- Ohio State
- West Virginia
- Texas Tech
- Brigham Young
- Wake Forest
- Arizona State
- South Florida
- Michigan State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Virginia Tech
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Who cares why I am a Maryland Terrapin fan? If I want to adopt a team simply because I think their slogan is hilarious then so be it.
It's not like I ignore my alma mater. In fact, we will be making our way up to Evanston on September 20th to see Frank Solich and the Ohio Bobcats take on Northwestern (in a battle of cats, I take Bobs over Wilds… see I totally stick with my team!)
Anyway, I was reflecting on the issue this afternoon as I completed my Pick Six. Here’s the thing… I sort of kind of get why my fellow football wives (opposite of the football widow) and I may not get the respect we deserve.
Women like themes. We like to pick teams that are meaningful to us and teams that we believe in. We also hold grudges (i.e. the reason Tennessee did not make my Pick Six this year… sorry Scott Miller). A good number of us, however, can do this while still making intelligent picks. It wasn’t until after I made my ’08 picks that I noticed this year’s theme.
So what connecting factor links my ’08 Pick Six teams?
The Mid-American Conference.
The MAC is a small mostly non-factor mid-major conference where I spent my college years (see reference to Ohio above). Sure we have our share of NFL caliber players (Ben Roethlisberger, to name one), but mostly the MAC features kids from small Mid-western towns who graduate in four years and go on to do something that has nothing to do with football.
Oh yeah, the MAC is also the cradle of coaches.
Don’t believe me?
Here are my Pick Six teams:
Florida: Urban Meyer (current head coach) is a former head coach of Bowling Green State University (2001–2002)
Missouri: Gary Pinkel (current head coach) is a former head coach of The University of Toledo (1991–2000)
Texas: Cleve Bryant (current Associate Athletics Director for Football) is a former head coach of Ohio University (1984–1990)
South Florida: Greg Gregory (current Offensive Coordinator) is a former Offensive Coordinator at Ohio University (2001–2003)
Wake Forest:Jim Grobe(current head coach) is also a former head coach of Ohio University (1995–2000)
And my wild card pick? I decided to go with a MAC team just because. I didn’t pick Ohio as the outlook, I’m afraid to say, is pretty bleak. I didn’t pick the Turtles (not a MAC team but clearly a favorite) because last year when I picked Ohio they weren’t as good as they should have been (girl logic: never pick the team you want to win… it’s the kiss of death).
So, after considerable thought, I went with Ball State.
Dave Letterman, this one’s for you.
*In former coaches at least
I will, however, offer my opinion on the 25 teams who comprise the preseason rankings, and whether I think they are over-rated or under-rated. Meaning, do I think they ultimately will finish higher or lower than where they sit today, the first day of the COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON WHOO HOOOOO!!
Being from Chicago and financially savvy, I'm denoting my bullish** or bearish opinion with those logos. A dash ( -- ) means I think they will finish approximately where they are slotted, +/- one slot.
2. Ohio State3. USC4. Oklahoma
( -- )
( -- )
( -- )
( -- )
( -- )
So having said that, here's my "pick five": Ohio State, Auburn, Texas, South Florida and Wake Forest. OSU has been dependable for me lately and has a clear path to 11-1 or 12-0. Auburn also has been steady, but faces a tough SEC slate. No one else in 6-10 impresses me. Texas was my least confident pick...but they are still better than the other two XII options or the Wisky/ASU options. South Florida is a pride pick...Jim Leavitt is a former Hayden Fry guy. I think Matt Grothe will improve with another year at the helm. And Wake: well, I just don't believe in Clemson, Va. Tech has serious injury issues, and I think Wake is in a position to capitalize on being outside the ACC spotlight. They have a steady QB in Skinner and a pretty solid defense.
And finally, my foolhardy Pick Sixth. Everyone on the BGS board is going to pick Notre Dame, so you aren't going to separate yourself from the crowd there. Besides, I think 6 or 7 wins is admirable for this squad, which maybe gets you into the low 20s. Likewise, I'd love to pick Iowa. But that would be homerism, and there are just too many questions. I'll root for them anyway.
I do believe Michigan State will be better this year, but that would require rooting for them (kinda) in their games against Iowa and ND. So poking around the fringes of the Top 25 and the Phil Steele book, I found....California.
Well, not the whole state, the Cal Golden Bears. They went 7-6 last year after a 6-0 start, finishing with a solid bowl win. Coach Jeff Tedford is something of a QB guru, although he never made Brady Quinn great like Charlie Weis did. He's 50-26 as a head coach in six years, and has two options at QB this year. Sophomore Kevin Riley will start the opener vs. Michigan State...we'll see how smart/foolish that looks in November.
