Thursday, January 11, 2007

Roy Hall is Ohio's Public Enemy #1

This looks bad, and I bet this guy (Roy Hall) already feels pretty bad. After hearing the resounding cry from Ohio if only Ted hadn't been hurt maybe 41-14 Gators wouldn't have happened, who wouldn't? Up until today, however, there was a cloud of mystery surrounding Ginn's injury and it just seemed like one of those things - or a goddamned blight from fate. So it's unfortunate for Roy that a.) someone was there to capture the moment of the crime, and b.) that Sports Illustrated put said picture out there for the world to see and judge.

I'm going to heap onto that mountain of shame because what a waste right? I've always watched the celebratory, tackle-the-amazing-guy-that-just-scored in the end zone thing with a little bit of incomprehension. I know you're jacked up 'cause your team just scored, but why risk hurting the team when chances are you're going to need to score again?

Already with Adrian Peterson shattering his collar bone on an unnecessary, celebratory dive into the end zone we have seen the folly and potential consequence of stupid end zone celebrations. Now it's getting out there that another ended Ted Ginn's BCS Championship game prematurely, and after such a promising start.

Chances are Roy Hall's learned his lesson, but it was such an expensive one so we'd better hope the lesson itself is invaluable and that's why I don't feel so bad, after all, heaping a little additional shame on this moron's shoulders.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Problems With the Post-Season College Football Rankings

I have a problem with Boise State's final rankings of 5 in the AP Poll and 6 in the Coaches Poll. Come on guys. They belong inside the Top 3 at least. And Ohio State's final ranking is pure lip service to the fact that they were in the Nat'l Championship game. Which is fine. It's an achievement. But the way the lost, and that at the end of it all their best win was over Michigan, I think they belong lower, like 5-6 range.

Michigan, who did not get beat as badly as Ohio State in their bowl game, fell 5-6 spots to numbers 8 and 9. Is Ohio State looking better than USC, LSU or Boise State these days? After racking up just 80 yards of offense on Monday night I'd argue no. They aren't the number 2 team.

So who is? Boise State, but for the blueblood of college football's continued reluctance to respect a 'mid-major.'

According to Michael Wilbon (who said he would vote Boise State at #2) on last night's PTI the only sports journalist in the country with the stones to match Chris Petersen's, and vote Boise State #1, was Greg Archuleta of the Albuquerque Journal. Way to go guy. That's a true pioneer.

But how was Boise State to climb higher when even the Idaho Statesman's own Mike Prater, couldn't bring himself up to the (shameless?) homerism to vote Boise State #1? He put them at #2.

And I don't necessarily disagree with that vote, but he had to know Boise State had an uphill battle to get to the AP Championship and I would have appreciated the moxie of that #1 vote from the hometown writer.

All the same it's interesting to see the AP Voters Votes (all available here). You will note some big-time names on there, like Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler, and Stewart "What the Fuck Did I Do to Deserve an AP Vote?" Mandel, each one of them towing the corporate line and dicking the Broncos over with #5 votes.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

We Were All Wrong, Except Urban Meyer

Wow. What happened? I had some faint misgivings when Michigan got thrashed by USC in the Rose Bowl, admittedly, and against my natural inclinations, I started to suspect the Big 10. But I never saw this happening.

Yeah, Penn State/Tennessee, yeah Wisconsin/Arkansas, but something was smelly at the top. I had the feeling that if Ohio State and Michigan beat the crap out of each other and seemed well matched back in November, was there a problem if Michigan didn't seem to belong on the same field as USC on New Year's Day?

Since beating Michigan was Ohio State's signature, and only "elite," win as Texas panned out, did this mean that the Buckeyes were suspect? I had that tingle in my reptilian sub-brain, but I quashed it because the Buckeyes looked unstoppable and I believed in the Big 10.

Now it's been exposed. I didn't follow Ohio State with the same level of detail that I invested in Michigan, so I can't speculate on what went wrong with the gameplan, coaching or execution (and I hope that when Switters peels himself up out of his alcohol-induced fugue he'll have the courage to try). But with 82 yards of offense, and Florida defenders grabbing and eating chunks of Troy Smith like cotton candy, I can restate the obvious and say that something went very, very wrong.

And for the first time in my life I felt terrible for Troy Smith getting sacked. This miserable ending did not befit the apparent season he'd had. Nor did it fit the season that the Buckeyes turned in.

