"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
It's Thanksgiving week, so here's my list of things I'm thankful for (on the topic of ugly games, that is).
1. Eastern is bowl-egible. They've got a long way to go to get the third MAC bowl spot, but they can at least dream of the Famous Idaho Potao Bowl. Don't we all. Beating Northern Illinois this week would help their chances a little, but they'll need some help. Northern Illinois looks to be in the upper echelon of MAC teams, with a 6-1 conference record and winning a trackmeet against Toledo 63-60. That game featured 11 passing TDs. Bonus EMU related thankfulness: me making ESPN wonder "Why is Eastern's page getting so much traffic from Colorado?" I know Eastern is the Eagles, but they will always be the EMUs to me.
2. Florida Atlantic is down to their last two chances to end the season winless. I think I'm becoming a kinder, gentler person who wants to see them win. Unless I don't like their coach or something, like Alabama. Their next two games are against teams with 3 wins, but Troy was in that category as well and FAU lost by 27. FAU has a -24 point scoring difference, so this may be a big hill to climb for the Owls.UAB is almost as bad, with a -22 point scoring difference, but I think the competition in C-USA is better than the Sun Belt. I'm going with green bean casserole, because who likes green bean casserole?
3. The Big East. I could have written this entire column for the season with just the Big East. For example: the team currently leading is Louisville, 6-5 overall. Rutgers is tied with a conference record of 4-2, then Cincinnati and West Virginia are tied at 7-3, 3-2. I'm really hoping that Louisville beats USF and everybody else loses so there can be a 5 loss team in the BCS. There's way too many combinations at this point to figure it out, but at best, a 9-3 team is going to win the conference. This one gets the KFC Potato Bowl, because everything is in one big pile, and the end is not very good.
Now with bacon!
4. That everything looks like it's shaping up for Sparty to get fed to Oklahoma, or Oregon, or Arkansas. Karma, baby. The crazy man throwing the pie should be Chip Kelly.
Hey, Seth created the cupcakes tag for me, so I'm beating this dead horse until the end of the season. This week, we go Ugly, Old School. That's it, I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the mid-week MAC games. They're not games. They're the old football games where the pieces would buzz around the board. They're Rock-em-Sock-em Robots. They're monkey boxing. You know, these guys
I mean, Western and Toledo scored 129 points. If you were playing a drinking game where you had to do a shot on every turnover, you'd be dead.
Florida Atlantic is the last school without a win this season. Here's their season stats: passing yards - 111th, rushing yards - 115th, points for - 120th, points against - 107. In addition, they are playing Troy, who is no slouch themselves. "Don't sell yourself short, you're an incredible slouch." Troy has two wins, against Middle Tennessee and UAB, and is also right around the 100 mark in points for and against. Why are there so many schools named Owls? Who thinks owls are menacing? (Sorry about the links, embedding is disabled for some reason).
Speaking of Owls, Rice plays Tulane. Rice is 2-4 in conference and coming off a drubbing by Northwestern. Tulane just got pantsed by Houston, 73-17. The last competitive game they played was against Syracuse, which says a lot about Syracuse. They've lost 8 straight conference games. I think this one comes down to logo, and if you squint, the Rice "R" looks like an owl facing left. So advantage Owls. "A flute without holes, is not a flute. A donut without a hole, is a Danish."
Last, we have an "I Have No Idea" game between Penn State and Ohio State. Does Penn State deserve their #12 ranking? Is Ohio State better or worse than 6-4? Can either team move the ball far enough to kick a field goal, or will we see a "Fair Catch Kick" decide the game 3-0? "Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? "
36-35 @home against TCU. Missed a FG as time expired, TCU went for two with a minute left to take the lead. Patterson talks about how he feels bad considering how much Boise has done for mid-majors, but clearly is overwhelmed with joy. Does Boise drop froom the BCS at large race as well? I think so
Take a week to recuperate and all hell breaks loose. Although in the buzzed reality I lived in last week, I should have seen it in some sort of shaman vision. Let us begin from the Purdue game I barely remember and will never forget.
