Thursday, August 31, 2006

Take Your Pick

Sure as the sun rose on the morning of August 31, the first day of College Football, an auspicious email appeared in my Inbox this morning from a familiar sender from whom I haven't heard since the Super Bowl.

It was my old friend reminding me with assured language to 'Bet College Football.' Well, this really brightened my day. Not only was it a blissful reminder that this is indeed the first day in many wherein a live game of competitive American football will be played, but also a reinforcement of my personal conviction that Gambling For Money is the cherry on top when it comes to College Football fandom.

There's no uninteresting angle in today's age where the parlay is king and everything from the mundane (cointoss) to the sublime (sack total) is up for wagered debate.

In their email Sportsbetting presents a pretty straightforward approach, encouraging long shot betting on the eventual National Champion with these delectable odds:

Notre Dame 4-1
Ohio St 7-1
USC 8-1
West Virginia 8-1
Texas 10-1
Auburn 12-1
Florida 15-1
California 15-1
Oklahoma 15-1
Louisville 18-1
Iowa 20-1
Michigan 20-1
Florida St 20-1
Miami FL 25-1
LSU 25-1
Penn St 40-1
Virginia Tech 40-1
Nebraska 50-1
Arizona St 50-1
Georgia 60-1
Tennessee 60-1
Oregon 70-1
Clemson 70-1

And I am tempted to put at least a few bucks on everyone with 20-1 and higher. Could pay out and will largely expand my list of to-root-for teams throughout the season.

As far as tonight, I'm taking both Mississippi State and (+7.5) and Central Michigan (+12.5) at home.

* You will have noticed that I linked to Wikipedia several times in this post. I love Wikipedia. And its entries on American Football and Gambing are no exceptions to the gold standard of user-developed content that they host. However, will someone please tell me why nobody has written an article yet on the Gambling sub-topics 'Con Games (in bars)' listed as follows:

* Put and Take
* The Smack
* The Drunken Mitt

The names are so intriguing. Someone with some experience plese write these, the seedy underbelly of betting and money games demands it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Onion Hacks Into

The only explanation for this story is that someone from The Onion hacked into SI's site and posted this article.

Not to mention that Rutgers' only Heisman winner was in 1958 (Bill Austin), back when running backs were called "tailbacks," but the talent is so overwhelming for the Heisman as it is that it is unlikely that this guy will even be looked at unless he has an unbelieveable season.

Leonard will need to rush for 2,000 yards and score 25 TDs to even be in the race from Rutgers.

This same fake article from stated:

Leonard humble as Rutgers mounts Heisman hype

I sure as hell hope so, unless he is an illegitimate child of Brady Quinn's or a long-lost lover of Adrian Peterson's. Not to mention his illegal arms trading with Troy Smith. I think that's the only way he's going to get into Heisman talk.

But seriously, Leonard rushed for 740 yards and 11 TDs last season. That was 80th in the country, right behind Penn State QUARTERBACK Michael Robinson.

But this is where it gets good: first-string tailback Raymell Rice (who rushed for a respectable 1100 yards -- 33rd in the country) is still there and will be playing this year. So where does Leonard's Heisman hype come from?

According to this fake article:

"Among active NCAA players entering this season, Leonard is first in touchdowns (40) and career rushing attempts (585), fourth in receptions (169), sixth in rushing touchdowns (27) and eighth in rushing yards (2,352). With 242 points, he is 19 points shy of Rutgers' career-scoring record."

Sounds like a fairytale season might be at hand for the Scarlet Knights, who open this season at UNC on Saturday. And while I'll have to include Rutgers (+5.5) on my parlay card for this Saturday, I must say this to The Onion: Another job well done, my hilarious friends.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Adios CFN!

I know I've ragged on CFN for their watery, recycled content before. But I always kind of loved it for what it was steady, free content. And sort of like the local slut, CFN kept me floating through the offseason when the major sports web sites were pulling catholic high school maneuvers and not putting out.

That CFN gave to me in my time of need was not overlooked, and I always felt enough of an allegiance to check in every now and then (ok, daily) for a quick nut.

But when I dropped by for my fix this morning, I found to my horror that the familiar URL:, redirects to a spiffy new web page with an all-too-familiar look that you and every College Football fan has seen disgrace the coverage of their own beloved teams.


That's right, old reliable is gone. And we've got suckfest (fungible with for overall crappiness) taking the reigns.

