In the aftermath of the frightening NIU game, I promised a guest post from Jon Chait about the defense and its decline. This was delayed by a series of performances appeared to be at least acceptable--17 points versus Notre Dame, 23 versus Wisconsin, 23 versus Minnesota--coupled with the spectacular implosion of the offense, which made criticism of the other side of the ball seem silly in comparison.
Recent events, though, reveal a pattern that do merit said guest post, and Jon has kindly provided it...
With the season finished, we can now see that the basic arc of the defense was cast at the end of 2004. Carr decided that the problem on defense was our propensity to give up big plays, and so we designed our defense to stop them. So our base defense became a three-deep zone.
For those of you who don't follow these things, a three-deep zone is just about the most conservative defense you can run. Most zone defenses have two deep safeties. The three-deep, obviously, has three. It makes it hard for the opposition to complete a long pass, and it assures that you have lots of containment to prevent long runs. If you're watching on TV, you can usually recognize it by seeing the strong safety move toward the line of scrimmage before the play, and the cornerbacks retreat.
The downside is that, compared with a two-deep zone, you have one-fewer defender against shorter passes and running plays. Few teams at the college level use a three-deep zone as a base defense. It's just too easy for the offense to stick to underneath patterns and play 11-on-8. It's especially weak on the perimeter, where the deep retreating corners allow outside running and short outside passes.
The defense we saw against Northern Illinois is the defense Carr and Herrmann planned to use throughout the season. It's a defense that basically let our opponent move the ball at will.
Now, the result against NIU was such a disaster that we had to use change-up defenses. You could see this when we were tied, and especially when we were behind. After the first drive against ND, we played far more aggressively, and enjoyed phenomenal success, holding a potent offense to just 10 points and 168 yards after the opening drive.
But the coaches kept it in their mind that the key was not to allow big plays, and they kept trying to run the three-deep zone. We used it mostly or exclusively on the first drive of almost every game, and almost always got torched. (Sometimes we were bailed out by opponent mistakes, like dropped passes, at MSU, or fumbles, at Northwestern.)
Only after it failed would we start mixing up our defensive calls. And, of course, when we got a lead at the end of the game we'd go back to soft zones.
Now, you might say that the defense improved over last year. I'm not so sure. It's true that our points per game yield was down. But a lot of this improvement came not because we got more stops, but because we made our opponents take longer to score, and thus limited our own offensive opportunities.
I haven't tried to gauge the entire season this way, but compare the 2004 and 2005 Ohio State games. In 2004, the defense allowed OSU to score 30 points (plus seven on a punt return.) In 2005, the defense gave up 25 points. But in 2004, the Michigan offense had 15 possessions, compared with only 10 in 2005 (of which one came with only 24 seconds left, and hardly counts as a possession.) The 2004 defense forced Ohio State to punt six times, the 2005 defense only twice. Is this an improvement? I don't think so.
That's why the fact that Carr talked after the OSU game about the fact that we gave up too many big plays is so discouraging. The obvious problem is that we gave up too many long drives, and had too few sacks, QB hurries, and three-and-outs. As long as big plays is the metric they use to gauge the defense, we're going to be mediocre.
First... technical difficulties other than 404 Whiskey Not Found have forced the further delay of the UFR for Ohio State. I will get it up as soon as I possibly can, probably late this week.
Yeah, so that EDSBS post clearly hammered a big ol' nerve. You've got my addendum, Mark Hasty's addendum to my addendum, SMQ's nod to the good things ESPN does, an EDSBS follow-up, the original post's comment thread (now at 225 replies and counting), plus links from everywhere under the sun. Even Good Old Heismanpundit chimed in, citing Rich Eisen as "reason number 53" to dislike ESPN. Eisen, of course, left for the NFL Network a while ago. How's that gang thing doing again?
