Friday, December 31, 2010

Pick Six: The Animals' Picks

Way back in the initial call for entries, I promised that if an animal played and explained its picks, I would share them with the group (permission pending of course).

The fall turned out to be a lot busier than I thought, but I do want to follow though on the promise, better late than never. Earlier in the week I caught some sort of bug, and spent most of the last two days sleeping. Now that I'm basically recovered and marooned on the couch, it's time to see how the pets came to their choices.

MPF this week, if he were a cat.

MR. Q. You've already read about the amazing success of Mr. Q. I don't think we need to say any more.

P.PUFF. Priscilla Pufferson, aka "P.Puff," is a formerly hirsute cat in Madison, Wisconsin. Her human translator sent along these notes:

I went over the teams with her. Here are her thoughts:

1. Boise State. Seriously. I tried to talk her out of it. She says she has a feeling.
2. Iowa, as a favor to me. Thanks, Kitty.
3. Wisconsin. She loves Wisconsin. She is the biggest Badger fan in this house.
4. Arkansas. Penn State will lose to Iowa, Florida State to Florida. She was once stung by a bee near the recycling bin and did not like it. She likes Arkansas' offense. But more than anything she loves ham.
5. LSU Tigers. All reason goes out the window when tigers are concerned.
6. Wildcard: Cincy BEARCATS. She is a bearcat too! And, also like her, they were abandoned and then adopted by someone much better.

Also, she says she thinks the grand prize should be Pounce Cat Treats. I disagree.

P.Puff was exhausted by this whole process.

Well, P.Puff, your gut was right on Boise and Arkansas. I guess you and Quigley were on the mark there. LSU was great too.

THE BOONSTER. Booni, aka the Boonster, lives in a high-rise building on the Chicago lakefront. I have a soft spot in my heart for him because I helped adopt him (in the role of driver). His picks weren't so great this year, but his thinking was solid.

Booni wrote:
Well, seeing how I am a tad lazy... and I have no thumbs, I have asked the human to type for me.

Looks like he's reviewing the preseason Top 25 on ...

A - Texas. So this first one is a little challenging. There are no kitties in the mix so I had to go with what I would most like to eat (I didnt get this fine physique by eating nuts after all!). Cow = deliciousness.

B - Iowa. No kitties again! This one was a toss up between Iowa and VT. Both are tasty but in the end, the Hawkeyes are better fried. That and the Hokie is kinda scary.

C - Pittsburgh. Easy- why would I pick a badger when there is a ferocious kitty in the group.

D - Penn State. Again, kitties rule, doggies (and bumble bees) drool.

E - Louisiana State. Seeing how beavers are tasty, I almost went with Oregon State... but I cannot turn my back on my brethren. Go cats!

F-Cincinnati. At this point if you do not see trend that is your problem. I am tired... done esplaining. Time for nap.

More tired kittehs.

TIPPY. Tippy lives in Wisconsin. I don't know much about Tippy, but I'm glad he played. His picks:

A - Texas
B - Virginia Tech
C - Oregon
D - Georgia Tech
Unranked - Arizona

Well, I'm not happy about that Arizona pick, but they are the Wildcats.

Tippy's human wrote:

Tippy's choices were more mascot based. He's a cat that likes interesting mascots. I'm guessing he'll do better than me.

Actually Sadandbritish, you did just fine. Be sure to let Tippy know who the top picker is in that household!

MITZU. Mitzu is a tiny, yippy dog who lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Her teams didn't perform so hot, but the logic was impeccable, focusing on what dogs do best (aside from humping my leg and sniffing my crotch).

Mitzu's human wrote:
A - Boise State - Wants to piss on a blue field.
B - Virginia Tech - Wants to piss on Michael Vick's alma mater
C - Pittsburgh - Wants to piss on Wannstedt
D - Penn State -Jo Pa has same type of incontinence problems.
E - Louisiana State - No one will notice the extra piss on Bourbon Street
Un-ranked - Mississippi - By using the same letters can make the words - I'm piss piss.

JOEY. Joey is a Australian sheepdog who lives in New Hampshire. He's pretty big but has yet to bite me, so I guess he's OK.

Joey sent in quite the elaborate picking scheme:

We hope the Commish finds it in his or her heart to allow this late entry. The picks were made shortly after dinner tonight in a very unscientific (trivial?) way. Then again if the Commish is the cat then we're screwed.

How the picks went down:

Five bowls were laid out in front of Joey with treats in each bowl. The bottom of the bowls were labeled A, B, C, D, and E. Each letter corresponds to the order of
the teams listed on the TMMPF website (All "A" picks are Alabama, TCU, Oregon...) Upon telling Joey "Go make your pick!" he got up and went for the dishes. Whichever dish he ate out of first was his pick. To make it more random, we had Team Awesome Excavator mix up the bowls so they were never in the same place twice.

Without further ado (and BS), here is the picks from "Piece of Cheese"...
A- Ohio State
C- Oregon
D- Arkansas
E- Georgia

U- Mississippi State (Bulldogs)

And the photos:

The dishes are set. The dog awaits. (He's been to obedience school, so he's waiting for the signal.)

Examining the options.

A "b", or second pick. This would have been either Ohio State or Arkansas.

The fruits of his labor.

With only the final, post-bowl poll yet to come out, Mr. Q and Piece of Cheese have their respective specie-specific divisions all but wrapped up. Congrats to all the kitties and doggies who played this year. I hope you enjoyed the game, and Happy New Year from all of us at!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Pick Sixer's Guide to the 2010 Bowl Season

Last year I wrote a thousand words, complete with pictures of Elvis, Wannstache and the Dude, previewing the bowl games. That might have been a bit much to digest, so I followed it up with easy-to-read charts.