This was probably CFN's exit-strategy, get big enough to get bought out, and it's the way of the Internet, but it's always a fresh and shocking shame when decent free content (and just when CFN was gaining legitimacy) gets purchased and perverted by inferior providers who, like crack dealers, give a free taste than charge outrageous amounts once you need the fix.

The new CFN/Scout site is still free (for the time being), but mostly purveying the last summer's share of content that CFN pumped out. So nothing new in terms of added value, and watch out before too long I guarantee it will become just another filter pushing people into the Scout subscription service. They've already squeezed every last drop of profit out of covering recruiting and have dug their grubbing, wormy fingers into the larger college football coverage landscape.

So goodbye CFN, it was fun while it lasted.

Scout, nice try, but you'll never get a penny out of me fuckers!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Special: The Blue Field

As a native Boisean I'm always looking for ways to promote the up and coming Boise State Broncos. In that effort I'm not too proud to piggy-back on the recent work of The Idaho Statesman, who has just posted this documentary both celebrating Boise State's smurf-turf blue AstroPlay field, now in its 20th year, and debunking some of the most pervasive myth's about the field (such as the idea that bird's crash land on the field after mistaking it for a rectangular pond).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

7 Days 'Til College Football

The NCAA Division I Football season officially begins one week from today! Sure, August 31 is a Thursday, but like the scummy, malarial pond at the oasis after crawling through thousands of miles of barren Saharan sands, I won't split hairs when it comes to finally quenching the unquenchable thirst. I will drink, and drink deeply.

This year, it's the Middle-American Conference filling my cup in style and taking on all comers in a MAC vs. the World extravaganza that pits more than half the conference against representatives of the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12.


Boston College at Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan at Ball State
Temple at Buffalo
Minnesota at Kent State
Northwestern at Miami (of Ohio)
Toledo at Iowa State

Presumably the MAC sold out en masse (worse than ever the WAC does) to get some of that precious off-peak television coverage that has been the clever domain of Mid-Major teams capitulating to Disney to grab some national attention in recent years. So too bad the only nationally syndicated of the above will be BC at CMU, airing on ESPN2.

Admittedly, Northwestern at Miami (of Ohio), is a more interesting matchup than the BC/CMU game and will be airing on ESPNU. But the fact is still that you'll have to pay premium prices for your beer to watch this on TV. And probably there will be some regional broadcasts, but outside of small-market Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, we're talking a minimum of airtime so in the end, dang, talk about a backfire for the MAC.

Otherwise that day we've got a host of these exciting 'I didn't know they were D-I' matchups:

Rhode Island at Connecticut
Stephen F. Austin at Tulsa
UTEP at San Diego State
(that's Florida International at Middle-Tennessee State University, thank you)

The Pac-10 will be picking on the I-AA's Big Sky Conference:

Northern Arizona at Arizona State
Eastern Washington at Oregon State

And finally, the lone BCS Matchup of the entire day, the worst SEC team outside of Nashville, Tennessee plays Stever Spurrier's ego:

South Carolina at Mississippi State

Predictably, this is ESPN's choice for the evening's broadcast.

But I'm not complaining. I'll be grinning like this guy with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other, because in one week from now it's College Football.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Is CFN Gaining Legitimacy?

Given, it's the Free Press, but this is perhaps the first time I've seen any newspaper, let alone a major market daily give any cred to College Football News.

Here is the Freep, where real journalists probably work, piggy-backing on the hard work of the CFN team and touting this analysis as number crunching of some estimable importance. It must be so good in fact that it obviated the need for the Freep to do any calculation of its own, because who could aspire to better? (The Wall Street Journal maybe?)

All that aside, is this a mark of credibility for CFN? Yes. They are doing some things right. Their calculation seems rationally and painstakingly thought out. I buy their justification. But is it newsworthy for more than the OCD college football fans that patrol CFN? And does one of those fans also cover the Wolverines for the Freep?

All credit due to CFN, I think this is more likely just a lazy effort to provide (old) morale-boosting content for Michigan fans whose preseason ranking outside of the top 10 in either poll is the first since 1997.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's About Time

Last September, when I'd nestled into the butt-print I'd spent the previous season imprinting in my friend's couch and popped open the familiar Foster's Oil Can at 9:30 am EST to watch two and half hours of College Gameday, I knew the season was upon us.

Through the noon and afternoon waves of Big Ten, ACC and Big East games I cruised like a champion, only lamenting the preponderance of diamond ring and life insurance commericals on tv.

