Lax Mag take.
Westside Lax game report
There's no in or out. It's all in.
REGGIE FISH: Seriously dude, what the hell was that? I have never seen someone try to catch a punt over his shoulder at the five with four defenders bearing down on him. That was the stupidest play in the history of college football. (Plaxico Burress spiking a live ball wins "all of football.") The free touchdown you gave them was the difference between a 10-point Florida win and an Arkansas drive to tie or win that has time to utilize McFadden and Jones. I kind of hate you.
JIM WALDEN: If you claim "the Big Ten is a joke," what does that make you and your 0-17-versus-the-Big-Ten ass?
SMARMY-ASS CBS: CBS has long been in a neck-and-neck race with NBC to see who can put out the most feminized, patronizing sports broadcasts. The amazing thing is that SEC fans constantly decry ESPN/ABC as some sort of Big Ten propaganda machine. On Saturday night ESPN and ABC featured debate. Corso, Mark May, Lou Holtz, and Craig James all argued for Florida. Herbstreit, Flute, Fowler argued for Michigan. By comparison, CBS was Pravda, beating out a steady SEC SEC SEC SEC SEC drumbeat without the barest hint of debate. The second half of the the SEC championship game was less a football game and more an informercial for the magical juicing power of Florida. It was unprofessional, inappropriate, and hypocritical. I never want to hear another word about "bias" from SEC fans.
THE HARRIS POLL: I say this in all seriousness. If you gave me ten percent of the funding and a year, I could turn the BlogPoll into something more reliable and respectable than the Harris Poll. I'm close to saying "if you gave me no funding and made me deliver it right now" after Walden's comments.
RYAN SUCCOP: Three blocked kicks, one an extra point? You missed an extra point! You suck! Aaaaaargh.
SPAIN: I swear to God I'm going to get you for this, Spain.
"THEY HAD THEIR CHANCE." I guarantee you that when Florida loses to OSU that I will reference the 2006 Gators as the SEC's "chance" and incessantly argue against any SEC team ever making the title game again. Because they'll have had their chance. This will be stupid. It will also be the point.
URBAN MEYER: Wetzel has a column on this. I don't know if it's something in the water in SEC states that makes their coaches paranoid, bitchy, and irritating, but it seems to leak out from Tommy Tuberville and infect everyone around him.
And, in the grand finale:
DEAD TO ME
GARY DANIELSON: I can't summon my mental faculties to give him what he deserves. It would be a string of personal insults bordering on the obscene. So I'll let Braves & Birds say it:
Gary Danielson's performance last night was an absolute disgrace. I understand that he's reputedly a human being who is paid to have opinions, but I've rarely seen an announcer turn the fourth quarter of a football game into a 30-minute advertisement for one school. The fact that Danielson (a) was not recruited by Michigan (and thus went to Purdue) and (b) is working for the one network that exclusively covers the SEC surely had nothing to do with his open rooting for Florida and his subjective, idiotic comparison of the two team's schedules. Regardless of the result of the vote this afternoon, Danielson is going to go down in Michigan lore along with Sean McDonough, who performed a similar role in 1997 during CBS's broadcast of the Nebraska-Tennessee Orange Bowl to facilitate the Huskers picking up part of the national title.
CBS and Danielson framed the debate by focusing on the points that favor Florida - more good teams on their schedule - and ignoring the points that favored Michigan, such as the critical "not outgained by Vanderbilt" category. Thus, you ended up with voters hearing the Florida talking points drummed into their heads for the final hours before casting their ballots. The voters who stayed up for ESPN2's College Football Final then had those points repeated by Lou Holtz and Mark May, so they ended up going to bed with the impression that there was consensus that Florida was #2. Groupthink, anyone? You think these people wouldn't have sung along with "Throw Lloyd Carr down the Well" if May and Holtz were singing it?
Danielson irresponsibly used a captive audience and may have seriously harmed Michigan's chances of getting to the national championship game with his incessant, retarded assertions that Michigan didn't deserve the national championship game because it was a "second place team." He's lost the considerable respect I had for his color commentary. Now I only hope I can identify him getting out of his car so I can
STAB STAB STAB STAB HIM IN THE STABBY PLACES let the air out of his tires. KNIFEY NEEDS BLOOD TO BREATHE I don't like him very much.
