Friday, August 31, 2007

11 College Football Predictions For Aught Seven

1. At the end of the year, Brandon Coutu will have been the Bulldogs most important player, and he will walk off into the sunset {and NFL} with the Lou Groza award. I've mentioned it before, but if he doesn't go down injured a few games into the season it is very likely that the close losses to Vandy & Kentucky, where multiple field goals/extra points were missed, are close wins, and UGA finishes last year reg season 10-2 and ranked in the top 10 instead of a somewhat disappointing 8-4. Anyway, dude is beyond money {platinum? gold?} and has plenty of length to boot {pun intended}: multiple 50+ yarders on the resume already. Basically he doesn't miss, unless there is a fuckup with the snap, hold, or blocking, none of which have much to do with his abilities as a kicker. As long as there are no lingering effects of his leg injury last year, he is going to be the man this season.

{to the Davy Crockett theme}
"Bran-donnn, Brannn-don Coutu!
King Of The Long Field Goal!"

2. Two teams in the top 10 as of today will finish unranked. Now if only I knew which 2 they were, then I'd be onto something...

3. Mid majors trying to get into the BCS discussion will try to shoot par whenever possible. "Par? What do you mean Kanu?" I mean holy shit, did you see Louisville shoot 1 over par last night {Louisville 73-10 Murray State}? Prime candidates for this are Boise and Hawaii, but as it develops anyone with the wherewithal and opportunity will do it, rather than pack it in and take knees, in an effort to grab attention from the "look: shiny!!!" types in the mainstream media who tend to determine such things as "the narrative", rankings, and who the alleged best player in the land is {read: getting all worked up about an overhyped popularity contest that is the Heisman trophy}.

4. Speaking of the narrative... Boise State was such a media darling of a cinderella story last year when they got into the Fiesta Bowl and beat Oklahoma in Hollywood movie fashion, that I GUARANTEE that ESPN will start out fellating Boise and Hawaii, but after 4-5 weeks they will latch on to whatever team looks like they will have the best shot at sitting at the big boy table this year {be it Boise, Hawaii, or someone else, meaning they will drop Boise and/or Hawaii like a hot rock if they lose}, and they will latch onto them and shove them down our collective throats so much that by mid November everyone will hate that team and want them to lose just so we can stop seeing endless special reports from Shelley Smith or whomever they send out to set up shop on campus and overexpose that team to everyone's annoyance {see: ESPN 2005, creating a nation of haters against SC when in reality it wasn't SC they hated but they way they were covered by big media, in this case ESPN. For further reading see: Tiger Woods, and his legion of haters who don't even really hate him but rather the media over-coverage of him}.

5. Speaking of the "WorldWide Leader", they will exploit the Virginia Tech tradgedy for ratings early and often. Don't think this is a one off, where they changed the site of GameDay and their focus for the 1st weekend from Cal-Tennessee to Blacksburg and then it's business as usual. Rather, this will go on and on throughout the season, and the better they do, the more it will intensify. Now that Bonds has surpassed Aaron, we might be getting Pedro Gomez special reports from Blacksburg on the regular. No disrespect at all to the VT family, but the exploitation of this by ESPN {and surely others will follow to a lesser extent} for ratings and getting casual sports non hardcore football fans to tune in, is sad. Not quite Faux News sad, but certainly in that same neighborhood. Someone on a comment thread over at I think PWD's house back when the GameDay switch was announced said it best, and I'm paraphrasing: "this is like your mom dying of cancer, and then a year later after you have started to heal and try to move on with your life some asshole coming up and rehashing the whole thing by saying 'hey, man, remember last year when your mom died? That sucked.' "

6. A coach will lose his job this season because of off the field impropriety caught on camera and published on Youtube or a similar site. In other words, someone is going to do something really stupid and get busted, a shitstorm will ensue, and he will either be fired or resign: the college football version of macaca if you will. Hell, Gary Moeller getting canned at Michigan for a drunken outburst in a public restaurant was in 1990, and ISU hoops coach Larry Eustachy's drunken reveling at a frat party after an AWAY game was in the internet era but pre Youtube, so it's only a matter of time. Might not be at a big time school, might be DII or DIII, but it will happen.

7. There will be some sort of legal incident arising from the mass of people behind the College GameDay set this season. You're already starting out with a mass of very intoxicated and amped up people with contrarian allegiances crammed into a relatively small space, which is always a recipe for interesting things to happen. The last few years have seen the pushing of the envelope, and each time this just encourages people to push a little further. Most famous was the Georgia fan with the "Lee Corso Is A Penis" cocktail party accoutrement sign. I'm not sure exactly what form this will take, whether it will be an FCC shitstorm a la Janet's SuperBowl titty over something seen in the background {nakedness\sex\obscene signage\other}, or whether someone will get seriously injured from falling or a drunken brawl or whatnot and sue the other parties, ESPN, the host school, Home Depot, and the company that makes Fowler's hair product. I really don't give much of a shit, since I don't even watch the botched abortion that the show has become much anymore; I'm much more informed and entertained by the weekly writeups by the great LD.

8. Speaking of great writeups, Phil Steele's News & Notes column will once again be the best weekly column in all of college football, JAMPACKED WITH INFORMATION that you won't find anywhere else.

The awesomeness of Phil Steele is beyond words.
The awesomeness of Phile Steele rocking Georgia gear
is beyond words to the power of beyond words.

9. Arkansas will be the most entertaining team to watch, both on {Wildcat formation rulzz!!1!1!!} and off the field. I'm just bummed that the sun-saluter of a yogini punter they had last year has graduated.

Gone but not forgotten.

10. The BCS Championship will cause mondo controversy, as the odds of two and only two unbeatens from major conferences is so remote when compared to all of the other scenarios. Duh. I am aware that this is the shortest little twig of a limb that one could ever go out on {I suppose saying Orson Swindle will be funny or that The Mayor will be verbose is even less daring}, but it's still worth mentioning.

11. Both Doug and myself will make it through the season without smashing the fuck out of something.

On second thought, scratch that last one. Some random household item in Birmingham or San Francisco is likely getting fucking destroyed this year.

Feel Good Friday: Closer To My Dreams Edition

Since I'll be in Berkeley tomorrow for the Cal-Tennessee game, today we're going with Berkelely native Goapele, a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice who helps the Bay Area music scene show that it has more to offer than the beyond horrible "hyphy movement".

"Closer" is my favorite song of hers- inspiring, hopeful, and uplifting lyrics, a supertight and smooth beat that will get you nodding your head in approval, and a video featuring muy tranquilo scenes from the California coast.

I hope you all have a great holiday weekend, and that you get closer to your own dreams while doing so.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lightning Tragically Strikes 3.5 Times in 10 days

By now everyone, soccer fans and general sports fans alike are aware of the shocking death of 22 year old professional athlete Antonio Puerta three days after collapsing on the field in front of a worldwide live TV audience. Tragic is a cliche word, but this was truly tragic, especially when you factor in that he leaves behind his girlfriend, who is pregnant with his son who will be born in October.

A little more under the radar was the abandonment of Carling Cup match between Leicester City and Nottingham Forest on Tuesday when Leicester City's 26 year old Clive Clarke collapsed in the dressing room at halftime and had to be revived with a defibrillator. He is in the hospital and still being observed and tested; we can only hope that he recovers and lives out a long and happy life.

Is that not eerie, tragic, ans scary-as-hell enough for you?

Just yesterday yet another player collapsed, this time 27 year old Zambian international Chaswe Nsofwa who plays in the second division in Israel. He collapsed during practice and was rushed to the hospital, where sadly he died.

If that's not enough, last week 16 year old Anton Reid, a Walsall trainee, collapsed and died in a training session. I kid you not.

That's four collapses and three deaths in the span of 10 days. I don't remember any majorly covered soccer collapse deaths since Cameroon's Marc Vivien Foe collapsed and died in a Confederations Cup match against France back in 2003. I have a feeling more have happened since then but are a bit more under the radar, but surely nothing like 4 in 10 days. I'm going to do a little research on this...

So sad. My thoughts and sincere condolences go out to all persons directly affected by these horrible incidents.

"Don't Look No Further, Baby I'm Back, Yeah,
I'm Here To Cater To Yoouuu"

College football is Baby Bash/Akon, and we are the beautiful women to whom they croon.