Aside from MSU, the non-conference games are manageable: at Maryland (unafraid) and Colorado State (hippies). I'm not impressed with Oregon or Arizona State, but both come to Berkeley. The USC game looks unwinnable. I mean, USC is the No. 3 ranked team in the country! Impossible, right?
That's the Pick Six man. As the Red Stripe guy would say....Hooray, Football.
* -- They are not fools either, they're just required to do it as part of their job.
** -- Yeah, that's the Wall Street bull. (I used to live in New York too.) I'm not aware of a sports team with a bull logo here like Da Bears.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
- The Sweet 16
- The Blue-Gray Sky Pick Six
- The division winners in baseball
- Your friends
- Your nose
- Your friends' noses
Now it's time for one of my favorite picks, the BGS Pick Six. The rules are simple: take the preseason AP Top 25 poll and divide it into fifths (1-5, 6-10, etc). Select the one team from each quintile that you think will finish the best in final poll of the regular season (bowls are not included). Then select one team from outside the top 25 that you think will do the best.
Points are 25 for first place, 24 for second, etc., down to 1 point for the No. 25 team.
We played last year. To spare you the pain of slogging through all 32 screens of results (link opens in a new window), I've highlighted the key portions. Click on each image below for a larger view:
That's 79 points for MPF and 58 for QBKatt, the nom de pick for TinaMarie.
As a twist this year, we're going to ask Quigley to make his picks as well, since he had so much fun with the basketball. So look for that. My picks will be up online here shortly.
College football starts tomorrow night, Iowa football starts on Saturday, and Notre Dame football starts Sept. 6. Enjoy!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
I thought, damn. Lazy, selfish, overpaid outfielder with tremendous talent we see only occasionally? Who does that sound like?
Then I realized: this team has a lot of parallels to the great 1998 team that went to the playoffs (and may I remind you...I saw Game 163 back in 1998. Damn that was exciting).
|Characteristic||1998 Cubs||2008 Cubs|
|Egotistical corner outfielder:||Sammy Sosa||Alfonso Soriano|
|Goddam ex-Cardinal acquired in season but geez he's hitting pretty well for us:||Gary Gaetti||Jim Edmonds|
|Flame throwin' newcomer:||Kerry Wood||Jeff "Shark" Samardzija (I spelled that without looking)|
|Gruff closer:||Rod Beck||Kerry Wood|
|Smart aleck quote machine:||Mark Grace||Ryan Dempster|
|Obnoxious guy saying woo:||Ron Wickers||Ron Wickers|
|Native Iowan on the mound:||Kevin Tapani||Jon Lieber|
|Ex-Brave middle infielder:||Jeff "B-lousy" Blauser||Mark DeRosa|
|Hyperactive broadcaster:||Chippy Caray||Ron Santo|
|Regrettable acquistion:||Matt Karchner||Nothing that bad really...Scott Eyre I guess|
So if all this holds true, we are destined to hang on to the wild card spot, and then get summarily dismissed by the NL East winner. Could it really be?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
So when the idea was proposed of a television network dedicated to Big Ten sports, I was excited. (They came up with the ultra-clever name "Big Ten Network.")
However, the execution has not matched the promise. For starters, the network was not available on any major cable system when it launched August 2007. The only carrier BTN got a deal with was DirecTV. This might be a good time to mention that DirecTV was owned by News Corp. (which has since divested its ownership to Liberty Media) and that the Big Ten Network is owned 51% by the conference and 49% by Guess Which Major Media Company. But by now they've landed RCN (our provider), Comcast, Dish, and a bunch of other cable companies.
That doesn't mean they are perfect after one year on the air. For example, our BTN comes in with a one-half to one-second delay between the audio and video. The result is Kung Fu Theatre when the talking heads do analysis. It's sometimes hilarious, usually annoying.
And now, this commercial. (I guess they want us to feel like we're being recruited by all 11 coaches?) The words come fast and furious, so make sure your volume is loud enough. (I can only imagine watching it on our RCN!)
Now, I'm also a fan of Orson Swindle and his merry band of blogsters at Every Day Should Be Saturday. Orson has a guest who is masterful at Photoshop spoofs, who goes by the nom de web LSUfreek. Now that you've seen the original BTN commercial, please enjoy LSUfreek's version.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
We even have a tag dedicated to such posts. So it's time to get caught up with Quigley's summer.
TM has spent a lot of time away from home this summer...from Europe to DC/Maryland and Pittsburgh this weekend. So I've had some time to observe how Quigley has been spending his summer.
Lucky him, it hasn't been a real hot summer. There were a couple days there it hit 90 degrees, but for the most part it's been real pleasant. Which has allowed the Q to find some new favorite places in the apartment.