The anticipation of attending the Mecca of football for the first time this year was excruciating. My trusted confidant from Pennsylvania and his lady friend made their presence as well. The night started in Flint when we stocked up on a variety pack of the strongest liquids that would do the most damage to even an Irish elephant. We took a pit stop at the Greektown Casino and chased around the American Dream for a bit. All I caught was a headache from the goddamned noise of slots and the cheap rum they sold. The only winner in our traveling band of miscreants was my confidant. He walked away with $38 and a smirk I wanted to wipe off his face with a scythe, bleach, and salt.
The next morning we stopped for sustenance, ice, and rolled a Panamanian cigarette. As the last ashes blew in the wind of a crisp Michigan morning on Route 14, I began feeling giddy as a valley girl winning dairy princess in Wisconsin. We parked our vehicle across the street from the stadium at the lovely golf course. Many complain about the $40 charge for parking there, but if you get there early it is in a prime location and as the chemicals settle in, every strange character rolls in you know you have to keep an eye on later.
I timed the rum consumption perfectly. As my enlightened feeling from the devil’s lettuce wore off the Sailor Jerry’s kicked in. It was only 930 in the morning and I was almost out of my fifth. The phone calls then began to come in. Friends from Detroit looking for me to travel to their locale kept coming in every two minutes. I kindly explained that if I attempted to traverse to their locations around campus, I would most likely end up in prison, or worst yet, East Lansing. This must have been a warning for them to keep a wide berth since no one dared came to our little spot in Ann Arbor. Only one true brave soul had courage to experience my posse this lit up, Blue Dragon. After many minutes of playing drunk Where’s Waldo in a crowd of over 110,000 of the human race we met up. As I polished off my last sip of Sailor Jerry’s, he bared his timely gift of nature’s Prozac. As we huddled into the front of a SUV to initiate peace talks and revelry, my confidant looked more scared than the Lohan family at a law enforcement conference. He spotted two older men of a good looking upbringing in the front of their vehicle along side of us. Tensions were eased when my confidant saw the men pull out a baggie of something that resembled flour. Someone forgot to inform them that making bread does not involve the step of snorting the flour. The bread doesn’t rise as well when done so.
As I tapped into one of my last beers my usually trusted confidant pulled out a fungus substance. I was immediately stricken with panic as I was already on multiple substances and about to embark on a journey to loud noise and sitting among many suspicious looking people. As I argued this would be a terrible idea, Blue Dragon proved to be a true pioneer as he gulped his down within seconds. Faced with immense peer pressure and the assurance I would be ok on a smaller dose, I reluctantly took it expecting impending doom.
Ten of noon struck and our band of heathens took our shit show to the stadium. My confidant and his lady friend had to check into gate E due to her over sized satchel. All that was left was Blue Dragon and I in a sea of drunken irritable fans looking for blood after a bye week gave all time to stew about the first loss of the season to the Fighting (literally) Dantonio’s. As Blue Dragon and I neared the entrance, he heard an angry voice call out to us that we ruined his fucking day because we supposedly cut in front of him. Half in shock of a surreal experience, and half in awe due to the lack of line to cut in, I believe I uttered… “Ok.”
Blue Dragon split way to our seats hopefully to cross paths on another trip in Ann Arbor. I arrived at our seats alone. I noticed a truck driver and his son had two of the seats I purchased. Still in a dream state, I muttered something about them moving the fuck out of the way. Finally my confidant and his lady friend arrived to a surprising 7-0 Purdue lead. Not that I can manage to remember much of the details of the game except the ill timed RAWK music, sappy 80s pop songs, and the constant hypnotic HD screens, but Fitz Toussaint ran the distance of the Intercontinental Railroad and back against the Fighting Stache’s of West Lafayette. Michigan controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides all day and dominated the game 36-10. The rain at the end of the game, I actually enjoyed. It felt good to be rained on when the score board was tilted our way. It was like a Gatorade bath for those of us that continually support Michigan through thick and thin.
The night in Ann Arbor was even more of a hazy semi-unconscious trip. After losing complete composure in a camping store and downing more alcohol at Ashley’s, I vaguely remember ending the night drinking out of a boot, getting hit on by an architect major at U of M in a Robin’s costume, and arguing with a MSU student and her Australian boyfriend about the validity on their school being eligible to be accredited in anything but underwater basket weaving.