"I was gone for a minute, but now I'm home..."

Between this and futbol being back in full swing, life is good. CL draw today, LSU-MSU tonight, going to the national game of interest on Saturday {Cal-Tenessee} and watching my team play in the other {Georgia-Oklahoma State}, then Kanu & The Former Arsenal All Stars against The Arse on Sunday, it's beautiful.

Happy football boys and girls, y feliz futbol mundial chicas y chicos!

Or as ESPN would say: let the exploitation of the Virginia Tech tragedy for ratings begin!!!

On The Road To Moscow...

The Champions League Group Stage draw was done this morning, and we're officially off and running with the CL proper: six match days of round robin group play to cut the field from 32 to 16, who then play a knockout stage which will culminate on May 17 in Moscow for the Champions League Final.

Group A
Liverpool {England}
Porto {Portugal}
Marseille {France}
Besiktas {Turkey}

Group B
Chel$ea {England}
Valencia {Spain}
Shalke 04 {Germany}
Rosenborg {Norway}

Group C
Real Madrid {Spain}
Werder Bremen {Germany}
Lazio {Italy}
Olympiakos {Greece}

Group D
AC Milan {Italy}
Benfica {Portugal}
Celtic {Scotland}
Shakhtar Donetsk {Ukraine}

Group E
Barcelona {Spain}
Lyon {France}
Stuttgart {Germany}
Rangers {Scotland}

Group F
Manchester United {England}
Roma {Italy}
Sporting Lisbon {Portugal}
Dynamo Kiev {Ukraine}

Group G
Inter Milan {Italy}
PSV Eindhoven {Holland}
CSKA Moscow {Russia}
Fenerbache {Turkey}

Group H
Arsenal {England}
Sevilla/AEK Athens {Spain/Greece}
Steaua Bucharest {Romania}
Slavia Prague {Czech. Republic}

So there it is.

My first reaction to Arsenal's draw was "hell yes" and that we got a fairly soft draw. Most important we avoided the always tricky trips to insane Turkey as well as insanely cold Russia and Ukraine. On paper Steaua Bucharest are the weakest of the 3 seeds, and Slavia Prague are a weak 4 seed {we just rolled the Czech champions 5-0 in qualifying, so their crosstown rivals should be easy fodder} on paper. But as we all know, the matches are not played on paper, and Slavia Prague did pull the shocker of qualifying by knocking out Dutch longtime Dutch giants Ajax. As far as Sevilla/AEK Athens, if AEK come back to win then they will be the weakest of the 2 seeds, and Sevilla are obviously team turmoil right now with Puerta's death and the fact that their best player, Dani Alves, wants out of Sevilla and apparently is not happy there. That being said, they are a damn good team and it's just as likely that they will play lights out this year feeding off the emotion of playing for their fallen teammate. Either way, I'm ready to see how it all plays out.

Top two in each group make the knockout stage. Third place gets you the nice parting gift of a spot in the 3rd round of the lesser UEFA Cup, and 4th place gets you a one way ticket to the couch where you can watch with the rest of us.

The first group stage matches are Sept. 18/19.

Bring it...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Arsenal Joga Bonito Wednesday: Cesc Appeal

It's been quite a week for Cesc Fabragas, now a grizzled veteran of 20 years and rapidly becoming the iconic talisman of the new {and improved???} Arsenal. Last week he scored a massive 1st goal away to Sparta Prague in the 1st leg of the Champions League qualifying match, putting Arsenal in a great position to qualify. Saturday he scored the only goal in Arsenal's 1-0 win over Man Citeh in the last 10 minutes. Today he came on as a late sub and scored again against Sparta Prauge and Arsenal indeed did qualify for the Champions League. Oh, and he was also rated as the #2 hottie in all of world soccer by Kickette.

The best is saved for last: the humiliation of one Robbie Savage {0:37}

But forget all that. I want to highlight again how mature and classy Cesc is, especially for his age, and how he not only always seems to do the right thing on the field when he has the ball, but he always seems to say the right thing in interviews, which is pretty remarkable considering his age, and the fact that he has been doing it since he was 16.

Cesc is Spanish, and played on the Spanish Under 21 national team with Antonio Puerta. In today's match Cesc wore a black armband in honor of his tragically lost former teammate, which was a pretty nice gesture, both by him and the club {the reports made it sound like he alone wore an armband, but I did not see the match today so i'm not 100% that this is accurate}.

After the match he dedicated his goal to Puerta and said the following:

"I was really sad when I heard Antonio hadn't made it. He was a special guy, although not particularly a special friend. But I played with him for one year in the under-21s and we made our international debut together. I knew he was really ill and then I heard he hadn't made it and that's why I wore the armband. The goal is for him, everything is for him - he was a special guy. It just shows you may know where you are today but in life you don't where you'll be tomorrow. He was a talented player and what's happened is a terrible shame."

That is pretty classy stuff from such a young kid, both the gesture and the words.

Fab4, C4, Cescy Beast, whatever the hell you choose to call him, I freaking love that kid, and I continue to be impressed with him as a person, especially one of such a young age.

"It's Like Lotto: You Gotta Be In It To Win It."

{tying an obscure Beastie Boys sample to the Champions League qualifiers is one of the things that makes this blogging shit fun...}

And now Arsenal are officially in the 2007-2008 Champions League, after a 2nd leg 3-0 win over Sparta Prague which gave them a 5-0 win on aggregate. Tomas Rosicky Harry Potter scored against his former and hometown club, and then Cesc and Eduardo added 2 more late on. So for the 10th year in a row they will be playing for the biggest ball of wax {and money} in European club football.

Most of the other qualifying matches went as expected, with the exception of Dutch giants Ajax, who were unceremoniously dumped out by Slavia Prague.

The draw for the Champions League Group Stage is tomorrow and can be followed live here.

Results of final qualifying round for Champions League 07-08 {winners in bold}:
Arsenal 3-0 Sparta Prague.
win 5-0 on aggregate

Liverpool 4-0 Toulouse.
win 5-0 on aggregate

AEK Athens ppd. Sevilla.
lead 2-0 on aggregate

Elfsborg 1-2 Valencia.
win 5-1 on aggregate

Dinamo Bucharest 1-3 Lazio.
win 4-2 on aggregate

Dinamo Zagreb 2-3 Werder Bremen.
Werder Bremen
win 5-3 on aggregate

Celtic 1-1 Spartak Moscow.
2-2 on aggregate; Celtic win penalty shootout 4-3

Crvena Zvedza 0-0 Rangers.
win 1-0 on aggregate

FC Copenhagen 0-1 Benfica.
win 3-1 on aggregate

Dynamo Kiev 3-0 FK Sarajevo.
Dymano Kiev
win 4-0 on aggregate

Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 Salzburg.
Shakthar Donetsk
win 3-2 on aggregate

Anderlecht 0-2 Fenerbache.
win 3-0 on aggregate

Besiktas 2-0 FC Zurich.
win 3-1 on aggregate

Steaua Bucharest 2-0 BATE Borisov.
Steaua Bucharest
win 4-2 on aggregate

Slavia Prague 2-1 Ajax.
Slavia Prague
win 3-1 on aggregate

Rosenborg 2-0 Tampere United.
win 5-0 on aggregate

*AEK Athens-Sevilla match postponed due to the death of Antonio Puerta yesterday.

These 16 teams will be joined by the 16 who qualified automatically based on their league finishes last season:

AC Milan
Inter Milan
Real Madrid
Manchester United
Olympique Lyon
FC Porto
PSV Eindhoven
AS Roma
FC Shalke 04
VfB Stuttgart
CSKA Moscow
Sporting Lisbon
Olympique Marseille

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Surreal and Sad

Saturday after watching Arsenal beat Citeh I watched the Sevilla-Getafe match, in which Getafe took a 1-0 lead in the first 5 minutes but then had not one but 2 dudes sent off in the first half. In the second half Sevilla came back and eventually won 4-1, but that's not what this is about.

Midway through the 1st half, a Sevilla defender, Antonio Puerta, collapsed under no contact as a goal kick was about to be taken. The Spanish TV cameras got a close up of his teammate and then trainer pulling his tounge out from down his throat- it was obvious that he was unconscious and choking on it. a few minutes later he got up and walked off on his own, and as scary as it was the match went on and he went I presume to the hospital.