Early in the summer, he spent a lot of time under the ottoman on the front porch.
But as the weather as stayed cool, when it should be getting unbearably hot for those covered in fur, he's started to explore other resting spots. For example, he looks so damn cute in the captain's chair:
Although if it's too hot, he'll hide from the sunbeam underneath the chair.
We took the cat out onto the back porch a few weeks ago. Every time we're out there grilling and/or chilling, the Q looks out the window longingly. So I dug out the cat leash, hooked him up, and let him wander around the porch for a while. He seemed to enjoy it.
So much in fact, that he now wants to help with errands, like the grocery store:
As you can see, Quigley's summer is going just fine.
Happy Birthday J!
Friday, August 15, 2008
I of course was interested in the foes of my top two teams, and listed them here in table format:
|Notre Dame 7.0||Week||Iowa 7.5|
|San Diego State 4.5||2||Fla Int'l N/A|
|Michigan 8.0||3||Iowa State 3.0|
|Michigan State 7.0||4||Pittsburgh 6.5|
|Purdue 6.5||5||Northwestern 6.5|
|Stanford 4.0||6||Michigan State 7.0|
|North Carolina 6.5||7||Indiana 5.0|
|Pittsburgh 6.5||10||Illinois 8.0|
|Boston College 7.0||11||Penn State 8.5|
|Navy N/A||12||Purdue 6.5|
|Syracuse 2.5||13||Minnesota 4.5|
|Southern Cal. 10.5||14||bye|
A couple of observations, because I am a little suspicious how Vegas got to these numbers. Logically speaking, a team should be expected to beat another team with fewer overall wins. We can assume that Vegas knows what it's doing (a safe bet--hah!!) and that win totals should jibe with opponents (e.g., Florida and Georgia can't both have 12 wins if they play each other). Ignoring that upsets happen in college football (cause they do), you get the following:
ND beats: San Diego St., Purdue, Stanford, UNC, Washington, Pitt, Syracuse, Navy (my assumption).
ND loses to: Michigan, USC.
Tossups: Michigan State, BC.
8-2 with two tossups makes a 9-3 season. Mirror opposite of 2007. I think just about every Irish fan would take that. Certainly a better season that the 7.0 wins predicted.
Iowa beats: Maine (not I-A thus not rated by Vegas), Fla Int'l (my assumption), ISU (we pray this happens), Pitt, Northwestern, MSU, Indiana, Purdue, Minny.
Iowa loses to: Wisky, Illinois, Penn St.
That's another 9-3 season. January in Florida, here we come. But then where is the 7.5 derived from?
On another note: Iowa has only two schools within a half-point of their expected win total (MSU and Ill.), whereas ND has five. Does that mean more close games for the Irish? I don't know if my heart and fingernails can take it. The Iowa sked does look pretty clear cut, with several potential blowouts on the good side and no real obvious ass-whupping (being the ass of Eric Foreman vs. the foot of Red). There are hard games, like Wisky and Penn St., but they are later in the year, when Iowa and Jake C. have had a chance to settle in and jell.
There are three common opponents: Michigan State, Purdue and Pitt (how odd), all bunched in that 6.5-7.0 range. (How odd also to not see Meech as a common foe, due to the Big Ten scheduling rotation.)
Finally: You heard it here first: Illinois, way too high at 8.0 wins. No, I haven't looked at their schedule. But I have looked at their depth chart: no Mendenhall, no RB to replace him, a shaky Juice Williams still at QB, and most importantly, none of this. If you're smart enough to be reading this, and you're offered 8 wins for Illinois: Take The Under!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
- Why can't we bring back tug-of-war?
As an old college friend once pointed out (we were in school together at the time of Atlanta 1996), many Olympic sports pre-date the invention of balls. Think about it: running fast and straight, running for a really long time, throwing the javelin (which is just a caveman's spear) ... all of these are ancient, from before team sports were organized. So if we're going to have sports without round objects, why not former Olympic event tug-of-war?
- I'm sure swimming backwards is difficult...I can't even pat my head/rub my stomach. And yet, why is it that Natalie Coughlin is the only Olympic swimmer who has difficulty with this? Can't she just ask one of her teammates, or her coach? "Psst, Katie! ... how do you keep from running into the lane markers on the backstroke?...."
Maybe this guy can give Natalie some tips.
- Why aren't the Greeks and Italians the best at Greco-Roman wrestling?
- And why isn't America taking all the shooting categories? Aren't we the most gun-happy country on the planet? We have more gun deaths in a day than Japan has in a decade.* Why can't all the gun nuts from Texas and Kentucky put down the moonshine long enough to train for the Olympics and bring home the gold? Hell, if they win silver or bronze, they can put the medal on a fence post and use it for target practice.