This year, since I'm hosting the Pick Six™* game, I'm going to make it really easy on you. There are only three categories of bowl games, and they are based on the Pick Six teams.

  • Dec. 18, New Mexico, BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6)
  • Dec. 18, Humanitarian, Northern Ill. (10-3) vs. Fresno St. (8-4)
  • Dec. 18, New Orleans, Troy (7-5) vs. Ohio (8-4)
  • Dec. 21, St. Petersburg, Louisville (6-6) vs. Southern Miss (8-4)
  • Dec. 23, Poinsettia, San Diego St. (8-4) vs. Navy (8-3)
  • Dec. 29, Military, Maryland (8-4) vs. East Carolina (6-6)
  • Dec. 29, Texas, Illinois (6-6) vs. Baylor (7-5)
  • Dec. 30, Armed Forces, SMU (7-6) vs. Army (6-5)
  • Dec. 30, Pinstripe, Syracuse (7-5) vs. Kansas St. (7-5)
  • Dec. 31, Meineke Car Care, Clemson (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5)
  • Jan. 1, TicketCity, N'western (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
  • Jan. 6,, Fake Miami (9-4) vs. Mid. Tenn. St. (6-6)
  • Jan. 9, Kraft Fight Hunger, Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5)
Finish your shopping or gift wrapping. Make that overdue call to Grandma. Write Christmas cards. Do whatever it is you do when you aren't watching football, because nobody picked any of these teams in these 13 bowls. You don't care. Unless you have some other reason to care.

  • Dec. 31, Liberty, UCF (10-3) vs. Georgia (6-6)
  • Dec. 24, Hawaii, Hawaii (10-3) vs. Tulsa (9-3)
  • Dec. 26, Little Caesars, Toledo (8-4) vs. Florida Int'l (6-6)
  • Dec. 27, Independence, Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
  • Dec. 28, Champs Sports, N.C. St. (8-4) vs. West Virginia (9-3)
  • Dec. 29, Alamo, Arizona (7-5) vs. Oklahoma St. (10-2)
  • Dec. 30, Music City, N. Carolina (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
  • Jan. 1, Capital One, Michigan St. (11-1) vs. Alabama (9-3)
  • Jan. 7, Cotton, Texas A&M (9-3) vs. LSU (10-2)
  • Jan. 8, BBVA Compass, Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Kentucky (6-6)
These 10 games feature one Pick Six team vs. one non-Pick Six team. So yeah, someone's points are being affected, but it's in a vacuum. There's no joy of seeing a competitor team lose, knowing they will lose points in the final poll. (Although the schadenfreude-loving of us will watch the LSU game knowing that 11 of the 22 P6'ers have the Tigers.) It's not as directly exciting as the next batch...

  • Dec. 22, Maaco, 3Utah (10-2) vs. 6Boise St. (11-1)
  • Dec. 28, Insight, 1Missouri (10-2) vs. 6Iowa (7-5)
  • Dec. 30, Holiday, 1Washington (6-6) vs. 5Nebraska (10-3)
  • Dec. 31, Sun, 2Real Miami (7-5) vs. 1Notre Dame (7-5)
  • Dec. 31, Chick-fil-A, 2Florida St. (9-4) vs. 1S. Carolina (9-4)
  • Jan. 1, Outback, 5Penn St. (7-5) vs. 2Florida (7-5)
  • Jan. 1, Gator, 1Michigan (7-5) vs. 1Mississippi St. (8-4)
  • Jan. 1, Rose, 6Wisconsin (11-1) vs. 3TCU (12-0)
  • Jan. 1, Fiesta, 5Oklahoma (11-2) vs. 2Uconn (8-4)
  • Jan. 3, Orange, 3Va. Tech (11-2) vs. 3Stanford (11-1)
  • Jan. 4, Sugar, 9Arkansas (10-2) vs. 6Ohio St. (11-1)
  • Jan. 10, BCS Title, 5Auburn (13-0) vs. 7Oregon (12-0)
This is where the rubber hits the road, the fur starts to fly ... the points will grow or shrink in accordance with a team's success or failure. The blue number indicates how many P6 folks have that team, NOT their current AP rank. For that, and to check your teams the morning of Jan. 11 check out the AP Top 25 homepage. But yeah, a LOT of us will be watching the Sugar Bowl and the title game.

* -- not really trademarked. Just playing around with superscripts in HTML.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pick Six: The Game Is Not Over

In the wake of Iowa's awful performance, and company in town and being really busy blah blah, I did not update the standings after Week 12. Although it was the last full week of the regular season, not much changed.

I updated the spreadsheet after the weekend of the conference championship games, so you can see where you stand at this point.

Wait, you say, "at this point"? Aren't we done?

No! I talked to Huskers Du last weekend, and she was lamenting her second-place finish. I told her she wasn't out of the running yet. Remember that the AP poll goes through the end of the bowl season, which means the Pick Six game goes through the end of the bowl season.

Therefore, I'll have a bowl preview for you up this weekend, but in the meantime, let's look back at the regular season.

In a vacuum, there's a lot to like about my picks. I had two outright conference champions (Oregon, Oklahoma) and two more who shared the conference crown (Ohio State, UConn). All four are in the big money BCS bowls. Florida State made it to its conference championship game, leaving only one dud. But it was not enough to get me into the top 5.

Let's take a quick look back at the quintiles ... and who you should have picked.

A - Alabama, Ohio State, Boise State, Florida, Texas. Florida and Texas are out of the Top 25. Ohio State is the current leader of this group at No. 6.

B - Texas Christian, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Virginia Tech. Iowa disappeared down the stretch. Your best bet was TCU at No. 3.

C - Oregon, Wisconsin, Miami, Southern Cal, Pittsburgh. Boy did this group tank: three of the five are gone. Oregon spent a good chunk of the year at No. 1 and is the current No. 2. (Curiously, this is the only quintile with two Top Five teams.)