I understand that expecting sports talking heads to make a damn bit of sense is futile, but good God... I can't watch or read anything without feeling an intense desire to choke whoever wrote/said it.
If you say any of the following things, you are wrong and should be shamed.
Michigan didn't win its conference. If this was going to be changed it would have been changed after the Nebraska fiasco. It wasn't, even though the BCS was fully aware it was a possibility. The system is about the two best teams, and this year every indication is that they come from the same conference.
Michigan had its chance. AOK SWELL. If we change the location of the MNC game to Columbus, Ohio, and play on crappy turf that OSU is used to but Florida is not, I can see this argument working. I doubt that's going to happen. This is also ignoring what the BCS is about: the two best teams. There is no "they had their chance" clause.
Florida played a harder schedule. Says who? The only team with anything resembling a pulse on the nonconference schedule was Florida State, and that's a mighty generous definition of the word "pulse." Then we're getting into the SEC, which has pretty records because of the Sun Belt World tour and excessive media hype. Objective measures of these things have Michigan slightly behind or slightly ahead. In any case, the gap is razor thin, close enough that the relative performances of the two teams against their nearly identical schedules should be the deciding factor.
Michigan has been idle for two weeks. Yes, I have actually seen this. Personally, I think Florida should go to the Alamo Bowl because it had bye weeks early in the season instead of Michigan's incredible twelve straight weeks. The idea that Michigan has an unviolable right to the #2 spot because they "didn't get worse" -- as advanced by Doug Flutie -- is wrong, since Florida's accomplishments since
Do you notice what Florida backers never talk about?
Michigan and Florida. They make it about whether Alabama is better than Indiana. Whether Penn State is better than Georgia. The historical fluke that the #1 team happens to be in Michigan's conference. While I'm not in favor of Vegas-style rankings because they discard what actually, you know, happened, in this case we have two teams having played comparable schedules and with comparable records. Style points don't matter, but substance points do. South Carolina may be a hair better than Iowa, but Michigan's game against Iowa -- though close-ish in the second half -- did not come down to a blocked extra point and two blocked field goals. Michigan dominated Vandy; Florida was outgained by them and won by 6. Florida limped past Georgia and Florida State; though the scores were superficially similar in the Penn State and Minnesota games, Michigan was never really threatened, unless you consider a petrified third-string quarterback with 80 yards to go when his team has racked up a total of 150 a "threat."
The foes were comparable. Michigan has ruthlessly executed them; Florida has scraped by on a wing and a prayer. With accomplishments relatively equal, we can look to Vegas.
Vegas says Michigan by six.
|Lloyd Carr, an eloquent public speaker, tireless defender of his players, and playoff advocate||Urban Meyer, a inveterate whiner who goes purse shopping when not running the local chapters of NAMBLA and the Communist Party. Also points too much.|
|Versus Ohio State's death machine in the ninth level of hell (Columbus, for the unititiated) by three points entirely because of rampant cheating and a slip 'n' slide masquerading as a football field.||Versus Auburn, a team that can't throw or run or do anything except cheat on tests, really. Auburn, like, lost to Georgia, a team that sucks butt.|
|F*#-ING BEAT DOWN of Notre Dame that ruined them psychologically for the next eighty years.||Gifted six turnovers by LSU. Probable 60-point loss if not for completely unforced implosion.|
|Second Best Win|
|Comfortable win over wonderful, tested 11-1 Wisconsin team.||Referee-aided win over I-AA Western Carolina.|
|Outgained Vanderbilt by 200 yards and won by 20.||Outgained BY Vanderbilt, lucked out 6 point win.|
|N/A.||Six hundred blocked kicks versus South Carolina. Reggie Fish's decision to field a punt at his own five over his shoulder.|
|General Impression Left By Play|
|Daaaaaamn.||Lolly lolly I want a lolly.|
|Sided With Who During Civil War?|
So much of what is said and published about who should go to the national title game is political. In my world, this is what "political" means:
political. adj. fancy pronunciation thing
- willfully ignorant of the whole picture.
- an argument that cherry-picks only the facts beneficial to your argument and discards those that are harmful.
