At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
I'll take "Succinct Summaries Of Fallen Programs" for 200, Alex. Tomahawk Nation, an FSU blog:
I'm scared of Wake Forest.
"Rambling Rants On Outlaw Programs" for 600. Clemson blog Sporting Gnomes:
Larry Coker's head. Plate. NOW!
"Stunning Lack of Optimism" for 800. Stolen from Winged Helmet, an Iowa fan on this weekend's game:
"If Iowa scores more than 2 TDs, I will cut off my left arm and mail it to whomever wants it."
"Injury Report" for 200: the Iowa depth chart for this week is missing RB Albert Young, DL Mitch King, WR Dominique Douglas, and some guy named Richardson who I've not heard of. Iowa fans are not happy.
"Potpourri" for everything: Russell Levine invokes '97 in the New York Sun; Warren St. John has a hilarious article on some youth football coaches (they're coaching nine-year olds and the story contains the word "spread"); Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel guy offers a Drew Henson mea culpa; Michigan Monday @ the OZone; Penn State fans (mostly) believe Michigan is better than OSU.
So... yeah. the unholy hell that is USC > Ark > Auburn > Florida > Tennessee > Cal has finally blown this poll wide open. There is no semblance of sanity left, this I warn you.
- Oklahoma is an oversight and will be inserted in the high teens.
- Yes, you can point to any number of teams and go !!!! same number of losses and X beat Y, but at this point in the season the quality of the rest of the schedule and their performances versus the rest of their schedules have a major influence on me. So Arkansas, stomped at the hands of USC and possessors of the squeakiest of wins versus Vandy and Bama, is ranked below Auburn, etc. Likewise Florida is above Auburn, as their loss was more competitive and their win over LSU more decisive, and Tennessee is above Florida, as their loss was the most competitive-est and their thumping of Cal progressively more impressive. Does this make me seem less retarded now?
- Yeah, I do think Wisconsin is that good. They're WVU except they've played Michigan.
Games Seen: Auburn-UF, BC-VT, and Michigan-PSU.
Note: I hardly saw anything this weekend due to a road trip and hate the ballot above; help is requested.
So Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog -- no, that's not a typo, and yes, I am somewhat upset at Mr. Steinberg that I have to explain this, but no, as the proprietor of something called "MGoBlog" I have little room to complain and yes, this is a long aside indeed, isn't it -- has posted an "Oddsmaker's Top 25" the past couple weeks. (Note to anyone wishing to deploy the "Vegas sets lines for action, not based on who they think will win" argument:
Also bear in mind that these guys don't set the lines; they advise sports books. The sports books will then take into account things like popularity and fan base, but these LVSC guys are going strictly based on their analysis, as I understand it.
That's from the comments of the above link, if you're searching from it.) He debuted it with the OMG controversial(!) assertion that maybe we should use the wiseguys to determine the composition of the BCS:
I don't see how you could argue with this. If the oddsmakers say West Virginia is the 13th-best team in the country (as they do), how can they possibly be considered for the national championship game? And if the oddsmakers say Texas is the second-best team (as they do), well, get ready for a Ohio State-Texas rematch.
Texas blogs, noticing Texas is #2 in the Oddsmaker's poll, think this is just brilliant:
Now this is interesting. And about the sexiest idea I've heard in well over a year.
(OMG Justin Timberlake is sooooo going to PWN you, BON.) In related news, CFR spanks the BCS for placing the unimpressive-to-date Trojans #2, in the process succinctly stating the criteria he and many others would like to see employed:
And yet, that's not really what should be considered when humans (through the AP and Coaches polls) rank a team.
Who is best? Put them No. 1. Who is next best? Put them No. 2. Continue until you're at No. 25. Repeat the next week.
This is the principle that is theoretically the basis for all BlogPoll rankings. It is a useful an interesting thing to see deployed by a team of experts who make their living at this. Its earthly avatar is the Oddsmaker's Top 25.