D - Georgia Tech, Arkansas, North Carolina, Penn State, Florida State. Three more dropouts. Best bet: Arkansas at No. 8.

E - Louisiana State, Auburn, Georgia, Oregon State, West Virginia. Auburn at No. 1.

Best of the unranked: Stanford, No. 5, followed by Michigan State (No. 7) who, believe it or not, nobody picked. (Aaaargh.)

You will notice that the cat has four of the six best possible teams, and his other two are no slouches either. He is one of four* players to have all six teams still ranked at the end of the regular season, and the only set with no fear of losing a ranked team due to a bowl loss (I put Utah and West Virginia in that vulnerable category).

So what now? What now is, you start watching the bowls, which begin Saturday afternoon. And if you want any chance of overtaking the cat, root for his team to lose.

* Congrats also to: Finley, Sadandbritish and Larry Sparks.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lee Elia Discusses the 2010 Hawkeyes

After starting the season with a Top 10 national ranking, the Iowa Hawkeyes limped to a 7-5 record Saturday, losing to the woeful Minnesota Gophers (more like “WOE-fers”) 27-24.

It has been a tough season for Hawkeye fans, so I decided to seek out a man who knows a little about venting, former Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia. Luckily, I was able to track him down and have a conversation.

* * *

MPF004: Lee, thanks for taking time to talk with us today.

Elia: Thanks MPF, it’s great to be here.

MPF004: Let’s talk with the disappointment of these last few losses. Iowa fans are really feeling gut-punched.

Elia: It's unbelievable. It really is. It's a disheartening fuckin' situation we're in right now. Anybody who was associated with the Hawkeye organization 10 years ago that came back and sees the multitude of progress that's been made will understand that if they're football people, that 7 and 5 doesn't negate all that work.

MPF004: ‘Disheartening’ is a good word for it, I guess. Where would you put the blame? I don’t think anyone is calling for Ferentz to resign or anything, but these losses do point to an inability to make adjustments in close games. Does the coaching staff deserve that criticism?

Elia: Everybody associated with this fuckin’ organization have been winners their whole fuckin' life. Everybody. And the fuckin’ credit is not given in that respect. The fuckin’ changes that have happened in the Hawkeye organization are multifold.

MPF004: If not the coaches then, is it on the players?

Elia: What I'm tryin' to say is don't rip them fuckin' guys out there. But don't rip them fuckin' guys 'cause they're givin' everything they can give. And right now they’re trying to do more than God gave them, and that’s why we make the simple mistakes. That’s exactly why.

MPF004: I understand these are just college kids, yes. But is there hope for the future? Do you see the 2011 team getting better?

Elia: Once we hit that fuckin’ groove, it will flow. And it will flow. The talent's there. I don't know how to make it any clearer to you. I'm frustrated. I'll guarantee you I'm frustrated. It'd be different if I walked in this room every day and saw a bunch of guys that didn't give a shit. They give a shit. And it's a tough Big Ten schedule. It's a tough Big Ten period.

MPF004: Well if it’s not the players or coaches, then what do you make of this collapse? Was this always a 7-5 team, and the fans’ expectations were just too high?

Elia: We got all these so-called fuckin' fans that come out here and say they're Hawk fans that are supposed to be behind you, rippin' every fuckin' thing you do. I'll tell you one fuckin' thing, I hope we get fuckin' hotter than shit, just to stuff it up them fuckin' people that show up every fuckin' day, because if they're the real Hawkeye fuckin' fans, they can kiss my fuckin' ass right downtown and PRINT IT.

They're really, really behind you around fuckin' ass. What the fuck am I supposed to do, go out there and let the fuckin' players get destroyed and be quiet about it? For the fuckin' nickel-dime people that turn up? The motherfuckers don't even work. That's why they're out at the fuckin' game. They oughta go out and get a fuckin' job and find out what it's like to go out and go out and earn a fuckin' living.

Rip them motherfuckers. Rip them fuckin' cocksuckers like the fuckin' players. We got guys bustin' their fuckin' ass, and them fuckin' people boo. They talk about the great fuckin' support the players get around here. I haven't seen it this fuckin' year.

MPF004: Hey Lee, let me just remind you that Iowa plays on Saturday. Most people have that day off work. Getting back to the on-field performance: every single loss came down to Iowa giving up the lead in the fourth quarter. What happened in those crucial drives?

Elia: Don’t ask me about any specific play, I won’t answer it. I’m not going to talk about specific fuckin’ plays. The name of the game is get the fuckin’ job done. Every time we lose a fuckin’ close game, it’s magnified: why did this Stanzi throw that pass, or and that guy drop a pass, or this guy fumble… that’s college football fellas. That’s going to happen, that’s how touchdowns are scored. That’s how the fuckin’ balance goes cock-eyed. That’s the difference between victory and defeat. All these motherfuckin’ editorials about Stanzi and Clayborn and fuckin’ … ah … the “here we go again” and all that shit, it's sickening.

MPF004: Well that about sums it up. Thank you, Lee Elia, for coming onto the blog today.

Elia: #*@&. Go Hawks.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week 12: Score Update and Michigan Hate

Welcome to Michigan-Ohio State Week.

More on that in a minute. Before we get to the latest Pick Six scores, here is the update from two weeks ago. No news the cat's winning blah blah blah:
Team Name Total
1 Mr. Q 116
2 Hüskers Dü 101
3 Finley 90
4 Mo 87
5 P. Puff 82
6 Piece of Cheese 82
7 Frrrrrr 77
8 Sidney 71
9 Larry Sparks 68
10 My Non-Contention 67
11 HuskerFan 66
12 Sadandbritish 65
13 Tippy 61
14 Art/Arden/Aislinn 58
15 Sodeh 56
16 Mitzu 56
17 QBKatt 54
18 Gin-N-Tonic with Extra Lime 53
19 MPF004 53
20 Team Awesome Excavator 46
21 MAC FAN 29
22 The Boonster 26

Now this week. Florida State jumped back into the poll, thanks to a win over these guys.