I supposed the speculation will turn to the 51 days of waiting time, or the de-emphasis on preparation, the lack of what they call 'hunger' or 'fire,' that comes with being the odds-on favorite not just to win but to destroy. Then maybe there's the Ohio State/SEC jinx (0-8 in as many tries) or the fact that Ohio State was one of Sports Illustrated's #1 Cover teams back in August and Florida was not.

Anyway it falls out it was a disappointing finale for the Big Ten and they've taken a nationally televised beating that diminishes a lot of the respect for the conference and validates the SEC's claim to best in the land.

Finally, you do have to hand it to Florida and Urban Meyer. They worked it.


Monday, January 08, 2007

All Eyes on Troy Smith

You might think this picture of Jim Tressel is from January 8, 2007. It's not, it's from January 3, 2003. But before I part for the day, filled with some work and some recreation, these are the reasons why I think Ohio State outmatches Florida tonight:

1. Offensive weapons -- As everyone saw in the Michigan game, Ohio State possesses a legitimate running game with Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells. And at the skill positions, you add that to two GREAT receivers: Ted Ginn, whose speed everyone is afraid of, and Anthony Gonzalez, whose route-running ability should be made into a "Wide Receiver Play for Idiots" book.

2. Senator Tressel -- He's a big game coach. He takes his team to what will basically be a home game for the Buckeyes, he knows how to keep them focused, and he brings the team to play. Every game. Tonight will be no different. Watch for Tressel to continue to shed the conservative coaching image and let Troy Smith do his thang.

3. James Laurinaitis -- The front four will have to get significant pressure on Leak to wear him down, which brings more pressure on the Ohio State LBs. Laurinaitis will be forced to drop back in some cover packages and will be asked to put pressure on Leak at times. His versatility, endurance, and determination will prove to be a huge factor in this game.

4. A.J. Trapasso -- The Ohio State punter is averaging 41 yards per kick, and if you remember the Texas game, he was consistently sticking the Longhorns inside their own 20. When OSU is forced to punt, Trapasso will continue his stellar season by leaving the Gators at a field-position disadvantage.

5. Troy Smith -- He is one day away from accomplishing everything that could possibly be asked of an all-time great Buckeye. Three wins and zero losses against Michigan, leading his team to a 19-game winning streak, a Heisman Trophy, and this last step......a National Championship. He was on the sidelines the last time the Buckeyes brought it home, not playing, just imagining what it would be like to be on the field.

This is Troy's time to shine. I'm going to shed a tear when he leaves the field for the last time, but appreciate the fact that I was able to watch the best Ohio State quarterback of all time.

Thanks Troy.

Go Bucks.

Friday, January 05, 2007

USA Today + Bathroom Break = Bliss

After I ranted for a while about Florida and Ohio State a few minutes back, I had to retire with the trusty USA Today Sports section. I think that sports writer Jack Carey and I are on the same page. The title of the article, "Speedy Florida aware that Ohio State can motor, too," pretty much sums it up.

It's not just the multi-colored, bar graph and graphic heavy layout, and 3rd grade reading level that impresses me about USA Today. What's great is that they can be the leading daily newspaper, and not really go into any depth beyond the headline. But given that I have this space to elaborate, I will do so.

My buddy Jack Carey says what I don't have the clout to say in a national newspaper:

"Anyone who doesn't think a Big Ten team can successfully match up, speed-wise, with an SEC power might have missed Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer's comments before his team played Penn State in Monday's Outback Bowl.

"On defense, they're really fast," Fulmer said of the Lions. "And their receivers run away from people."

Tennessee lost that game to Penn State on the same day another Big Ten team, Wisconsin beat SEC West champ Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. On Monday, the Buckeyes hope to continue forging a new reputation for themselves and their league: speed kills."

Maybe Phil Fulmer isn't the best person to quote, given that he should have been fired years ago. But Florida WR Dallas Baker (whose awesome name alone should be enough to get him into the NFL) says it even better:

"As far as the speed issue, that's what makes Ohio State Ohio State. Everybody is saying, 'Big Ten this, Big Ten that,' but if you really look at it, they do have speed like a team from the (Southeastern Conference). That's why they're undefeated."

Thanks, Dallas. Enjoy your meeting with Malcolm Jenkins.


Florida: Too Fast for Love

So I was at a bar last weekend, minding my own business, watching Penn State and Wisconsin defeat their respective SEC opponents, and I overhear this Auburn fan talking to his Auburn friends about the Ohio State vs. Florida game.