PART II: Corn Guzzled
As I slowly came out of the daze of sampling leftovers throughout the week, I wish I would have saved them for the Iowa game. The game first resembled a MANBALL marathon as both offenses looked sluggish and the defenses bent a little at the most. MANBALL advantage tilted in the favor of Iowa as the game went on. As I paced around my house in a furor I began swearing like a man with severe Tourettes. Denard made his fame on his legs. For Spaghetti Monster’s sake, his nick name is “shoelace”, not “glove Velcro.” I understand the wish to change the system to a semi-west coast offense that Gorgeous Borges is used to and wants to implement, but Denard is not made for that purpose. If a coach cannot tune the offense to the strengths of the star player’s advantage, you are neutralizing yourself. One of Rich Rodriguez’s many accusations and partly true was that he did not try to ease into a new system with players from an old system. I believe Gorgeous Borges is doing a better job of this, but has glaring deficiencies in some of the play calling. If a lane opens during a passing play and no one is immediately open, instead of bombing to a fly route, throwing to Tacopants, or trying to squeeze in a pass between three defenders, he should…..wait for it…RUN THE DAMN BALL! Yes this increases his risk of injury, but it also gives the most electrifying player in the NCAA a chance to make something happen in his own comfortable way. Did they tell Barry Sanders not to go lateral so much in his day? Probably, but lucky for us who got to witness him, he didn’t listen. Will Gorgeous Borges adjust for the last four games? I guess you could say there is a better chance of Gorgeous Borges adjusting than growing a mullet.
The day became late and the fate of Michigan looked grim early in the fourth quarter. Down by more than two scores it looked as if the Michigan 2010 team put up a better fight. I walked out to the backyard and contemplated whether to down two bottles of root killer but decided that if I wasted it on myself, the women of the house would dice my body into pieces and send them down the Detroit River if the water backed up into the house again. After returning to the man cave I was shocked to see Michigan’s anemic offense twisted its way back to the game with a fighting chance. Hoke must have done some serious pointing in my absence.
I am not one to pin blame on referees. Teams that effectively execute all game won’t be put in a position that comes down to a few bad calls. After that said, the referees need to be audited or whatever it’s called where they get an occupation proctology exam. Hemingway’s catch was a touchdown with a knee in and the mauling of Roundtree on the last play was so obvious that Helen Keller rose from the dead to boo the call.
Another Michigan loss to a mid-level B1G team triggers flashbacks of two previous deflating seasons. I still hold out HOKE…I mean hope that this won’t end like years past. The defense is better, adjustments after halftime (at least on defense) are apparent, and a larger chip is growing on the seniors that have experience possibly the worst years of Michigan football. In order for bloodthirsty players and fans to be happy this year, there needs to be at least two more wins. If not, next year is not going to be any easier and the offseason of Michigan infighting will seem all for naught.
PART III: Disgraced Valley at Pedophile State University
Much has been said on the Penn State/Sandusky matter. My only words are as follows. They won’t change a thing and some if not many won’t find any value in them. As a rabid college football fan and a recent citizen of the state, I must express them as I have yet to do so.
In 1998 accusations of inappropriate interactions between Sandusky and a young boy surfaced on the campus of Pennsylvania State University. In my opinion, this is what suddenly put the heir apparent of the football program into retirement. This was the first acknowledgement of wrong doing by the coaching staff and university. For four more years Sandusky was given unfettered access to the university facilities to continue his monstrous campaign of ruining the lives of future men.
Again in 2002 a graduate assistant (Mike McQueary) walked in on Sandusky naked having sexual intercourse with a ten year old boy. As the boy and Sandusky most likely turned to see the act was seen, the boy hoping that this nightmare may have been over was dashed when McQueary turned his back and rand home to his daddy. After his dad convinced McQueary to report the act to Joe Paterno and he did so, Joe Paterno then reported it to the now defunct AD. The authorities were never brought in for an investigation and no follow ups were had. An agreement between Joe Paterno, the AD, and the president of the University, Graham Spanier signed off on barring Sandusky from the campus. This would be the second acknowledgement of wrong doing. Again, no follow up and no outside investigation.