F.S.U. Fears Not the Turtle

The biggest impact on the poll was Nebraska's 9-6 loss to Texas A&M, hurting two of the top three players. (Not the cat of course. His picks appears unbeatable.) Iowa's loss to Ohio State hurt, but the Hawks did remain in the poll, the highest-ranked four-loss team, at No. 24.

Okay, here's the link to the scores. No surprises. Quigley is still leading.

How about this weekend's games? I've gotten very MACtastic this year. Not sure why. I think it's just because it's been fun watching Ohio put together a solid season after stumbling out of the gate. I've followed the conference pretty closely, so I can tell you that the MAC East Championship comes down to tomorrow morning's game (yes morning ... 10am). If Ohio beats Kent State, they win the East. If they lose, rival Fake Miami will take the division.

Let's say you're out of the running in the Pick Six, and now you're just rooting for chaos. What does this weekend mean for you?

Arkansas vs. LSU: 10 of the top 12 scorers have either Arky or LSU. The 3rd, 4th and 5th place players have both teams. Someone's going to drop points.

Boise State vs. Nevada: The Wolfpack is the only decent team on Boise's schedule, other than Virginia Tech. Boise won't lose this game, because Nevada isn't really THAT good. But if they do, watch the blue turfers drop (three of the top five players have Boise).

Okay, let's get back to Michigan-Ohio State. In his 10 years at Columbus, Jim Tressel has been a model of consistency and success: 7, 14, 11, 8, 10, 12, 11, 10, 11 wins, plus 10 wins so far this year. Since arriving in Ann Arbor, Rich Rodriguez has set all sorts of records, such as the first major NCAA sanctions and probation in the program's history, and the first three losing conference seasons in the past 40 years (2008, 2009, 2010).

And now a joke, courtesy of the eloquently named and spelled "" The joke is "Michigan Cat."

A guy walks into a bar in Ann Arbor wearing a Michigan jersey. He's carrying a cat that also has a Michigan jersey on.
The guy says to the bartender, "Can my cat and I watch the Michigan-OSU game here? My TV at home broke down, and my cat and I always watch the game together."
The bartender replies, "Normally, cats wouldn't be allowed in the bar, but it's not very busy in here right now, so you and the cat can stay. But, if there's any trouble with the cat, I'll have to ask you to leave."
The guy agrees, and he and his cat start watching the game. Pretty soon Michigan manages to kick a field goal and the excited cat jumps up on the bar, walks all the way down and gives everyone a high five.
The bartender says, "Hey, that's pretty cool! What does he do for a Michigan win?"
The guys answers, "I don't know, I've only had him for 6 years."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Evolution of a Friendship

Day 1: Uncomfortable co-existence.

Day 2: The rumble. Perhaps you remember:

Day 3-4: No photographic evidence. I went to work, I came home to find the house still standing. That was good enough for me. Suffice to say it was somewhere between Day 1 and Day 2: nobody went to the emergency room, but it wasn't buddy-buddy either.

Day 5: TM comes home. And she captures this:

Later in Day 5: Unified for a mission.

The mission apparently being bird-spotting.

Day 6: Best buds.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

EVANSTON INVASION: Revenge On the Nerds

As a Big Ten fan, you have a complicated relationship with the other conference teams. Some programs/coaches you respect (Penn State, Michigan State until the handling of the Chris L. Rucker situation). Some are legit border rivalries (Minny, Wisky, soon to be Nebraska). Some, to quote Craig Finn, "I couldn't find the hate and I couldn't find the fear" (Indiana, Purdue). Some you just flat out hate 24/7/365.

And then there's Northwestern.

The nerds in purple used to be a reliable "W" on the schedule (season series is a comfortable 45-22-3 lead). During my formative years of watching Hawkeye football, we won 14 straight. And when you live in Chicago, it's so easy to take the Red/Purple up to that dinky little high school stadium of theirs. Back in the good ol' days (2001), I went to a game with Rich and Kary (Hawkeye fans from the hometown) and we won 59-16. We spent the first half of the game actively watching and cheering, and the second half talking, occasionally being interrupted by oh hey look we scored another touchdown. It was fun, and easy to make fun of them as the school we kept in the Big Ten to keep the conference's grades up.

And then Fitzgerald happened.

In the four years he's been coach, he's beaten Iowa three times. And it's not like he's ever had the better team:
  • In 2009, we were 9-0, ranked No. 8 in the country, high off that amazing win over Indiana, and then Corey Wooton crunched Ricky Stanzi's ankle, and it all went to hell. The pain is still strong, and fuels my motivation to win on Saturday. We finished 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl; they finished 8-5.
  • In 2008, Shonn Greene had his usual 100-yard game but Iowa had turnover-itis and lost by 5 points. We finished 9-4 and won the Outback Bowl; they were 9-4 and lost their lesser bowl.
  • In 2006 we were in the middle of a meltdown season, and they came into our house and beat us by two touchdowns. We finished 6-6 and went to a bowl we frankly didn't deserve; they finished 4-8.
Why did this happen? Mostly, because Fitzgerald Hates Iowa. He will never say as much in public, of course, but Hawkeye State aka Patrick Vint explains in this essay that it dates back to his playing days. And while we must acknowledge he has brought the program to Barnett-era levels of achievement, he has a particular hard-on for Iowa, and motivates his team to beat Iowa unlike any other opponent out there.