Snark and anger aside, the larger point here is the vile things being said are interesting from a higher perspective. I doubt many people go around posting thousands of words about why HGTV sucks. Not so ESPN. Why is this so? No doubt it has something to do with the nature of sports fandom, which is prone to over-the-top invective. But also there was a golden age during the Dan & Keith / Dan & Kenny years when ESPN really was man's best friend. Now it's just a dog in a lot of highly visible, infuriating ways. SMQ's post and the Raftery-McDonough tandem I had the pleasure of listening to last night serve to remind that what ESPN does well it does very well and invisibly. We take our sports information explosion for granted now, as we should: it's a commodity just like any other piece of news off the AP wire. What was revolutionary 20 years ago is now old hat; ESPN's response to that was to freak out and attempt to grab whatever eyeballs it could via whatever means it deemed necessary, which is hurtful to people who were emotionally invested in it. This investiture is an impressive accomplishment, as creating users who care about you is both difficult and critical. ESPN did that with a run of innovation and brilliance once exemplified by the "This is Sportscenter" commercials which now linger on as a taunting vestige of glories past. Personally, I feel jilted. ESPN sexed my demographic up and then started two-timing me with the soccer moms.
The problem boils down to the following.
1) Read this post on the blindness of passion. I'll wait.
2) ESPN 1997 == Apple, if you pretend I'm a Mac person. I was an ESPN person.
3) ESPN 2005 == Microsoft. Monopolistic, bloated, evil-smelling corporation that I've turned against for doing nasty things; all positives minimized, all negatives emphasized.
Thus, well, this...
Speaking of ESPN being all bad and stuff. I have a coworker who often talks about a previous job where he added the sentence "I will give a dollar to anyone who reads this" at the end of long emails or slide sets. No one ever came to collect their dollar.
I bring it up because I read Scoop Jackson's latest column and it's clear he is following the same policy after ending it by quoting... wait for it... wait for it... it's totally worth it... Rent. Yes, that Rent, the foofy musical favored by unicorn-loving livejournal preteens nationwide. Seriously:
So when asked how the last 365 has affected, again, the most important basketball player in the "bombs over Auburn Hills" and the aftermath of it, the most important professional basketball player alive today, you have to sing these rented words to yourself:
"Five-hundred, twenty-five thousand, six-hundred minutes. How do you measure a year? How do you measure the life of a man?"
The mind... boggles! Does he have jammies? Does he read Anne McCaffery religiously? Does he wear sweatshirts with Pooh on them? America demands answers!
Golden Tornado has a smurfin' interesting post on the inaugural Super ACC season as interpreted via the lens of said Smurfs. It is, as they say, smurftacular.
(note: due to a consistent morning time drain on Wednesday, you can expect the poll at about noon going forward.)
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Fallers: Yeah, don't lose to Nevada and expect mercy. Fresno State remained static after losing a tight game to #1 USC last week. This week it's a nine spot freefall. Also, don't get waaaasted by an good-not-great Florida team and expect to stay in the poll. Florida State is gone. In the succinct letters of frequent commenter Colin: "kthxbye."
Risers: Big winner this week is Boston College, who didn't play. Eh, gofigs. They are 8-3 and are moving towards their record's baseline.
Wack Ballot Watchdog: Temporarily suspended due to time constraints, unfortunately.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Texas Tech again. Yeah, we know.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is still Mayor Kyle King, though you should note that the margin of his victory is very slim and the average error this week isn't particularly high. Leaping off his ballot are Georgia Tech at #11, up three after their loss to UGA, and... er, not that much else. ND and UCLA are low, though UCLA got bumped up five from last week; Michigan is high; the bottom of the ballot is a little strange. If that's our boldest ballot we are all Numb Existence.
Mr. Numb Existence is the blog formerly known as All Things Longhorn. Now restyled Burnt Orange Nation, they submit predictive ballots and ignore emails from MGoBlog about updating their information on this handy form.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award shifts over to Fresno blogger MDG, who is still holding on to his Bulldogs at #18, though he did ding them seven spots from last week. We'll spare the rod this week given the mess past about #15. Who knows?