Well apparently he had another collapse in the dressing room, was rushed to the hospital, and passed away this morning. It was revealed that in laymans terms he suffered a heart attack on the field, and then another series of heart attacks afterwards.

He was only 22 years old.

So surreal and sad. I'm sure there are videos of the on field collapse out there, but I don't feel right finding and posting it here. I can't explain why but I feel differently about this having seen it live then if I hadn't seen the match live- maybe because the images were pretty stark and scary.

Thoughts are with his family and Sevilla FC, who understandably have postponed tomorrow's Champions League qualifier and may or may not play their SuperCup match on Friday against AC Milan. Another sad reminder of how unimportant sports are, or as a friend of mine wisely said years ago, that "sports are the toy department of life".

*Update: Swindle has more specific medical info and the video if you choose to see it.

Is The Best Team In Europe Not In the Champions League?

Yes, that is a foolish thing to say after only a few matches, but ever since I saw a Bayern Munich preseason match and my reaction was "damn!", I have been pondering the possibility that come next April everyone may be talking about how the best team in Europe isn't one of the Champions League semifinalists but rather Bayern, who have improved their squad beyond belief with the additions of Franck Ribery, Luca Toni, and Miroslav Klose. Last year they were uncharacteristically bad enough that they did not qualify for the Champions League, but early returns look like they will be one of the very best, and most pleasing to watch, teams in Europe this year. They are expected to win the Bundesliga at a trot and the UEFA Cup at a canter. Certainly anything can happen, and a handful of matches does not a season make, but again I wonder if come April the best footy in Europe will be on display by a non CL team.

Check them out if you can- they are playing some serious joga bonito and scoring in bunches- they are a pleasure to watch in their current iteration.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

No Defenders? No Problem.

Arsenal 1-0 Man Citeh

With Gallas going out last week, Djourou on loan, and Senderos getting injured in warmup, Gilberto was a last minute deputy centreback. Then early on right back Sagna went off injured, so Flamini, a midfielder, was forced to play right back for the first time {he did play deputy left back 2 years ago on the magical run to the Champions League final}.

So with only 2 defenders and 6 midfielders on the field, as well as the backup goalkeeper, Arsenal still managed to not only keep a clean sheet but also beat Citeh 1-0 on a late winner from Cesc Fabregas. A game that Arsenal would not have won last year, plain and simple. They didn't play especially well, and Citeh were dangerous, but in the end Arsenal didn't play well but still won, always a good sign for a good team. Interestingly this was the first 1-0 to the Arsenal at their new Emirates Stadium.

6th with 7 points from 3 matches, and a game in hand that if won would launch them to the top of the table.

Most importantly, Arsenal's defense have yet to truly concede a goal, as both goals thusfar were the result of you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it howlers from Mad Jens of North London, who may not be getting his job back for a while.

Sparta Prague tomorrow and then the return of Kanu on Sunday, as well as the rest of the Arsenal-turned-Portsmouth crew: Sol Campbell, Lauren, asst. manager Tony Adams.

No more injuries please...

Friday, August 24, 2007

"I Prefer The Whore That Is Your Sister."

So after all this time, it comes out today that this is exactly what Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane in last year's World Cup final which resulted in the most famous headbutt in the history of the Western World {at least according to Materazzi}.

In case you suffer amnesia or live under a rock

We knew the first part of the conversation, in which Zidane turned to Materazzi after in irritation after MM was grabbing his jersey and said "if you want my shirt that badly, I'll give it to you after the match", but although generalizations were later released we never learned exactly what Materazzi's response was. Until now.

Why now?

Why else? Because Materazzi's autobiography is being released on August 30th and it's on page 21, that's why.

I wonder if he was always planning on writing an autobiography and then decided that including this juicy nugget might drive book sales, or if he decided that the incident and this nugget of information might sell and that is why he decided to write an autobiography.

Either way, like everything else in the modern information age, it's been leaked.

So there it is.

Feel Good Friday: Bizarre Ride To The Pharcyde Edition

Today we celebrate those wacky-ass boys from Cali, The Pharcyde, who made two really good, original, and creative hip hop albums in the 1990s.

First up, the classic "Passing Me By". As hip hop beats go, this is up there on the all time list.

On the very next song on the album, they switch from being twisted to being over it with a nearly equally smooth tune called "Otha Fish"

And finally, from their second CD, "Drop" a great upbeat tune with a trippy filmed backwards video in which one dude rocks the UGA #88 jersey which at the time repped Brice Hunter and is now re-born as a Kenneth Harris kit. I still have mine, which of course is size XXXL since I got it in 1994 when such things were en vogue.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend.

Monday, August 20, 2007

La Liga May Very Well Be The Most Entertaining League Again This Season

If the SuperCup is any indication, then La Liga will be picking up right where it left off last season.

Played over 2 legs, Sevilla took a 1-0 lead into the return leg yesterday in Madrid. I didn't even know it was happening let alone on TV, but it came on Telemundo right after the Blackburn-Arsenal replay on FSC, so I watched. What a great game for the neutral observer. Back and forth, Sevilla going up 3-1 only for RM to peg it back to 3-3, and then in the last 10 minutes Sevilla scored the quintessential Sevilla goal, with Kanoute finishing well from a perfect Dani Avles cross after a bombing overlapping run from right back. Real Madrid had their chances to equalize again, but then Kanoute scored again at the death making it 5-3 and 6-3 on aggregate. After watching the wrestling match/rugby scrum that was Blackburn-Arsenal it was great to see two teams playing proper, and very entertaining, footy.

I for one hope that Sevilla can hold onto Alves, as they should once again challenge the Big two of Real Madrid and Barceona. Hopefully Valencia or Villarreal or someone else can make it a 4 or even 5 way battle. Either way, I'm looking forward to following another season of La Liga footy on GolTV and Telemundo.

Buenas noches y hasta luego mi amigos...

Rugby 1-1 Football

Blackburn 1-1 Arsenal.

You knew going in the Blackburn were going to be rough and dirty hackers, but damn. Led by Robbie Savage, the biggest cunt in world football (Sorry Ruud, we have some nice parting gifts for you), Blackburn played some serious rugby with bits and pieces of football mixed in. They went to the tried and true "how to beat the fragile, fairy, finesse Arsenal by kicking them around, bullying them, and getting them out of rhythm and off their game" playbook. That's the bad news. The good news is that like the Sparta Prague match last week, Arsenal 07-08 showed that they will not go easily into that goodnight this year and teams that think they can rough them up and break them to beat them will find out that this year's bunch is more capable of giving as good as they get and grinding out wins. Which is exactly what Arsenal did yesterday, except that Mad Jens Of North London decided it would be cool to have another "you had to see it to believe it" howler to gift Blackburn 2 points. That being said a draw was probably a fair result given how both teams played, and that Fridel didn't do so well himself on Arsenal's goal, but utterly frustrating nonetheless. If you're scoring at home that's- Arsenal's defense: 0 goals conceded in 3 matches, Mad Jens: 2 schoolboy howler goals conceded in 3 matches.

I guess I'd rather the fuckups in the first 2 EPL matches than the crucial Champions League qualifiers, though.

Still, Arsenal would have lost that match last year, no doubt. They were able to adapt to the overly physical style of play, scored a scrappy goal of their own, weren't intimidated, and tied ugly when they easily could have won ugly. They showed toughness and that they will not be bullied into submission this year. Let's just hope that Arsenal don't finish 1 or 2 points out of something big at the end of the season. ManUtd are off to their worst start since 1992 thanks to a stunning strike from some Brasilian dude for Citeh which defeated United 1-0, leaving ManUtd with only 2 points from their 1st three matches, while Citeh are top of the table with 9 points from 3 matches. Arsenal play Citeh on Saturday and hopefully can hand them their first defeat. Chel$ea and the Pool split the points after a 1-1 draw which saw Rob Stiles give one of the worst penalty decisions you will ever see in your life.