Basically: they are a smarter, in-conference version of Iowa State. Their whole fucking season revolves around beating Iowa. Despite inferior talent and lesser prestige, they see us as the only metric for their program.

As if the coach wasn't bad enough, NU fans are the nouveau-riche of college football, refusing to acknowledge anything that happened before 1995 (note to NU fans: you sucked). They never fill up that tiny stadium unless Ohio State, Michigan State or Iowa comes to town.They are the hammer and sickle to our Stars and Stripes, the ruble to our dollar. They are dirty communists (elitist, Gucci-wearing commies).

All of which is a way of saying WE'RE GOING STREAKING IN THE QUAD tailgating on enemy turf before the Iowa-justNorthwestern game Saturday. We've got a couple things in our favor. For starters, TM will be at the game, and Iowa is undefeated when she's in attendance.
TM was there. Probably took this picture.

For another, Ricky Stanzi is a senior and has cut down on the Stanziballs. Adam Robinson is back after missing last week with an injury. We need this game to stay in the Big Ten conference championship conversation. And TMMPF is hosting the pregame party.

So if you're anywhere in the Central Time Zone, you're invited to our tailgate Saturday morning. Reach out to any either co-author for contact info. Say "Fitzgerald is a dirty commie bastard" and drink free all morning, on me. The Hawkeyes, and America, will thank you.

Note: credit for the "empty seat" photo, and general inspiration/support, goes to Black Heart Gold Pants.

What a Weird Football Saturday

This accidentaly got posted down below ... re-posting to the top. Pick Six update is at the end of this post. --Ed.

I'm glad I spent this one on the couch, in front of two TVs, because so much stuff happened I didn't believe it til I listed it all out (see below).

But first, a little MAC-tasticness. (Yeah I just made up that word.) The Ohio Bobcats played a nationally televised game last Thursday night. OK, it was ESPNU, but still, pretty good for the MAC. As much as I rip on the Alleged World Wide Leader for sucking at the one thing--sports--they are supposed to be good at, I will give credit where due. And ESPNU rolled out this fall a new set of school-specific graphics, playing off the channel's standard block "U."

You can see examples in the first few seconds of the sizzle reel from the agency (called National) that created the logos. Of course, the examples I've seen on air are the heavyweights with well-known characteristics: Alabama, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Georgia, Penn State. So how surprising was it to see...


...during the game. This version doesn't have sound, but the Ohio "U" even snarled a bit upon spinning!

Okay, trying to recap Saturday's action. Well:
  • The No. 6 team lost by 40 points. At home. I would be amazed if that has happened ever, maybe in any sport, much less football.
  • These college football teams were bowl eligible at the start of action Saturday: Central Florida, Maryland (went 2-10 last year), Syracuse (no bowl since 2004), Baylor, Hawaii, San Diego State (4-8 last year, no bowl since 1998). And from the MAC: Temple, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Ohio (had six before the Thursday win).
  • And these schools were not bowl eligible at the start of the day: Texas, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee. (Italics means they got the sixth win on Saturday.)
  • Michigan beat Illinois 67-65 in three overtimes. Each team scored as many points in the first half (31) as Iowa and Illinois did combined, in their entire game. This game hit the over ... in the first half. This game had more points than the last time they played in basketball. The two teams had 1,237 yards of offense. That's 0.7 of a mile.
Other weirdness:
  • Mississippi State is fifth (second from last) in the SEC West, but if they were in the East, they'd be in first.
  • Speaking of the Bulldogs and the SEC: Alabama plays MSU this weekend and is only ranked six spots higher. Alabama, everyone's preseason No. 1, the team prematurely coronated as a shoo-in to get back to the championship game, is barely higher than a team that before two weeks ago was last ranked in 2001.
  • The "other" MSU, Sparty, jumped six spots for beating a team without a coach.
  • The Big East has zero teams ranked. The Almost Competent Conference (ACC) has one. Compare that to those two conferences I can never tell apart, the Western Mountain WACky Whatever, which have four between them (Boise, Nevada, TCU, Utah).
  • Let's end on this pinnacle of WTF-ality. (You damn right I just made up another word.) Colorado jumped out to a nice big lead over Kansas. It was 14-3 after one, 35-10 at the half, and 38-17 at the end of the third quarter. I was feeling pretty good about my pick of Colorado to win by 8.5 points. A Buffs TD made it 45-17, then Kansas scored 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for the 52-45 win. That about summarizes my picks lately, and not suprisingly, Dan Hawkins was fired.
Okay, I know I need to update the Pick Six, especially with so many people benefitting from LSU and the Mad Hatter taking down Bama. I'm watching Northern Illinois destroy Toledo and wondering how either Temple or Ohio could take these guys in the conference championship game, and then realizing how much I've learned about MAC football in the last few years.

....okay okay, the spreadsheet is updated. Analysis later, if I can bear it (hint: find my name way down on the list, and draw your own conclusions).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Me and the Boys

There's an experiment going down at TMMPF HQ: we've introduced a second cat to the ecosphere.

Now, don't get too excited ... this one's just a loaner. Our friend Sarah, keeper of the computer-user Booni, is out of town for the week, and we all thought this would be a good opportunity for the two cats to meet each other. Just one catch: TM is out of town too, so I'm home alone with two male housecats who are used to having the run of their respective domains.

MPF004 comes to grips with the situation.

Sarah and Booni came over Saturday afternoon, and that was relatively calm, but the real action began Sunday morning, after the girls went to the airport. I left the house for a few hours (church, breakfast, errands) and came home around noon. The house was still standing, so that was good.

But when I walked in, this is what I saw (click to make bigger):

Let me try to set the scene. All those magazines and the burgundy accordion folder? They were on the lower part of the coffee table. In that empty space where the magazines used to be? A big ol' clump of Quigley fur. If you look between the table and the couch, you'll see more tufts. And in the left center? Yeah, that's Quigley's collar. Whatever those two did, it knocked his fucking collar off.