But the football was good. Some dozen beers and two pizzas later, the SEC games were just rounding the halftime mark with at least 90 minutes to go, and the Pac 10 was rising in the middle of the first quarter for the real diehards trying to go coast to coast through the full slate of televised games.

But I was dragging ass hard. It was a Saturday night in my mid-twenties, my team had won and I was beat. What was the matter?

Are college football games too long?

Yes, said the NCAA recently with their new rules tweaks to speed up the pace of play.

Starting this season, on a first down the clock starts "at the ready," when the official thinks the teams are all set to play, and not at the snap.

On kickoffs, the clock will now start when the kicker strikes the ball.

This is supposed to be a way to trim the length of games, which had grown in recent years to 3 hours 20 minutes, by eliminating 11-14 plays per game.

How's that for missing the point entirely? It's not that were sick of seeing more *football plays, it's that its taking longer to see it. Thanks to TV and diamond commercials.

So instead of eliminating 11-14 plays per game, which if you think about it ensures there's now more time for commercials, let's try eliminating 11-14 commercials per game and all of the tv timeouts. What do you bet that would make more of an impact on keeping games under 30 minutes?

But I'm not living in the '50s either and I understand that advertising dollars have to some degree facilitated the time of plenty in today's college football world. I'm just saying there's another way it can be done wherein I don't have to deal with 30 seconds of guilt induced by a financial planning commerical after seven minutes of football.

I like the way the World Cup does things, with a subtle advertiserment visible at all times during the continous flow of play. Why pray tell can't college football (and even the NFL) take a cue from the only sport that rivals these two in terms of sheer fandom and deliver the goods in an uncompromised way?

Consider the case of Zidane's headbutt in the world cup final. This act of savagery was blazed into the minds of millions at the time of broadcast and with a convenient little corporate logo in the corner, unofficially sponsored by Coke (at least on Univision). Consider that now in the age of viral videos on the internet, how many other people have and will continue to view this clip online and you're talking billions of impressions and I doubt any of Coke's regular TV spots could penetrate so deep.

So take that to the bank, college football sponsors and the NCAA, and give us what we want: not less plays, just fewer advertisements.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Truth Behind the Scuttlebutt

The demise of Rhett Bomar is old news already, and I've got nothing juicy to contribute to the general finger wagging that's going on. But behind the headlines, and paternal commentary is an interesting testament to the mode of delivery that first scooped this story and made it old news in hurry - the Internet college football community.

Stewart Mandel is reporting on his *blog* that the word on Rhett Bomar's gross overcompensation for selling Kia's was reported way back in January on the Internet by a concerned fan just like you and me.

After posting his concerns on, "aggiegrant06" was branded a heretic for espousing such blasphemous (and potentially NCAA regulation violatous) 'scuttlebutt.'

However, here on the eve of the 2006 season, with the Sooners a pre-season favorite for both the Big 12 and National titles (at least before the breaking of Kia Gate), "aggiegrant06" has been vindicated as Rhett's folly has turned out to be the Gospel truth and produced not only his ouster from Norman but potential problems for the Sooners in terms of this season's chances and NCAA investigations, sanctions if this whole thing turns out to be as stinky as it whiffs right now.

But first, witness the waxing power of the Internet! Score one for the legitimacy of messages boards and blogs!

There is truth emerging in the clamor of the internet and traditional media is starting to pay attention. With the ease of access and flow of information, the Internet gives us eyes and ears everywhere and even formerly impregnable fortresses of media coverage and message control, like Schembechler Hall at Michigan, are powerless to stop it.

Michigan fans have for years been frustrated by the Draconian control of information particularly as it pertained to unpleasant topics like injuries, infractions, punishment, firings, etc. But with the emergence of chatboards and blogs, the chinks in the armor are beginning to be exploited.

Admittedly, not all of the information is accurate (reports of an offseason injury to Chris Perry before the 2003 season) but much of it has been good (early reports of the firings of hated Michigan coordinators Tim Malone and Jim Hermann).

Which leads you to wonder how much truth there is to current reports on UMGoBlue that Antonio Bass was injured playing basketball (rather than the messaged offseason football conditioning, though I supposed you could spin some hoops that way).

This is just one examples of the truth refusing to be contained and it pleases me to no end that similar exchange is going on message boards and blogs representing every team everywhere. There has never been a better day to be a fan of College Football.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Thrilling Future

A premonition I had today.