And it must never, ever be suffered to determine a matchup as piddling as that of the Motor City Bowl. The proof of this lies before your eyes. The most recent top ten:
1. Ohio State (7-0) (1)
2. Texas (6-1) (9)
3. Michigan (7-0) (3)
4. California (6-1) (10)
5. Louisiana State (5-2) (18)
6. Southern Cal (6-0) (2)
7. Florida (6-1) (6)
8. Tennessee (5-1) (11)
9. Louisville (6-0) (7)
10. Notre Dame (5-1) (8)
Guess who LSU lost to? Florida and Auburn. Guess who's in front of Florida and Auburn? LSU. It may be true that LSU outplayed both teams in their games and was struck down by ill-fortune. I have no doubt that the men who assemble this poll are serious indeed and have better analysis chops than I do. It may well be true that if you put LSU and Florida in an empty stadium and had them play 100 times, LSU would win 54 of those. But in this universe they play once and Florida won by 13. In an alternate universe similar to this one where Dan Steinberg is the absolute despot of everything and Cal, Michigan, and Texas suck, LSU and their impressive wins over nobody and their impressive losses to anybody who isn't nobody is #2 and in line for a national championship slot.
Once we go through the looking glass and judge teams solely based on how neato we think they are (and seriously, folks: Texas racked up 200 yards offense versus OU and rode a fortuitous turnover blizzard to the win... they aren't the #2 team in the country or anywhere close), we traipse down the road to figure skating. In this poll, you can see that the madness at the end of the Oregon-Oklahoma game matters not one bit (last week UO and OU were 12 and 14, respectively) but an injury to Adrian Peterson (which dropped OU down to 17) does. If Michigan were to walk into Ohio Stadium at the end of the year, get dominated, and win, they would not move up, and in Steinbergland they would enjoy their Rose Bowl bid as a team they defeated played for "the national championship." While I have no doubt a universe ruled with an iron fist by a man with the good nature and wit of Mr. Steinberg would be far preferable than this one in which Joe Theismann is allowed to run amok, tongue intact*, college football would be a poorer, more fanciful sport favored only by men who like nothing more than a good cry and really fashionable belts.
Striking a balance between style-point madness and rote you-win-you-stay is a delicate thing. While you can very plausibly argue the latter holds too much sway in the BCS selection process, the oddsmakers are the communism to our current fascism: yeah, they're diametrically opposed, but neither is a good idea. Steinbergland is a place where Doug Flutie's Hail Mary doesn't matter one damn bit. And that's not a universe I want to live in, tongueless Joe Theismann or no.
*(Assertion that Steinberg would mandate the painful removal of Theismann's tongue on national television purely speculative. But I'm pretty sure he would.)
10/14/2006 - Michigan 17-10 Penn State - 7-0, 4-0 Big Ten
"WE'RE PENN STATE...
AND THEY'RE NOT."
-Beaver Stadium scoreboard during pregame chintzfest
"If you put a pit bull in a ring with a chihuahua, don't expect the chihuahua to win."
-Chafie Fields, former Penn State wide receiver, after the game
It's polite to respectfully clap for a fallen opponent has he makes his way from the field. It's good etiquette, etiquette of course being a sophisticated structure of lies designed to ease social interaction. Things in our section being a little touchy, I lied with my hands as Anthony Morelli jogged groggily off the field. But my eyes danced in blood.
Watching Michigan's defense gore Penn State quarterbacks was the closest I've come to watching gladitorial bloodsport. I now have some insight into the animal pleasure of a prone, wounded opponent. Unlike Derrick Williams' freak injury last year, the parade of bewildered quarterbacks wandering off the field asking for pudding was very much the doing of large angry men in winged helmets. It was... well, not right but correct that Morelli was literally knocked into next week, if not further, by Branch. Reportedly, he asked the trainers who attended to him whether his last pass had been completed. Somewhat miraculously, it had been.
Furthermore, it was correct that his backup suffer under siege for a quarter before getting crushed by David Harris and Lamarr Woodley, making way for some guy the Michigan students aptly dubbed "Rudy" no doubt picked fresh from the residents of Paternoville. Once the fluky events that conspired to place an emphatic exclamation point on the Michigan defensive line's complete-utter-total dominance of an entire football game occurred, our mental histories rearranged themselves so that they were inevitable. How could one man possibly endure an entire game of that?
The man sent out to try could not and neither could the man sent in his stead. Thus in just seven quick games, a Michigan defense faced a cornered team driving for the game and I felt nothing but irritation at the two screen passes that had allowed the Lions the faint heartbeat they possessed. The residual terror from the Year of Infinite Pain -- which had me somewhere between "alarmed" and "panicked" into the fourth quarter of a *$&#ing BEAT DOWN against Notre Dame -- had receded.