I kneeled down to look at the coffee table.

It might be hard to see here, but trust me: those are claw marks etched into the wood, indicating some serious shit went down.

Did I mention they knocked over a TV tray?

As I set about cleaning up the mess, I picked up the excess fur. Every time I thought I'd captured it all, I found more: Under a table leg. Under a magazine. By the couch. Over here a few feet away. I finally piled it all up on now-upright TV tray.

From back to front: the combatants, and the fur that flew.

I'd love to tell you the two bastards got this out of their system. Unfortunately, last night they decided to have another round, and then after I separated them, Booni cried for his "friend." Sigh.

Other than the fighting, the dynamic is pretty damn interesting to watch, from a feline sociologist* perspective. For example, our guest is on diet food, and the host eats the regular version of the same brand. And yet, both cats have been eagerly eating each other's chow. Booni also gets wet food (the good stuff), but Quigley has no interest in that. He does, however, have mischevious ways of asserting his home-field advantage. What I find most hilarious is that Sarah left a coat on the guest bed room, presumably for Booni to have something with her scent. Yeah, Quigley slept on that coat all day yesterday, and I found him there again tonight.

At the moment we've reached another detente: Booni is on the futon here in the office, Quigley upstairs on Sarah's coat.** I've got one more night solo, then the girls return (TM for good, Sarah for just the night). Then Wednesday, I'll leave for work, and the chaos will be for TM to handle.

* -- VERRY different from "crazy cat lady." Our person-to-cat ratio is usually at a safe 2:1. It is only through temporary circumstances that we're sporting this 1:2 ratio.

** -- UPDATE!! Q just came in and is givin' the stinkeye to Booni, as if he's sleeping in Q's special spot (oh the irony). Hopefully they will defuse this safely ... I'm getting sick of playing the United Nations (and being about as successful).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Pick Six, Week Nine

Pretty quiet, alla round...

The leader (Mr. Q) held onto the "quad-fecta" of the AP Top 4, ruling the leaderboard with an iron paw. Huskers Du put together a nice weekend, with modest gains from Nebraska and Stanford. Finley took a loss from Florida State but the five others all gained, for a week-best net gain of +13. Remember last week when I said the average player dropped four points? Well, you mostly got that back: this week's average score jumped from 63.5 to 67 points.

Who's winning? Of course:

Here are the numbers. As for this Saturday, Alabama-LSU will be a huge game in the SEC ... and the Pick Six game. Almost half the players (15 of 22) have one or the other, with Larry Sparks and My Non-Contention having both.

Elsewhere, Utah-TCU should be a fun game to watch ... if it wasn't on at the same time as Alabama-LSU. I guess this is why you have the two-TV system at your house, right?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Voice of the People

I was surprised, that day in class, when my accounting professor said he felt the most important function in a company is marketing.

This was significant for two reasons. The prof, Ram Ramanan (winner of the 2004 "Best of MPF" award for Best Class), had been known to take good-natured shots at marketing as a discipline, razzing it for being all overlapping circles and pryamids and touchy feely concepts like "brand." The second is that it's uncommon for one member of a team to acknowledge that a different division of the team is more important, or the most important. Of course, all departments have to work in synch for the organization to be successful. But how often do you hear, for example, the running backs coach or the linebackers coach of a college football team admit a different unit is the most crucial to success? (It's the offensive line.)

But over time I've come to realize Ram is right. The core of the company is understanding what the customer wants, and then giving it to them. Finance, accounting, R&D, operations ... they are all important pieces, and the business would fall apart without them. But they are all supporting the mechanism of delivering the goods to the person with the dough (the customer). Even your sales force, often assumed to be the key department, is merely the external-facing group that communicates or delivers the firm's value proposition: not defines and refines it.

This primacy of marketing came to mind when thinking about two incredibly stupid ads recently, and how smart companies will listen to the customer, even after a mistake.

The first is the evocative image of orange drapery falling over icons of the American landscape like the Hoover Dam and the Gateway Arch, to the moody music of Nick Drake.

If you lived in New York City last decade, or if you have a vague awareness of the art world, you probably know of the artist Christo, famous for hanging brightly colored drapery off large things. His "Gates" exhibit in Central Park was by all accounts a smashing success, adding bursts of color to a drab winter cityscape.

Not part of this essay, but I should point out that living in New York City sucks 12 months per year, but moreso in the winter. I can only imagine how this brightened people's shitty days.

You've probably seen before today the ad in question, from AT&T. Many art lovers (and intellectual-property lawyers, probably) asked themselves if Christo had been consulted or compensated.

It appears that AT&T made no effort to reach out to the artist before the ad was filmed. While this was narrow-minded of AT&T, they at least had the sense to add a disclaimer at the end of the ad. The credit to the original artist was added eventually, but not until after the outcry.

A more direct feedback can be seen in the case of the smarmy State Farm guy. What can possibly compete with ducks, lizards and the guy who was the black president on TV before Obama was the black president in real life? How about an obnoxious Tom Cruise lookalike who wanders through cafes and interrupts people?

I can only hope that State Farm read the Slate article, or otherwise heard consumer feeback to create this reponse, where she interrupts him:

Your lesson, Corporate America: Listen to your audience. If you make a dumb ad, pull it and make amends.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pick Six, Week Eight: Meet the New Boss

Today's (fricking awesome) soundtrack:

You'll figure out why in a minute. Or maybe you already got it figured out.

And with that, here's your Pick Six update.

Big winners: Mizzou got a huge win over over No. 3 Oklahoma, and jumped ahead accordingly. Sadandbritish, as the only player with Mizzou, was poised to take advantange of this, except she also has Oklahoma. Net gain for Sabandbritish: +1.