The Straight Bangin' Award is the property of Football Outsiders, but since they only placed Michigan about a spot and a half under their average there's no need to re-bang the Whiny Michigan Fans drum. No, wait until the bowl game for that.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive is Corey of Sporting Fools. This is largely because he dropped the sword of Damocles on Georgia Tech; the Jackets went from #14 to gone after their loss to UGA. I know they're 7-4, but that seems awfully harsh. Also contributing to the high swing is a major bump for Florida--no doubt because Corey's eyes were stapled open Clockwork Orange-style during that 34-7 shellacking.
Mr. Stubborn is RD Baker from Cheap Seats, and hoooo boy this is going to be some sort of record. RD's ballot differs in these ways: Oklahoma is #25 instead of Central Florida... and that's it. How? Well, he had Fresno down at #21 already and didn't have Georgia Tech on his ballot (and is that really reasonable) so there was no one to drop. Still, couldn't you have rejiggered a couple of additional teams just for the look of the thing? The BlogPoll is nothing if not completely, totally professional.
|1||Texas||Yes, struggled against A&M, but...|
|2||Southern Cal||Fresno's loss and ND's close call at Stanford are more damaging in my mind.|
|5||Virginia Tech||Returned to the throttling thing after the Miami loss; one Vick meltdown away from OMG BCS controversy.|
|6||LSU||Lingering suspicions about this team are more linger-y after that Arkansas stuff.|
|8||Georgia||Leap up a few spots after a resume review and beating a still top-25 GT team.|
|9||Notre Dame||Now John Walters can start trying to justify Notre Dame's upcoming BCS bid in earnest... what's that, he already has? And he directly stated that the only people who can name a single Auburn player live "within 10 miles of a Waffle House"? A salute to you, John, for exemplifying everything the nation loves about Notre Dame.|
|10||Miami||Put the finishing flourish on another Ian-crushing Virginia season.|
|11||Oregon||You beat Fresno State, here's a cookie, enjoy the Holiday Bowl.|
|13||West Virginia||Squashed Pitt. That got them past UCLA.|
|15||Florida||At the very least an intimidating defense.|
|17||TCU||Stupid SMU loss.|
|19||Michigan||DNP. The 7-4 parade starts.|
|21||Georgia Tech||Still have two impressive wins over Auburn and Miami.|
|23||Fresno State||Er. Yes, I think that loss counts.|
|24||Florida State||DNP... er, figuratively, as Texas Blue points out in the comments.|
|25||Northwestern||Obvious bias, sure. Does it matter? Is there someone else out there who demands admission?|
Games I Saw: UT-A&M, final few minutes of ND-Stanford, enough of UF-FSU, parts of LSU-ARK, UVA-Miami
Dropped Out: #22 Iowa State.
Help requested: Eh. Anything you have. Nothing leaps out as especially uncomfortable. I'm always looking for deserving teams at the bottom of the poll.
Update: No changes. Sorry.
8:43 PM: Halftime of the Purdue-Florida State
game holocaust and the studio crew starts talking Michigan. Bilas does your standard coach defense, then claims Michigan has a "good recruiting haul" this year and an "even better one" next year... no mention of the gaping hole at center. The dismissal of any Amaker criticism is no less annoying than the converse OMG FIRE AMAKER stuff, Mr. Bilas.
Then Digger... oh, Digger.
Digger on Horton: "The guy who has to take this team over is Daniel Horton. ... When he takes over a basketball game he is the key to this team's success. When he scores inside and scores on the perimeter he makes things happen. ... he's got to be the take-over guy."
Digger on Sims: "If he takes over inside, he can be a solid performer."
So much talking, so little meaning.
- Take over inside and outside, making things happen.
- The key to success is things happening.
- The guy who makes things happen has to take over.
