Wonk: Back. I mean it sincerely when I say that if you are interested in college basketball (at all) and you do not read Big Ten Wonk, you are doing yourself a terrible disservice. Rejoice, for he has emerged from this thing called "the offseason" with a veritable torrent of must read material. Vaya con dios, readers!
I guess Ian won't be watching. This is your FCC-mandated 10-day Pam Ward Alert: Indiana-Michigan is a nooner on the Deuce. I don't think the mad genius behind Sexy Results was lathered in anticipation of this one anyway, but now he won't even flip by it.
No fun. Well, someone at ESPN is reading bits of the blogosphere. Mere hours after the most glorious headline ever was posted, it was neutered. Quite literally. Good on The House That Rock Built for pulling a screenshot.
Nike must be stopped. Page 2's Uni Watch is all over this Florida/VT sleeve abomination thing. Lukas talks to the poor Nike PR flack who's been tasked with defending the indefensible. She says "the fan response seems to be very positive"; Lukas annihilates that fanciful notion:
Knox might want to take a peek at Uni Watch's in-box, which overflowed with nearly 200 e-mails about the Virginia Tech game alone, virtually all of them negative. A quick statistical breakdown reveals that seven different respondents made reference to vomiting, six made reference to eyestrain (two of whom included the phrase "My eyes, my eyes!"), five said the VT players looked as though they had their left arms in casts and/or slings, four said VT should be barred from the BCS, four more said they kept thinking the Hokies were going to tilt and fall over, three said the orange shoulder reminded them of "Star Wars" stormtroopers, and three more said Halloween must have arrived a few days early.
Money graf that pisses me off something fierce about Michigan's stupid accession to a piping-included redesign:
The problem with all this -- aside from, y'know, its looking really, really stupid -- is that it creates an aesthetic connection between the mismatched-sleeve schools, so they all look as though they're playing for Team Nike instead of for themselves (just like all the teams that wear the wraparound rear bib, another Nike "innovation"). This not only waters down and cheapens the individual schools' visual identities but also perpetuates Nike's patently bogus notion that its own brand is more important than the teams' brands. Memo to Phil Knight: The swoosh draws its legitimacy from the teams that wear it, not the other way around.
Emphasis mine. Lukas is somewhere beyond right on this; Michigan has deigned to consort with fashion victims like Miami and Arizona, even if it is a more reserved version of the piping abomination. My suggestion is to boycott bib-sporting jerseys until they go away. Why is there a website up complaining about something as tangetially relevant as luxury boxes when the athletic department is dipping its toes in the water of Uniform Abomination? Priorities, people!
Penn State Paranoia Pool Day 1: Strong start. Today's check shows "Amazing U of M story on a ref" and starts in with your bias accusation re: alum Dick Honig, who has never refereed a Michigan game.
Get your poll entries in now, we're accepting them until Friday.
Ballots go here.
Virginia Tech... Texas... USC... who's number one? Discuss. Why not VT?
You are a straight freak, sir. Buried in this roundup article is the following:
Quotable: Freshman running back Javon Ringer scored his first touchdown since the Hawaii game. "The little crapper did pretty good too, didn't he?" coach John L. Smith said about Ringer, who rushed for 109 yards on 11 carries.
I am going to miss JLS when he freaks out and bites off the head of a sideline reporter after another special teams mishap.
The same article contains a ginormous dick move, as well:
The NFL rumors [re: Weis to NFL] have Irish faithful in an uproar. One fan-friendly Web site wrote that Schefter was trying to "create rumors about Weis" because he is a Michigan grad.
(I think there's a 99% chance this is NDNation because that seems like exactly the sort of paranoid retardery that is their speciality.)
Why not mention where you got it from? This is totally unverifiable the way it's printed solely because the newspaper doesn't want to publish the URL of a site not run by "real journalists" even when they're citing it. Newspapers pull this crap all the time when they reference anything on the Internet. They make a vague assertion about "message boards" or "blogs," specifically reference exactly nothing, and prevent the reader from finding out what's going on for themselves. It's reminiscent of those protesters in college that shout down anyone who disagrees with them because they know they're right and anything coming from someone in the other camp is automatically null and void simply because of its origin.
