Unverified Voracity Is Writing A Comparative Lit Thesis Comment Count

Brian December 10th, 2008 at 2:59 PM

Hey, this is stupid. I am, of course, deliciously anticipating any article titled "What Notre Dame football doesn't understand." The possibilities are endless:

  • How to hire coaches
  • How to schedule Washington State in a way that makes the slightest sense
  • Run blocking
  • Why giving your head coach a ten year, no-buyout extension after half a season is sort of unwise
  • and so on.

Instead, ESPN contracts a professor of comparative literature to tell us that the reason Notre Dame sucks is because there are a lot more people in the Sun Belt than there were in the past. This ignores the one thing Weis has done well: recruit. It, in fact, is about the only way you could write a column slamming Notre Dame and be wrong. Syracuse, New York, is not noted for its balmy climate and sunny future prospects.

If there are structural changes that have seriously hurt Notre Dame football they have more to do with the increasing secularity of the country, increased coverage of sports erasing ND's attention advantage, and the flaming stupidity of the men in charge of the athletic department.

Suggestion: no more comparative lit professors in ESPN the Magazine.

T-minus ten days. Exactly what to expect from freshman* transfer Laval Lucas-Perry remains unknown, but the hype is building. BTN announcer/Wolverine alum/man with lack of historical perspective Tim McCormick said Perry would be Michigan's best point guard "since Rumeal Robinson," which, like, even if you consider Jalen Rose a wing or a shooting guard there is that Daniel Horton guy to consider. If LLP is better than Daniel Horton…

  1. I will eat my hat.
  2. It will will be the best-tasting hat ever.
  3. Mmmmm delicious awesome point guard hat.

All this for a guy who was the #138 prospect (to Rivals) in the class of 2007 and a three-star. In his five games for Arizona LLP averaged 4 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.8 assists in ten minutes a game. Projected out to 32 MPG you get nothing because of SMALL SAMPLE SIZE GOD.

Okay, we'll do it anyway: 12.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.6 APG. Or "the third best player on the team," which is what everyone's been calling him since he transferred. Diarist Bleeding Blue provides some open scrimmage notes:

I attended the open practice/scrimmage after the northwestern game this fall (I think I get a double black belt or something...anywho) and this kid is legit. The practice and scrimmage were intense. Obviously, things can change 'when the lights come on' but nothing suggests he won't be able to perform at the same level or better in games.

Notes on the scrimmage - He absolutely drained a three from the top of the key. nice stroke and very confident. He also jumped into a passing lane, stealing the ball, taking about three dribbles and jamming it home on the other end before anyone really had time to react. My friend turned to me eyebrows raised and said 'shot out of a cannon'. Notably - he 'ran with the ones' as they say the whole time as well, which was a little surprising to me, but obviously speaks to what Beilein thinks he will contribute.

This is an excellent point, as well:

Third - Defensive Impact - this has been the most talked about aspect of his game is his voracity on the defensive side of the ball. He will immediately give the team the ability to play significantly more effective man-to-man defense if he is in at the two guard and Grady is at the one. If he is at the point, he also gives the baseline man in the 1-3-1 significantly better height/more of a presence running out to challenge the corner three pointer.

Perry is a half-foot taller than Grady and should be able to harry those corner threes that killed Michigan in the first Duke game (and would have killed Michigan in the second one if Duke didn't have a ridiculously cold shooting night) more effectively.

Friend of blog Craig Ross also took in a couple open gyms, and spake thusly:

LLP and KG battled in a couple of the games. It was pretty close. I think KG is faster (not quicker) and my guess is he has a more consistent outside shot---though KG always seems a little slow to look for his own shot. LLP is bigger, stronger and more adept at taking the ball to the basket. LLP did hit a couple of threes, but his shot dynamics look a little frail. I would give a slight edge to LLP at this session, though both showed ability. I think UM should be, at least, average or better than average in the BT at point.

"Slightly better than Kelvin Grady" seems like much higher praise than it did in the preseason. And he's not going to be taking Grady's minutes. He's going to be taking minutes from Merritt and Lee—currently seeing 25 minutes per game between them—and maybe a little from Harris since the idea of sitting Manny down won't be quite as terrifying with LLP available. In terms of VORP he will be a massive upgrade.

Actually, if you listen to all the reports being batted around Perry's skillset seems closest to Harris: a slasher who can get to the basket, slightly dodgy outside shot. He's more of a combo guard than a true point.

If you're interested, Perry features in a five minute highlight video from Arizona open scrimmages. He hits everything and does everything, because it's a highlight video, but you can glean some useful information anyway: there are a lot of tough finishes in traffic, some slick, Harris-like ballhandling, and a definite tendency towards steals.