8:47 PM: Wake Forest officially makes my kill list for A) having a student section decked out in tie-dye (are they Hypercolor?) and B) playing that goddamned Zombie Nation song that Penn State annoyingly adopted this year. Memo to the Demon Deacons: all music that does not come from the band is verboten. This is not an NHL playoff game.
Blogger also makes my kill list for hiding the time/date stamp. Hey, instead of adding a useless feature how about making sure that ampersands enclosed in html tags don't get replaced with "amp"?
9:10 PM: Okay. Wisconsin traps Wake late in the game. Wake takes a timeout stuck in the backcourt with 27 seconds left on the shot clock. When they resume, they cross the timeline with 22 seconds. This, apparently, is not a turnover, which is 1) yet another reason that basketball timeouts are evil and 2) a nonsensical rule.
By the way, the chances that Big Ten Wonk accuses Alando Tucker of shooting his team out of the game in a particularly Bracey Wright-like fashion: 90 percent... er, make it 80 as Tucker drains a desperation three.
9:16 PM: the last impossibly long Wisconsin three bounces off the heel and the Badgers fall to Wake by three. Meanwhile, FSU leads Purdue 87-45. Eww.
9:34 PM: The Purdue game mercifully ends. The super duper Illini uniforms are strange... does Illinois even use blue?
9:38 PM: Who are these people who buy loved ones Lexuses (Lexi?) and Jaguars for Christmas? Isn't there a more effective way to reach this vanishingly small portion of the population?
Announcers are Raftery and McDonough, sweet. Sims wins the tip. We clang two ill-thought threes on the first possession. Super-bald Harris is freaking me out. Graham Brown's first show is blocked, natch. Michigan is also wearing new uniforms with ugly, disconcerting silver on them. Grahm Brown's second shot is blocked, natch. Brown's third shot is blocked. Jesus. Horton throws up a brick with the shot clock running down, and Abram gets fouled. Ugly, ugly offense. The useless perimeter passing continues unperturbed. Lester hits both FTs, then Harris gets a steal and draws the second foul on one of Miami's starting posts.
6-2 Michigan at the first timeout... Michigan needs to drive against Miami, but the defense has been very good so far. Could we try to get Sims the shots that Brown is getting? I wish someone tracked "percentage of shots blocked," because Brown would be far and away the nation's leader.
9:51 PM: Miami is begining to exploit our lack of fortation. Great pass from Harris sets up Sims for a bunny. Michigan now 2-11. How is that not a foul on Abram? Hunter comes in and immediately rifles a skip pass through Harris' hands. Our big men == turnover machines. Jevohn Shepherd's first contribution is a turnover.
Hey, Brown took a charge... but they counted the basket? Brown's fourth shot: blocked. He has had his first four shots blocked. Hunter bricks a shot and the gets walled off for an easy layup after Smith gets blown by. Another Shepherd turnover. More of the same. We must have six or seven turnovers in the first eight minutes.
Horton and Smith are both on the floor now--Amaker must be sick of the turnovers. Eight minutes in and it's 10-8 Miami with Lester going to the line.
So... a ton of turnovers, shooting something like 20%, and down two? Er... this has to get better, right?
10:02 PM: Our attempt to press yield a quick dunk but Michigan responds immediately with a Sims three-point opportunity. Three Miami posts have two fouls now. Ron coleman is attempting to guard someone who looks about 100 pounds heavier than him.
Smith did make a nice pass to Coleman, though he dind't finish. Michigan 3-16... 17. Jerrett Smith has serious issues with guys blowing right by him. And a sims turnover and a Horton turnover and we must be in double digits. Petway in a shiny shirt... and another--no, Harris called timeout. Jesus. How are we only down two? Excellent rebounding and defense. Miami has had a few good looks including a couple of dunks, but other than that has had nothing and hasn't gotten to the line yet.