Then: near interception, four-yard out, incomplete, incomplete, ballgame. Instead of a roar there was but a flat, damp squeak as Michigan landed the final clubbing blows and emerged from the lion's den with a rug in tow. There are no arguments about this game. No two seconds, no questionable heels or holding calls or other fantasies about if this or that. There is no "if". Michigan has still not been threatened this year. No opponent has moved the ball except when fortunate or permitted to. Its dominance is unquestioned by the foes it leaves battered in its wake. Sometimes -- and I know this is hard to believe -- seven points is a very large lead indeed.
Penn State learned that Saturday. We rolled through the undulating hills, slowly bridging the gap between Beaver Stadium and I-80. In the brief windows of radio clarity provided by high points or fortuitous angles or small eddies in the general bloody-mindedness of the universe, once excitable Penn State partisans glumly pondered the future of the program. Fields uttered the above quote and several others along the lines of "this is a tough conference" and "we aren't playing Temple." His cohosts muttered in agreement. Resignation hung thick in the air.
Only the increasingly deranged callers -- the hour being late and the liquor steadily disappearing -- seemed to remember that once upon a time that scoreboard exhortation would have been something other than hollow and humorous. Once upon a time they were Penn State. Last year seems just as far away for them as it does us, a dream that we've woken up from into harshly different realities. 8-0; 0-8. A transposition makes all the difference.
I am off to State College by way of Cleveland soon. I will avoid Paternoville, bundle up against the cold, and hopefully witness glorious victory. I may or may not be able to check in here in the meantime.
Update: Back. Tired. Ate at Waffle House. Cat:
Note that it's not a kitten, because requests like "really old kitten," "amazingly old kitten," and "really amazingly old kitten with occasional embarrassing bouts of incontinence" confuse Google Image Search, somewhat understandably. This picture was titled "The Million Year Old Cat": good enough for me.
Bullets @ The Fanhouse. Left this one out but want to relate it here:
With that [the overwhelmingly positive impresson of PSU fans I got from the trip] in mind, please file this under "scattered asshole" and don't use it to impugn the Penn State fanbase as a whole... but a story to relate: I acquired my tickets from a blog reader and hero amongst men, who offered tickets for face, beer, a place to warm up from time to time, and food. They sat in the row in front of us, hero's father on the very edge of the Michigan section. An old woman was waving her pom-pom in such a way that her arm was repeatedly banging into him. I didn't see exactly what happened, but the next thing I knew the elderly woman's immensely obese son was yelling at hero's father something about not touching his mom. Now, this is a 50-some year old man. Not exactly a confrontational guy. There's a verbal altercation, immensely obese man makes some threats, and an usher calms things down. This happens on the first drive of the game.
Fast forward to game over. Michigan kneels down, Michigan fans celebrate. Hero's father isn't even looking at the Penn State section, let alone doing anything. This time I am watching as immensely obese man makes a grab for hero's father's arm with evil intent. He escapes, and suddenly there are many pissed Michigan fans, including me, stepping in between. More verbal altercation; called a pussy; challenged to a fight; etc. Eventually dude withdraws, no doubt to scurry off to BWI and post something about classless Michigan fans.
There was also an incident in which a Michigan fan was sarcastically screaming for a late hit after yet another Michigan sack, prompting a pissed off Penn State fan to turn around and scream at him to shut up and let him "enjoy the game" (good luck with that). So... yeah, certain Penn State fans have totally flipped out. But you knew that, you read the Internet.
- JAMES KAMOKU: I'm over it.
- "SWAGGER": Another broadcasting annoyance has clearly taken precedence.
- THE NATION: They've been notified and have taken heed.
- MARIO'S TRAITOROUS KNEE: is the new grand champion of Hated Wolverine body parts. With Antonio Bass down for the count, another wideout injury can only be the doing of Angry Michigan Wide Receiver Hating God.
- BRIAN HOYER: Drew Stanton lifetime versus Michigan: 0-5. Hoyer now stands at 0-2. You're next, kid.
- TIME OF POSSESSION: Obviously.