*(Freshman transfer? Well, it went down like this: LLP spent a semester at Arizona, then transferred because of the whole Lute Olsen fiasco. His transfer-enforced redshirt then spanned the last half of last season and the first half(-ish) of this season. Normally this would make him a sophomore by eligibility—national letter of intent rules are what they are—but LLP's appeal to the NCAA was upheld and this is basically the second half of his freshman year he's about to start.)

Smoking. I mentioned Rick Leach's strident support of Rich Rodriguez earlier. The stridency has gotten more strident of late. Highlights from Leach's latest WTKA appearance:

"I've got to say, because everybody around this town, around this country and in this profession had so much respect for Bo Schembechler. If you think for a minute that he didn't use language behind the scenes or on the sidelines -- we all saw some of the tirades.

"What a joke. It's just another log on the fire that they try to throw at Rich Rodriguez. I've been to practice. They talk about family values? Well, guess what? He allows his wife, the coaches' wives and their children to come to practice, and they coach the way they coach.

"Was I a little shocked and surprised when I first saw it? Absolutely. But if it's that big an issue -- they have their wives and children witness that, so it can't be too big an issue.

"They coach how they coach. Every coach has his own style and his own way of doing things. My whole point is, if you don't want to hear that kind of language and be coached aggressively for a staff that just wants to try to get the best out of your ability, then go to Trinity Baptist College and see how their football program is."

There is considerably more in the link above. Leach is on the warpath.

No. Not to piss off a reader or anything, but this is a fine example of my least favorite anti-playoff argument:

Sure, the BCS causes controversy, but it’s that controversy that fans the flames of fans passion:

It’s the endless debate of which team deserves it more.
It’s that the stakes are so high, and the system is so subjective.

It’s the debate between co-champions. Michigan-Nebraska in 97-98? Yeah, it would have been great for them to play each other and decide it all, but if they did, we wouldn’t still be talking about and passionate about it now. Auburn in 04-05? They can still complain about being screwed. If there was a playoff, who would still be talking about that year?

I was all ready to dismiss this in logical fashion and then I got to the comments, wherein Dex beat me to the punch:

What I Heard:

"I'd rather argue with other football nerds about hypothetical games than actually get to see these awesome teams play each other."

If we had a playoff, we could have actually seen Auburn-USC play. I don't really care about determining the "ultimate" champion or anything - I just want to see good football teams play. In our current system, we get 4 super meaningful non-conference games against shit opponents, a conference season featuring half shitty teams, and, if you are a lucky, a competitive match-up in the bowl game.

I want football games. Between good football teams. Not bar-stool debate.

Absolutely, and the BCS diluting itself by adding another game has killed the football games between good football teams even further. When the BCS three double-digit spreads and one Cincinnati-Virginia Tech, something is wrong.

Who likes arguing better than football games? I thought it was just sportswriters who don't actually like the game itself enough to be entertained by it, and sports radio guys with dead air to fill. I can't imagine anyone who actually likes college football enjoying the "controversy" of the BCS. (I can understand someone who regards it as an acceptable cost.)

And I don't buy the "devaluing of the regular season bit" either. Seth Davis goes way, way too far in his defense of college basketball's regular season, but by saying something preposterous he does something useful:

when Ohio State got blown out by USC on Sept. 13, that essentially eliminated the Buckeyes from the championship race. Whatever glimmer of hope remained was squelched by Penn State with four games still left to play. If the Ohio State-Michigan game is the biggest rivalry in college football, what exactly were those two teams playing for this year? Nothing.

Imagine if Ohio State needed to win that game to get into an eight-team playoff. Now that would mean something.

I certainly hope everyone who reads that blog stifled a laugh there. Seth Davis clearly does not grok college football. Michigan played Ohio State to beat Ohio State. That is all. Sometimes there are bonuses like the Rose Bowl or a national title or something on the line, but Michigan plays Ohio State to beat Ohio State.

What makes regular season college football so important is its scarcity. There are just twelve games and usually about half of those are against hopelessly overmatched opponents. Every game is meaningful because it is a rare thing.

Elsewhere, Davis does make a good point:

We just finished one of the greatest college football weeks in years -- that SEC championship game was certainly appointment viewing in my house. Yet out of the 16 games played last week, only three had an impact on the national title chase. (And I'm being generous by including USC-UCLA. When a team wins and still has no shot at the big trophy, it's hard to call the game significant.) That left 14 games that meant absolutely nothing.

