Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
(for details on all this nonsense, go here.)
So. After three years of stout defenses, Big Ten co-championships, and #8 finishes, the college football world is finally waking up to Iowa and, not incidentally, Kirk Ferentz. Many prognosticators are pegging The Fighting Tate-ers as the favorite in the Big Ten race this year. Noted windbag Dennis Dodd temporarily had the Hawkeyes at #2, though recently he dropped them to #5. Athlon has them #3; so does Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com. Everyone has them in the top ten. Many are expecting big things.
But not me. mgoblog believes that Iowa is significantly overrated going into the year because of:
- An outlying turnover margin. Iowa was +12 in the conference last year in only eight games, largely because their defense forced a whopping 26 turnovers. That's outside the realm of good. That's inconceivable without scads of luck. Don't believe me? Iowa fumbled 17 times this year and lost 5. Their opponents fumbled 22 times... and lost 15! mgoblog believes (and would like to prove but doesn't have the data available) that turnovers gained are very loosely correlated year-to-year, that they are largely random. Two things get you turnovers: a heavy pass rush and blind stinking luck. Iowa had a lot of both last year. This year? The luck is stochastic and the pass rush, well...
- The wholesale, devastating loss of the league's best position group. Defensive linemen Matt Roth, Derreck Robinson, Jonathan Babineaux, and Tyler Lubke are all gone. mgoblog usually isn't big on pointing to departures and saying "you'll be awful," instead preferring to look at what remains, but Babineaux and Roth combined for 40 tackles for loss and 19 sacks. Holy. Crap. None of the backups saw significant playing time, a rarity for a defensive line in recent years. Was it because the starters were so good or because the backups were so bad? Probably some of both. The best Iowa can reasonably hope for this year is a defensive line that is functional and occasionally in the backfield, which is a huge dropoff from last year.
- A poor running game. Iowa was last! Last! This is not going to turn itself around immediately. The running backs that appear to be the most talented are coming off of ACL tears and will not be fully recovered this year. And there are serious indications that last year's offensive line was not up to snuff... 40 sacks against Tate, and the running numbers are beyond the realm where they can be blamed entirely on ACLtearapalooza. Iowa will rebound against the poorer defenses in the conference but will not be able to run against Purdue, Ohio State, or Michigan. At all. Tough to win when you're slinging it every down, even if the guy slinging it is Tate.
- One damn play. Let's take a thought exercise. Move Prescott Burgess' hand over two inches on the last play of the Rose Bowl. Place an LSU defensive back within ten yards of Iowa receiver Warren Holloway on the last play of the Citrus bowl. Result: Michigan beats Texas. LSU beats Iowa. Is Iowa anywhere near the top ten of polls nationwide? No. While both plays are important, I believe that the national media ascribes a series of close wins to some sort of inherent ability of that team to win close games instead of dumb luck. Iowa got a lot of dumb luck last year that propelled their significantly flawed team to an excellent finish. Michigan was probably even luckier. The difference? See the previous three items.
So. This is what I think: Iowa will disappoint a bit this year. Not Motor City Bowl disappoint, but maybe Outback Bowl disappoint. Yes, I realize that I am betting against Kirk Ferentz and Drew Tate. Yes, I think that there is a good chance that this is going to make me look stupid. But I think what I think, and this is what I think. I think.
Unit By Unit
Junior Drew Tate defines "moxie." Last year against Michigan he had his helmet ripped clean off by the onrushing Pierre Woods. His reaction? Sit in the pocket and rifle a pass downfield. The play had been blown dead already, but the message was sent. Tate's the kind of guy to heinously waste critical time at the end of the Citrus Bowl and then find and nail an unbelievably wide open wide receiver to win the game. mgoblog generally scoffs at clutchness, mental toughness, etc... but Drew Tate makes that very difficult. It's hard to deny that the man is a lot more than the apparent sum of his parts.