Big losers: Everyone with the Sooners, Iowa and LSU. All three lost nationally televised games. Larry Sparks had both Oklahoma and LSU, so as mentioned above, he took a hit. Not even Wisconsin's jump could offset those losses. Mo also had the Sooner-Tiger combo, but without any gainers. Both guys dropped 11 points. If you makes any feel any better, last week's average score was 67.5, and 63.5 this week, so collectively, we all kinda bit it.

Wait, what was that about last week's leader? Yeah, Larry took a big hit, opening the door for you-know-who:
"Door" in this case being a flap invented by Isaac Newton.

Larry's one point lead became a commanding 16-point lead for Mr. Q. Go ahead, take a look at the Top 4 ranked teams: Oregon, Boise, Auburn, TCU. Those four share all the No.1 votes cast in the AP Poll ... and yeah, that's two-thirds of the cat's pickset.

As always, the numbers are here. Check out your standings after eight weeks of football.

Other things to note: I predicted that my vanity would kick me in the cosmic ass. And yeah, sure enough, it did. You would think I would have learned my lesson the first time. You know, there’s an old saying in Tennessee——I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee——that says, fool me once, shame on, shame on you. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.

So no more pick 'em talk for me, only Pick Six.

Looking ahead: Sadandbritish (Mizzou) faces off against all those Huskers: Du, Fan and Larry. Iowa/Michigan State will be watched closely throughout the Midwest, and also by the six players with the Hawkeyes. Florida and Georgia face off in the World's Largest Cocktail Party, probably the most entertaining matchup of non-ranked teams. Oregon should get a strong test from Southern Cal. Meanwhile, everyone with Boise sits back and watches the points roll in. (You all should feel dirty.)

And if you can't wait til Saturday, remember that this week you've got football on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Enjoy the games everyone!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pick Six, Week Seven: A Crack in the Armor

This was a full weekend, but not of college football. So here's an update heavy on the Pick Sixing impact, and light on the national analysis.

And let me just add a clarification: I might have made it sound last week that Ohio does not have technology. That is not true. Ohio has running water, landline telephones and cable TV. They even got the Internets in the Great Internet Boom of the 1990s. I just was at an obligation in a specific place without TV or radio.

Sorry, Ohio.

Big droppers: Lots of Husker fans were hurt by Nebraska laying an egg against Texas. Other teams to bite it, and take the accompanying hit: Ohio State an unreasonable -10, South Carolina -9, Arkansas -9, Florida -4 and out of the poll.

Big winners: Wisconsin, obviously, for toppling #1 Ohio State. Way to go for the six of you. Also, three of the four new entrants to this week's poll are Pick Sixers who started the season ranked. And the fourth, would you believe it, is a Pick Sixth from a dog. A dog picked Mississippi State, because, I assume, they are the Bulldogs. A team picked LAST in the SEC West by Phil Steele. Not that I'm bitter. (On a totally unrelated note, thanks for nothing UConn.)

Enough jibber jabber, is that cat still winning? As you're painfully aware, a housecat has been leading the game almost from the beginning. It's enough to make any person or panda ask "what the fuck."

However, the answer to the all-important question is:

No! I don't have a picture of entrant "Larry Sparks," at least not with his permission (yet). Back in the late 1990s, Larry and I walked on the playing field of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. I'd love to tell you we were starting players on the team, but in reality we were just visiting town and discovered to our luck that the stadium was unlocked. Not sure where those pictures are today, but just envision Larry on the 50-yard line, cause he's your leader at the halfway point.

He rode the success of Wisky and Utah (his Pick Sixth, now ranked 9th) to jump 17 points and into first place. Meanwhile, the cat paid for the South Carolina and Arkansas losses, dropping 14 points and into second. Your "top dog" is still Piece of Cheese, and probably will be all year, so no more canine updates unless warranted.

And just in case he never sees first place this season, here is a pic of last week's human leader:
Finley. There, you finally made my blog. Now send a pic of Mitzu please.

Okay, one piece of analysis. Coming into the Iowa-Michigan game, the make-or-break matchup seemed to be Iowa's stiff defense (ranked fourth nationally) against Michigan's runaway train offense (ranked third nationally). Iowa was allowing 242.2 yards per game; Meech gaining 533.7 per game.

Their grammar sucks like their defense.

By contrast, Iowa's offense gained 426.4ypg, good for 33rd nationally, and the sieve masquerading as a Big Ten defense allowed 450.7 per game, 112th best in the nation. Against Big Ten-caliber offenses, the sieve gave up 535 (Notre Dame), 568 (Indiana) and 536 yards (Little Brother, aka Mitten State). So you knew Iowa would get their yards. But would Michigan get theirs?

Spelling sucks too.

Short answer: yes. Follow those links today and you'll see the Mitten actually jumped up to third against that vaunted Hawkeye defense. After facing the Denard Robinson (and Tate Forcier) Experience, Iowa's D dropped to 13th. So what does all that mean? When a poorly coached team makes numerous mental and physical mistakes, statistics don't mean spit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pick Six, Week Six: Scores and Analysis

The week in football. I have to say it was a pretty good Saturday: Notre Dame won, Michigan lost, Ohio won, and Iowa didn't lose (bye week). So yeah, a pretty good d-- oh crap, now I have that Luce song stuck in my head.

In other news, Alabama lost for the first time in forever. (QB Greg McElroy lost for the first time as a starter since the EIGHTH GRADE.) LSU continued to pull games out of Les Miles' ass. Minnesota lost yet again, and Just Northwestern finally lost for the first time, against a team missing its #1 QB, #1 WR, #1 RB and another WR for good measure.