We're back, and Horton drives and scores easily. First points. It's time for him to take over and make things happen... and he does! fast break assist to Sims. Teams trade bricked threes and then Horton falls asleep on Diaz. No one rotates to help. Horton follows it up with a dumb three and Miami plays mirror image... and Harris cans one. 7:16 left, Michigan up two, and Horton picks up a craptastic foul from Hightower. Thanks.
10:14 PM: Is Kyle Munzenreider in this Miami commercial? Er... I mean this Detroit Mercy commercial? No? Well, yeah, of course not. ACC leads 3-1 with Clemson's less than shocking win over PSU.
Miami is content to jack bad threes... and so are we, but Harris knocks it down. Brilliant when it works. Arm-wavy zone. Mimai is confused and ends up jacking up a bad three from way out that he makes. Miami's bigs are under the impression they can shoot. They are wrong. Jerrett Smith with a dumb charge and his second foul. Brown takes a second charge. Abram jacks up a three and then lets his man run out for an easy fast break bucket off the miss.
A couple of free throws give Hunter his 499th and 500th points of his career. Yaaay:
Hunter then plays good D and knocks down a three. Duude. More Miami three jackery; Coleman finds Hunter in good position. He gets fouled on the second attempt. Under four TO with Michigan up five and going to the line, despite shooting 7 for 27. We are playing some really excellent defense.
10:24 PM: Digger: "You look at Haight(sp?) and what Diaz can do, they combined for about 37 points per game last year so they can control this Michigan defense."
What? Are you even watching the game? Hunter is taking over outside and inside, making things happen!
Hunter cans both FTs. More Miami three jackery. They've given up on penetrating the D... but a bad break on a TO leads to a fast break bucket and an iffy foul... ball don't lie, Anonymous Miami Peon! Terrible turnover from Harris, and that's after a TO. We must be on pace for 30. Hunter rejects the Miami big dude's feeble shot attempt. They're getting zero inside. Abram hits a shot from the high post; he's tasked with D-ing Diaz and does it very, very well... Smith then carries the ball. Last shot for Miami, and they hit a tough jumper. Halftime with Michigan up 31-26.
10:33 PM: Halftime... a tale of two sides. Michigan is playing lights out def
ense, forcing the 'Canes into a wide array of shots that anger you should they have the temerity to go in. Offensively, an epic disaster of turnovers, a large number of them totally unforced. Abram, Horton, and Harris are a combined 4-13 and Graham Brown has had all four of his shots blocked, and yet we still lead, largely because of Michigan's 10-1 edge in free throws.
Freshmen: Jerrett Smith can make nice passes from time to time but is Jon Barry on defense and his rep for turning the ball over with frequency is well deserved. Shepherd didn't do much except turn it over twice. No TOs in the box score yet, but I think it's around 12. Is there a magic solution to the turnover issues? I don't think so. They're coming from everyone and they're coming in all sorts of situations.
By the way, these guys have gone the entire halftime without once mentioning the game they're supposedly broadcasting. I need to know who's going to take over and make plays. Wait!
Rece Davis, during replay of Sims dunk: "try to create this character on the Sims." Ouch.
10:46 PM: Illinois up 14... er, 11 with 6:16 left and the second half of the Michigan game about to start.
Brown with a man-sized board... Miami's starting center just got his third foul on a Sims runout. His name is Jimmy Graham. Just sayin'. Miami's coach gives them a slap folowed by a "come on." Good advice.
Look, just don't give Brown the ball on offense. Near turnover on a lazy pass. Harris misses another three, good look though, and King gets luuuuucky. That's an and one on Harris! Jesus. More excellent defense from Michigan, standing up and preventing penetration for 30 seconds before a travel, followed by a Harris-to-Abram backcut. Brown takes a third charge! One more to make up for the early game blocks, Moose. Abram sticks the fadeaway, now up 8. Diaz jacks up prayer that falls, followed by some slick passing for a Hunter dunk. We are actually playing very well right now... another offensive foul on Miami. Four minutes gone and the lead is eight, should be twelve except for two utter prayers that were answered by Miami. Best four minutes of the game by far for Michigan.