Sandusky moved his horror show to the town I then was going to college in. He became an assistant football coach for the high school team and still lured vulnerable boys in his Second Mile program. Finally getting caught again, the guillotine came down. Sandusky’s fate is sealed as I read it in the Grand Jury report. The man has a first class ticket to hell to have the offenses he exercised on youth done to him with Satan’s pitchfork.
Because his fate seems to be sealed, the attention has turned elsewhere on Joe Paterno, the school administration, and Mike McQueary. Attention deserved. For at least 13 years, Joe Paterno knew something was awry with his assistant coach. In 2002 Mike McQueary had a chance to save a ten year old child from the worst day of his young life. The administration was given notice. All chose to do nothing. If Joe Paterno is a man that holds those around him to a higher level of accountability, then a man that holds more power than the board of trustees and the president of the university should have made sure the matter was taken care of and no more young boys were hurt. Instead he either thought the matter would go away or wanted to maintain a squeaky clean image of the football program. Either way, it was wrong. Of course he did what he was technically supposed to do, but he chose a football program over the lives of children. No sport or program is worth more than an opportunity of a normal childhood. Many asked me if I would feel as strongly if this was in Michigan’s house because of my unvarnished hatred of PSU before this went down. The answer is yes. I could not continue to cheer on a program that was complicit in the molestation of young vulnerable boys.
Mike McQueary had a firsthand account to the sadistic acts Sandusky was capable of. He told Paterno and washed his hands of it. When he became a coach, he literally watched as Sandusky paraded more victims to PSU coaching functions and practices knowing damn well what that fucking swine could and would do. I believe there is a law in PA I came across in my occupation that said if any abuse to a child is witnessed or even plausibly true, it MUST be reported to state authorities. The fucking coward could have even anonymously called and told state authorities what had happened. Instead he received a coaching job and stayed mum.
The administration did more of the same. The top of the food chain chose to ignore and to minimally punish Sandusky. The “responsibility” lay with them and they did nothing. This is why the AD and VP of Finance resigned and the president who spoke ignorantly that he backed both unabashed is tonight getting axed as he well should be. All of them should be tarred and feathered and drug through broken glass and rusty nails.
The one item that is increasingly heinous is the victimization of the three parties above. As a recent citizen of PA I experience the cultish trust and invincibility of the PSU football program. Going to college a half an hour from PSU, I experienced this on an extreme level. This football program was so tight knit that it is another reason I cannot believe JoePa and others had no idea that Sandusky’s felonies were known and were suspected to probably to continue. The blind faith many in PA have of the football program is now at a disgusting level. Instead of lashing out to get to the bottom of this disgraceful episode in their history, they lash out at those accusing Paterno and those surrounding the case for unfair targeting. This is not all alumni and fans, but most. I believe it is this cult like following that allowed for this kind of horrific act to take place. PSU football became bigger than life. These children and their families were probably PSU football fans and bigger ones once this “trusted” program chose to include them into this James Johnson hypnotic organization. Families entrusted their young to the care and support of Paterno and his football family. Now instead of talking about victims and whose ass should burn for this, many in the cult of PSU football have had their reality challenged. This is something that has never happened in the age of Paterno. The grasping at straws to defend this program’s wide cover-up of the most atrocious crimes is a desperate attempt to hold onto a reality that really never was. Sandusky was a monster predator and Paterno, McQueary, and the PSU administration were complicit in his actions. Yesterday another 20 plausible victims came forward that could have been prevented if corrective actions were taken at first notice. Instead Paterno and the administration allowed a serial child rapist full access to their facilities for four years after knowing something was not right. The headlines today said Paterno has chosen to retire at the end of the season? The president of the university is getting fired and he gets to stay?! Fuck no! No longer does he get to decide PSU football. He has already shown grave mistakes and has admitted doing so with this simple quote said today:
“This is a tragedy. It is one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
This man and those around this scandal will be taking the field Saturday with the privilege of doing something they love when men and boys around PA were betrayed by that same blind and dangerous love of moving on and forgetting the past in the name of PSU football.*
Nebraska, you better fucking annihilate these cowards and mutant freaks into further humiliation and disgrace.**
*As posting this, The PSU Board of Trustees have fired Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno. What about Mike McQueary?
