It looks like that is changing.

It's 2-nil and Hleb actually shot the ball;
this calls for a group hug.

First off Wenger used what for him is the dreaded 4-5-1 last year in the Champions League and it got him all the way to the final. so he is now not afraid to utilize this formation when needed, and to his credit when Arsenal do play 4-5-1 it isn't the traditional dour defensive-minded way of playing it; instead he uses the extra midfielder to utilize more possession and quick passing game especially in midfield.

But in the last two games there is something else, and it is very striking because it is such a strange sight for an Arsenal team. They are putting in lots and lots of crosses from the wings into the box. I think between yesterday and last weekend I have seen more crosses from deep on the wing or corner than I have ever seen in 8 years of watching them play. Henry has scored a headed goal in each of the last two games, which is just remarkable (his goal yesterday was his 50th goal in Champions League play). I believe before Saturday the number of his 215+ goals for the club that were headed in were less than 5 and I am damn near positive that it was less than 10.

Perhaps Wenger is adapting Arsenal's style of play to the new super large field (biggest in the EPL), or perhaps realizing the success of his successful use of 4-5-1 last year instead of his historical stubborn insistence of playing 4-4-2 all the time just to prove a point, he is further diversifying his portfolio so to speak. Either way I really like it, because it makes Arsenal much more multi-dimensional and difficult to prepare for, defend, and adapt to.

This week marks 10 years for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and in England, and in my opinion he is both the greatest manager Arsenal have ever had but also the greatest manager in all of England over that time. No disrespect to the accomplishments of SAF at United, but Wenger competed with United and regularly beat them with about a third of the budget and financial resources, and he is in the process of completely rebuilding his team for the 3rd time, while also completely revolutionizing training, nutrition, and overall atmosphere of the English game. And as good as he has been and as much as he has accomplioshed, this new development makes me think that there is more greatness to come in the form of a more varied attack.

The man, the myth, the legend.

I am a believer that the opening loss to Citeh and draws to Villa & Boro were flukey and these kids can contend for titles this year, and I'm pretty damn excited about how they are playing currently.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ralphie Between The Hedges

Colorado fan and reader MK send me this great picture from the game on Saturday. Like Ralphie, he and his crew made the long trip to Athens, and were extremely impressed with the wine, women, and song on offer in the Classic City.

Ralphie gets her run on between the hedges

There are a couple of homemade vids of Ralphie's run up on YouTube here and here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Comfortable Win. Never In Doubt.

As embarrassing a win as that was, it was almost the most embarrassing loss not only of the Mark Richt era, but the most embarrassing loss since I became a Bulldog in 1992 (The homecoming loss to Vandy in 94 was as a 20 point favorite; today we were 27 point favorites against a team that lost at home to 1AA Montana State).

Mad props to the D, who sorted it out in the 2nd half and gave us a chance to win the game.

All hail Georgia's new QB hero, Joe Cox Ralph Malph.

Joe Cox file photo.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Useless Predictions, Week 4

Solon's Picks available here.

After an 0-4 week 1 and then losing my first two last week, things looked pretty bleak at 0-6. Thankfully things started to turn, as I went 5-0 with 2 pushes to close out the day last week. Hopefully I can climb back into the black this week.

My week 4 stabs in the dark are:

Syracuse -7 v. Miami (Oh)
Win. Syracuse 34-14 Miami(Oh)

Louisville -13.5 @ Kansas State
Win. Kansas State 6-24 Louisville.

Nayv -4.5 v. Tulsa
Loss. Nayv 23-24 Tulsa (OT)

Wazzu -10 @ Stanford
Win. Stanford 10-36 Wazzu.

UTEP -9.5 @ New Mexico
Loss. New Mexico 26-13 UTEP.

BC -6.5 @ NC State
Loss. NC State 17-15 BC.

All favorites. Yuck. Good luck and enjoy the games.

Totals: 3-3 (50%)
I'd like to thank the Navy & BC kickers for missing crucial, action killing extra points. And I'd like ot thank my own dumb ass for betting UTEP in the first place.

YTD: 8-9-2 (47.1%)

Larry Munson Drinking Game

Came across this courtesy of Georgia Sports Blog.