I'm starting a pool. Penn State fans: still bitching! It's been two weeks since Michigan beat Penn State. How many BWI threads dedicated to complaining about Michigan and/or our unholy pact with the referees do you think have been posted in since, say, midnight? Would you believe... seven? In 12 hours?
Can they keep it up through a Michigan bye week and then the Indiana game? Let's find out! We're starting the first annual Penn State Paranoia Pool. The rules of the game are as follows: every weekday I will check BWI around noon. I'll scan the title headers for references to A) Big Ten referees and B) OMG Michigan SUX. Included in the latter group will be innocuous seeming posts that are designed to garner snarky responses (and do). The day that I do this and I see no posts for one entire day in either category A or category B will be declared "Extremely Temporary Return To Sanity Day" and the pool will end. The player with the date closest to ETRTSD will be declare the winner. If there is a tie the winner will be the one with the least faith in the Penn State faithful--the one with the date farthest in the future.
The winner of this fabulous contest will get... er. I don't really want to mail anything. Er... will get to officially nickname someone prominent in college football (offer void if nickname is excessively profane and not clever). Post entries in the comments thread below; one entry per household. Void in Puerto Rico, Columbus, and South Bend.
In a return to weird. I previously discussed the wondrous ground of weird that is Facebook. My favorite item was Tyler Ecker's photo:
But BC&RS found out that Ecker has topped himself, replacing the above with this:
No caption needed, just filename: tylereckerkillsbunnies.jpg
That's goddamn right: our Mormon tight end is a bunny murderer. That's hard. You must examine the rest of the Facebook goodness. Angry Michigan Everything Hating God commands it.
Spurrier... mancrush... strong. No explanation necessary:
I hope Peyton Manning is weeping softly somewhere, wiping his eyes with the paper-mache Heisman Trophy the UT Booster club made him in 1997. (Via the Cool Chicken.)
Announcing the Collective of Six. I have this crazy idea that teams with really good defenses are successful. So I'm announcing the "Collective of Six," an idea that will revolutionize college football thinking. The following teams are all in the top ten in total defense and until they decide to not be good at defense, they are Collective of Six members! Yay!
- #2 Virginia Tech: 8-0.
- #3 Alabama: 8-0.
- #5 Florida: 6-2.
- #7 Texas: 8-0 .
- #8 Georgia: 7-1.
- #9 West Virginia: 6-1.
These teams have incredible success against the rest of college football. At this point Florida's loss to LSU is the only time a non-Collective team has beaten a team in the Collective. Against the rest of college football these teams are 41-1! Easy verdict: if these guys were not good at defense they would not be good at football. Super yay!
10/29/2005 - Michigan 33-17 Northwestern - 6-3, 4-2 Big Ten
Pop quiz, hotshot:
- Defense A plays a conservative, bend-don't-break style of defense that results in a lot of long drives by the opposition. They get few three-and-outs. By the end of the game they yield 17 points on three long drives, giving up about 420 yards.
- Defense B is more of a gambling unit that uses more man coverage and stunts the hell out of its defensive line, getting frequent pressure at the expense of the occasional gaping hole. It gives up fewer long drives but more long plays. By the end of the game they yield 17 points due to a series of big plays against. They also yield about 420 yards.
Which defense is better?
Is this a trick question? What if I told you that Defense A faced 11 drives and Defense B 16? Does that make your thinking on this case very clear, man? What if I told you this particular situation was not particularly hypothetical at all and would probably serve as fabulous justification for a much different take on two performances that seem nearly identical on the surface? What if I stopped using this slightly annoying rhetorical device?
The upshot is this: the game is changing, man, and those that change with it will have extremely fine pads with all the latest in eight-track technology. Those who do not will probably end up on Fanopticon under the headline "Irate fans burn down house of coach; much of the latest in eight-track technology lost." Part of that change is in realizing that the current state of football statistics is dire and that what really counts is drive efficiency, not raw totals. Part of that change is in realizing that 30-40 yards from a punt is just not as valuable as it used to be. A punt is just as good as a long interception: it's a turnover.
