Tuesday, May 30, 2006
At first glance, it makes a lot of sense to decide the national champ on the field, rather than relying on polls and the BCS to give us a good national title matchup. The whole concept of "beat the best to be the best" pervades sports in America (how often did you hear that from teams playing the Patriots in the NFL over the past few years?), and this seems like the best way to determine the national champ without any real arguments.
But there are shortcomings in the idea. First of all, if Texas should lose to North Texas in the season opener, and then North Texas ends up dropping a game to some team in the bottom of the Sun Belt conference, are you going to try to tell me that, say, Arkansas State is the best team in the country? That doesn't make much sense. Further, graduation can impact teams to the point that they are completely different from season to season. Sure, Texas took the "title" in the Rose Bowl, but then they lost some major contributors to the NFL, especially Vince Young. A team can be on top of the college football world one year, then come back down to earth over the course of one NFL draft. If, say, Muhammad Ali had won the title, then decided to have his left arm amputated, would you still think of him as the best boxer in the world? Probably not.
This second objection is somewhat weak, as theoretically the title eventually finds its way to the best boxer/team, and that's the way it often plays out on Heavyweight Football Champs. For example, looking at recent history, the major "title holders" since 1997 have been Nebraska, Texas A&M, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, and USC. Even when OSU lost the college football title to a middling Wisconsin team, it only took it about three and a half months (six games) to find its way to the best team, USC.
Basically, I think the college football national championship is meant to recognize the best team in a given year. It's a yearly prize to me, and I think everything should be run back to zero at the start of each season, with everyone starting on equal footing on the way to determining the best team of the season. However, this is an interesting take on the college football championship, and worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses. To that end, I'm adding it to the sidebar.
And of course, this post wouldn't be complete without a comparison of college football teams to some of the top heavyweights in history:
USC - Muhammad Ali: Possibly the best ever (just ask them), very cool, and very popular with rappers.
Miami - Mike Tyson: For a time, the absolute best there was, inspiring awe and fear. Experienced a rapid fall from the top. Both want to eat your children.
Ohio State - Joe Louis: Buster Douglas would probably go better here, what with the Douglas-Tyson/Fiesta Bowl parallels and the Columbus connection, but if I gave Muhammad Ali to USC, I damn sure wasn't going to stick us with some average guy. I know next to nothing about Louis other than he was one of the best, so let's move on.
Michigan - George Foreman: For quite some time, among the best in the game. Haven't been at the top of their game for years, but occasionally do noteworthy things, such as produce grills that college students love.
If anyone has any better comparisons, feel free to leave them in the comments. I'm out of time for now.
Edit: Now that this has been mentioned over at BON and CFR, I would like to add a disclaimer that the above is admittedly a pretty half-assed list, and would like to further encourage people to come up with better and funnier comparisons. I know some of you out there could come up with your own lists that blow my own out of the water, and I'd like to read them.
Friday, May 26, 2006
You might see some updates from me this weekend, but I won't promise anything, as I'm looking forward to a long weekend of doing nothing and enjoying it. Regardless, I wish you all a happy three-day weekend.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Contrary to what many people in sports and sports fans are deluded into believing, sportswriters and sportscasters and Web masters don’t want to write about your off-the-field problems (the bloggers I’m not so sure about).
We want to write about your triumphs, on and off the court. The last thing we want is to write are stories about your trials — or your obituaries.
I'm not fully convinced. I believe that no sportswriter wants to write about the death of an athlete. I may even be willing to agree that writers don't want to see athletes getting in serious trouble. These may not be true assumptions in every case, but they only require you to believe that sportswriters are decent people, an assumption that's reasonable, all joking aside. But I don't believe that the guys who wrote Game of Shadows would have preferred to write Barry Bonds: the Guy Who Hit a Lot of Home Runs. Tales of athletes breaking the rules sell, especially if you're first with the story. Those authors made a lot of money off the fact that Barry Bonds broke the rules. Yahoo! Sports went from fairly insignificant to mentioned all over when they broke the story of Reggie Bush's family and their housing arrangement. I don't believe the Game of Shadows authors would trade their fame and fortune for an opportunity to write a book gushing about Barry Bonds, just as Yahoo! Sports wouldn't trade all the hits they received for a chance to write something about Reggie Bush's highlight reels.I think that sportswriters (and writers in general) have two goals: to write the first story on a topic, or to write the best story on a topic. Aside from the basic human desire to not see bad things happen to good/young people, they don't really care what the topic is. I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing; they have bills to pay and families to feed, just like everyone else, and the better their story, the more money they can make.