10:58 PM: Whoah, UI hasn'ts scored since I left and it's down to a two point lead with 2 minutes left. Harris jacks up another three... no me gusta his frequent forays into Miami offense. This is followed by a Hunter shooting foul, the first committed by Michigan in the halfcourt. Horton gets a wide open three to fall, followed by Hunter diving all over the place, ending up with a loose ball to Michigan... Abram to the line, Michigan up 10. Offense is night and day from the first half; probably a reversion to the mean after a horrific first half. Nice steal from Brown on the other followed by an offensive board and a second with a tip in!
Okay, the four consecutive blocked shots are forgiven. Michigan is up 13 and Miami is forced to call a timeout.
Dude... like, we look like a good team and stuff. How odd.
11:06 PM: Another Brown rebound, this one fortunate, and a layup for a 15 point lead. Miami again reduced to chucking threes. That !!! sequence from Brown feels like a turning point... but only if Coleman doesn't airball threes. 11:58 remaining, UM 48-33.
11:09 PM: Illinois pulls it out versus UNC, 68-64. Big Ten Wonk seen quietly enjoying a mint julep.
Key second-half stat: Miami 7 TO in 8 minutes, Michigan 0. Hunter to the line, and a great array of suffocating defense is spoiled by a bailout reach-in foul. Diaz manages to get to the line after the bail out. Miami has 34 points with 10 minutes left in the game... a Horton brick is followed by a Sims putback and now the refs are getting their whistling lips limber; a jacked three finally falls for Miami.
(Note: the Michigan student section was very probably not chanting "overrated" at Miami. It was probably someone in the student section.)
That championship in 1989 was a very long time ago, Sean. Diaz continues to throw up slop that ends up falling. He gets Abram for an and one to draw Miami within 14, and Diaz gets bailed out AGAIN. Ball don't lie, Guillermo.
Things have gotten sloppier of late for the Michigan offense, though Horton calmly hits a three in the flow of the offense. We're under eight with Michigan up 16.
11:25 PM: Unintentionally hilarious sentence from McDonough: "Hamilton is a man of great ambition... he wants to be a sportswriter someday."
Meanwhile, Harris gets a runout from Horton and Brown equalizes his block to charge ratio at four... Horton follows it with a three; Hunter with a swat. Six minutes left, Michigan 62-42: Ballgame. Brown's spurt of charge-oreb-oreb-tip-oreb-tip was indeed the point at which this one went from a tight game to something very comfortable indeed.
An ugly Abram miss that hit the underside of the rim is followed by Horton. Okay... this is garbage time, Tommy. Let's see Shepherd and Smith. I don't want to see anyone writhing pointlessly.
11:32 PM: Okay, this Diaz guy is getting his ARod points with Michigan up 21 and four minutes left. It's time to start wrapping this one up.
Mr. Makin' Things Happen And Takin' Over The Game
Graham Brown! 11 rebounds so far, plus a number of instances of boxing his man out and allowing others to easily gather the rebound home, plus a couple putbacks and four (count 'em, four) charges taken. A major part of the defense and rebounding that kept Michigan afloat in the first half and allowed Michigan to pull away in the second.
Plus, he's given mgoblog a new shtick, The Graham Brown Stuffed Shot:Drawn Charges ratio. An all-around fantastic night. ESPN agrees, too. Raftery heaps on the praise... and, hey, guess what, BTW? McDonough says that Brown approached Mr. Mantaman(!) and said "Mr. Raftery, you're my favorite commentator in college basketball." While you may rightfully mock Sims for his erroneous pronouncements, there's one Michigan post player who speaks only the truth.
Official Wonk Astuteness Prediction
- Mention of Dion Harris's poor shooting percentage, especially given his extremely high three count.
- Perhaps some retraction about Horton, who had another efficient night.
- Turnover-related chiding and perhaps a note on the shocking turnaround from half to half.