I submit that Lloyd Carr is working towards that sweet eight-track player by changing his habits built up over the decades. This isn't easy--changing an ingrained habit is never, ever easy. He's doing it in fits and starts, like a man attempting to kick heroin. Relapses are regular, but there is change afoot. As a result, Michigan fans were treated to the Least Likely Playcall in History on Saturday when crotchety old Lloyd eschewed a field goal on fourth and six from the twenty-three and instead directed Chad Henne to throw it three yards wide of an open Steve Breaston. Turnover on downs. Oh well.
In this case, though, it is indeed the thought that counts. That play should serve as definitive proof that the old dog is struggling towards some new tricks, because even the hardcore Romer devotees among us probably looked towards whoever else was available and tried to communicate something along the lines of "my vociferous bitching on the Internets has created a monster I cannot control" with only a cocked eyebrow and disquieted countenance. Fourth and six! With a 40 yard field goal waiting! Zounds. Let me be clear on this: I disagree with that playcall because it is too aggressive. T-O-O aggressive. In other news, gravity pulls up, Penn State fans are models of decorum when questioned about officiating, and Michigan State is showing remarkable resiliency after losing to Michigan.
Carr's attempt to come to Game Theory Jesus shouldn't be a total shock. Carr's always been somewhat schizophrenic when it comes to risk. While he's downright Victorian when leading a close game, he's always had a flair for exquisitely timed trickeration when behind--the Navarre buffalo stampede versus Minnesota, the flea-flicker this year, etc. Those plays which are inherently high-risk, high-reward, and Carr has an undeniable knack for producing them at the right time. He occasionally risks without benefit, generally when he's feeling his oats way ahead late. I still maintain that the John Navarre called with six minutes left in the '03 MSU game--Navarre fumbled and turned a two-score-going-on-three laugher into a losable game--was amongst the worst calls in the history of everything. Likewise, he chose this game to feature third-down play action attempting to kill the clock when the situation--up 16, under two minutes left--probably called for the run run run punt strategy employed against Penn State, since only a miracle pick-six could have given the Wildcats even a sliver of hope.
I'm not complaining about any of this, at least not at the moment. Nor am I complaining about the run run run field goal at the end of the half that seemed designed more to keep Northwestern from scoring before the end of the half (a futile endeavor) than to get a critical extra four points. Running from the three against Northwestern's D is not a crazy decision. Carr's fourth down decisions have been largely correct this year aside from the Rivas pooch punt towards the end of the Penn State game. In multiple cases he's made tough, correct decisions: going on fourth and goal from the one against Wisconsin, pounding it into the line twice against Michigan State, etc. Even when the strategy has backfired, he accepts the downside and persists in a more aggressive posture.
In context, the Penn State gaffe seems more like one last hit of that sweet Bombay Popsicle* snuck in-between rehab sessions than evidence of 1970s thinking taking hold. Lloyd Carr has checked himself in to the Betty Ford Center for Coaches Addicted to Low Variance. I wouldn't expect a flying-colors discharge any time soon, but he's made the first, biggest step. There's still a lot of work to do--I think we need an intervention about that running on first down into a nine-man front thing, not to mention that horrible soft zone--but he's trying to change.
He's got fourth down, uh, down. First and second are mountains yet to come.
*(uh, yeah, I don't know either.)
This is the location for comments and trackbacks to opinions about this weekend's games. Don't forget VT-BC... that Vick guy is good. No, not the one on the sideline eating chili fries.
The place for all opinions and the like on tonight's game versus Northwestern... and hell, the hockey team's playing UAF again tonight (lost4-2 yesterday) and it's on Comcast Local at 11, so anyone wishing to post re: it is welcome as well.
Just a reminder: try to keep your OUTRAGE! out of fifth gear... and probably fourth as well.
Suntory time for all!
Uh... yeah. Someone has decided to use photoshop for bizarre ends; why do all these strange cat animations seem to come from the UK?