The only way to determine who should go to the national championship game is to look at the resumes of the contending teams top to bottom. No whining about "unfair" or "deserves" or blah blah rematch. If Michigan had the best season, it goes to the BCS championship game. Did it?
|#1||ND, 37-17||@ ND, 47-21||LSU, 23-10|
|Advantage: Michigan's win over Notre Dame was 34-7 in the first half and 34-14 at the half. At the end of the third quarter it was 40-14; Michigan also was on the road instead of at home. Florida was at home, outgained by LSU and benefited from five Tiger turnovers and a safety on the second-half kickoff. (Note that Michigan also ended up +4 in turnover margin, but was only plus one by the time the game was out of reach. They also dominated in terms of yardage.) LSU's a better team than Notre Dame, but I think Michigan's performance was the most impressive.|
|#2||@ Ark, 50-14||UW, 27-13||(neutral site)Ark, ???|
|(Note that this scenario assumes a Florida victory over Arkansas, though a relatively narrow one.) Advantage: USC. If you assume that Arkansas and Wisconsin are approximately equal -- or even if you assume UW is the better team -- a 50-14 road stomping trumps a solid home victory that was close into the second half. It should be noted that there were a lot of mitigating factors on the USC blowout. Arkansas, more than any other team in the country, has improved since their opener. Human swiss army knife Darren McFadden was dinged. Casey Dick was unavailable. But... uh... 50-14. On the road. If Florida wins the SECCG by 21 that'll be a better victory given Arkansas' improvement, but that isn't likely. To put it mildly.|
|#3||Cal, 23-9||@ PSU, 17-10||@ Tenn, 21-20|
|Advantage: Comparative scoring is always a dangerous exercise, but Cal bombed Minnesota while Penn State needed a fortunate pass interference call in overtime to win. The polls also suggest that Cal and Tennessee are better than Penn State. I believe them in this instance. So PSU is out. We're left with a two-touchdown victory over Cal at home versus a one-point victory over UT on the road. UT bombed Cal. Call it a tie, and that's being generous to Florida.|
|#4||Nebraska, 28-10||@ Minnesota, 28-14||Georgia, 21-14|
|Advantage: This is where the bottom drops out for Michigan. Minnesota is 6-6, got waxed by Cal, and generally impressed no one in an off year. Neither Nebraska or Georgia is a powerhouse but Nebraska's 9-3 and heading to the Big 12 championship game and Georgia is 8-4. Advantage Trojans here, as Nebraska was really never in the game while Florida allowed a late Georgia comeback to make it interesting.|
|#5||Oregon, 35-10||Iowa, 20-6||SoCar, 17-16|
|Advantage: These are all equally mediocre opponents, though both Oregon and South Carolina are 7-5 instead of Iowa's 6-6. USC hammered the Ducks, while Michigan struggled all game and Florida needed a miraculous three blocked kicks to scrape by the other USC. Two points Trojans.|
|OTHERS||UCLA, Arizona State, Washington State, Washington, Arizona||CMU, Indiana||Kentucky, So Miss, 'Bama|
|Advantage: USC. None of the above teams are exactly world-beaters but all are at least half-decent. USC has five of them, Michigan two, and Florida three. Two points Trojans.|
|JUNK||Stanford||Ball State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Vanderbilt||Western Carolina, Vanderbilt, Central Florida|
|Advantage: One team USC played is worse than 5-7. One team! While most big time universities have three or four automatic wins built into their schedule, USC had one. No late-season Ball State or Western Carolina. Two points Trojans.|
|LOSS||@ Oregon State, 33-31||@ Ohio State, 42-39||@ Auburn, 27-17|
|Advantage: Michigan, obviously. But the gap here is not quite as severe as it seems. Oregon State ended up 8-4 and USC had a chance to tie with a two point conversion, where Michigan and Florida needed a miracle to come back in their losses.|
Well... there you have it. Michigan has a narrow advantage in "best win" but after that it's all Trojans until you get to the loss category. They clearly lost to the least intimidating opponent, but unlike their competition they battled back and had a chance to tie at the death. Also, OSU benefited from a panoply of freak plays: a punt return touchdown, USC turnovers, etc. I think the most astounding thing about USC is this: they played one team worse than 5-7. When they rolled on to the field this year, all but one of their opponents was capable of beating them.