CFR uses the article to make the point that he doesn't really enjoy writing about college athletes in trouble, and I believe him. What I don't believe is that all sportswriters want to see all athletes stay out of all sorts of trouble all the time. If that happened, what would Lupica and Albom have to be condescending about on Sports Reporters?
I've decided to ignore the shot against bloggers, but feel free to craft your own responses to it, should you so desire.
- The men's basketball team picked up its second commit for 2007 with Kosta Koufos, a 7'1" forward out of Canton (HT: Around the Oval). They claim he's pretty versatile, so I'm getting visions of a Dirk Nowitzki-type. If Greg Oden stays for a second (dare I dream third?) year, the two could be a pretty potent combination. Then after that, OSU has yet another talented seven-footer coming in with the class of 2008, a kid from Columbus named B.J. Mullens. If Matta can coach these kids as well as he recruits them (and I think he's shown he can), we should be seeing some great teams at the Schott the next few years.
- That same article mentions that Sylvester Mayes has left the basketball team, and apparently the university as well. Everything I've heard indicates that he just wants more playing time. It's pretty clear that he wasn't likely to get that here, so best of luck to him wherever he ends up.
- In football news, Alex Boone hasn't been suspended by the university for fall quarter, so he will be on the team this upcoming season (HT: Ohio State Online). You likely recall Boone's arrest for DUI, after he was involved in a two-car accident (no injuries, thankfully). While I believe I read earlier that he can't be suspended for any games according to Athletic Department policy, I'll be disappointed in Tressel if Boone doesn't miss a game or two for this. It was just a stupid mistake by Boone, so I don't think he should be suspended from the university and the team for fall quarter. However, it was a pretty freakin' big mistake, and if he's playing against Northern Illinois like nothing happened, he's getting off light. From what I hear, though, this has put him in Tressel's dog house and at the bottom of the depth chart, so it seems Tressel's taking care of it.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Apparently, Every Day Should Be Saturday wasn't satisfied with the usual topics. Orson instead brings us a harrowing, dramatic tale of a secret agent showdown with Beano Cook:
It’s a little-known fact that, when his responsibilities allow him time, Beano Cook spends every spare moment of his day attempting to assassinate us.It gets weirder, and better, from there. Check it out.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
As far as actual news goes, about all we have is a new contract for Jim Tressel. He's locked up through the 2012 season, and it looks like he'll be making about $2.5 million a year. Contrary to weblog mythmaking, he likely will not be spending the money on hookers and coke.
There's not a whole lot to say about the contract. Yes, it's a lot of money. But I think it's reasonable, given the amount of money a top-tier football program can bring to the athletic department. And seeing that Tressel's one of the top college football coaches, and about the only one of the top coaches that the NFL hasn't been sniffing around, it makes sense to keep him happy.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
You'd think that after being proven wrong by LeBron, Rasheed Wallace would stop guaranteeing victories. You'd be wrong.
"I ain't worried about these cats," [Wallace] said. "There's no way in hell they beat us in a series. They played well. I give them credit. We lost. We shot 30 percent and they had to play their best to beat us."I hereby revoke 'Sheed's place in my LeBron Mafia, due to excessive jackassery in the face of defeat. I like arrogant athletes, but there's a time and a place to just shut up, and that time is usually when you lose to a team you guaranteed you'd beat. And also: "I give them credit. We lost. We shot 30 percent and they had to play their best to beat us." That's not exactly what I call "giving credit."
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
And incidentally, 'Sheed, the Cavs did not play their best. They played pretty well, and the Pistons played below average (for them). Had the Cavs played their best, we'd have seen at least ten more points from LeBron and probably another ten between Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and the Pistons would have lost by twenty.
Monday, May 15, 2006
But while I was engaged in existentialist musings at a wedding,
And while LeBron was busy being awesome, Texas running back Ramonce Taylor was busy showing off five pounds of marijuana to sheriff's deputies. The situation also involved a pecan farm and a one-hundred person brawl. And apparently Taylor, ignoring the five pounds of pot in his car, called the cops about this fight, then told them he had plans to return to the fight with a handgun. That was probably not a good idea.
Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while?
And in other college football news, University of Georgia President Michael Adams has apparently kicked off his campaign to get himself fired, as he is campaigning to end the use of "the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" in promoting the Bulldogs-Gators game. I've always kind of liked the Cocktail Party. The idea of partying with your rivals (to some degree) before, during, and after the game is one that's pretty foreign to me as an Ohio State student. Our activities surrounding our rivalry game are generally perceived somewhat negatively.