Two weeks ago, with a fuller national schedule, there were 41 games played in Division I-A football. At most, five of them mattered: Texas-Texas A&M, Alabama-Auburn, Florida-Florida State, USC-Notre Dame and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. That's 36 worthless games, if you're scoring at home. This is a compelling regular season?

Again, "worthless" goes way too far, but the larger point is a good one: when more teams have access to the playoff at the end of the year—the BCS is a playoff—there are more compelling games. This is another reason for a playoff to omit autobids: if Cincinnati had already locked up a spot by winning the Big East their game would have indeed been kind of meaningless. No one should be safe.



December 10th, 2008 at 3:41 PM ^

At the University of Minnesota bookstore, books were sold alphabetically by a four-digit code that accurately characterized the department. For example, "SPAN" for Spanish, and "INTR" for International Relations. Each of these codes were placed on a removable sign so that students could find the books they needed for class.

Comparative Literature's books were the hardest to find in the bookstore because the signs were always stolen, and thus the books weren't marked. I'll leave it to the board to determine why.



December 10th, 2008 at 4:30 PM ^

Me, too. The point advanced by Dex and Brian assumes I watch college football because I love football so much I'd watch CFL teams scrimmage in the summer just to get my fix. This is far from true of myself, I can barely watch an NFL regular season game and find anything other than 1-A college football rather boring.

It also assumes I'm watching college football thinking "This sport needs to be fixed." I'm not, because if I wanted to watch the the NFL I would. But I don't.


December 10th, 2008 at 4:41 PM ^

My argument is more that, whether or not it decides a more "legitimate" champion, I'd rather see a slate of games at the end of the season featuring match-ups we simply don't get at all during the season. Instead of watching Around the Horn debate whether or not Good Team X could hang with Good Team Y, I'd like to see these games on the field. And a playoff provides more opportunities for these teams to meet than just one bowl game, and would ideally give us a few more good games a year.

Dan Man

December 10th, 2008 at 4:04 PM ^

Was the existence of or amount of any buyout ever confirmed? Or is the consensus is that, because he wasn't fired, it must have been huge?


confused in Boston
(aka Biakabatookus)

mad magician

December 10th, 2008 at 4:13 PM ^

So a comp. lit. professor opine that the reason for ND's demise is primarily due to the increased population of the Sun Belt? That seems like a poor imitation of the Malcolm Gladwell school of social/cultural reasoning.

mad magician

December 10th, 2008 at 4:52 PM ^

I'm with Brian: I want to see these matchups that a playoff would provide. The thought of it makes me giddy.

I also think, in a bigger picture sense, we need to recognize that college football has changed so much in the last 15 years; most especially in terms of the importance of winning the national championship. It used to be the national championship was a matter for the polls, and the real glory was in rivalry games, conference championships and bowl games. The game was more regional, in a sense, and now it's national.

The 1994 season, with Penn State getting snubbed in the polls, was the year I think this changed for good. Since then the primary goal of all the big programs has been to win the NC. That being the case, it's time to admit the bowl system is an outdated, unrealistic way of determining this. Can you really say that Florida or Oklahoma is better, or more deserving, to be called National Champions than Texas, USC, or Penn State? It's a faulty system, wrong for the modern era, one that only works when there are 2 and only 2 undefeated BCS teams (like in '06), and it needs to go.


December 10th, 2008 at 5:02 PM ^

I think this is a pretty decent point about the nationalization of college football. No coach today could share Bo's philosophy of win the Big Ten is the only goal, the bowl game is not as important.

However, am I the only one who actually thinks these BCS matchups will be pretty good? Granted Cincy vs VaTech will only be a good game in the sense that neither team is that good.

Utah vs Alabama may well turn into a blowout. I won't deny that is a possibility, but Utah is not like Hawaii was last year. I think there is an equally likely chance that this game will be competitive.

Texas vs OSU and Penn State vs USC both could be amazing games. For the Big Ten's sake, if they are blowouts then they had better be major upsets too.

Sgt. Wolverine

December 10th, 2008 at 5:09 PM ^

"The game was more regional, in a sense, and now it's national."

I absolutely positively could not disagree with that statement more. The coverage of and attention paid to college football may have become more national, but the sport itself is still highly regional. If you really want to nationalize the sport, you're going to have to make the conferences effectively irrelevant for purposes other than playoff berths, much like they are in the NFL. As it is, the conferences drive college football, and the conferences are still regional.

If it truly becomes nationalized, I don't think the result would be very good.

mad magician

December 10th, 2008 at 6:38 PM ^

I guess my point is that winning a National Championship is far more important now than it was 20 years ago, and college football should adapt if that's what it's going to be. Right now it seems like we're stuck in an unhappy middle ground.