- Commentary on Michigan's nigh-Gopherlike suffocating, largely foul-free defense, though the garbage time numbers distorted that somewhat.
- Similar commentary on Michigan's nigh-Spartan defensive rebounding.
My thinkybits say...
Wow. Clearly major issues with the turnovers and the shooting in the first half, but Michigan looked very well coached. The defense was downright inspiring at times; the rebounding was lights-out; Michigan took advantage of the opportunities provided and throttled an actual team from an actual conference. If they play like this minus the turnovers down the road, they will be a contender in the league.
Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it, too, but this was a hell of a first step.
(you saw this, I assume. I submit these further amendments.)
53. Michael Irvin. Probably another one of Shapiro's "this man is hated by all and thus deserves a job" hires, Irvin epitomizes everything that made the nation hate Miami during the 80s and 90s. His signature moment in my Detroit-tinted eyes was when the Lions picked Roy Williams two years ago. Irvin slammed Williams for returning to college for his senior year in order to get a degree. There's your 'Canes for you: the worst people in the universe.
I mean, seriously: at the rate he talk and given the things that come out of his mouth, is there any possibility he isn't on crack?
54. Dick Vitale. My impresion of Dick Vitale eating lunch:
OH MY GOD! THE MEATLOAF! THIS MEATLOAF REMINDS ME OF DUKE! I WOULD LIKE TO PLACE JJ REDICK'S SUCCULENT GROUND MEATY BITS IN MY MOUTH AND LET MY SALIVA WASH OVER HIM, COVERING HIM IN DUKE DUKE DUUUUUUKE.
55. Scoop Jackson, who has never met a black athlete whose penis didn't in some faint way remind him of Malcom X's magnificent schlong.
56. Jason Whitlock, who, uh... we covered before. Setting aside any mention of cards, he's one of those guys who intentionally writes idiotic things for notoriety. ESPN pays him to do this.
57. EDSBS mentioned the "Hot Seat," but they didn't mention the insult heaped upon the injury: the goddamn thing was (is? I don't watch Sportscenter any more) the "Budweiser Hot Seat." They sponsored it. Whores.
58. Bill. Goddamn. Walton.
59. The director of NBA Finals games on ABC who goes to commercial by using those stupid moving camera's panning OMG UP OMG LEFT OMG RIGHT around OMG CLAPPING FANS like it's a Hillary Duff concert with slightly older, faker-boobed jailbait. A flagrant symbol of sportainment(!!!).
60. Tim Legler, who actually defended Ron Artest's actions during Aubernica. Let's see: someone throws a beer at you, causing no damage whatsoever. In response, you attempt to kill some 5'2" whiteboy who--and this is key--didn't even throw the beer. This is okay to Tim Legler because Tim Legler is a former NBA player and a giant douchebag. (PS: OMG WIZZNUTZZ.)
61. Can I blame ABC for the fact that "Mexican" Manu Ginobli is allowed to charge anyone in the league with impunity and never, ever get called for it? No? Damn.
62. The complete obliteration of Classic Sports. Now ESPN Classic, it shows 90% cheesy, terrible "SportsCentury" reruns instead of the glorious games from years past it used to.
63. And when they do deign to show Michigan games, the goddamn program director shows 3/4ths losses. Remember: Michigan, winningest college football team ever.
64. Those "hot" sideline reporters who all look like the kind of girl that's really appealing if you're 45 and married to someone who used to be thin. As a mid-20s wild and crazy guy, let me say: bitch, please. Go one of two routes:
- people (men or women) who know football and actually add something other than "tee hee" to a broadcast
Either is acceptable. (Note that Michel Tafoya and her ilk are excepted from this, as they're as useful as other sideline reporters. That's "not very useful," but whatever.)