The Larry Munson Drinking Game.

Like Larry, we've all been drunk in Sanford Stadium.

Not to be confused with the Brent Musburger Drinking Game.

Epic stuff, although as frequently as Munson says all that stuff, and the drinks involved, I can't imagine anyone participating in this game being conscious by halftime.

My humble addition would be a drink for any mention of the Frog Pond Lounge.

Friday Night Lights

Just wanted to wish my good friends Brain & The Hit luck tonight. They are both alumni of and on the current coaching staff of Trinity High School in Louisville, who tonight take on their longtime rival St. X.

The game is big enough that they play in Papa John's Stadium, home of the Louisville Cardinals. It has been shown on ESPN2 and was written up in USA Today. They typically draw upwards of 35,000 and might get 40,000 tonight. The Kentucky state title has been won by Trinity or St. X in 11 of the past 15 years. Last year St. X beat Trinity 48-13 in September only to lose to Trinity 14-6 in the state championship game.

Like Brain and The Hit before him, Louisville QB Brohm played at Trinity, where his dad is a coach, and Louisville coach Bobby Petrino's son is currently the QB at Trinity. St. X boasts RB Victor Anderson, who has already committed to play at West Virginia next year.

Best of luck, gentlemen.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

From The Dept. of Are You Shitting Me?
Um, Yeah. Good Luck With That

From the Dept. of Are You Shitting Me:

A new policy to kick fans out of games for cursing?

Not at Bob Jones University.

Not at Ole Miss.

At Boston University.

Um, yeah. Good luck with that.

I was born and raised in Boston, so I know full well that f-bombs are like oxygen up there, especially for college age men attanding sporting events under the influence of alcohol. Hell I haven't lived there in 16 years and it is still a challenge to go a full day without hitting double digits of the most versatile word in the English language.

You think you can get these guys to stop cursing?
Aah you fuckin retaahded?

Is Michael Adams also running BU?

I'm sure this will go over about as well as a ban on pretty girls at SEC football games or big bangs and hairspray in Kentucky. Meaning that Sully, Tommy, Smitty, Bobby, and Mahk will be wicked fucking pissed about it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

AJBW: Now I Feel Better

Arsenal Joga Bonito Wednesday is back, and who else could it be this week than Arsenal legend Mad Jens? Slightly mental yet world class goalkeeping might not be your traditional "joga bonito", but Mats is crazy in a beautiful kind of way, so what the hell.

A compilation video of Mats, Q-Tip rapping , and a funky Middle Eastern hip hop beat? Hell to the yeah.

One Horrible CFB Change Too Many

*You can create a 5th BCS bowl by stiffing any number of the good non BCS bowls and instead having a ridiculous 2 Fiesta Bowls this year, the 2nd of which serves at the national championship game and doesn't even have a name really.

*You can sell the TV rights for the BCS Bowls (except the Rose) to Fox Sports through 2010, ensuring that I have to put up with stupid robot graphics, unneccessary sound effects every 14 seconds, and a giant arrow superimposed on the field every play showing down, distance, and the direction the offense is going (if there is a single man, woman, or child who watches a football game and can't figure out which way the offense is trying to go when both teams are lined up then I would be stunned, yet Fox persists with the giant arrow anyways).

*You can change the rules of the game to cut out 10-12% of football as a reaction to the fact that game times became excessive due to added commercials, which of course were not limited.

*You can create a new replay system where every major play is reviewed, more than half rather needlessly and for way too long, which kills momentum for teams and fans at the stadium and irritates knowledgeable fans watching on TV.

*You can create a new "Coaches Challenge" rule for instant replay which approaches absolute zero on the intelligence scale by only allowing 1 per game and only if you have a timeout.

*You can slowly erode ESPN GameDay from great must see TV to barely better than shit, and cap it of with a fundamental change whereby they no longer go to the best game of the week but rather whatever game happens to be on their showcase network, resulting in them overly hyping USC-Nebraska last week, a game where SC was favored by 17 points, while passing on Auburn-LSU, Notre Dame-Michigan, Louisville-Miami or Tennessee-Florida, all of which were better games with more evenly matched good teams.