What Tate did as a first year starter with zero running game and a shaky offensive line--first team All Big Ten, 62.1% completion rate, 2841 yards, 21 touchdowns against 14 interceptions--was very, very impressive. In person he's a combination of Drew Brees and Brett Favre, scrambling around, buying time to pass, finding receivers open after the play has broken into teeny little bits that make no sense at all.
However, Tate, like Favre, sometimes overreaches, tossing passes into coverage or running around too long and taking a sack. Iowa's 40 sacks against last year were partially his responsibility. Tate needs to ratchet back that moxie of his just a little bit and give up on a play here and there. But that's a relatively minor quibble. Tate is damn good.
Now, about that running game...
Rating: 1.Everyone knows that some Hawkeye running back pissed off the God of ACLs last year and his wrath was fierce. Iowa's leading rusher was fifth-string walk-on Sam Brownlee. Five different runners were sidelined for all or part of the season. By the its merciful end Iowa's running backs had acquired a number of broken limbs that a shop class full of blind kids with Down's syndrome couldn't match. As a result, Iowa finished dead last in rushing last year. Yes, behind Texas Tech. Yes, behind Hawaii. That's what last means.
The position will be a free-for-all of epic proportions this year. Brownlee, sophomore Damian Sims, and senior Marques Simmons all return after splitting the bulk of the carries last year. Junior Albert Young and senior Marques Schnoor will return from their torn ACLs by the fall. Three freshmen will also arrive, rearing to go. mgoblog has no idea how it will all shake out--anyone who tells you he does who is not Kirk Ferentz is lying--but if we had to bet, we'd bet on Young with a heavy dose of incoming freshman fullback Kalvin Bailey.
Will anything decent emerge out of this sack of cats? It's unlikely. Brownlee, Simmons, and Sims were very bad last year, and OSU fans tell me the talent elves are all busy turning Ohio State's Troy Smith into a legitimate quarterback. It usually takes two years to fully recover from an ACL tear, so Young and Schnoor probably won't be full speed. None of the three freshmen come in with high accolades. Unless there is a Mike Hart-like serendipity somewhere in the running back corps, Iowa's running game will still be downright bad.
Rating: 4. Iowa returns two of the league's top eight or so wide receivers in Ed Hinkel and Clinton Solomon, who were both heavily featured as part of the Drew Tate show last year. (If you're curious, mgoblog's top group: Ginn, Holmes, Hinkel, Solomon, Avant, Breaston, Wheelwright, and Ingraham.)
Hinkel--an mgoblog favorite and the latest in a long line of snow-white Iowa receivers--is running neck-and-neck with Michigan's Jason Avant for the best hands in the conference. Hinkel isn't a jet engine like Tim Dwight was but he is a crafty route runner with a knack for selling double moves and finding soft spots in zones. His one-handed touchdown grab against All-American Marlin Jackson sold mgoblog. Hinkel is the kind of guy who ends up the u
nsung hero of championship teams.
Solomon will man the flanker spot. He's more of a big play threat, with an NFL size body and enough speed to put the fear of God into opposing cornerbacks. A former quarterback, Solomon understands route-running well. Tight end Scott Chandler is freaking huge at 6'7" but very stiff and only mildly athletic. Still, he caught 24 passes last year and presents a major matchup problem in the red zone.
There isn't much depth to the unit, but mgoblog recommends you watch out for freshman Troy Stross, who looks to be the designated Inexplicably Kickass White Receiver after Hinkel graduates.
Rating: 3. The statistics indicate that Iowa's offensive line was terrible last year. Drew Tate was sacked 40(!) times and the rushing game was, as noted, very bad. Picking out how much of that was because of the running back disaster and the severe one-dimensionality of Iowa's offense and how much was actually on the line is difficult. Picking out how much of the line's issues were because of injury is more difficult.
Three starters (at least, starters when not injured) return to the interior of the line: center Brian Ferentz and guards David Walker and Mike Elgin. There are question marks at tackle after projected starter Lee Gray was lost for the year to injury. The two new starters have been with Iowa a long time but neither has much experience. Senior Ben Gates, who has started two games in his career, steps in for Gray. Right tackle Mike Jones keeps getting bounced from guard to tackle. There is little depth to speak of. If a starter should go down, Iowa will be forced to play either JUCO recruit Marshall Yanda or true freshmen (though they are highly-touted true freshmen).