- Can Michael Phelps please represent all the success for University of Meeechigan-affiliated athletics for the rest of 2008? That includes Tom Brady, the football team, the basketball team, Jalen Rose, whatever, I don't care, I really just care about the football team.
America: Yaaaay!! University of Mitten: Boooooo!
- How has modern pentathlon survived? Check out this description from the official Olympics website:
Isn't there some other way in the 21st century of advocating brains, courage and physical health besides this combination?
Modern Pentathlon is an educational sport. This was the primary wish of its creator, Pierre de Coubertin. A complete sport, on the physical side - Swimming and Running are the basic disciplines; on the mental side – Shooting requires stress control and a precise technique; on the intellectual side – Fencing requires adaptability and intelligence; Riding an unknown horse requires a mix of adaptability, self-control and courage.
- And just because it needs to be repeated until corrected: you're telling me they got room for ping pong and horseys but not baseball?!?
- Why aren't the Greeks and Italians the best at Greco-Roman wrestling?
Okay, enjoy the rest of the Olympics. Football will be here soon (two weeks from today actually).
* -- Statistical estimation. Probably accurate.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Despite usually being a pretty aware, sharp-eyed guy, there is plenty of stuff that just ain't showing up on my radar:
Batman. I keep hearing all this talk about Batman, everywhere Batman. I remember this movie coming out a long time ago, so maybe they re-released it? I guess not, cause I checked the movie listings....nothing under "B" for Batman.
1989? Can you believe it's been almost 20 years since this movie came out?
The Wild Card race. C'mon people, it's barely August. There are two months of baseball to watch before the wild card gets relevant. We had the trade deadline, which is important, if only that Manny is now just being Manny in the senior circuit. But let's not get ahead of ourselves with the scoreboard watching. Wake me up around the Notre Dame-Michigan game...that's usually a good bellwether.
The presidential election. Yes, free country, civic duty, etc. I'm still gonna vote. But I do not need to pay attention to Barack cruising around Europe or McCain putting out ads with celebrity hotties (no, I don't know why...cause I'm not paying attention).
This is the map from 2004. You can ignore all that Downstate red come November.
Let's face it, I already know who I'm voting for, and why, and nothing that's happening right now (or in the next three months) will change that. Besides, the junior senator from Illinois is running. Do you think he'll win Illinois? Me too.
Handsome fella. Future president. Gonna carry Illinois without my vote.
The Olympics. I feel a little bad about this one, cause it feels like it's in our national DNA to care about the Olympics. But I just don't have any idea who's good and who to root against. Is Iraq fielding a women's track team? Probably not. Sigh...it was all so much easier when it was Mary Lou Retton against the Commies. Nowadays, there's that swimmer from Baltimore, and the gymnast from Iowa, and, uh... well, the basketball team is all pros now, and who gives a crap about the NBA.
Part of it could be the lack of a dominant American track athlete. For years America gave the world (and TV-watching Americans) guys like Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, who dominated the sprints, and chicks like Suzy Favor Hamilton, who was equally dominant in the 400/800 range events (I think, can't remember her specialty). Even Greg Louganis and Mary Lou, in sports less watchable than track, were great athletes who kicked some Russkie butt. Without Russkies, though, and without a Michael Johnson type performance at Atlanta 1996, how do I get fired up?
I remember EXACTLY where I was when this happened, and how I felt. Not counting on that happening this time around.
Are you shittin' me? The Olympics? For real?!?
The American League. Nothing new there.
Brett Farve, Favruh, whatever. I distinctly remember this guy retiring a few months ago. And for some reason he's still in the news. I don't get it. If you quit, then stay quit. If you want to play football, then play football up until you don't want to play football anymore, THEN quit.
What's worse is EFPN (they recently changed their name to the Entertainment and Farve, Favruh, whatever Programming Network) with all constant coverage. Aren't the Cubs in first place? Isn't there something more worthy of air time than a retiree? General rule: if your last name has its own category on the ticker crawl, like "MLB" or "NCAAF," you are a distraction. Sit down and be quiet.
I wanna play football! I mean I don't, I mean I do...waaaah!
And finally, two things I'm paying way too much attention to:
The decline of the newspaper industry. I love newspapers, and have a bit of free time during the day, and so I read about the state of the industry, the layoffs, the cuts in newshole, the defection of readership to the Internet...it's all very depressing. Like watching a friend wither away of a terminal disease.
Newspapers will still be around...we still have railroads, they just aren't the primary method of moving stuff from point A to point B anymore. Likewise, we'll always need papers to provide context and analysis beyond the breaking news. My forebears are big train buffs...I guess we have a soft spot for dying industries.
College football*. It's barely August. The season hasn't even started yet.
* This "too much attention" item expires on August 28th.