Note: The members of the class of 2007 are on track to graduate from the Ohio State University without having been tear gassed at any point in their college careers. Just sayin'.
So I'm hoping the Georga-Florida game keeps the same name. I can understand concerns about being viewed as encouraging excessive drinking, but does changing the name really change the fact that people are going to drink too much at the game? I don't really see it happening.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
It wouldn't be fun to see the team drop 3 or 4 games headed into conference play, but if they managed to win all those games, it'd be a heckuva start to the season. Win or lose, it should be exciting.
Also added to the list is Wizard of Odds, which I had read occasionally, but hadn't thought about until Around the Oval mentioned him. Good site.
Finally, Maize n Brew has also been added. It's another in the collection of annoyingly good blogs for the school up north. Jerks.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Burnt Orange Nation
Adjust your reading habits accordingly.
Seriously, though, this seems kind of silly to me. This certainly appears to have something to do with the
Besides, if you ask me (nobody did, I know), there's a place in our little corner of the blogging world for juvenile humor and partisan blogs. The audience for college football blogs is pretty broad: for every person that wants reasoned, unbiased, intelligent analysis, there's another person that wants to hear about how the idiot refs screwed the good guys in that big game against those bastards at Tech. Is it an embarrassment to appeal to the opposite end of the spectrum? Is Howard Stern an embarrassment to NPR, or vice versa? I don't think so.
I don't read B.O.N. or BruinsNation regularly, mostly because I'm not a UT or UCLA fan, and they're skewed to appeal to the fans of those programs. If I was a fan of the Longhorns or Bruins, I certainly would read them regularly, and probably think they were great blogs. As it is, I don't think they're bad, and they certainly aren't an embarrassment to me or, I think, the rest of the college football blogs. HeismanPundit's certainly within his rights to think otherwise, though.
I'll close with the simplest (and therefore probably best) response to HP's comments: If you don't like it, don't read it.
It's true, though, I don't really like the idea of comparing athletes to the ones that came before them, particularly the great ones. When you're among the best to play your game, it means almost by definition that you're different from everyone else. This certainly holds true for LeBron. He's not MJ, he's not Magic or Oscar Robertson or anyone else. He's LeBron, he plays a different style from the rest of the greats. We shouldn't try to evaluate how great he is by how similar he is to Jordan. It's entirely possible that he will eventually be as good as or better than Jordan by playing a different style and acting a different way.
I was talking to a friend earlier about how Danny Ferry should try to assemble the Cavs like the 1996 Chicago Bulls, the team that went 72-10 and won the championship. I said they still needed a Ron Harper, a Steve Kerr, a Dennis Rodman, and so on. It occurred to me that I was doing the same thing Skip did. If LeBron can be great without being like Jordan, couldn't the Cavs be great without being like the Bulls?
So, presuming the Cavs don't get by the Pistons, or the Nets/Heat, or the Spurs/Mavericks (yeah, I'm counting you out, Clippers and Suns), how should the Cavs go about building a better team? I didn't know. The answer was found in a surprising location: a Scoop Jackson piece on Page 2. Well, actually, Scoop just gave me the inspiration, talking about LeBron:
. . . he holds on to things internally to make himself stronger.This reminded me of a quote from The Godfather (the novel): "It was part of the Don's greatness that he profited from everything." Basically, what made Vito Corleone great was not just that he ran his family better than the rest, or that he planned and executed strategies better than the other families, but that he learned from everything, both his successes and failures. So, if LeBron's gonna operate in a similar fashion, why not build his team like Don Corleone built his family?
He remixes Nietzsche.
Every negative experience, every downfall, he turns into a life lesson. Which turns into his personal pursuit. Which turns into his application to basketball. Which leads him to fascinate us in ways we've never seen someone so young be able to do.