Iowa should have a bounce-back year in the run game because of the improved consistency of its interior line but the pass protection will probably be a little shaky, especially if Tate continues to hold onto the ball a long time.
Iowa graduated its entire defensive line. Matt Roth will no longer terrorize opposing backfields. Jonathan Babineaux's last name now befuddles NFL beatwriters instead of, well, me. Stepping into the massive void left by the departed foursome is a collection of whodats. The projected starting line (Ken Ibewema and Bryan Mattison at DE and Matt Kroul and George Eshtahuri at DT) has all of four career tackles between them.
This is what we know about Iowa's new defensive line:
- Ferentz had no faith in them last year, choosing to leave his starters on the field for almost the entire game--rare for a defensive line in this day and age.
- Not one was ranked anything higher than three stars coming out of high school. A couple are walk-ons.
- Projected starting DT Matt Kroul was listed at 256 pounds this spring.
- They're playing for Kirk Ferentz.
The appropriate mental reaction to these things is: "will suck, will suck, will suck... uh. Damn." Ferentz turns whodat walk-ons into NFL draft picks, especially along the offensive and defensive lines. This line is still too young to really excel, though. Kroul is a redshirt freshman. The starting ends are sophomores. Even taking Ferentz/Norm Parker magic into account, it usually takes at least a few years to sink in. This year will be a learning experience for this group. Someone will emerge as a penetrating force, but there won't be much consistency from this group.
Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodge, and a mannequin would be one of the top five linebacking units in the country. The fact that Iowa gets to use a living, breathing human at the third spot is somewhat unfair. They do, though. His name is Edmond Miles and this is probably the last you'll be hearing about him, because the heavy breathing about Hodge and Greenway will be nonstop.
Greenway, in particular, is a do-everything marvel, equally suited to run support (115 tackles last year), blitzing (three sacks and eight TFLs), and coverage (three interceptions) that The Helmet Haired One (Mel Kiper for the NFL ig'nant) has already anointed an easy top-ten selection in next year's NFL draft. Oh, and that Hodge guy ain't bad either. Hodge eats running backs. That's what you need to know. Miles will slot in just fine.
The question with this unit is: how much of their production was due to the massive attention opposing teams had to give Matt Roth and Jonathan Babineaux? The team that could afford to single block both men doesn't exist. The dynamic duo probably had fewer blockers to deal with than just about any linebackers in the league. mgoblog doesn't think that will be the case again, as noted above. They'll have to take on and shed more blocks this year, something which they're no doubt capable of, but it can't help but lessen their effectiveness.
Rating: 4. This is a good unit but not a great one. Iowa finished second to PSU in pass efficiency defense (conference only) last year, but they were greatly aided by (say it with me) a heavy pass rush. The two starting corners, Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson, have been good players but not stars. They have a ton of experience, though--Allen is entering his fourth season as a starter, Johnson his third--and are well above average.
The safeties are somewhat new. Sean Considine graduated and Marcus Paschal was injured in the bowl game and may not return in time to start the year. Fortunately for Iowa, Miguel Merrick has seen extensive time in the secondary and played well. Sophomore Charles Godfrey will man Paschal's spot until he returns.
The secondary doesn't have a big time NFL prospect or a headhunter like Bob Sanders but, like Penn State's, it doesn't have an obvious weak point either.
Rating: 4. Hinkel is also an excellent punt returner, turning the Tim Dwight comparison level up to creepy proportions. Hinkel split time with the departed Walter Belleus--Belleus also returned most kickoffs.
Rating: 4. Kyle Schlicher filled in nicely for Nate Kaeding last year, hitting 21 of 26 field goals. All but one miss was from outside forty. He doesn't have Kaeding's range but is the best returning kicker in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes will break in a new punter this year. He'll probably be okay.