Regardless of how much I make fun of SEC fans about their delusional, whining nature, they never cease to amaze me. So this Auburn fan tells his friend:

"Ohio State plays two tough games per year. If they played Florida's schedule, they'd have 3 or 4 losses."

Interesting. I guess it's just all the speed in the SEC that is overwhelming to lowly Big Ten teams, such as Penn State and Wisconsin. We'll see this Monday how slow Ohio State really is when they finally are matched up against a real football team.

The Buckeyes have done everything they've been asked to do this season. They have won all 13 of their games, put up great numbers on almost every team they've played, and allowed less than 10 points per game. But let's see why some experts are saying Ohio State will lose.

Scouts, Inc. predicts that Florida will win for a few reasons. But what is Scouts, Inc. all about, anyway?

"The analysts and talent evaluators at ESPN's Scouts Inc. watch games, break down film and use their extensive experience and contacts in their respective sports to provide the deepest and most detailed scouting reports available anywhere."

The detailed and deep scouting report for this game included this insightful comment:

"The issue of time between games plays to Florida's advantage. The 51-day layoff could prove to be a disadvantage for a Buckeyes' offense that was clicking on all cylinders when it last took the field. Conversely, while 37-day layoff is long enough for the Gators to get some key players rested, it's not too long to get out of rhythm."

So 37 days is not long enough to get out of rhythm, but 51 days is. I guess 38 days is the magic number. This is something I would not know unless I were an expert.

But let's get to the heart of the matter:

"Florida's defensive speed is underrated. Ohio State is blessed with tremendous offensive weapons, as witnessed in its dismantling of the Wolverines' well-respected defense. However, the Gator's defensive front seven is even faster and their secondary matches up far better athletically versus the Buckeyes' deep corps of receivers."

Let's take the Michigan game as an example. Scouts points out that "The Gators lack ideal depth at cornerback," and in the Michigan game Troy Smith passed to EIGHT different receivers for 320 yards and 4 touchdowns. Without depth, it's going to be tough to cover a combination of 4 receivers at a time while they have a corps of eight to rotate in there. Good luck.

Scouts: "Florida must get consistent pressure on Smith without being forced to incorporate too many linebackers on the blitz." But thankfully Scouts also points out that "The Buckeye offensive line is a physical and aggressive unit that averages more than 312 pounds per member."

312 pounds average. When you have an offensive line like that who can open holes for two great running backs in Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells (who have combined for
,738 yards and 20 touchdowns), and protect the quarterback, you're in trouble.

This game will be like every other Buckeye game this year: there are too many weapons for any defense to handle. We'll start off with a potent mix of big passes and runs up the middle, knock them off guard, and take advantage of the big plays. The SEC does not scare me, especially against this juggernaut.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What Michigan Can Learn From Boise State

Brian over at MGoBlog is still too shaken up to write about the gut-wrenching football performance Michigan laid egg-style in the Rose Bowl on Monday. Instead, in his first post since the Rose Bowl, on his Michigan football blog, he's given us a blow-by-blow
of the Tournament of Roses Parade
. Good grief. Or shall I say good display of grief. (Though I did enjoy the part about the "Petite Elite Miniature Horse Precision Drill Team.")

What we're all getting at here is the deep shock and hurt at Michigan's inability to close a season in proper style since, uh, 2000?

We all have our theories (one still cooking in my noodle has to do with the appearance of a string of uncannily horrendous haircuts on the Michigan QBs since Drew Henson left for the Yankees after the last big-time Bowl win for Michigan in the 2001 Capital One Citrus Bowl (ack) over Auburn).

But the truth is probably less meta-physical than some dim connection between cool haircuts and winning big games, though I still say it wouldn't hurt to see a little more bad-ass swagger out of UM QBs so long as it stays below the realm of coolly-coiffed chach-factory losers like Chris Rix and the Clausen clan. (What hope have we for Mallett?)
But back to arguable facts, the truth is so simple my girlfriend said it during the Fiesta Bowl later on Sunday. She said, Michigan doesn't play aggressive enough. Boise State went after the win against Oklahoma with the fevered tenacity of a rabid dog.