Godfather: LeBron James
LeBron James (artist's rendering)
So, we know we'll put LeBron at the heart of the team. He, like Don Corleone, is the foundation of it all, upon which the rest of the team will be built on. Who's next? Well, the Don's second-in-command was the consigliere, his most trusted advisor. The consigliere was someone who was always loyal and reliable, never wanted glory, and knew that he would be successful as long as he helped the Don achieve his goals. In LeBron's case, we're talking about a point guard. LeBron needs a guy who can distribute the ball and make an open three, but a guy who will defer to the big guns on the team, a guy who won't seek the limelight. Guards like this are in short supply in the NBA, but as Ohio State basketball fans, you and I (along with Brent Musberger) know of such a player, one of the most underrated point guards in college basketball: Jamar Butler. He was a solid shooter on a team that shot a lot of threes, and his assist-to-turnover ratio was excellent. So we'll pencil him in:
Consigliere: Jamar Butler
Tom Hagen: Not a shoot-first guard
Vito Corleone organized his family into regimes, headed by two capos, or underbosses. The Don kept one of them, Pete Clemenza, under pretty tight control, because while he was reliable, he wasn't quite good enough to be given free rein. The other one, Sal Tessio, was left to do things pretty much as he pleased, to the point where he was thought for a time to be running a separate family (this all's from the book more so than the movie). In this Cosa Nostra I'm assmbling, the role of Clemenza will be played by Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a good but not great center, while Tessio will be Larry Hughes, the only other guy on the team that could be considered a #1 guy on a team. But if Larry doesn't start playing like he did with the Wizards, things could end poorly for him with the team, though not as poorly as they ended for Tessio.
"Sean, can you get me off the hook? For old times' sake?"
"Can't do it, Larry."
Caporegimes: Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes
The last piece of the puzzle is an enforcer. Don Corleone had Luca Brasi, one of the most feared men in the Mafia. LeBron current has. . . Drew Gooden? That won't do. Luca was the guy the Don would call on when something absolutely had to be done well, and done quietly. You can't count on Drew Gooden to put together a decent game in the playoffs when he's playing for big money in his next contract. LeBron needs someone who's reliable, angry, effective, and a little crazy. I think you know where I'm going with this:
Rasheed pledges his ever-ending loyalty.
Rasheed would do well in this role. He's the second-craziest man in the NBA, and the double teams LeBron would draw off of 'Sheed's screens would free him up for a bunch of mid-range jumpers. Of course, there's no way Rasheed would end up playing for the Cavs, but I can't think of any other really scary power forwards in the NBA, so he gets the spot anyway:
Enforcer: Rasheed Wallace
So there you have it. What's everyone think? Any better ideas, any players or characters I missed? Don't hesitate to let me know.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The rule, enforced by the NFL and created with the encouragement of the American Football Coaches Association in 1990, limits players to one minicamp with his NFL team while school is still in session. Most colleges, which hold commencement by the middle of May, aren't affected because school's out by the second round of minicamps.That's pretty much the problem all OSU students have trying to find summer jobs, except that instead of a summer job flipping burgers or running a cash register, we're talking about making the roster of an NFL team. When I apply for internships or for a job after college, I don't have to worry so much about finishing the school year later than other schools, because anyone that's hiring me is able to wait that extra month, especially since I'll be able to work a month longer than someone from a school that's on semesters. But places needing immediate help for the summer want the help as soon as possible, so it's not uncommon for an OSU student to go home for the summer and find that most of the jobs they would have applied for have been filled.
Not so for colleges on the quarter system that don't hold spring exams until June. No school has more players affected than Ohio State, which had 35 players in the NFL at the start of last season and is sending 14 more to pro camps this year, nine as drafted players and five more as free agents.
While players like first-round picks A.J. Hawk of Green Bay and Santonio Holmes with Pittsburgh may fall a bit behind, the players hurt most by missing 10 to 15 early practices are the free agents hoping to catch a coach's eye.
"Santonio Holmes is going to be a Pittsburgh Steeler no matter what," said agent Jeff Chilcoat. "For guys more on the fringe, you're several weeks behind someone else at that same position. I believe if you have two guys even up, and one guy has an extra three or four weeks in the system, that's an advantage."
The NFL is in the same boat as those businesses. If you're in the front office of an NFL franchise, you need to get the best players you can afford as quickly as possible. You don't have time to wait and see whether a rookie defensive tackle from a school on quarters will end up being better than the rookie from a school on semesters, because by the time you know, it might be too late. So it's a tough situation for the undrafted OSU football players looking to make a team.
But at the same time, these guys need to consider the value of finishing up school and getting that degree. Sure, they could go back later and get their degrees, but will they? I have to think that wrapping up your education while still accustomed to taking classes (and with the university paying for it) is easier than coming back five or ten years after the fact.
Is it worth risking a roster spot to get a degree? Maybe not. But then, if one of these guys ends up out of the league in a few years and looking for a job just like you and me, maybe it is.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I will say, however, that I am fully convinced of the nearly-magical powers of Jim Jackson. I think the Cavs should engineer a Sasha Pavlovic for Jim Jackson trade, throwing in Luke Jackson (and a few spare vertebrae, just in case) if need be. I am entirely willing to put Jim Jackson in my pantheon of somewhat-illogical heroes, along with MacGuyver, Chuck Norris, and Nelville Flynn.