OK. None of these are anything approaching good, but I can turn the other cheek and tolerate them because my love of CFB is big enough that as much as you lessen it's greatness it is still pretty damn good.

But you cannot take our beloved Ron Franklin, the best CFB announcer out there, and remove him from the ESPN Saturday night feature game that he has been calling since I was a wee lad. This is just too damn much. It's unacceptable.

Ron Franklin is the best voice in CFB by a mile, and he certainly is the voice of the big Saturday night game on ESPN. My sis donned him "Uncle Ron" about 10 years ago because his voice is so great and comforting/comfortable that he sounds like your favorite uncle calling the game for you at a weekly family gathering. As damn near all things ESPN related have turned to complete and utter shite around him the last 15 years, he had remained one of the very few great things that remain at now-shittastic ESPN.

A Saturday night institution no more.

Franklin was pulled from the Sat. evening primetime game, which most weeks is one of the best games of the week, and has been moved to the late afternoon slot on ESPN2; he has been replaced by former ESPN NFL Sunday Night Football announcer Mike Patrick. So last week Ron was relegated to the utterly meaningless (sorry BON) Texas-Rice late afternoon game on ESPN2 while Mikey Patrick got the ESPN primetime matchup of FSU-Clemson.

Now Patrick is by no means horrible, he is actually pretty good, but this it is just wrong to have him doing this game instead of RF. It would be one thing if Franklin's contract expired and he moved to another network, but it hasn't and he hasn't. And it is not like Franklin has gotten so old that he has lost his sharpness a la Keith Jackson, who last year could not longer correctly tell if a field goal was good or not until Dan Fouts corrected his mistakes. Dude is as on top of his game as ever.

Another thing that makes this move terrible is that the Sat night primetime game on ESPN is usually a good SEC matchup or great ACC matchup, but almost always a big matchup involving football in the deep South. Franklin has a distinctly Southern voice (he is an Ole Miss grad) - not rednecky, but rather that of a Southern gentleman - which fits perfectly with a big night game atmosphere from Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Athens, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Clemson, Knoxville, Oxford, Fayetteville, Columbia, etc, etc. Mike Patrick's voice is distinctly NOT Southern - I don't know where he is from but my guess would be Northeast or Midwest. Either way, the distinct Yankee-ness of his voice is misfit and out of place for these games when compared to the perfect fit of Franklin's.

Of all the changes in college football this year, this one pisses me off the most, which is a pretty massive statement considering the other changes, especially the clock rule.

ESPN is evil - they might as well just go ahead and put me out of my misery by abandoning their horse racing talent and coverage, and replacing Andy Katz with Seth Davis, thereby destroying the only 2 good things remaining over there.

Order Is Restored

After their worst Premiership start ever, only taking 2 points from 3 matches against less than powerhouse Villa, Citeh & Boro, there was no way Arsenal could go to Old Trafford without Henry or Van Persie and beat ManUtd, who were off to their best start in Premiership history with 4 wins on the trot, right?


ManUtd 0-1 Arsenal.

BBC Match Of The Day Highlights

When Arsenal were awarded a penalty early but Gilberto slipped taking it and had it saved you felt that it would not be Arsenal's day. But they outplayed United, and when Mats saved a point blank rocket shot from C Ronaldo with his face and then stayed in the match it seemed like they might get a result after all.

5 minutes to go and it looked like 0-0 until Cesc did a Cesc (definition: something that a 19 year old simply should not be able to do against world class competition). Dispossessed C Ronaldo, lost the ball, got it back, completely schooled Neville, then slid in an amazing pass that Adebayor ran onto and slotted home (the last replay shows it best). Just ridiculous skill from 19 year old Cesc and for me he is right there with Messi as far as best young player in the world.

They held on thanks to another ridiculous save from Mats (this angle shows it even better), who has come to be known at Mad Jens by many Arsenal fans - there's even a MAD JENS of North London Tshirt. That is pretty strong. He is my favorite Arsenal player hands down. On Sunday he inexplicably handled the ball outside his box and later is allegeded to have kicked a water bottle into the stands at ManUtd fans, although allegedly he had reason to be pretty upset with them.