Let's take Bo, for instance. If his tenure had been from 2000-2020 instead of 1968-1989, his legacy would have been more defined by his failure to win a national championship. I can remember reading 'Bo' when I was 10 or 11, and on the back cover was a pic of the coach hoisting a trophy. I asked my dad, what year did Bo win the national championship? He didn't, was the reply. That was the Rose Bowl trophy in his hands.

Clarence Beeks

December 10th, 2008 at 6:26 PM ^

I believe, if my recollection is correct, that the divisions that have playoffs have certain conferences that get automatic bids for their champions and then there are a (very) limited number of at large bids. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on that though, because it's been a while since I've paid any attention to it.

Clarence Beeks

December 10th, 2008 at 6:35 PM ^

Here is a summary of how it went down this year. I assume that the methodology has been consistent. 23 automatic bids for 32 spots, with the 9 at large bids determined regionally.

Field Announced for 2008 NCAA Division III Football Tournament
The NCAA Division III Football Committee announced today the field of 32 teams for the 2008 NCAA Division III Football Championship. The committee selected teams based on conference results and competition within an institution’s respective evaluation region.

Twenty-three conferences received automatic-qualifying berths. Three berths were reserved for true independents and those teams that are members of conferences that do not receive automatic qualification. The remaining six berths were awarded to teams from either automatic qualifying conferences that did not win an automatic berth, or remaining true independent teams and teams in non-automatic qualifying conferences.

The first round of the championship will be played November 22 at the host institution’s campus or at an alternate site approved by the football committee. The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the national championship game, will be played December 20, at Salem Stadium in Salem, Virginia. The game will be broadcast live on ESNP2 HD/E360 at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

The following 23 conferences and their respective schools received automatic-qualifying berths:
American Southwest Conference – Mary Hardin-Baylor
Centennial Conference – Muhlenberg
College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin – North Central (Illinois)
Empire 8 – Ithaca
Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference – Franklin
Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – Wartburg
Liberty League – Hobart
Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association – Trine
Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Conference – Lycoming
Midwest Conference – Monmouth (Illinois)
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – St. John’s (Minnesota)
New England Football Conference – Plymouth State
New Jersey Athletic Conference – Cortland State
North Coast Athletic Conference – Wabash
Northern Athletics Conference – Aurora
Northwest Conference – Willamette
Ohio Athletic Conference – Mount Union
Old Dominion Athletic Conference – Randolph-Macon
Presidents’ Athletic Conference – Thomas More
Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – Occidental
Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference – Millsaps
USA South Athletic Conference – Christopher Newport
Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Pool B Berths (3):
Case Western Reserve

Pool C Berths (6):
Washington and Jefferson
Wheaton (Illinois)



December 10th, 2008 at 6:09 PM ^

if for no other reason that so many potentially great games are left on the floor. Who doesn't want to see games between Florida, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Penn State, just for starters? Conference play is still the meat of college football, though, so a playoff system that takes the champions of the six BCS conferences plus some at-large teams makes the most sense to me.

The sticking point is how to preserve the bowl games. When everything ended on January 1 this was a more valid issue, but now with the games going on well past New Years I can't believe that a system can't be worked out. I think a system involving 10 teams could work. Start with the 6 BCS conf. champions, which today would be USC, FLA, PSU, OK, Cincy, and VaTech. Take the next best four teams, say, AL, TX, UT, and TTech (or Boise if you want). Give the conf. champs a bye, and have the four at-large play down to determine the final two members of the 8-team playoff. Use minor bowls as sites for the at-large and quarter-final, and rotate the major bowls for the semi-finals and final.


December 11th, 2008 at 1:17 AM ^

The biggest problem is it's the worst of both worlds: I'd be fine with a completely mythical championship, but if you're going to try to determine a true champion you damn well better do it right. A two-team playoff in a sport where 120 teams play a dozen games each is clearly insufficient if you want to include every team that has a legitimate claim.

One practical issue with your proposal, though: Can't use the bowls for anything but the final (maybe the semis, but I'd argue against even that, unless you did both semis and the final a week apart at the same site). Travel arrangements would be near impossible, especially around the holidays. It works for the basketball tourney because you have 8 teams selling tickets for a 20,000 seat arena in the first weekend; with 2 teams selling tickets for an 80,000 seat stadium, it's just not going to be feasible.


December 11th, 2008 at 1:30 AM ^

I kinda disagree. If you go to an 8 or 16 team playoff, the first round is played say in early/mid december at the home of the higher seed. No issue with tickets. You do your semi's on NY's Day and your championship game a week later.