Oh, and back to the biggest cunt in world football, Robbie Savage. To see him yesterday was to see performance art on the most absurd of levels- it was really over the top even for him, which is really saying something. On Sky after the match he of all people on planet Earth had the audacity to say that Blackburn came out and tried to play football while Arsenal tried to slow them up and kick them at every chance. That puts him firmly into the beyond insane and seriously living in an alternate reality group of people with the likes of Ann Coulter. The incomparable Arseblogger summed it up best this morning:

As for Robbie Savage (labelled a histrionic disgrace by The Times), if he could translate 1% of his cuntiness into footballing ability he’d be better than Maradona.

You can't say it any better than that.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Footy Highlights

I have no idea who "NetResults" is exactly, or whom they represent. What I do know is that any video showing any video clip of Arsenal/EPL matches are all but gone from YouTube, along with the vast majority of player compilation videos that contain said video clips.

Bollocks. Total bollocks.

How the hell am I supposed to convey in words just how bad each of Mats' fuckups in his 1st two EPL matches have been?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Feel Good Friday: And Now For Something
Completely Different Edition

For no other reason than the somewhat inexplicable fact that I absolutely love this song, I give you "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes. The old skool, real-deal legit version, too, not that whack tweaked out house remix for the ecstasy/glow stick/pacifier set. Best {only?} use of the word "spaz" in a song, evah.

No, "Queen Of Hearts" by Juice Newton will not be next week's selection.
Snarky bastard...

Enjoy, and have a great weekend whatever you get into.

More Arsenal winning, Spurs losing horribly, and ManUtd dropping points please.

Oh, and a FC Red Stripes win to keep the new season start unbeaten (3-0 win, 2-2 draw thusfar).


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Arsenal Joga Bonito Wednesday: Big Tone

OK, so Joga Bonito isn't the first thing that comes to mind when one says Tony Adams. But he is an Arsenal legend, captain in 3 decades, who lifted 7 major trophies for Arsenal at Highbury and was on 2 double winning sides {1998, 2002}.

Tony Adams: hardcore, hard drinker, hard nut, Arsenal legend

He spent all 22 years of his career at Arsenal, became Arsenal's youngest ever captain at age 21, and remained captain for 14 years until his retirement. He was the rock of the famous "Arsenal back four", the most famous defense in modern English football. In 1991, Arsenal won the league with only 1 loss and amazingly only conceded 18 goals over a 38 match season. And he took the biggest negative of his career, his alcoholism that led to a conviction on "drink driving" {the Brits seem to have a cooler sounding term for EVERYTHING} and spent 3 months in prison, and turned it into a positive, by coming clean, seeking help, conquering his alcoholism, releasing a book about it, Addicted in 1998, and starting a charity that aims to help athletes with drinking, drug, or gambling problems.

One of the biggest legends in Arsenal and Highbury history, and one of my favorite players since I started my journey as an American Gooner back in 1999. His improbably goal in the final game of the 1998 season was the cherry on top of the 1998 Double Ice Cream Sundae and is one of the most revered goals in Highbury history:

Some dude's top 5 Arsenal goals at Highbury {I guess Th14 vs. Spurs was his #6}:

"Would you believe it?!?"

One Foot In The Door

Sparta Prague 0-2 Arsenal
Fabregas 72
Hleb 90

A win, a draw, or even a 1 goal loss next week in London and Arsenal are in.

Cesc scored two goals in the corresponding match last year away to Dinamo Zagreb in a match Arsenal won 0-3. Damn Cescy.

The rest of the 1st leg results:

Sevilla 2-0 AEK Athens
Toulouse 0-1 Liverpool
Ajax 0-1 Slavia Prague
Spartak Moscow 1-1 Celtic
Werder Bremen 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
FK Sarajevo 0-1 Dynamo Kiev
Fenerbache 1-0 Anderlecht
FC Zurich 1-1 Besiktas
SV Salzburg 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
BATE Borisov 2-2 Steaua Bucharest
Tampere United 0-3 Rosenborg

Yesterday's 1st leg results
Valencia 3-0 Elfsborg
Benfica 2-1 FC Copenhagen
Rangers 1-0 Crvena Zvezda
Lazio 1-1 Dinamo Bucharest

Everything pretty much as you would expect, with the exception of Ajax losing at home and now needing a big effort on the road next week.

Return legs next Tuesday & Wednesday, which means that the draw for the Champions League group stages is probably next Thursday or Friday.

Arsenal-Sparta Prague: 1 Cup Tie For Prestige, Playing With The Big Boys, and $50-80 Million

By finishing 4th last season Arsenal "qualified" for the Champions League, but the quotation marks mean that unlike the top 2 EPL finishers, Arsenal must play 1 home and home in the 3rd and final qualifying round to get into he Champions League proper, otherwise known as group stage.

Arsenal have been drawn with Czech league champions Sparta Prague, and they play today in Prague and then next week in London. The winner on aggregate {away goals is the 1st tiebreaker} is in the Champions League, and the loser is not- it's that simple.

At stake is a place at the table with the best of the best, and Arsenal have dined at that table every year since 1998. Oh, and there's the little matter of additional revenue for being in the uber-lucrative CL- somewhere on the order of 25 to 40 million pounds depending on how far you advance.

To the victor goes the trophy with the big ears.
And several boatloads of cash.

Also it should be noted that the transfer window {think: trading deadline} closes in 2 weeks, and I'm sure there is a player or two that Arsene is looking to bring in. Without Champions League football, those players will likely take a pass on Arsenal and sign for a club who is in the CL, and Arsene might then have to drop down a bit on his wishlist.

In other words, it's pretty fucking huge. For a bigger club like Arsenal it would be a massive embarrassment and loss to miss out.

The Champions League is like Ron Burgundy

Here's hoping Tomas Rosicky, who is from Prague and used to play for Sparta {Myles tells us that his dad and older brother played for Sparta as well}, scores 8 goals in his return home thus ensuring a stress free qualification.

Oh, and there 15 other matchups between the other 30 teams fighting to get in. You can keep up with all the scores here or here.

Come on you Gunners...

Monday, August 13, 2007

From The Dept. Of: Are You Shitting Me?
Revisiting Dan Magill As Bill Brasky

Remember last year when I told y'all that legendary Dan Magill was the Bill Brassky of University Of Georgia athletics, culture, and lore?

Paul Westerdawg recently peeled back a few more layers of that onion, and it turns out his crew is just as hardcore as he is. You must read that link, if not just for the Snake Fight once hosted by Dan Magill and his buddy Herschel Carithers. On par with everything else PWD does, it's great stuff.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Few Quick, Dirty, Random EPL Predictions

As the new season gets underway, I just want to get this down so I can look back in May at what a moron I was.

As much as I hate to say it, I think ManUtd will repeat as champions.

I think people are underestimating how much Chel$ea will be affected by the African Nations Cup this year, where among others they will lose the services of their 2 best players from last year, Drogba and Essien. I have a hunch that between this and the soap opera of Mourhino, Abromavich, and the new director of football {Isreali dude whose name I cannot remember}, they will not offer the challenge to ManUtd that everyone expects. I think they will finish 3rd.

Liverpool- no idea, but somewhere between 2nd and 5th {duh}.

The Arsenal- I for one am extremely excited about this Arsenal team, and I honestly think they will be better this year without TH14. In every single player interview so far players are going out of their way to talk about how great team spirit and the desire to fight for each other is- read between the lines and it seems to validate the rumors that the dressing room was not a united cause of peace, love, and happiness with the moody & mercurial Henry as captain the past 2 years. I also think Van Persie is going to blow up this year and score 20 goals, and in Eduardo hopefully Arsenal at long last have a clinical finisher. If they convert even 10-15% more of the million chances they created last year and missed, they will be massively improved. Also Rosicky and Hleb should both be better this year, as so often foreign players need a season to adjust to the EPL and in year two they vastly improve. I seriously think that they will surprise everyone who is automatically slotting them 4th or 5th. I think they will finish 3rd or even 2nd, and I fancy their chances at legitimate cup runs.

I also think that West Ham will be relegated. They stayed up by the skin of their teeth last year, with Tevez carrying them on his back the last several games to do so, and now he is gone. Sadly Ljungberg is past it, and without his pace he is much more limited in what he can do. So give me a fiver on West Ham going down.

So I'll take:

1. ManUtd
2. Arsenal
3. Chel$ea
4. Liverpool

And Pressed Ham going down.