So Arsenal are right back in the thick of things, and may be able to contend for top honors this season after all. A great result, and Arsenal's first league win at Old Trafford since they won the league there in 2002.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


So Saturday night after almost all of the dust from a great day of college football had settled, I found myself watching the humiliation of Stanford at the hands of Navy. The game sucked and was a boring blowout, but when you have a bet on Navy at +1 and they are up by 4 touchdowns (and it is the last game on TV) you mindlessly watch the beauty of a comfortable cover. I was enjoying the game that was making me 5-2 for the day after an 0-2 start when something pretty epic caught my eye. Navy are one of a handful of teams that have the team name on the front of their uniforms - so each dude has "NAVY" in big block letters above their uniform number. Everyone except the backup kicker who comes on to kick a field goal in the last 2 minutes of a massive blowout, that is. Dude's jersey sais "NAYV", with his number 90 below. This is epic on many levels.

This encapsullates the Navy dominance of Stanford,
but not the awesomeness of #90's jersey.

1. How did the typo come to be? Did team sponsor Nike just screw up on this one jersey? And if so, how did it get past the Navy equipment manager and coaching staff all the way to week 3? Remember we are talking about the United States Naval Academy, where rules, regulations and other tedium are in a word... strict. You do pushups and KP for having a scuff mark on your shoes - hard to imagine that Nike shipped a jersey with the name of the school (and an entire armed force for that matter) spelled wrong and it went unnoticed/tolerated for 3 weeks.

2. After contemplating #1 for a minute on Saturday night, it struck me just how epic the typo was: NAYV is phonetically the same as NAVY; read it or say it aloud and it sounds identical. This is where my mind started to churn.

3. Did the kicker un-sew (de-sew?) the letters and sew them back as NAYV to be a smartass? Did he do this at the beginning of the year and it has been this way for 3 weeks? Or, knowing the huge reputation of the smartass, irreverent Stanford band, did he do this bit of irreverent smartassness in honor of the occasion of playing Stanford at Stanford on a night when said Stanford band was suspended (yet again) for seriously vandalizaing their band shack? Was he in the hotel room with needle & thread on Friday night saying "these fools think they are funny, irreverent smartasses? I'll show them funny, irreverent smartass..."

What I know is that it is funny as hell. What I wish I knew was the backstory/explanation.

I can only hope that Matthew Harmon goes on to one day become POTUS or some high fallutin' politician and writes a book where this is revealed as some seemingly insignificant background detail of his college days.

Either way, GO NAYV!

CFB 2006: New & Improved!
Now With 10% Less Football!

When the new timing rule was announced in the offseason I was like most in that I realized that it sucked but didn't quite grasp how much of an effect it would have. For those not in the know, (1) The clock starts on change of possessions whereas before it did not. For example: Team A punts to team B; at the end of that play the game clock used to stop until the ball is snapped on Team B's next play. Now the game clock starts once the ball is put back into play by the referee. (2) The game clock starts on a kickoff the moment the ball is kicked, whereas before it did not start until the ball was touched.

Why was this done? Essentially games were getting too long. Whereas games used to last 3 hours they were now getting to be 4 hour affairs. Of course the reason for this had little to do with football or rule changes and more to do with networks adding and selling more and more advertising and extending and adding commerical breaks. So their solution wasn't to come up with a creative way to reduce the game interruptions due to commercial breaks but rather to reduce the actual time of the game played on the field. The result is that we are now getting 90% of the football with 100% of the commercials. Good for the networks, bad for fans.

After my first Saturday of watching multiple games concurrently all day, I was really suprised at what a stark difference the rule makes. The numbers are showing that the result of the rule changes is a loss of around 18-20 plays per game, which is about a 10-12% reduction in actual football. Doesn't sound like much but it is quite noticeable and seriously affects the end of games. 18 plays is more than four 3-and-out drives or the about 2 significant drives per game. What is amazing is that the games are significantly shorter even though every other play is being reviewed this year (and some for 5+ minutes) with the latest instant replay guidelines; without the review of every major and several minor plays the results would be even more drastic from a time elasped standpoint.