Michigan doesn't really play that way. There are no surprises up Lloyd's sleeve anymore. It's off-tackle, off-tackle and five-step drops. The offense isn't strategic and sets up only to win when Michigan has a clear advantage in sheer athletic ability. This will work fine for most of the Big 10 and the non-conference schedule, but against the upper echelon of teams this has been a losing strategy.

From the DetNews:

The Wolverines might pay heed to this observation from [USC defensive end Lawrence] Jackson, the USC end who intercepted a pass: "Michigan is a traditional offense and they don't hide what they do. They don't try to out-think you. They rely on their players being better than yours, and ours were better."


So when your players are not reliably better, which can never reliably be the case between teams like Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Texas etc. what can a team do besides get QBs with cooler haircuts?

Try spicing up the playbook a la Boise State.

Fuck it, try anything but what you keep doing. After all one definition of insanity it repeating the same things over and over and expecting different results. I don't care how old and traditional Lloyd Carr is he's got to see that his methods aren't producing results when it matters. That or he's insane.

So come on Michigan, how about a New Year's resolution of shaking shit up?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fiesta Bowl: 4th Quarter and OT

In case you missed the most exciting sequence in college football history, here are all the relevant plays edited together neatly and commercially-free by YouTube user smith55js (Thanks Guy!)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I'm not the only one saying it anymore. It was on SportsCenter and I heard it on ESPN Radio this morning. Sports Illustrated is using it as a cause célèbre to argue for a real playoff. But the resounding sentiment is that last night's Fiesta Bowl (or at least the 4th quarter and OT) was probably the greatest football game ever played anywhere, anytime. The world is buzzing Boise State and everyone I know who bothered to miss this game is kicking themselves in the head for it.

One thing to say to Boise State now, hang on to Chris Petersen. He looked a like a fricking genius with church-bell sized balls last night (and probably still would had the 2 pt. conversion failed) taking it to certified genius coach Stoops. Mark May (whom I don't like) said it last night amid the Nick Saban-Alabama coaching drama, the fourth consecutive Boise State coach is starting to look like a hot prospect.

Maybe not the Tide, but someone else might be thinking about Petersen on their sideline and Boise State better start hustling to make things right for Chris in Boise.

Ultimately it may be about a shot at a Nat'l Championship, and in that event perhaps Boise State should officially launch it's petition to the Pac 10 that they expand to 12 with Boise State as the first of the expansion school candidates.

What's so great about Petersen was that he decided to win that game last night and did so agressively. That was some new wave coaching last night and it was awesomely successful and a lot of fun to watch.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Boise State Broncos: National Champions!

The beauty of having two teams is that most Saturdays you either get a double-bonanza or a shot at redemption. In the case of today's Rose Bowl disappointment, personal vindication came fairly immediately as Boise State did what Michigan could not and proved that they belong in the elite echelon of teams this year.

The Broncos won an absolute roller-coaster classic over Oklahoma, featuring every conceivable trick play from the hook and ladder to tie it up with 7 seconds left to the "Statue of Liberty" play that won it on a two-point conversion in OT.

Two words: crazy.

Bar none the biggest win for Boise State and now at 13-0 after beating a legitimate college football juggernaut the Broncos have to be mentioned in the National Title picture. Perhaps a la the split title between LSU and USC a few years back.

So how about it media? What about an AP Title for the Broncos?

I'd take that or a shot at Ohio State however that could be arranged.

All pipe dreams aside, this is big time respect for Boise State and it's so so gratifying.

Tough Time to Be a Michigan Fan

Jeeeze. It seems like just a year ago that I was writing something coming from a similar place.

USC has just wrapped up Michigan like a Happy Meal, put in their backup QB, and evoked a 'men among boys' comment from Kirk Herbstreit. Just like in the '03 Rose Bowl, they solved Michigan's running game and

I don't want to join the ranks of the turncoat gadflies calling for Carr's head (again) but it's awfully tempting after another year that once held such promise (11-0) has ended with back to back losses in the games that really matter.

It's a problem when this becomes the annual pattern.

These are the games that establish a team's legacy and if you can't win them you don't belong in the elite. Michigan played poorly and deserved to lose tonight. Now we've got 8 long months of soul-searching contemplation and what-ifs to go through - a grim prospect when compared with the enthusiasm for 2007 that could have been had we won the Rose Bowl.

But, after swallowing this bitter pill and accompanying financial loss I will not be a 'Doubting Thomas'. I'm taking Boise State +7 against the Sooners. Go Broncos!!!!!!