That's it for now.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Feel Good Friday: Summer Haze Is Finally Here Edition

This week has been great, in part because the new Slightly Stoopid album dropped on Tuesday, and I've been jamming to it all week. Their new song "2 am" is so damn syrupy smooth- it's like the better than Grade A Vermont maple syrup that the maple syrup harvesters keep for themselves smooth. It not on the YouTubes yet, but start off your Feel Good Friday by going here, clicking on "2 am" and giving it a listen, or you can go here, pause the jukebox on the right, and then press play on "2 am" on the left.

To say I'm excited that this weekend has finally arrived would be a massive understatement, on the magnitude of saying that it's warm in Tulsa this week. Hell I've been babbling about it on here since it was announced in April.

Tomorrow night the Summer Haze tour comes to The Greek Theater over in Bezerkeley. Summer Haze = Slightly Stoopid, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Ozomatli all doing their thing. If G. Love and Slightly Stoopid aren't my two favorite bands these days, they're certainly waaaay the hell up there, and Ozo is pretty damn good too. Plus I have seen each of them individually in concert so I already know that all 3 bands are incredible live, so there possibility of concert sound is a letdown compared to the studio stuff is right around zero.

Will G. Love cover Snoop's "Gin & Juice" as he is often wont to do?
Probably and hopefully.

Throw in the Greek Theater, one of the greatest venues I have ever been too- hell I'd probably go see Yoko Ono at the Greek- and I'm excited like a upper middle class 6 year old on Christmas morning. Perched up on a hill in the middle of the Cal campus, from the grass above the seating area you look down on the stage and look up to see the SF bay, Bay bridge, downtown SF, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge- it's beyond sweet.

But it doesn't even end there. The Hit is flying in today for the weekend, and not only is he going with me, he scored us backstage passes for G Love from a chance meeting with someone who is marginally affiliated with the band's management, so we may even get to meet some of the performers. At this point it could pour rain all night and I'd still be stoked.

Hopefully collaborations and jams will be the order of the day. Surely G Love will join Slightly Stoopid for his verse on their new tune "Baby I Like It". But most of all I am looking forward to seeing them get together to perform my fave Slightly Stoopid song, "Mellow Mood".

One of the chillest, tightest, and most profound songs evah

Whatever happens, I'm sure that Ozomatli will bring the crazy high energy, Slightly Stoopid will be sick as always, and G. will once again be shittin' on em.

Keep on shittin' on 'em, G.

Have a wonderful weekend, whatever you get yourself into.

Random Friday Photo Fun

So tonight I scanned some old pictures into the digital world, and some of them can be tangentially related to what goes on here, so what the hell?

First up is this file photo of Kanu & Solon in the hallway of the 9th floor of Creswell Hall at about 3 a.m., circa 1992. I'm a fairly skinny dude now, going about 6'2" 180, but this pic reminded me that as a college freshman I was 6'2" and didn't weigh more than 160 soaking wet. Fortunately copious beer drinking soon filled my ass out a bit. And for the record, yes, those are red Duck Head shorts. Laugh all you want, but you had them too, even if they weren't sagging that hard. My initial embarrassment that I am drinking a Miller High Life was tempered by the realization that Solon is drinking a Milwaukee's Best.

Don't fuck with Creswell Hall's penthouse floor, bitches.

Georgia-Florida. 1995. In Athens for one night only due to the renovation of the Gator Bowl. The game fell on October 31, so in our infinite drunken wisdom we thought it would be a good idea to make pumpkinheads and paint them up as UGA football helmets. At the tailgate we got two of them done before we got too drunk to want to do the others. It was really hot and having fresh pumpkin innards on your head in the hot afternoon sun was not exactly something that we had factored in when we originally conceived the plan. I think we used towels and/or aluminum foil pilfered from a nearby tailgate as protective slime buffers between our heads and the inside of the pumpkins. We made it to the stadium but our grand scheme of getting on TV didn't quite pan out since the mighty Gators absolutely annihilated us 51-14, meaning there was very little reason during the game for a camera man to show Georgia fans doing anything celebratory, fun, or festive. Spurrier calling timeout in the last 2 minutes to concoct a trick play touchdown to rub it in, knowing that it made him the first coach in history to hang 50 on UGA in Sanford Stadium cemented his status as the Evil Genius forever. The asskicking was a supreme buzzkill, but the Braves won the World Series that night, which together with massive amounts of alcohol, helped us forget about this game and be happy, if only for a brief while.

Shabba, Pangus, Kanu, and RJ. October 31, 1995

Me & Vince Dawg, the day in summer of 1996 that the Olympic torch ran through Athens while I was working for ACOG all summer. ACOG president and UGA alum Billy Payne ran the torch into Sanford Stadium, went to midfield, and passed it to Coach Dooley who then ran it out. How can you tell it's 1996? I'm rocking one of those woven belts that is too long and hangs out, that's how- at least I didn't have it 2 feet too long and tied it off in a knot. And yes, the Eggbert glasses are horrible I know. But as Solon & my sister told me years later, it was a testament to my game that I managed to get laid by pretty girls whilst rocking those awful specs for 4 years. It's probably closer to the truth that there is so much hott ass in Athens to go around that not even the dorks go thirsty.

Kanu & Vince Diesel, summer of 1996.

Proof, pre-Orson Swindle, the Dawgs and Gators could actually get along peacefully and amicably. That's me and the most legendary Gator I've ever known, let's call him ER, at Blount's wedding reception. The end of the reception, actually, when the sober people start leaving and the drunks drink more and start to get silly. At the time ER was perhaps the one person even remotely related to UF that our group did not despise, and although his boys beat our ass in football every year, we took great pride in his declaration: "I love Florida y'all, but when I want to party in the SEC, I go up to Athens."

2002: Dawg-Gator detente, which I guess makes me Nixon and ER China.

Two pics from the post game celebration in the Georgia Dome parking lot after Georgia beat the shit out of LSU to win the SEC Championship in 2005. It was like 38 degrees, but Tap broke out the bubbly and Cubans, and it was on.

SD in my circa 1994 Brice Hunter jersey, which has been
reborn all these years later as my Kenneth Harris jersey

Solon, Kanu, Tap: "Eh, cabron, saludad el campeon!"

And finally, having nothing to do with anything, is this, a celebratory photographical interpretation of my general goofiness and well known status as not just an ass man, but an ass aficionado.

You put a "butts" sign on a fence outside your restaurant,
and I'm going to show my support for your declaration of being pro-bunda

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Welcome To Tulsa Hell:
2007 PGA Championship Preview

Things you should do in 105 degree heat and humidity:

1. Stay the hell inside with the AC cranked
2. Move to a city or state where it doesn't get 105 degrees with mondo humidity

There you go- that's the list.

You will notice that "playing golf" is not on this list, not to mention "playing golf whilst being mandated to wear pants by rule" or "playing golf for 4 days straight against the best golfers in the world with the aim of winning a major championship whilst not being able to wear shorts by rule".

Today the 2007 PGA Championship gets underway at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where temperatures have been pushing 110 all week, with the added bonus of super humidity- none of that Arizona "dry heat" shit- that is for pussies. Whereas usually the main storyline is either Tiger, Tiger/Phil, or the course setup, this week all of that is being topped by the absolutely brutal weather conditions which border on physically dangerous for players and spectators alike.

Master of the obvious analysis: the winner this week will be 1) relatively young 2) very, very fit and 3) used to playing in heat and humidity, either from where they grew up or going to college at say Oklahoma State or Texas or some other place with similar conditions. This means you can throw out as your winner:

1) anyone over the age of 40- sorry Vijay
2) anyone who is overweight/out of shape- John Daly, Calchavecchia, Paul Goydos, Mantits Mickleson, or the legendary Tim Herron whose nickname is "Lumpy"
3) anyone from cold ass climates, specifically Northern Europeans- so no 2 majors in a row for Irishman Paddy Harrington, and you won't see superpimp Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, or any of the Swedes hoisting the Wannamaker trophy on Sunday evening.

So who wins? Tiger, right? You would think so, as he is the best player on the planet, and also the best physically conditioned golfer, and is coming off a complete bitchslapping of the best golfers in the world last week at the World Golf Championships at Firestone.