A nonconference game at Iowa State is sandwiched in between two gimmes against Ball State and Northern Iowa. ISU generally plays the Hawkeyes very tough in Ames and may be favored to win the postapocalyptic landscape of the Big Twelve North but isn't in Iowa's class. Tate, Hinkel, and Solomon will be humming. Iowa should win.
The Big Ten schedule gnomes did Iowa no favors this year, thrusting the Hawkeyes into the Heart of Darkness to play Ohio State in the opener and then, after a breather against Illinois, right back into the fire against Purdue in West Lafayette. Whatever progress the all-new defensive line has made will be tested immediately upon entry to the Big Ten conference schedule. After Purdue is relatively smooth sailing, with Michigan and Minnesota visiting Kinnick and Big Ten wait-till-next-years Indiana, Northwestern, and Wisconsin rounding out the schedule. If Iowa can take the initial punch and remain standing, the Wolverines will be all that stands between Iowa and the Rose Bowl.
Keys to the Season
Find a running back. Anybody. An Iowa that can't run the ball will struggle to move the ball against Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan. I have no idea who it will be, but it has to be someone, and it has to be fast because of the schedule. If no one's buying Tate's play action fakes, Iowa won't break 20 against the Buckeyes. (Yes, I remember what happened last y
ear. This is a different year.)
Eat. Space. The good news for Iowa as it relates to the defensive line is this: they don't have to have tea-time in the opponent's backfield like Roth and Babineaux did to be effective. Hodge, Greenway, and Miles will clean up small messes the line leaves, but expecting them to pick guards off their facemasks and make tackles is awfully optimistic. If someone can play Gabe Watson--a guy who won't make a ton of plays because he's always double-teamed--the Hawkeye linebackers will ride roughshod over the conference. But even Hodge and Greenway will find it difficult to make an impact if the line can't force opponents to pay attention to it.
Keep It Simple, Except When You Shouldn't. The difference between Drew Tate, All Big Ten, and Drew Tate, All American, is better decision making. It's good now. But if Tate can walk the fine line between being outrageously effective and just being outrageous, he's the kind of player who can wash away the running game troubles and the defensive line questions with two or three dramatic fourth quarter drives and etch himself in to Hawkeye legend next to Nile Kinnick and Chuck Long. mgoblog thinks he'll still be a bit on the loose cannon side, which could result in a bad interception at a crucial time in one of Iowa's marquee games.
Worst Case: Defensive line is very unsound against the run with the mighty midgets in the middle and doesn't generate much pass rush. The rest of the defense is still pretty good but teams with offenses capable of consistently moving the chains score on Iowa. The offense is much like last year's, with Drew Tate running for his life a lot and throwing a lot of unbelievable ropes to barely open wide receivers. Michigan and Purdue exploit the new tackles and win going away, a trip to Columbus provides Buckeye revenge, and Iowa can't stop the Maroney Express, finishing 7-4.
Best Case: Ferentz unearths another Roth, probably because of a pact with the Devil. Tate makes fewer mistakes and goes from really good to unbelievably good, but the run game is still the Hawkeyes' undoing against one of the other three Big Ten contenders. Iowa finishes 10-1 and loads up for another BCS bowl.
mgoblog says... God, I hate doing this. Kirk Ferentz has spun 1-10 straw into perennial postseason #8 gold, but this is the year I think Captain Kirk takes a (temporary) step back. The passing game will be really consistent and good and the running game will improve, but only because it has to after finishing dead last in 2004. There's no Fred Russell in the backfield and the offensive line looks genuinely shaky after Lee Gray was lost for the season. Purdue and Michigan both have the defensive ends to take advantage of the new tackles.
The defense will not be as good as it was a year ago. The defensive line simply can't match the performance of Roth and company and I have doubts that it will be able to keep Greenway and Hodge clean enough to fully exploit their talent. There isn't a guy on the line who looks like a two-gap space consumer who can keep the linebackers clean. They're young, they're undersized, and they'll get devoured by the experienced lines of Michigan, Ohio State, and Purdue. They aren't going to fall apart--they will be at least average--but they will suffer against big, powerful offensive lines.
mgoblog thinks that Iowa matches up very poorly with Michigan and Purdue this year. Games against Minnesota and Ohio State won't be easy, though the Minnesota game is at Kinnick. Iowa drops the first two and one of the second two, finishing 8-3, 5-3 in the Big Ten.