If you really think that Michigan's Notre Dame win was superlative enough to override USC's season of wins against solid opposition and that their Oregon State loss was an unforgivable sin, you can make a case for Michigan. But let's give it up, guys. USC's tiebreaker is Arkansas and Nebraska versus our Vanderbilt, Central Michigan, and Ball State. They took on two above-average BCS teams. We took on the worst team in the SEC and two MAC teams, though one of them happens to be okay this year. Set aside the Michigan fandom and look at the big picture: if USC has this season and does not make the NC game, no one will ever schedule anyone again. It's time to take the bullet.
Let's go Bruins!
(Side note: how excellent does a four-team playoff look this year? Way.)
11/20/2006 - Michigan 39-42 Ohio State - 11-1, 7-1
I have a friend who will not watch Michigan games with me despite my repeated urging, and not for the usual, proper reasons like "you swear like a sailor on meth" or "I'm pretty sure one of these days you are going to flip out and snap someone's neck." No, this friend can't watch the game with me because he doesn't watch games with anyone. A combination of nerves and rage and a powerful desire for others to not see his temporary descent into madness is what he says. Or words to that effect. I have tried to explain to him that if he were to have his pick of any of the six billion people on the planet he could not find a person better suited to understand and commiserate with than me and therefore we should watch games together. This has worked precisely zero times.
Not that I can blame him. Many are the times I have sat amongst people gathered to "watch" a game -- invariably there is a girl talking about nail polish on her cell phone, a guy more interested in getting WOOOOO WASTED than the violent emotional rollercoaster currently rolling through the stomachs of his brighter compatriots -- and desperately wanted to be anywhere else. Two years ago I watched Michigan lose to Ohio State accompanied by the strains of someone's deeply annoying girlfriend moaning "We can't lose to Ohio State" because some friend of hers would mock her. Meanwhile, little pieces of my soul are flaking off and burning up like meteors reaching Earth's atmosphere. Naturally, I told her to shut the fuck up (sorry mom, but those words were deployed) sometime in the third quarter and then got to feel like an asshole on top of the whole flaky meteor soul thing. She did shut up. So I've got that going for me.
Instead of navigating through a minefield of well-meaning invitations, I went. I claimed an endzone seat for three weeks rent, entered the stadium... and stopped dead. Student section. Beating heart thereof. I wanted to be alone and, uh, yeah: alone. There wasn't another Michigan fan in view. Fortuitously, I was at the very back of the first section of seating and had a railing at my back. This was helpful when everyone was jumping up and down screaming things after touchdowns, which was a lot. Myself, I was quiet both because I wanted to not die and because I was completely terrified the whole game. After the first touchdown, my hands started vibrating uncontrollably. I mean... this is bad, right? When you are at a football game and it causes you to lose the ability to make your body do what you want it to, you are probably doing something very wrong with your brain chemicals.
By the end -- after every brief glimmer of hope had been stomped out by something horrific and unbelievable -- I didn't really feel anything. I collapsed to my seat after the Crable personal foul and then watched the remainder of the game in a haze. Three hours earlier the outcome of the game was the most important thing in the history of ever; maybe it still was but I had run out of chemicals. I berated some guy who definitely has a pickup truck and watches wrestling without a sense of ironic detachment for taunting two middle-aged Michigan fans walking back to their car, but felt oddly like if he had needled me instead I wouldn't have cared.
This blog has warped itself into something of a -- yuck -- personal diary of a sports fan almost against my will. I've tried to chronicle the emotions of a Michigan fan in this space, but I'm clean out. Anyone who needs to tell me some bad news, ("Brian, we've never met but this is definitely your baby") this is your opportunity. Lo, I am spent.
- Right, so, spent. I'll post a few things the next couple days, but they won't have anything to do with the Ohio State game. Thursday and Friday I'm off for Thanksgiving. I'll sort through the smoking wreckage with UFR around the middle of next week. If you picked the blog up during football season, I do post year-round. I'll pay attention to the hockey team -- suddenly playing with its head removed from any and all orifices! -- and basketball. Recruiting coverage, which was the area that suffered most from my duties at AOL, will pick up.
- Bo memorial at one tomorrow. I'm going if anyone wants to say hi.