The one caveat: Southern Hills is playing to a par of 70 this week, and Tiger's record in par 70 majors is not nearly as dominant as his record in par 72 majors, where he gets 4 par 5s to shoot at. The numbers don't lie:

Par 72 majors
10 wins in 19 starts
.526 winning %
Avg. finish: 6th
Top 10 finishes in 14 of 19 starts

Par 70 majors
1 win in 16 starts {2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black}
.063 winning %
Avg. finish 19th:
Top 10 finishes in 6 of 16 starts

That's not to say he won't win, just that the numbers say that it is not a given by any stretch. That being said, I still wouldn't bet against him.

Either way, he certainly qualifies by the criterion I laid out above. He didn't grow up or play college golf in a really hot place, but the talent gap between him and everyone else, as well as him being the most fit, basically gives him an exemption to this factor. And if not him then someone else relatively young, very fit, and not from a cold place. And don't be surprised if it is someone off everyone's radar, in the last 6 years the PGA has produced obscure winners David Toms {obscure at the time}, Rich Beem, and Shaun Micheel.

You can follow the action from your cubicle at the official site of the PGA Championship, and this weekend on CBS, which I will be enjoying from the 60 degree cool climate of Fog City, USA. Enjoy.

***Update, Thu. 10.20 a.m PST***
Of course, the leaderboard right now is:

1. Arron Oberholser, a native of notoriously cool and chilly Northern California
2. Markus Brier from Austria
3. John Daly, the chain smoking and overweight hero to the common man golfer

But it's early on day 1- I stand by my analysis that in the end none of these three, or anyone else like them, will be around after 4 days in the 105 degree heat & humidity.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Gettin' Wonky With It:
Solon And Tap Discuss The 2007 Dawgs

Warning! Serious longwinded wonk ahead.
Proceed with caution.

Solon sent an email to myself and a few other folks recently, and my buddy Tap engaged him in a discussion about the 2007 Dawgs, as well as some opponents and our chances against them, especially Oklahoma State and South Carolina. Normally I wouldn't throw something like this up, but since I respect the opinion of Solon & Tap on college football and UGA football more than damn near anyone else I know, I'm sharing it. That and the fact that it is a far better season preview of sorts than I could put together, and it saves me the big chunk of time required to do so when I can just cut & paste their great stuff.

So enjoy. Oh yeah, what are your $.02?

Solon's Initial Salvo

I do not know how much research y'all have done for the upcoming CFB season, but I think the Dawgs are up against it. With only 1 of our front 7 returning, I don't see any way that we are going to beat a team that can run the ball as well as Okla State, especially not in the first game of the season. And I think South Carolina is probably the best team in the SEC East. They underperformed last season--outside of getting rolled by us, they were one play away from beating Aub, Tenn, Ark, and Fla--and now they return just about everyone to their D, and return more a lot more to their O than we do.
I really don't think Tenn and Fla are all that good--they are both certainly beatable--but if we start out 0-2, with a tough game away to Alabama also on the September schedule, it could be a long year. At this point, I think we are looking at 8-4 at best, and more likely 6-6. But we should be set up well for 2008.
Am I being a negative Nancy? I'm just continually stunned by all these articles saying we are going to challenge for the SEC East title, when I don't see us coming anywhere close. Richt's building a good program, but this is likely going to be one of those inevitable lean seasons--the big problem with last season is that we went 9-4 when we actually had an 11-2 team (without the injury to Coutu, we'd have beaten Vandy and Kentucky)--but because we didn't play up to our abilities last season, it will look like we've had two bad years in a row.

Tap's Initial Reply

Solon, bro, I love ya but I have to disagree.

#1 I can't fathom any scenario in which SC is the best team in the SEC East at this point. Who cares what they return if most of those players would not see the field for us or Florida? Their losses, while smaller in number, are pretty significant. They still lack anything that should scare anyone at QB, they don't have speed on the outside (other than the incoming Freshmen) and they lack playmakers on Defense. By most accounts, they have two players on Offense and Defense that merit All-SEC 1st-3rd team consideration. That is not IMO the making of the favorite in any division that includes us, Florida and Tennessee.

#2 While we might struggle to stop Oklahoma St, I really don't see any way they will stop us either. Weren't they ranked like 93rd in the nation in total defense last year? (Just looked it up, yes they were). And they lost their entire front 4 on D, which seemed to be the only part of the D that was better than horrid (they were like top 20 in ypc against, but sucked vs the pass).

Looking at this Georgia team, we will certainly have some growing pains with the OL and the DBs. I think we will blitz more than in the past as we struggle a bit to consistently generate pressure from the DE position (although I think J Wynn is gonna be very good). We should be MUCH faster at LB than last year and the overall LB play will certainly be improved IMO. On offense, I have felt all along that Knowshon Moreno was a better pure runner than Lumpkin and Brown and I certainly expect that we will learn this quickly this season. Stafford should be improved approximately a billion percent over last season. Our WR play, as usual, will scare me a bit (gawd bless the return of Bailey).

I certainly think Okie State is capable of beating us, although they probably need it to be a 38-35 type game to do so. I just don't buy that they will come into Sanford and put up those kind of points. SEC speed, esp amongst the front 7 of a team like Georgia, always shocks teams -- generally regardless of who they are (Boise St a couple of years ago and FL vs Ohio St last year being just a couple of examples). Okie State plays the Oklahoma's and Texas's of the world yes, but otherwise, nobody they play will have our team speed. To open a season with us, on the road, and have to win a shootout, has to be a daunting task for any team....

The funny thing is, despite us having potentially been 11-2 last year, IMO last year was that "lean" year of which you speak. I'm not generally overly optimistic, but I think we are at the point now where 6-6 seems largely unfathomable to me given the talent we have assembled. Think about last year's team -- true Frosh QB, no WRs, inconsistent hands at TE, "best RB" (Brown) struggled and then injured for half the season, his backup (Lumpkin) repeatedly had costly plays with missed blocking assignments, Coutu lost for the season, slowest LBs I can remember UGA having in 10 years, underclassmen at DT who were not yet strong enough to not be pushed back -- and yet we prolly should have been 11-2. Yet you feel this team will be significantly worse? I just can't see it...