Onto the Pick Six game!

Florida State dominated yet again. For the non-believers, their four games since the Oklahoma debacle have been 34-10, 31-0, 34-14 and 45-17. Now that's a defense. Ohio State and Oregon also won, and Oklahoma bye'd.


Georgia finally won, but I know my chances with them have disappeared like the other half of Drew Carey.

Have you seen this guy lately? Holy shit.

With all that I moved up nine points and four slots--nice, to be sure, but moot as you'll see in a moment.

Around the Top 25: Adios to two of the most hated programs in college football: Real Miami and Meeechigan. The father-daughter team of Sidney and QBKatt are the only two who picked that's family togetherness. Sidney is further punished for having any faith in Rich "DickRod" Rodriguez by losing 8 points when the Mitten falls out of the poll.

An oldie but goodie, and totally appropriate after Saturday's beatdown.

Welcome back to two schools: Oregon State (no one has them, so nobody cares, except me, cause Oregon State beat Arizona and I hold a grudge) and West Virginia (3 players gain one point).

Enough jibber jabber. Who's winning? I can just cut and paste this from last week:

In the original Pick Six game, the BGS guys at some point would list the "perfect" pickset, consisting of the highest rankers from each quintile, plus the highest performer from the originally unranked group. Using that as a metric, let's review Quigley's picks again:

A: Boise, 23 (best is Ohio State, 25)
B: TCU, 22 (best)
C: Oregon, 24 (best)
D: Arkansas, 14 (best)
E: Auburn, 19 (best)
F: South Carolina, 16 (best)

Not only did he increase his lead from 11 to 18 points, but his picks, for this week at least, are NEARLY PERFECT. If you're looking for the tequila to drown your sorrows, it's on the top shelf, left side.

"Or behind my butt....just like you in the standings, hah hah!!"

If it matters, your leaders in the other divisions are Finley (Human) and Piece of Cheese (Canine). Remember, that link should be good all year, so go ahead and bookmark it.

This week: Big game for the Hawkeyes as they face Michigan. ND should cruise over MAC-rifice Directional Mitten. Quigley will FINALLY lose some points as Arkansas plays Auburn. (Frrrr is similarly conflicted here.) Finley has both Ohio State and Wisconsin, who play each other. Nebraska plays Texas in a game that sounds better on paper than in reality.

We'll be in Ohio and away from technology, so if you've got a score update, feel free to text me. Enjoy the games!

Quigley's Picks Explained

Part of the fun of adding pets to the Pick Six game is seeing the curious ways our animals choose teams. Sometimes that means wadded up pieces of paper ...

...sometimes it means doing research online ...

"Boise is gonna be good again, right? I'll take Boise."

...or sometimes it means just pounding away at the keyboard randomly.

Sometimes they call a friend for advice...

...and some years, you swear the cat has been drinking.

But this year, it appears ACTUAL FELINE THOUGHT went into the pickset that is leading the 2010 game. I shall now reveal the reasoning behind Quigley's picks, with the help of cat-channeler TinaMarie.

When Quigley submitted his six, his human Tina wrote this comment:

To help promote peace between different groups (be it ethnic factions, religious factions etc.) Mr. Q. (aka Quigley) has decided to prove that animals CAN play nicely in the wilds of college football.

Without further ado, the 2010 Mr. Q all animal team:

1. Boise State Broncos (aka big ass horses)
2. TCU Horned Frogs (aka Kermit's favorite team)
3. Oregon Ducks (Quack!)
4. Arkansas Razorbacks (aka big ass pigs)
5. Auburn Tigers (Grrr... Tigers rule)
6. South Carolina Gamecocks (I guess if you are going to pick two birds a rooster and a duck ain't too bad...)
So there you go. By trying to promote peace in the animal kingdom, he's kicking all the humans' asses. Thanks a lot, Mr. Q.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Pick Six: Week Five Update

A great Week 5, in my opinion. Iowa, Notre Dame and Ohio all won ("and Maryland!!" pipes up my co-author). But enough about the non-Pick Six stuff*. What happened in this week's AP poll?

Big movers: Arizona (way to go Tippy, although I'm sure you are a nice cat I take no joy at your profitting on a team that beat Iowa), Arkansas (nine players have the Hogs), Sparty (no one has them in the game so who cares) and Nevada (ditto).

Going down: Tough conference losses hurt Stanford, Florida and Wisconsin. For Penn State, Texas and USC, ugly losses meant eviction from the poll. That is particularly tough on Boonster, who had both Texas and Penn State.

Moving ... on down in the point totals.

Newcomers: Welcome back Florida State! That's three big points for Larry Sparks and me. And welcome to the poll, Mizzou (sabandbritish).

Enough jibber jabber. Who's winning? Your undisputed leader Week 5 is:

Stanford's loss hurt last week's co-leader Hüskers Dü (I actually went and got those umlauts for you Kelly, instead of just a lazy copy-and-paste), allowing Quigley to open up an 11-point lead. He's got 5 of the top 11 teams. His worst team is South Carolina at No. 19. Only two other players have all six teams ranked (Finley in third place and Larry Sparks in fourth).

Let that sink in for a moment, people: We Are All Losing. To a suburban housecat.

Here's the spreadsheet with the scores. For those of who are you interwebs-savvy, I've changed the filename to "2010p6Standings" and this URL should be consistent for the rest of the game. Feel free to bookmark it or RSS it or "like" it or twit it or whatever the hell your cell phone does.

* -- Okay, one more thing. In my pick 'em game where you pick against the spread, I went 16-5. Keep in mind that Vegas sets the spread to ensure the wagering public will be split 50-50, so anything even slightly above .500 is a good week. I know I am tempting fate but I'm pretty excited. Who else picked Illinois AND Minnesota to cover their spreads?