Wacky Terry Malone. Oh, you kidder, you, with your Toledo Blade article about rotating quarterbacks that is in the process of throwing Michigan diehards into a grade-A tizzy without saying anything more than there is "very much" an "open competition" at quarterback. Yes, Guitterez will play, perhaps extensively, against weak sister out-of-conference opponents Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan. But it will probably be after the game is well in hand. Unless Chad Henne totally implodes, Guiterrez remains Wally Pipp.
Could this be another example of mgoblog dismissing a potential course of action as ludicrous and unlikely because my head will explode if it actually happens (see: frequent use of 3-4 defense)? Perhaps. But probably not.
BONUS! More baseless predictions: Everyone forgets about this Gabe Watson suspension business before the fall; Manningham is the #3 WR by midyear; Several Ohio State players are not arrested.
Which unheralded player on your team will be the hardest to replace? Which seemingly inconsequential player could make the biggest impact?
Michigan lost only a few players last year, and most of them were heralded (Edwards, Baas, Jackson, Shazor) or not particularly good (pick a linebacker, Adam Finley, Larry Harrison, Markus Curry), but there's one guy that should be the boring chorus of Michigan responses: fullback Kevin Dudley. Dudley was Michigan's most badass fullback since Chris Floyd in glorious 1997, the kind of guy who finished his career with one carry and no touchdowns but left dozens of crippled linebackers in his wake. Ask Derrick Johnson, who did almost nothing (1.5 tackles) in the Rose Bowl except one admittedly sweet forced fumble on Max Martin. Now he's being foolishly passed over by NFL teams instead of doing his impersonation of the really fast truck in Frogger.
Michigan will miss him. The fullback position is a bit of a mess. Roger Allison will miss the season with a mysterious nerve injury that may end his career. The projected starter is looking like Will Paul, a guy who is currently still listed at defensive end. With four of five offensive linemen back and a three-headed monster in the backfield, Michigan should be grinding its opponents to dust... but that iso play which is a staple of the playbook needs someone like Dudley to lay down the law, Judge Dredd style.
The seemingly inconsequential player with great impact will be strong safety Brandent Engelmon, a lightly recruited player stepping into Ernest Shazor's shoes. Shazor was noticeable, whether it was crushing Minnesota runnigbacks in the backfield or killing Dorient Bryant or blowing coverages against OSU or overpursuing against MSU. mgoblog would prefer to not think about Engelmon in any way whatsoever. If the year ends and I can say to myself "I have no recollection of Englemon doing anything last year," I will be a happy man. Just don't screw up.
Which regular-season game that won't feature your team would you pay the most money to see this season? Why?
I might go with Spurrier here but I think South Carolina's quarterback situation (i.e., not having any) is going to prevent the Cocks from being competitive against Tennessee and Florida. Visor aside, if I'm going to pay big bucks to watch someone play, there has to be the prospect of watching grown men cry. This quickly narrows the field to a select number of games: Texas-OU, Michigan-Penn State, and whatever game knocks Florida State out of bowl contention once and for all. The second is disqualified for affiliation reasons. The last is too vague. So, we're going with Texas-OU. Don't Texas fans have to start killing themselves pretty soon? How many points would OU have to win by to cause a mass suicide in Dallas? The number keeps getting lower every year; a few years ago we were talking 120. Now... I think the number is 8. Let's see some carnage.
Bonus: From Brent of the theoretically archetypical ParadigmBlog--Which rivalry game would you most like to attend?
Since I have Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer on the brain, it would have to be the Iron Bowl. Cool name, a (new) rooting interest, and a reputation as absolutely insane no matter what the teams' records are.
If your team were a rapper, who would it be and why?
