Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hindsight is 20/20: the '07 Rose Bowl Game Explained

Buddy Dave is a legal intern in the front office with the Oakland Raiders this summer and so will be a source I frequently pump for insider info of the ilk that arose unexpectedly (and unpumped I might add) in a recent chat.

Being that we're both Michigan fans we got to talking about the coming season in which some foolish pundits believe a Wisconsin team sans the Godly John Stocco is going to be the best team in the Big 10.

We disagreed, the Badgers are not the best team in the Big 10. Without a seasoned QB, you've got to doubt them. It's the Wolverines in the Big 10 this year - simply too much experience on offense.

Michigan's D, I pointed out, is the question mark, but I compare it to OSU's from last year. They're going to be better than expected. After last season, I've got a lot more faith in English than Herrmann.

To which Buddy Dave replies, "yeah, though he was exposed for losing to USC in essentially the same way they lost to OSU."

And I say, well, you've got to put a lot of the second loss on the offense, since even the bona fide Leon Hall can get tired if he has to chase fast receivers around the field all game because the offense can't put together a drive. And by offense I mean:

1st Down - Off-Tackle
2nd Down - Off Tackle
3rd Down - Draw
4th Down - Punt

Buddy Dave says, "good point." Then suddenly conjures up the insight that inspired this whole post:

"[The offense] seemed to drop the ball in that game. Which was weird. I was talking to the Raiders guy who does college scouting the other day.. and, I forget the name of the guy graduating on the right side, but this guy was telling me that there were SO many plays where Henne wouldn't necessarily get sacked or Hart stopped in the backfield but where the right side of the line would cause the play to break down and they were basically all this one dude's fault."

The gears in my mind were starting to turn. Who was this dude who couldn't hold up his shit? Then as they started to turn faster, the questions changed. Who else could it be?

Rueben Riley. That slow sack of shit.

The embarrassing Rose Bowl loss to USC reduced to a single observation. The right side of the o-line was compromised. The right side of the o-line was Rueben Riley - the often maligned and frequently doubted, ponderous, plodding, undrafted sub-planetoid. Good riddance. If Michigan get's OSU and USC this year, I'm pegging his absence (or replacement) as the difference.

"You need a good o-line, just ask the Raiders," summarizes Buddy Dave. "We gave up how many sacks last year? Burning through QBs like cords of wood. Oh my God. This guy was like... 'well, it we suck again this year we can draft Jake Long.' They LOVE him."

And they should. He's pretty manly.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Was Bruce Feldman Arrested? By ESPN?

What else are we to believe? He looks drunk enough. He looks sorry enough. By God he looks dirty enough.

Of course you will infer from the inclusion of this picture and the title of this blog that we have taken issue with Bruce Feldman's swarthy new look.

Buddy Dave (to whom credit must be given for unearthing this latest offense on ESPN.com) writes:

"When did Bruce Feldman's pciture change to look like this? And, what the fuck kind of picture is this? Did he just find out his wife was cheating on him, sit on the couch, not shower or shave for six days and then go in for his picture?"

Seriously. I mean, you'd think for a high-profile picture like this that he probably had days to contemplate and prepare for, he'd get gussied up a little. Nothing major you know, wash your hair, wear a collared shirt or at least take a razor to the fortnight of unkempt, Appalachian Trail stubble. I know all sportswriters are frustrated athletes, but someone's got to tell Feldman that the hockey playoffs ended for him years ago. And we're not asking for Kirk Herbstreit, necessarily, but just a little more professionalism - something, anything, to suggest a little more respect for our readership.

Unless of course Feldman's apparent regression is a sign of something deeper, as Switters suggests:

"His picture definitely didn't look as bad during the season, maybe he just gets more and more fucked up until the next season comes around and his life changes for the better. Practically the same thing happens to me."

I love this idea of the rejuvenating approach of the college football season. It's happening to Switters and Buddy Dave and me. With each passing day our strength is growing and Feldman, in an effort to commune with his fans (whom he resembles, I confess), is chronicling this rehabilitation by the restorative power of college football by showing us the face of its healing - the face of his healing. His worst days in late January and February a distant memory, he has picked himself up off the floor, applied deodorant and changed out of the beer-strained t-shirt he wore for the six-month bachelor party he's apparently just returned from. By August he will be twice the man he is today and we will hardly recognize his refound glory.

Now let's all genuflect on a moment of silence for the new dawn of college football.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Problems with the Athlon Top 25

June's the first month where it really starts to feel like College Football is coming back. Maybe it's that the old school year is finally over. Or maybe it's that the NBA is winding down and we need a second sport to discuss besides baseball. But probably, it's the sudden, mushroom-like profusion of pre-season Annuals with their crazy pre-season Top 25s.

I won't lie. I love these things, beautiful, vapid, glossy bullshit-stuffed, but so, so irresistibly consumable at the scale and ease of pornography. They manage to trick everybody year after year. Maybe it's just my sweetest-of-all-time blogger hubris talking here, but I've grown wise to their tricks, and to prove it I'm going to poke a few holes in the recently-released Athlon Pre-Seasons College Football Top 25:

-Wisconsin #4 - On what authority? They've got a fat running back who stumbled over 12 teams, but lost to the only, proven team they played last year (Michigan) and all that was with the best offensive lineman the world's ever seen (Joe Thomas) and a dependable, if boring robot of a QB in John Stocco. The bad news, and the main reason the Badgers aren't the #4 in the country nor even the second best team in the Big 10, is that both of those aforementioned dudes graduated. The Badgers return to earth big time this fall.

-No BSU pre-season love, but plenty for everyone they beat in 2006 (OU #7, Hawaii #19, Oregon State #22). Honestly. What will it take for the Broncos to get some pre-season love? Admittedly, Zabransky' graduated, but they've still got Ian Johnson and should have a better defense this year. To top all of that, shouldn't the epic Fiesta Bowl win and final #5 ranking last year be worth something?

-Which brings me to OU #7 - No proven QB, and Adrian Petersen has flown the coop leaving what exactly? Well if you believe the experts at Athlon that's apparently the makings of a Top 10 team. I guess this is more a testament to the middling year projected for the Big 12, or the motivational energy imparted by being immortalized in Boise State's coming-out win, but still I think this is a little generous.

-Rutgers - This party ended last year.

Things they did right:

-USC is #1 - It's hard to argue with the ranking of USC as #1, given they return most of the team (except good old Dallas Sartz) that dismantled a very good Michigan team in last year's Rose Bowl. You can bet they've improved everything in the off-season except, apparently, John David Booty's haircut.

-No Notre Dame - this one I really, really like and don't have to explain, but it will be fun to see Jimmy Clausen not win the starting QB job, let alone the first of the Four National Championships he's counting on before he goes on to dominate the NFL.

-Michigan at #8 - Reasonable, and if anything a tad underrated, which should be comforting considering that Michigan has typically underachieved when expectations have been highest. This team has plenty of reasons to be good, so let's not screw it up by expecting the all-star, all-veteran offense to actually put up big numbers and blow teams out.

Overall it feels like they are just trying to be different for the sake of being different. Not ranking FSU? That's like anarchist blasphemy no matter how bad the 'Noles may look on paper after absolutely rocking a UCLA team Athlon says is Top 15 material.

So has Athlon no need for prognosticating credibility? Do they sneer in the faces of honest college football fans like you and me? Let's take it to Athlon and tell 'em what we think of their Top 25 poll. It sucks prunes.

(Next up Lindy's)