Solon's 2nd Effort

Hey Tap, good to hear your thoughts. For the record, a set of us (including at least Kanu, Tasso, and myself) are heading out to Vegas this year for the Ga/Fla game--so if you're interested in coming out that weekend, we'll be there.
RE South Carolina:
Ever since SOS was hired at South Carolina, a shift has taken place in the SEC East, as much as it pains me to admit. South Carolina is 1-1 v. Tennessee and Florida, 0-2 against Georgia, and all of these games were competitive with the exception of Georgia's 18-0 win last season. Furthermore, one could argue that South Carolina should have won both of the games against Fla and UT--Florida was incredibly fortunate to beat them last season, and Tennessee had a very fortunate 1st quarter last year in Columbia (with an INT returned for a TD, and a TD pass that bounced off 2 SC DB's in a 7-point win), and they were a missed XP away from playing us to OT in Athens last season.
Long story short, the SEC East is now a 4-team league. And note that SOS has made it so without having anything resembling the base of talent that UGA, UF, and UT had. Certainly, UT, UF, and UGA all have a talent edge on USC, but USC has--by far--the best coach in the division. SOS made a habit of beating more talented teams when he was at Florida, and he is doing the same thing at South Carolina. Add to this that SC has, if nothing else, the most experienced team among the top four teams in the division (returning starters: USC 17; UGA and UT, 11; UF, 8), and you can see why I rate them the team to beat.
As far as specific players, I'm not sure how much it matters--and I still think the gap is smaller than most think.
~At QB, I think Mitchell is a legit QB--I'd certainly trust him to have a better season next year than Tebow or Stafford, who will both obviously develop eventually but will probably still be a little short next season. I don't even want to think about how good either of those guys would be if they had SOS developing them.
~At RB, Boyd and Davis are a good tandem at RB--they outrushed Spiller and Davis in the Clemson game last season, even though Spiller broke off an 80-yard TD run--and Boyd is a great receiver out of the backfield.
~At WR, McKinley is probably better than anyone else in the division, except for Burton. And the truth is, while his physical characteristics are all right--he's 6'0", 181 lbs, and runs a 4.57 40--he's nothing special. He's just a guy who has great numbers because that's what happens when you play WR in Spurrier's offense (think Chris Doering). Hell, Spurrier just put an LB at WR, and the guy will probably be all-SEC. And TE Boyd is almost certainly better than anyone else among the contenders--Ingram might produce more in Meyer's offense, but he's not nearly as good as Boyd is, in my estimation.
~On D, there's little doubt that USC had the #4 D out of the 4 teams last season. But Florida returns 2 starters, Georgia returns 3, Tennessee returns 5, and South Carolina returns 10. Both Florida and Georgia return 1 of their front 7, while South Carolina returns all 7. I don't know if South Carolina will have a better D than Florida or Georgia, but there's no doubt the gap, if one exists, will be pretty small. And, as far as UT goes, the difference between UT and USC last season on D was negligible ( USC--18.7 ppg, 337 ypg; UT--19.5 ppg, 328 ypg).
Certainly, USC has to rebuild their OL. But they do return 33 starts from last year, or just over 1/2 of the starts. They are in much better shape than UGA in this regard, who only return 24 starts to the OL (37%). Given that USC will be facing a somewhat less than vintage Georgia front 7, the task for the UGA OL should be considerably tougher when the teams meet up.
RE Oklahoma State
Little doubt, the OSU D is a joke (I have them ranked 89th last season, not 93rd--not that it matters). The problem is that it is no guarantee that our O will be able to do anything against them. Keep in mind that against the #118 ranked D in the nation last season--Kentucky--we only managed 389 yards. In fact, taking out our game against WKU--where we only gained 295 yards--we averaged 313 ypg, and our opponents gave up an average of 326 ypg. So, we are going to need our O to improve, while trying to rebuild our OL. While this is certainly possible if everything comes together, it seems highly unlikely that it will for the first game of the season.
On the other side of the ball, OSU returns 3 starters on the OL, their top 2 RB, and a mobile QB. It is unlikely that their running game will regress, and the only teams that held them to less than 4 ypc last season were Texas and Oklahoma, two of the better rush defenses in the nation. And OSU is certainly not going to be intimidated by SEC speed, since they just went up against 'Bama, and handled their D pretty well--they ran for 200+ yards, and averaged more than 5 ypc. And, while they only won on a last-second FG, OSU really handled the game from start to finish--'Bama was only competitive because they had a PR TD and an INT that led to a short TD drive in the 4th quarter.
I'm not sure how our LB play is going to be better, at least not at the start. Taylor was certainly the most important player on our D last season, and while Jarvis Jackson was pretty average, if any of the new starters outproduces him next year it will be a miracle. And Miller will have to improve by leaps and bounds to be even halfway respectable. Obviously, there's talent there, but, much like with the OL, it will take some time to develop.
So, to sum up--I'm pretty sure that OSU will do plenty against our D, but even though we are going up against a pretty shitty D everything's got to come together for our O to keep up.
RE Lean Years
It's obviously sort of a weird position to be in, given the mediocrity that ruled the day when we were in Athens, but it's pretty clear that weak Richt teams will be comparable to strong Goff/Donnan ones. Still, the difference between this season and every other team Richt has had--with the possible exception of his first team, the 2001 team that went 8-4--is that our D is considerably worse than any of the units in the intervening years. The 2001 D was legit--they only gave up 19 ppg, and 357 ypg--but they weren't going to win you any games, and neither will this season's D.
Our O last season was quite poor, only scoring 25 ppg--and if you take out the 48 against WKU, we averaged 23 ppg. And those numbers are a little deceptive as well, since we scored several non-offensive TDs--in fact, we only scored 28 TDs in 12 games against 1-A opponents. Obviously, Stafford will be better, but I view him, at least this season, as more a better manager (read: lower INT%) than a bomber (read: higher TD%). Given our problems at WR, I think he is a year away from being viewed as a completely legitimate QB. I expect our running game to be better, but with our issues on the OL, I'd be surprised if we even hit our high ypg under Richt (which stands at 162 ypg).
How does it all add up? While our O will probably improve, our D will probably regress more than the O improves. As a result, the team should be slightly worse (not 'significantly' worse). Our prospects on O might look a little more promising if we returned a solid OL, but we don't.
That said, I probably overstated our problems. Looking at the schedule, 6-6 is probably way too pessimistic. WCU, Ole Miss, @Vandy, Troy, and UK (despite Woodson) are almost certainly wins (Vandy and UK largely because we lost to them last season). While we could certainly lose any of the other seven, it is unlikely that we won't win any of them--especially since none of the teams on the schedule are exceptionally strong contenders (Tenn and Fla are down, 'Bama will probably be pretty average, and we don't play LSU). I think we are probably looking at something like 8-3 going into the GT game, which is a toss-up (with a slight edge to UGA). So, 9-3 then. But that's assuming we avoid injuries, and get some pretty solid special teams play.

Tapley's 2nd Effort

Great reply Solon. I love these discussions...

The first thing that jumps out at me is how we are sort of approaching the season from two very different, although probably equally meritous, views.

I tend to look at "talent and speed" more than experience when I evaluate teams. You appear to be taking the view of "experience certainly makes a huge difference". IMO both views are valid and the truth lies somewhere in the intersection of these two views on some weird statistical chart that I am too lazy to look up (combined with a healthy dose of luck).

I would certainly not disagree with you that Spurrier is the premier coach in the SEC. Hell, I've ALWAYS said that he is IMO the best premier coach in college football. Anyone who thinks he is not a magnificent coach is just wearing UGA blinders. Those same people would worship at his feet if he were UGA's coach today... but I digress.

In general, I believe that great coaching can account for a few wins each year when the talent is equitable and probably one upset every year or two where the team he coaches is quite undermanned. However, winning the 7 or so SEC games required to win the East almost always comes down to talent on the field (or experience, as the case may be).

Looking at some of the athletes in question:

Mitchell vs Stafford or Tebow -- we seem to have VERY different opinions of Blake. He is an average athlete with a subpar arm and sporadic decision making. Having followed him since his Lagrange High School days (after which no major programs sans SC offered him), perhaps my view is a bit jaded. However, I know Spurrier demands near perfection from his QB (remember the repeated Doug Johnson benchings of his Florida years and the move of the SC WR back to QB a couple of years ago). Blake, IMO, is NOT the player to deliver this production and decision-making. You said you trust him to have a better season than Stafford or Tebow -- I trust him to be benched more than I trust him to be better than Stafford. I just don't see it. If Blake is Spurrier's starter for the entire season, he will post his share of stats, no doubt. However, given his scattershot arm and questionable decision-making, I just don't see this happening. Look for at least 2 benchings throughout the year.

At RB, I agree. I think Boyd is VERY underrated nationally. That said, is he really any better than about 10 other RBs UGA faces in any given year? Heck, I certainly would not trade T Choice at Tech for him. And despite Choice having a great game against us, Tech still managed a porous offensive output and score last year. And yes, I know Reggie Ball was their QB. They also had Calvin Johnson. Call me crazy, but I would rather have Ball, Calvin and Choice than Mitchell, Boyd and McKinley. And I gotta believe I am not alone here. (Yes, I know Spurrier vs Gailey is laughable)

You've obviously seen something in Kenny McKinley that I have not. To me, he screams average. Will he probably make All-SEC? Sure, because as we both know, the Spurrier offense should produce at least 2,700 passing yards this year and McKinley will get a LARGE chunk of those. Again, this is mostly due to the lack of supporting cast than anything else. No other WR (other than the incoming freshman) appear to be legit WAC WRs, much less SEC WRs. However, as we all know, stats can often be meaningless. I doubt Florida would trade half of their WRs for him (and Caldwell is probably the #2 guy in our division, not McKinley).

We seem to agree on Defense. We can both concede they have less "athletes" most likely up and down the D than the other big 3. While they return experience, the fact that they only have 2 guys listed on 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team All-SEC by most publications (and the coaches, too, I believe) tells me that they don't return a lot of the best players in the SEC defensively.