I'm not much into the rap. But I am into pretentious indie music, which possesses a great Michigan analogue: prolific and excellent folk-ish troubador Sufjan Stevens. Witness these similarities:
|Relocated To After College||New York||New York|
|Performance Level||Consistently very good||Consistently very good|
|Fatal Flaw||Tends to lose one game a year to a totally inferior opponent in an unlikely and heart-rending fashion.||Tends to put one bizarre, meandering 12-minute track on each album; often they feature lyrics like "People Mover, bad decision."|
|Backup Singers||N/A||Jesus H. Christ|
|Jesus Christ||Opinion mixed||In favor of|
|Tradition||Extensive and beautiful||Plays the banjo beautifully|
|Stance on public display of wang||Extremely opposed||Unknown|
|Disposition of crowds||Sedate but dedicated||Ditto|
|Opinion of fans towards others||We're better than you||Ditto|
"I liked the program at Michigan, but one of the biggest things that scared me about them was the possibility of being a white receiver there. The last I heard, the last white receiver they ever had there had been about 10-15 years ago. They don't have any on the team now and I don't think they've given any other white receivers a scholarship."
Duuuuuuuude. I really hope hockey players don't start thinking like this, because then we're screwed.
(So. A bit of exposition mixed with full disclosure. A couple months ago I went through a period of scouring the Internet in search of potential voters for the BlogPoll. I sent off a series of email invitations to people, a few of which went out to media members with their own blogs. I expected that these would be universally scoffed at and deleted. This expectation was largely met, except for one Warren St. John, who replied kindly and offered to send me a review copy of his book Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer. Let it be known, then, that I'm predisposed to like Mr. St. John. He, in between writing things for the New York Times, deigned to reply to me and participate in the BlogPoll. I got to feel like a big shot by picking up a review copy of a book. He's also really nice.
I would like to think I'm enough of a hardass to slam Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer despite these facts, but since I'm not going to do anything of the sort I figure it's ethical to tell you that I think Warren St. John is an excellent man and since he sent me a book that I enjoyed very much I feel it is only polite to tell you about it.)
There is a rough divide between people that serves as the impetus for both Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and this review-type-thing stemming from the story of an elderly couple of Alabama fans who skipped their daughter's wedding to go to a football game against Tennessee, though they made the reception. Most people who run across this story are horrified. Most are horrified at the parents' callous treatment of their daughter. Some are horrified at the daughter forcing such a choice on the parents. As someone who has warned friends and family for years that Brian Doesn't Go To Fall Weddings, I side with the parents. To the world at large, this means that there is Something Wrong With Brian.
The review blurbs featured on Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer's cover and day-glo neon insert page indicate that I have something of a disconnect with the world at large, who appear to be daughter-siders all. The quoted reviews tend to say things about St. John's "empathy for his subjects" (NYT) or discuss his successful foray into "Southern football mania" (Vanity Fair) to present Alabama fans in the "full frenzy of their nuthood" (NPR) so well that by the book's end, the "insanity makes just a little bit of sense" (Men's Health... Men's Health?), and thus pretty much miss the point entirely. St. John may have put on his pith helmet and hacked his way into the Alabama jungle to study the magnificent primates therein (I'll take this analogy sans racial overtones, if you don't mind), but Jane Goodall he ain't. The situation is more like if one particular gorilla decided to go to Columbia, get a swanky haircut, and then come back to study not the apes but rather himself via the lens provided by the natives.
The NPR review even mentions that St. John tackles his "subjects" "without condescension." Without condescension? How... what... what? How, in fact, does one condescend to himself? I have to wonder if these people missed the part in the book where St. John tracks down a wealthy developer whose only fanaticism more powerful than 'Bama is a desire to be home in Mobile an hour after the game. The developer allows St. John to watch his escape, which starts with two minutes left in every game. St. John's response: "I tell him I'll be there if the game isn't too close." That's, to use the parlance of our times, my dawg.
The game (against LSU) does not appear to be too close when St. John leaves for the skybox, but when the appointed time comes Alabama leads by six and LSU is starting a frantic two-minute drill to win. LSU quarterback John Booty, unable to find an open target, is smashed to the ground deep in Alabama territory with a few seconds left. An injury timeout is called:
"C'MON!" the developer shouts.