Anyhow, I'm not saying anything here that everyone else isn't saying or isn't obvious to any fan. But my raison d'etre with this is to offer 2 predictions:

1. Sometime this season, the following will happen in a big nationally televised game:

-Team A kicks a FG to take a 1 or 2 point lead on Team B with 0:24 to play in the game.
-Team B used all of their timeouts on Team A's just completed drive.
-Team A kicks off deep. Dude for Team B runs the kickoff all the way back to the 20 yard line of Team A where he is finally tackled.
-The game clock is at 0:06 when dude is tackled thanks to rule (2) above.
-Time runs out and the game ends before Team B can attempt a 37 yard game winning FG thanks to rule (1) above.
-Cue massive buzzkill of seeing an important game between two ranked teams end in pure, unadulterated anti-climax.

2. There seems to be a hopeful, rational thought among hardcore CFB fans that the NCAA will realize their error after this season and change the rule back for next year. This will never happen What will happen instead:

-After a year or two for claiming that the rule change "works" and it "good" because game times have in fact been reduced to what they were say 10 years ago, networks will again begin to sell more advertising and extend the length of commercial breaks until it causes games to be way too long.

- To "Fix" the problem the NCAA will "shorten games" by eiminating the CFB rule that the game clock stops when a 1st down is made so that the chains can be moved and adopting the NFL rule where the clock keeps running after a 1st down.

- This will result in a further 10-20% reduction of actual football during games. Yay!

I understand the capitalism that causes these changes to happen - if I had paid hundreds of millions of dollars to broadcast the games then I sure as hell would want to sell lots of ads. But there are also other creative ways around the problem rather than reducing the amount of the product that people are tuning in to see. One off the top of my head would be to reduce the size of some of the TV screen game clock/scoreboards that take up way too much room and have either intermittent or scrolling advertising like they do in soccer, which does not realistically allow for commercial breaks suring play. As Swindle pointed out a while back, what they really should do is air the games commercial free and use this instead of traditional commercial breaks. Another would be to put constantly scrolling advertising in the score ticker at the bottom of the screen (yes this would suck but it is better than carving 10% of the football game off and throwing it in the trash).

Friday, September 15, 2006

Week 3 Useless Predictions

If you want predictions from someone who even remotely knows what he is talking about, then you are in the wrong place - you need to go here.

Now then, the best way to handicap games is by actually watching games and understanding matchups. Being out of the country for the first two weeks of the season and only actually seeing 1 game is probably not the "best way". But after starting out 0-4 there is nowhere to go but up (although sideways is a statistical possibility I suppose).

So if like Damon & Norton in Rounders you need to come up with copius amounts of cash in the next 48 hours, then bet the other side of these on credit and you should be just fine.

Illinios-Syracuse UNDER 39
Loss. Illinois 21-31 Syracuse

Western Michigan +10 @ Virginia
Win. Virginia 10-17 WMU

San Diego State +14 @ Wisconsin
Push. Wisconsin 14-0 SDSU

Boise State -7 @ Wyoming
Push. Wyoming 10-17 Boise State

Louisville -4.5 v Miami
Win. Louisville 31-7 Miami

Arkansas -5.5 @ Vandy
Loss. Vandy 19-21 Arkansas

Arizona State -11 @ Colorado
Win. Colorado 3-21 Arizona State

Clemson +4.5 @ Florida State
Win. FSU 20-27 Clemson

Navy +1 @ Stanford
Win. Stanford 9-37 Navy

Totals: 5-2-2 (71.4%)

Year to date: 5-6-2 (45.5%)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Champions League Match Day 1
Results & Highlights

Tuesday Sep. 12
Video highlights of all the goals

Wednesday Sep. 13
Video highlights of all the goals

Tables after Match Day 1

Match Day 2: Tue Sep. 26 and Wed Sep. 27


Trip to Argentina was great - hope to have a writeup soon. And the best part of going 0-4 is being in another country and not seeing any of the games, so I was spared the agony of things like "shit - Zona had 1st and goal at the 4 and didn't score, which would have covered the number", which are invariably your lingering memories from close bets lost (Zona, Miami).