- The U.S. soccer team was announced - The experts say that this is our strongest team ever, possibly good enough to make the semi-finals in the World Cup. I'm looking forward to it. I'm kind of surprised Taylor Twellman didn't make the team, but I'm not gonna question Bruce Arena. The guy pretty clearly knows what he's doing.
- Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell have been feuding - Raja Bell on Kobe: "I have no respect for him. I think he's a pompous, arrogant individual." Um, yeah Raja. Duh. You're allowed to be pompous and arrogant when you're the best in the world at what you do. Two things to keep in mind, Mr. Bell: Kobe's left arm is more talented than you are, and the guy plays better when he's challenged and under pressure. You should probably have kept your mouth shut, Mr. Undrafted Free Agent.
- Lebron: Still Awesome - Remember a month or two ago, when LeBron wasn't clutch? Those were some dark days. But all that's over now. I really think the guy watches ESPN for motivation before practice. "I don't have a jumpshot, huh? We'll see about that." "I don't make my teammates better? Watch me turn Flip Murray into a respectable player." "Oh, I'm not clutch, am I Skip? We'll see about that." The guy's all about constant improvement, bringing his weak points up to par. My logistics professor would be proud.
- Brandon Saine committed to the Bucks - This one was a bit of a surprise, as he was considered a lean to that school up north. But he saw the light in the end. I haven't paid much attention to recruiting for next year so far, so I don't know much about the guy. He's a very fast running back who'll probably end up rated 4 stars, or maybe even 5. That's about the extent of my knowledge about the kid. I expect he'll be used mostly in the return game for the first year or two of his career.
- I found a 2006 penny on the ground - It's the first 2006 penny I've seen. It's very shiny. It was heads up, too. That's good luck.
Like my penny, only older.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
In the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, Ohio State's playing North Carolina. This isn't a must-win game or anything, but still, there will be quite a bit of pressure on these guys, as it's a chance to get a win against a premier program and establish OSU as one of the teams to beat during the season.
I expect Matta to lean pretty heavily on the returning players in this game, and throughout the early part of the season. Jamar Butler and Ron Lewis will be the keys to the early part of the season, I think. Greg Oden will almost certainly start, of course, and I expect Daequan Cook to either start or see significant minutes, but Butler and Lewis will be the ones relied upon to keep this team calm and focused.
There's quite a few similarities between our football and basketball teams now. Both are being talked about as national title contenders. Both have big-name recruits coming in (Oden and Chris Wells). Both will need inexperienced players to produce if they want to live up to the hype. And now, both have big matchups early on that could set the tone for the season. Should be exciting.
Monday, May 01, 2006
- Nine Buckeyes drafted, five in the first round. That's gotta be a good sign to recruits. Only USC had more drafted.
- Whoever was advising Donte Whitner to go pro is a genius. I thought he was a second-rounder when he came out, then I adjusted my projection to late first round. But man, top ten. Lucky him.
- Whoever advised Ashton Youboty to go pro should probably be fired. I'm with Tressel that you should leave if you're a first-rounder. I realize Ashton was a borderline first rounder, but I think he would've been a lock for the first round if he'd stuck around to work on his technique. Oh well, at least he's getting paid now.
- Santonio Holmes made out pretty well, going to Pittsburgh. He gets to be on a great team and play with Hines Ward drawing double teams on the other side of the field. True, he makes less money than he would have made going earlier, but I think not being asked to carry the passing game for a team is worth it.
- I'm surprised Mike Kudla and Josh Huston didn't get drafted. You figure Kudla would be worth a shot, between a solid senior season and tying the bench-press record. And Huston, while not the clear-cut best kicker like Nugent was last year, was at least arguably the best available. I expect both, along with maybe one or two others from the team, will end up in some team's camp. Update: Kudla's a Steeler, Huston's with Chicago, Hamby's at Cincinatti, Marcus Green's a Giant, and Tyler Everett's with the Broncos. Also, former DB E.J. Underwood was signed by the Giants.
- I gotta say the two big winners of the draft were the Bills and the Jets. Sure, some say the Bills managed to reach twice in the first round, but they did get Whitner and Youboty to go along with Nate Clements in the defensive backfield. That's a big upgrade over whoever they had before. And as for the Jets, they ended up with Nick Mangold and Anthony Schlegel, to go along with D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Kellen Clemens, who became the "Pac-10 QB I'm impressed with because I've only seen highlights of him" of the draft. Those guys don't have a good track record in the NFL, but then most of them have been Tedford QB's, a cross Clemens does not have to bear.