Rematch? Uh... what? Going to the game and losing imposed a sort of involuntary media blackout so I must have missed the leap of logic from "Michigan got housed" to "Michigan deserves a rematch." Yeah, yeah, three point final margin but let's not fool ourselves: Michigan was +3 in turnover margin â€“ and two of those were gifts â€“ and still only got within ten points of OSU before scoring a 90% cosmetic touchdown aided with a miraculous, potentially horrendous bailout pass interference penalty. (Please note Secret Axiom Of Football #27: "If it ends with an unrecovered onside kick, it wasn't that close.") I see that Michigan is still somehow #2 in the BCS. Now... I know a lot of poll madness is attributable to people not watching games, but you watched this one, right? This is madness.
With Rutgers going up in flames, other options are getting thin on the ground: USC, Arkansas, Florida, and (ugh) Notre Dame are the only remaining possibilities. USC obviously gets in at 11-1. It would be an outrage if they didn't. But Herbstreit, etc, keep advancing the theory that Michigan is better qualified than a one-loss SEC champion. This is not true. Though neither Florida nor Arkansas is without resume flaws â€“ and I don't believe for a second that the SEC is appreciably better than any other conference this year (hi Ole Miss! Vandy seems mighty competitive this year, no?) -- at 12-1 either would have scalps on a par with Notre Dame (whoever they beat in the SECCG) and Wisconsin (uh... pick one), plus at least two or three wins in the dangerous-but-not-really category, of which Michigan has one (Penn State). While Michigan's loss is probably better, the resumes of Michigan and a hypothetical one-loss SEC Champion are near equals, except for the not-incidental fact that Michigan's already proven it doesn't really belong on the same field as OSU.
- Bowl opponent is probably going to be... um... uninspiring. Unless USC drops one of its last two games, it's going to the MNC game. The SEC champion is locked into the Sugar Bowl. The Big 12 champion is locked into the Fiesta. Michigan is looking at a motley crew of at-large candidates: a two-loss LSU, Arkansas, or Florida, the Big East champion, Notre Dame (ha!), or Oklahoma.
It was a schizophrenic day. OSU's really carpet bombing its fans with this sportsmanship initiative and it's sort of working. The net effect was to make the decent OSU fans â€“ always a sizable majority â€“ really, really nice. The assholes are still assholes, though, and there are a lot of them. I do think 2002 was the nadir, and the administration had decided enough was enough. Then the Texas game was the final straw; no longer could Buckeye fans dismiss the complaining as a Michigan persecution complex. Not that the occasional whiny Buck fan with an unattractive wife wouldn't make unconvincing noises about equal problems in Ann Arbor in the same breath as describing High Street paved with beer cans.
It also helped that this time I was wearing a black coat that was not immediately identifiable as Michigan-affiliated from the rear. Wandering into Columbus ticketless and intent on getting a single made me really cautious. Not cautious enough to, like, ask if the ticket I was buying was smack-dab in the middle of the student section, which it was. When I came out of the tunnel I turned to walk up the steps and stopped dead. "Oh shit," I said, "I'm a dead man." Not so. But since only the occasional burst of exhortation escaped -- "go, go, go" on Manningham's first slant, "shit" when he was caught did not meet with the approval of one poxy OSU fan directly in front of me -- I didn't get much guff. Generally if you're not a dick peo ple aren't dicks to you.
- I WAS RIGHT! We could run on them.
- Maybe I should have come up with some other theories. Like "Troy Smith is actually a goat." Then, like, we would have won. Because goats can't throw.
- I don't know, man. Don't ask me. I think this: our inability to pull a blue-chip corner since Marlin Jackson â€“ Leon Hall being a good recruit who panned out but not totally OMG Shirtless â€“ killed us. Hall's obviously good. Everyone else got worked. Add Justin King and Jai Eugene to this team and is the outcome different? Anyone who really doesn't think recruiting matters can look at the front seven: five top 100 recruits in the starters and two overachieving three-stars versus the secondary: two borderline top-100 and a bunch of middling recruits. (And there is of course a difference between a two or three star like Braylon and a two or three star like Barringer. The term "sleeper" is now applied to anyone three stars or below when properly it should be restricted to guys who get overlooked because they're not on the field or at the wrong position or whatever.)
- That said... uh... what are you supposed to do about that? Smith looked like a future wide receiver for about a year and a half, then turned into what the NFL wants Vick to be. I dunno. I don't want to think about it for a week.