November 18, 2006
Columbus, Ohio

Brent Musberger:

"It's a beautiful day here in Columbus, mid 50s, sunny, and the Michigan Wolverines are looking for their first undefeated season since 1997. The Ohio State Buckeyes are the only thing standing in their way, but with Ohio State being the only other undefeated team in the country, today's game is of monumental importance. This is not only about the 100 Yard War and backyard bragging rights. In the next 4 quarters, we'll see what these two squads are made of.

Michigan has come from behind this season to pull off some great upsets and has fought their way to the top of the rankings. Ohio State started off looking great in Austin against Texas and has never slowed down. Coming up next, we'll find out who wins the Big Ten championship and a trip to the BCS national championship game on January 8th in Glendale, Arizona."


Friday, August 04, 2006

Preseason Coaches' Poll Chat Transcript

The USA Today Coaches' Poll came out today, and in reaction to tOSU's #1 preseason ranking, Switters and I had this nasty little exchange over IM:

Sent at 9:22 AM on Friday

guess who's #1
bad luck

Sent at 9:22 AM on Friday

you guys are screwed

if by screwed you mean undefeated

Sent at 9:27 AM on Friday

you're going to lose 2-3 games this season
i'm calling it now

go ahead and call it

i just did

you're going to be wrong old man

let's talk in december

will do
right after i book my flight to tempe for the national championship game
i'll be in good spirits

Sent at 9:33 AM on Friday

you'll be crying in your beer on new years

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why the WAC is Suddenly the Most Relevant Mid-Major Conference

With Louisville’s timely graduation to the BCS (if you can refer to the Big East as such in more than deference to its Miami/Virginia Tech glory days) and Utah’s return to earth a year separated from the Alex Smith era, there is a power vacuum in the Mid-Major ranks that is being filled by the Western Athletic Conference.

And while the most pub the WAC is currently getting has to do with having the least Mormon of all the Mormons in Utah (Read: Utah State Football Loves Pot!), the WAC, more so than Conference USA, the Mountain West or the MAC, is flying under the radar as the Mid Major of consequence this season. The obvious reasons are conference powers Boise State and Fresno State. Both programs have big expectations for the season.

Fresno State will assume its typical giant-killing posture with high profile non-conference matchups against Oregon, at Washington and a nasty roadtrip to Louisiana State.

BSU was picked to win their fifth straight WAC title and with a relatively easy schedule (Fresno State and Oregon State visit the blue turf) expectations are high for a 12-0 regular season and the second bid ever for a Mid-Major to play in the BCS. Coming off a national setback in an embarrassing season-opening performance at Georgia last season, the pressure on Boise State has never been greater to regain national relevance. And with Dan Hawkins departed for Colorado, these are fine times to be breaking in new coach Pete Petersen. But he’s an offensive madman, and the Broncos are deep on offense and defense, returning a shit load of starters, so the table is set.

Hometown pride is at an all-time high at Boise. The Idaho Statesman, the local Gannett rag, is pretty modest in all facets except for its new awesome Boise State Football page on its website. Seriously, this is pretty amazing as far as local coverage goes. Check out the Michigan coverage in the Detroit News if you don't agree.

Still, Boise and Fresno are old news, and the recurring criticism of the recent-era WAC has been that as a conference it’s a two-trick pony. (Similar arguments could be made for many conferences and, should West Virginia wash out, the Big East could be characterized as a rare, no-trick pony. And that, Dave Wannstadt, is one ugly hooker.)

But for the first time in recent memory, this may no longer be valid as the conference is developing some depth in emerging powers Nevada and Hawaii. Each of whom will also get to test their mettle against nationally prominent opponents like Alabama, Purdue and Arizona State. Hawaii's got this guy Colt Brennan, who figures to be more prolific than Timmy Chang, and they can usually manage to defeat a jetlagged BCS team out in the Islands. Just ask Alabama or Michigan State.

The bottom of the conference is like any other, but I’d take San Jose State over a Jay Cutler-less Vanderbilt any day because WAC teams can score some points. But from the top to the bottom, the WAC's also a Petri Dish for coaching talent: the Boise State strain dating back to Pokey (RIP) Allen, counts Houston Nutt, Dirk Koetter, and Dan Hawkins among its ranks; according to ESPN Radio Pat Hill is one of only eight mustachioed coaches in D-1A (and its a great mustache); Mike Price revived his career at UTEP when they were in the conference. And now Dennis Erickson at Idaho (coming off rebuilding Oregon State) will try to do the same.