**Nebraska- Green light to humiliate these freaks is still a go.
The Ugly Game of the Week has deja vu all over again. So after last weeks' MAC-tion, featuring such games as Northern Illinois 63, Toledo 60 and Miami 35, Akron 3, we get another 4 midweek MAC games. I just can't do it again. You know how after you look at your monitor all day, it starts looking funny? Well, I swear I've looked at Western Michigan versus Toledo already. So instead, since the season is starting to wind down, this week starts Bad Bowl Watch 2011. Who's looking to be bowl eligible, and what does that mean for our faith in humanity? (Note to self: do not google "deja vu" at work. Or at home.) So instead I will haunt your dreams.
First off, Temple is 5-4 and 3-3 in the MAC. This week they play Miami(the hockey one). Temple has been to three bowls in their history: 1935, 1979 and 2009. They need to win at least one of their remaining games against Miami, Army or Kent State and they're in. Remember this is the same Temple that was forced out of the Big East in 2004 for a "lack of commitment to the football program from university officials." The MAC has three bowl bids, and there's a huge pileup at 5-4 vying for the 4th slot, so this is really up in the air. In MAC-land, bowl eligible != bowl bound. But the MAC gets to choose from such exotic locales as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Little Caesars Bowl Bowl, and GoDaddy.com Bowl featuring MAC versus someone from the Sun Belt. This is an amazing image, by the way. Look closer.
Syracuse is 5-4, 1-3 in the Big East. This week they play USF to try for their 6th win. Their bowl eligibility may come down to the season finale agsinst Pitt, who is currently 4-5. I think there is still a scenario where Syracuse can win the Big East and get a BCS bid. I'm all for this. The Big East gets five bowl bids, so Syracuse has to climb over the likes of UConn and Pitt or Rutgers to win their way into the Beef O'Brady Bowl or the Champs Sports Bowl. Whoo? Whoo. Note that "orange optical illusion" doesn't come up with much, so this is all I've got:
The UGotW presses on irregardlessly. This week featuring hot, hot MAC-tion. Someone at ESPN must have lost a bet, and that bet was "I bet you can't show 4 straight MAC games with a straight face." That was quickly followed by the other guy saying "Oh yeah? Watch this!" So we get this:
As an aside, GIS for "big mac" also gets this:
Which means I'm not looking any further for that image at work. Rule 34 and all.
Tuesday rings in November and week 10 of the NCAA football season with Northern Illinois and Toledo. Both teams are 5-3 and battling for the lead for the MAC west division, with EMU I might add. Edge in this one goes to Toledo for playing without a nickname until 1923, then created one on a whim by a reporter for the student paper. The Daily would be proud.
Wednesday continues the Two Good MAC teams theme, with Temple playing The University of Ohio. Both teams are 5-3, and battling for the MAC east lead. So is this ESPN's new plan? To show hard-fought battles between two plucky, undersized, understaffed teams to show the amateur nature of college athletics? Or, to hype up THE GAME OF THE MILLENIUM: LSU VERSUS ALABAMA!!! THE ALABAMAGEDDON! That is a retorical question.
Moving on, MAC week starts running out of steam on Wednesday with Akron playing Miami (The hockey school, not the football school). Akron is still looking for their first conference win, while Miami just got buffaloed by the Buffalo Buffalo. At least there's an ACC "game" on opposite, FSU versus Boston College. BC has the tiebreaker for worst record in the ACC by virtue of their win against Maryland last week. FSU get the "Deja Vu" award for beating Duke and Maryland by the same score in back-to-back weeks, 41-16. One extra point for the odd 41 and 16 point scores. That's a Brian-level prediction.
Friday ends MAC week with a thud, with Central playing Kent State. Central is last in the Battle For Michigan, an imaginary trohpy I made up for the Michigan directional schools. Eastern won it, with Western taking a solid second. Northern did not play. Now that I've written 1600 words about the MAC, let me say a couple things about Friday's other game: USC versus Colorado. USC may not be as good as they usually are, but CU is worse than usual. Their lone win this year was against rival CSU, and they're hanging around the bottom of most NCAA categories. They are giving up just under 40 points per game. I have a friend who went to CU, and I haven't been able to call him in months.
Saturday will be like a bright, sunshine-y spring day after that week. But, just because they can, Hawaii versus Utah State starts at 12:00 eastern Sunday, making for six straight days of bad football. Hooray Rainbows!