The championship game would probably have a good percentage of tickets go to corporate sponsors and the like. Even as it is now with the bowl games when UM goes to the Rose Bowl, correct me if I'm wrong, but they only get something like 30,000 tickets.

With the semi's the school and its fans might have to purchase a large allotment, but I'm guessing that wouldn't be that big of a deal - especially when people know that the odds of them getting tickets to the championship are probably pretty slim.


December 10th, 2008 at 7:58 PM ^

At least use an historian or economist... Not only is the argument stupid, considering OSU, PSU, and Michigan still seem to do alright (Michigan's season this year notwithstanding), but the Big Ten states have almost 10 million more residents than the SEC states. Since Notre Dame's largest presence is in the Big Ten AND it's able to recruit nationally, the recruiting pool is not the cause.


December 10th, 2008 at 8:12 PM ^

If some people are opposed to playoffs, that's fine- it's really just a matter of opinion.

However, there is one argument against playoffs that I have seen frequently that should forever be banished from the internets:

"UM-OSU '06!!"

There are so many fallacies in the logic concerning that, it gives me a headache to think about it. Next person who says that gets a "Patriots-Giants '08!!" in return, since that argument is about as salient.

Blue Durham

December 10th, 2008 at 10:14 PM ^

1. With all due respect to Dex (and I do have a lot of respect for his opinions) the BCS puts an overwhelming emphasis on undefeated or 1-loss seasons. Ambitious teams avoid challenging match-ups. Thus, during the season, we see less great non-conference games. Yeah, we see #1 versus #2 in the BCS game at the end of the season (who much of the time did not distinguish themselves out of conference), but at the expense of a dozen or more great non-conference games that were avoided.

2. The traditional old way that put the SEC champ in the Sugar, the Big 8 (now Big 12) in the Orange, Big 10 in the Rose, etc. led to a much more interesting post season as the #3, 4 or 5 ranked teams often still had a chance to win the National Championship. Often, Michigan was ranked #3-5 and played in the Rose Bowl but still had a chance to win the NC if the other games fell right. That led to an great interest in all of the other bowl games that were going on, as opposed to now, where the BSC game pitting the selected #1 versus the selected #2 is the only one that matters.

Bowl seasons in the past (prior to the assigned #1 versus #2 match-up of the past 10 - 12 years) was a lot more fun and intriguing.


December 10th, 2008 at 11:31 PM ^

I am actually a dinasaur and fan of the old system. Although a playoff would be best, I prefer the old to some horribly flawed "#1 vs #2" matchup with meaningless garbage games rounding things out.

Blue Durham

December 11th, 2008 at 8:31 AM ^

in that it combined Northern charm with Southern efficiency.

The BCS is the same thing. It retains the controversy of the old bowl system in that rarely is it clear who really is #1 and #2. Thus the old controversy of really determining the best team is retained. And then, by matching #1 versus #2, it renders all of the other bowl games (even one that would match #3 versus #4!!!) irrelevant. In the past, even the lesser games of conference teams were relevant, as they would have an impact on the perceived strength of the conference, and thus conference champion.

In essence, the BCS takes the worse elements of the old bowl system and combines it with the worse possible "playoff" - 1 game.

An additional impact of the BCS. In order to reach that single bowl, the teams must be undefeated or have only 1 loss, and schedule their out-of-conference games accordingly. Thus the BCS also bastardizes the quality of match-ups in September, all for the sake of 1 game in January.

The BCS is the worse of all worlds.


December 11th, 2008 at 9:40 AM ^

I like to watch OSU lose. The more exposure the better. Only game on January 5th is OSU getting pantsed? Sign me up. That's my favorite thing about the BCS. Also, can the BCS go back to inviting ND again? I liked that too.

These are some of my favorite things!


December 11th, 2008 at 11:10 AM ^

I don't understand why anyone thinks a playoff wouldn't include autobids. It will. No way the current BCS commissioners let this money pot go without a damn good assurance that they all get a slice of the new pie.

And since there will be at least six autobids, and that would make for a shitty playoff by itself (VT yes, TT no, for example), there would be at least two at-larges. Which wouldn't really suffice, because you'd still leave out teams which are your arguments for having a playoff in the first place. Like Boise State and Ohio State. So it would be much larger.

I think it's kind of delusional to assume you can have a playoff without certain conditions. Autobids being among them.

Michigan Arrogance

December 11th, 2008 at 11:21 AM ^

i'm w/ the sarge.... we can have great games (in A2)... it was under the old system.

if you are arguing from this standpoint, you should be arguing for the old system, not a playoff. esp. since the playoff you're asking for will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER HAPPEN. NEVER EVER.