Instinctively I follow.
"Hey wait--" I call. "It's not over!"
We run through the gate, out of the stadium toward a white fan with its doors open. Everyone piles in. The doors shut, and before anyone can even utter goodbye, the van pulls away.
"It's not over!!!"
Chilling. And revealing. If I may be so bold, permit me to declare that St. John is One Of Us (us if you are the kind of person who involuntarily shuddered at that last paragraph, that is). He's written a book that resonates very differently with Us than it does with Them, because it's half about why we diehards are the way we are.
As a person whose father declared for years that he was was going to buy an RV when he retired and thought that was an idea with a certain irresistible appeal, I am curious about this as well. Why am I--a person who, despite appearances to the contrary (if you seek a maniacal obsession, look around you), qualifies as rather normal--prone to screaming obscenities at the television when something adverse happens to men I've never met playing a game that has no real impact on my life? Diehards have all asked this question, usually after something soulcrushingly impossible happens. Diehards have heard this question more times than they can count. It's the Big Question of fandom, simply expressed in one word:
St. John tries to explain it with serotonin and the like and comes up about as empty-handed as I do when asked. I usually break into a majestic swooping thing about the last true drama, one bound to no strictures of narrative, where the happy ending either given or denied has no overriding moral message and thus when the ball is in the air, heading for its destiny blah blah blah. People usually look at me like I'm crazy. Which I am. It's clear that the direct approach to answering the Big Question is not a wise one.
The thing about RJYH that endears it to me so is that it provides an indirect glimpse of the answer to the Big Question through the smoky glass of fans who are slightly, charmingly off. It does take some extensive eccentricity to roll about in an RV that costs about as much as your house (or, in St. John's case, about as much as a Segway). Rearranging your life around the activities of a football team is objectively crazy in whatever place High Falutin' Book Ree-voos come from, but the striking thing about the RV crew in the book is that not one of them thinks the lifestyle they're leading is strange in any way whatsoever. Sure, there's a guy in need of a heart transplant who is risking his life to attend Alabama games, but when asked about it, he shrugs off the suggestion that he's crazy: life without Alabama football isn't worth living.
At some point towards the end of RJYH it became clear. Why? Well, why not? You have to have a community, whether it digs parades and high quality manbeef or I dunno, church or follows around a football team. And RJYH makes a damn good case for the latter, translating the world of college football into a language that even coastie infidels can understand. As a full-fledged college football nut, it sings to me.
So. It's good. Warren's really nice. I suggest you buy his book.
(You can read the introduction here and t
he first chapter here. If these do not indicate to you that it is a book worth reading then I challenge you to a duel. Not like a shooting duel, but maybe a slapping duel. Because that's the way I roll. You can buy it here (<-- not an affiliate link, to remove potential conflict of interest).)
Sweet Jesus. Yes, 3:10 AM + Work == A Bad Time.
I had a complex about NCAA 2005. Bitching about it was like proclaiming the Emperor to be nekkid; what if others could pass at will and find open receivers? What if others returned a kick for a touchdown even once? What if everyone else in the entire world had a running game that did not consist of breaking every run in the playbook off tackle? What if I just sucked?
Bitch, I don't suck. You suck, NCAA 2005! You suck! Festering garbage heap! No-throwy option ridiculousness! BURN BURN BURN.
Love you, NCAA 2006. Love your back juke and sensible X-always-sprints thinking and your effective interior runs and the fact that people are open sometimes and that I beat Northern Illinois (with Northwestern, mind you) 48-41 and there were no balls batted around 800 times and when I threw an interception I knew it and the computer could actually play offense and not sit around overthrowing screens (WHICH WORK) and failing to run utterly. Probably like inseason recruiting a lot, couldn't care less about racing for the Heisman, ecstatic that there are drills now, want to hug and caress and love you and forget all about 2005, bad game, bad year, smelly game.
Do not love the fact that I zombie. Ees too no sleep. My ow.