On the other end of close, we had UT-Cal, which was so dominant that it rendered hilarious my pregame analysis that "It's pretty simple, Cal is just better", while at the same time destroying the spirit of A10 and friends to document their trip to Nash Vegas and replacing it with only numbing despair. Sorry, boys, but now you know how I felt after my trips to Neyland in 1993 and 1997.

Thanks to the wonderful VHS efforts of Mom & Dad, I was greeted Sunday at Hartsfield with a tape of the Carolina-UGA game, which I watched late Sunday night on my couch (kind of bizarre seeing Alan Vigil Ford commercials sitting on my couch in SF I must say). Good stuff all things considered, except for the University of Georgia promo commercial, which unlike the usual "looks like it came out of a High School AV club" appearance, this year has the production value of a Junior High school AV club. It's downright embarrassing.

After 3 plays you could tell that Stafford will be the real deal. His throws look like Elway's passes on Tecmo Bowl - darts (Joe T's aren't quite Jack Truedau/Tecmo Bowl like, but the difference was immediately clear). Like Theo Walcott, it looks like he very well may live up to the massive hype after all. In time, of course.

Watching Arsenal-Middlesboro in Buenos Aires on Saturday was like watching the movie Groundhog Day, except that it was in Spanish. Boro scored early and Arsenal needed a penalty to get a 1-1 draw in a match where they outshot Boro 24 to 1. It was the opener against Villa all over again.

If you ever have the opportunity to watch a Premiership match on Fox Sports World Espanol then do it: every time a goal is scored the announcer breaks out into a freestyle song about the player/tem/goal which just occurred, which lasts a solid 1 to 2 minutes as the replays are being shown. I have no idea what dude was saying except when he mentioned player/team names, but it was one of the funniest things I have ever heard. There was music as well - it was like Sabado Gigante mixed in with the match- awesome.

So 2 points from a possible 9 against 3 totally average teams to start the season. Not good, but they are really dominating - hopefully they can actually score some freaking goals. Away to Manchester United this Sunday is next up, so hopefully they can sort themselves out.

Yesterday Arsenal travelled to Hamburg and won 2-1 in the first match day of the 06-07 Champions. They were lucky to be awarded a penalty and have the opposing keeper sent off early, and then went 2-0 up on a wonderstrike by Thomas Rosicky that was reminiscent of his goal that killed off the Czech-US game at the World Cup this summer. Hopefully his teammates took notice that you can't score if you don't shoot; they have been trying to walk it in a bit too much so far this year.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Solon's Picks: Week 1

If, on the other hand, you want thoroughly researched, well thoughtout and intelligent picks from a dude with a proven track record who has been holed up in his apartment internalizing Steele and creating his own sets of power number rankings since June, then my good buddy Solon is your man.

Happy Action.

Wingnut Predictions Week 1

So great to get home from work yesterday and have college football on the telly.

Happy Football season to all.

I'm off to the airport in a while, first to ATL for about and hour and then a red eye to Buenos Aires, but not before offering a few terribly under-researched and chalky picks.

Cal -1 @ Tennessee
It's pretty simple, Cal is just better.
Loss. Tennessee 35-18 Cal. Uggh, nevermind.

Arizona -6.5 v. BYU
I'm expecting really big things from the cats this year and think they will start off with a bang at home.
Loss. Zona 16-13 BYU.

Texas Tech-SMU OVER 53
I think TxT, and their Cobra Kai attitude towards scoring against lesser opponents, might get the cover all by themselves, but any help from SMU would be appreciated.
Loss. Texas Tech 35-3 SMU.

Miami -3 v. Florida State
I think FSU is pretty overrated as Solon astutely points out. Miami might be underrated, but I think they have enough to get it done here.
Loss. Miami 10-13 FSU. D'oh.

Totals: 0-4

OK, I'm off. I just booked a 2 day excursion up to Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian border; looks unbelieveable.

These waterfalls look totally average.

Y'all enjoy the first weekend of CFB, and a Happy Labor Day weekend to all.