I know what you are saying regarding OSU, but a couple of things to remember:
#1 Yardage totals are often misleading, at least when analyzing a single game in a vacuum. For example you mentioned the UK game, and the fact that we ONLY produced 389 yards vs their D. However, as you stated, we basically averaged 313 ypg. So we actually produced 75 yards above our average vs a UK D that allowed only 335 yards to UT (yet somehow allowed over 620 yards to Vandy). Additionally, we held the UK offense to 25 yards less than their season average. The fact that the teams combied for 75 rushes in the game likely contributed to the yardage totals being perhaps less than you would have hoped for... and this is kinda my rambling point. To say we only produced 389 yards vs one of the very worst D's in D1 football is to completely ignore the context of the game itself. UK rushed the ball 42 times during the game, something they did only twice all year, and we rushed it 32 ourselves. 74 rushing plays in a game will certainly limit the total yardage potential vs wide open passing attacks. Now given the result of the game, I am not passing judgment on whether or not we coached a smart game... merely pointing out that the overall yardage total, evaluated without context nor comparison to other game totals, might be slightly deceptive and "spinnable" (not sure that is even a word, but you get the gist)
#2 And this is the mistake I see most often in Fantasy Football at all levels ... last year is not this year. Last year, Matt Stafford was an admittedly somewhat overwhelmed freshman QB taking over the reigns after what amounted to 37 practices as the #1 guy. This year, he is a returning starting QB who will have had approximately 115 practices as "the guy", not to mention confidence-building wins over Auburn, Tech, and Va Tech to close last season. Last year, Okie State had legit two of the 30 best WRs in college football. This year, they return Bowman, who might be the best in college, but have NOBODY on the otherside. Rumor is that true freshman Dez Bryant will open the season as the starter opposite Bowman. So expect Bowman to face double-teams on practically every snap. This combined with lack of production on the other side means that Okie State could see a drop in their offensive production. Teams will double up on Bowman and stack up vs the run, dare the others on the outside to beat them.

Again, the Okie State game, like all first games, brings questions on both sides of the field. I just think that the physical questions are usually answered a bit easier than the mental. And in that right, I give us a slight edge.

Regarding our LB play, I think you are confusing production for good play. Perhaps none of our replacement LBs will match Jarvis's production; however, I fully expect that they will outplay him. We will have more speed and better coverage from our Sam and Will positions than last year. A stats guy I know told me that teams completed 72% for 7.1 yards per to our edges last year -- meaning plays covered by Sam and Will LBs, usually swings to RBs or TEs. Both of these are quite high and teams did exploit both Jarvis and Miller in pass coverage. With Miller moving inside, he will be less often required to pursue TEs, slot WRs, and RBs out of the backfield. It remains to be seen how he will play, but he is can't be worse than he was last year at Mike (rewatch the UT or Colorado game as evidence). He might be a dropoff from Taylor, but him not being at Mike is an instant upgrade there. And the added speed at Mike and Sam just has me convinced that we will be improved at LB, especially where we were exploited most often last year -- on the edge.

RE: your lean years comments -- again you are translating inexperienced to worse. This might be the case; however, it might not. Compared to last year... Our DE play will be worse. Our DT play should be better, since we have the same guys, only a year older, more experienced, and theoretically physically and mentally stronger. Our CB play should be worse with the loss of Oliver. Our S play should be better IMO. Now I have not evaluated vs the worst Ds we have had under Richt, but certainly last year's was not amongst our best loved. However, looking at the season stats, we finished #9 in yards allowed per game and somewhere around #21 or so in points per game allowed. This despite us not getting the expected years out of our DEs and Taylor and being our only solid LB. We might expect a dropoff, but Richt has built a defensive talent base such that we always seem to be solid, even in down years on that side of the ball. That said, this very much shapes up like 2005, one of the few years of the Richt era where we relied on our O to carry us more often than not.
The question, and we probably all agree that this is the key, is whether THIS offense - Stafford, Lumpkin, the new OL, and those WRs - are up to the task.


Thoughts? Comments? Predictions?

Arsenal Joga Bonito Wednesday:
We Love{d} You Freddie Edition

Freddie Ljungberg, Arsenal 1998-2007.

A true Arsenal legend. Scored on his debut against biggest rivals Manchester United, a team he would have a habit of scoring against down through the years. Ran his socks off in every match. Scored huge goals in huge games. Fast as shit on the wing, ran right around people, made perfectly timed runs and was a great finisher. To say that he played with passion, was a fan favorite, and loved the club and fans is a bit of an understatement: dude dyed his hair red {back when he had it} to show he was Arsenal through and through. This begat his epic and famous song, to the tune "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons:

"We love you, Freddie
Because you've got red hair
We love you, Freddie
Because you're everywhere
We love you Freddie,
Cause you're Arsenal through and through."

Went on an unreal tear at the end of the 2002 season leading Arsenal to the double {Premiership & FA Cup titles}. Scored in consecutive FA Cup finals in 2001 & 2002, and his amazing 2002 late goal against Chelsea but the 1-0 match to bed as a 2-0 win, bringing the FA Cup to Highbury.

That FA Cup clinching goal.

Afterwards he was interviewed on live TV and asked one of those inane questions by the TV inverviewer like "Freddy, how does it feel?", to which he replied "It's fucking excellent!" which further cemented his legend status and provided the byline for soon to be created Arseblog.

The last two years he has lost his speed and can no longer run around people, and has only scored 1 league goal in the last 2 seasons and perhaps 4 total. Additionally his 70,000 pound a week salary was a bit of a burden as well considering his contribution, so he was sold to Pressed Ham United.

Thanks for everything Freddie, you will always be an Arsenal legend, loved by the fans, and lusted after by the ladies, who loved him as much if not more for his moonlighting gig as a CK underwear model. Best of luck Freddie.

How I'll remember FL8

How my sister will remember FL8

No thanks to some wankers named "NetResult", who just in the past week have made YouTube remove every single compilation video of Ljungberg that existed. Fuckers. {*Update: screw you, NetResult, I found one}.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Word About Bonds: Can We All Calm Down Now?

Trippy- I was in Safeway tonight around 9 p.m. grabbing some ice cream and dental floss, and some dude came on the PA and announced "ladies and gentlemen, I want to announce that Barry Bonds has just hit home run 756 and is now the all time home run king. That is all. Thank you". For the rest of my life, whenever this accomplishment is mentioned, I'll think back and remember where I was when it happened- reaching for a box of dental floss while slyly checking out the cute girl with the hot ass at the end of the health & beauty isle in the Marina Safeway. Kind of surreal/trippy, and probably the first time in my life that I heard something other than "clean up on isle 9", "price check on register 3", or bad, bad music over the intercom system in a grocery store.

Anyhow, that's not my point. My point is this: all the hand wringing, controversy, lining up on one side or the other re: Bonds, all of it- can we just stop now?

Why, you ask?

Because it doesn't really matter that much, as this record won't be around for long- A-Rod is going to smash the shit out of this record. He just turned 30 32 and is at 500 HRs. At this pace he'll hit 770 in 6 short years at age 36 38, and even allowing for a dropoff in numbers as he ages, the only thing that will prevent A-Rod from hitting 800 home runs is injury, death, or pulling a Bjorn Borg and simply walking away: while the first one is a possibility, the last two are extremely unlikely.

So everyone calm down, take a deep breath, and relax: this record is not going to last for very long in the grand scheme of baseball history. And when A-Rod does become the all time home run king, then one of baseball's most cherished records will reside with the man who perfectly represents the modern professional athlete: extremely talented, massively compensated, very PR savvy, a dude who excels on the field while meticulously crafting a fake likeable persona as the well spoken all around respectable good guy, but when push comes to shove is exposed as a phony, a money grubbing mercenary, not a great teammate, and most importantly a cheater, both on the field {I cannot believe that there is not a YouTube clip of him knocking the ball out of the Red Sox pitcher's glove in the 2004 ALCS}, and on his trophy wife with a stripper no less. And at the end of the day that is probably a better place for the HR record, as again, it perfectly encapsulates the modern American professional athlete stereotype. Certainly moreso than Bonds, a player who is being villified for not breaking any baseball rule {read: the rage and hate should be aimed not at Bonds but at baseball and Selig for being so incredibly stupid for allowing & implictly and knowingly encouraging steroid use to create more home runs after the strike to bring fans back to the game, and people should also remember that it's just as likely that tons of pitchers juiced like mofos as well}.

So fear not haters, Bonds will be rendered somewhat irrelevant soon enough. He still is if we remember that Josh Gibson by all accounts hit between 850-1000 home runs against better competition than MLB had during the period that he played.

Another thing- what the hell is ESPN's Pedro Gomez supposed to do now? Will he even have a job next week?