65. Pam Ward. Let me tell you as someone who attempts to chart games with a Dr. Z-level down-and-distance obsession: Pam Ward is either blind or Timmy from South Park. I was forced to pause the game, swear, and rejigger my Excel spreadsheet no fewer than a half-dozen times in a single half because Ward was off by as many as five yards. Combine that with a voice that is simultanoeously, inexplicably both irritatingly high-pitched and huskily, er, WNBA-friendly and you have a play-by-play announcer best suited for a vacuum.
That's right, OSU fans: sound doesn't travel in a vacuum.
66. Trevor Matich. I don't know where Matich came from, but it's probably a place where the Offensive Linemen of the Corn kill you if you even sound like you're about to make sense.
and that's just him. Put him together with his running partner 67. Rod Gilmore and it's whiskey and killin' time. Gilmore is the dumbest person associated with ESPN. The very dumbest. Let that sink in.
I know that's a bold statement. But it's true. Gilmore is summarized by his passive-aggressive douchestache, which screams "I am an effete twat who has no idea how other people perceive me." When not butchering color commentary with Matich on ESPN2, he writes an ESPN Insider column with insights like this one on Ty Willingham: "Notre Dame made the unbelievable mistake of firing Willingham in a misguided attempt to land Urban Meyer." Only $4.95 a month!
I first noticed his ultimate dumbosity when he said this about replay: "I think it makes it a professional game. It's a professional game. I don't think this should be a professional game. It's a college game."
Great. Go to hell.
68. Look, please stop pretending that the womens' NCAA tournament is something on a par with the mens'. It just isn't. I'm not watching ESPN to glory in the equality of women. You can show it and advertise it and stuff but please stop with the "We got next" mindless girl power crap.
69. Where did Kenny Mayne go?
70. And how did you kill Dan Patrick's will to live?
71. "I just want to race, daddy."
72. Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens Terrell Owens
73. TERRELL OWENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
74. I'm probably the only person in the world who cares about this, but the Frozen Four game that gets played at 12 noon on Thursday pisses me off. I know college hockey is about as popular as women's basketball... but I guess that's my point. Women's basketball: copiously excessive coverage. College hockey: look! Beanpot! and that's it.
75. Dennis Miller doing "Monday Night Football." I used to think Dennis Miller was funny.
76. Around The Horn. Take the jackassiest sports columnists in America and then tell them to disagree with each other at a volume level loud enough to shatter the souls of anyone who stumbles across it looking for Magnum, PI reruns. These people put 77. TJ Simers and 78. Jay Mariotti, two of the ugliest people in the universe, on the TV. I'm at a loss.
79. Theisman and 80. Maguire.
So, there's Dahmer-level evil. He's in Hell somewhere having snakes explode up through his groin and emerge from his mouth. There's Hitler-level evil. He's frozen in the lake Satan is stuck in. And then there's Woody Hayes-level evil. This is what Woody Hayes is doing right now: he is trapped in a room where the TV is always on, playing Sunday Night Footb
all on ESPN.
Shouldn't have gone for two, bitch.
81. Jim Rome. If only for financially supporting the man who has singlehandely foist "drinking the Kool Aid" upon our fair nation. Rome has probably done more to turn sports media into a festering lagoon of Down's syndrome-inspired "takes" that do nothing but prove that I can't possibly get my hands on a castration ray soon enough.
82. I pull this from the EDSBS comments thread because it cannot be improved upon: "The ABC CFB studio crew. Give the choice b/t talking football with John Saunders, Craig James, and Aaron Taylor and having shit shoveled on me by a Texas A&M calvary member, I'll take the shit-shoveling anytime."
83. Skip Bayless, who has never met an adorable puppy that he couldn't accuse of being a racist pedophile fattie.
84. Playmakers, for being the first salvo of Sportainment's evil grasp. It was on in prime time during the week, when there were NBA or NHL games to show. Hate on PTI or Around the Horn all you want, but they come on in the afternoon, when there's nothing else to do. Playmakers was the jump-the-shark moment: regularly scheduled fiction no different from that everywhere else on cable save for a sports theme. It was the final straw.