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  • 12/04/12--09:39: THE TREES: AN AUBURN FABLE
  • Toomers_awake_medium

    Toomer's Corner. Poisoned, burned, the trees stand in the still cool air of a fall morning.


    [birds, distant sound of cars]







    dreams of fire







    Shug the green!


    Shug The Green: Shhhh. We must move silently, War Treegle. Auburn is in trouble.

    War Treegle: how we were on watch and

    Shug The Green: You fell asleep, stupefied by a powerful spell.

    War Treegle: What wizard accomplished this feat?

    Shug The Green. Chiz-Ik. He spake at press conferences in somnambulisms; it put ye to sleep, and every other ear who heard them slumbered. Then he corrupted the kingdom further. He hired mercenaries whose only loyalty came in gold and looted treasure.

    War Treegle: egads no did he use soldiers

    Shug The Green: Worse. A Trooper. They knew you would wake and come for them, so they staged your assassination at the hands of an Alabama fan. When that failed, they tried to burn you. None of it worked.

    War Treegle: fetch my cane and a Bo Jackson


    war leafle together with bo jackson we must walk


    and cleanse this place

    of the wizard

    and his assistants

    who don't even understand how to properly buy a recruit

    through fifth-root bag men

    and never in american cash--

    but in euros and gift cards

    just like ol shug used to do

    you goddamn amateurs

    war treegle believes in auburn

    and in doing things right

    and never paying full price for a defensive tackle

    because bargains and auburn are two values that never die


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    Arkansas has now hired Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to coach their football team. That is as weird as it sounds in every respect: an SEC school grabbing a Big Ten coach with no experience in the conference relatively late in the hiring process just days after his team won a surprising Big Ten championship in an otherwise down year for their program. Prior to today, Bielema had not appeared in rumors surrounding the Arkansas coaching search, and he has no historical ties to the Razorbacks' football program.

    There is plenty of sense to be found here. Bielema has a 68-24 record as a head coach at Wisconsin, shared one Big Ten title in his tenure, and did what great Big Ten coaches traditionally do: lose multiple Rose Bowls. He ran a clean program, did a pretty good job keeping the small pool of talent native to Wisconsin in state, and once coached a team that scored 83 points on Indiana. Historically, he stands behind only Barry Alvarez--his predecessor--in terms of wins in Madison.

    Wisconsin fans react || Arkansas fans react

    He also picked up his wife at a blackjack table. There truly is a lot to admire about what he has accomplished, not only at Wisconsin, but also as a human.

    The situation in Arkansas is not totally dissimilar to what Bielema faced at Wisconsin. Arkansas does have a smaller population than Wisconsin, but generates a disproportionate amount of talent while boasting glossier facilities and better proximity to the motherlodes of college football talent: Texas and Florida. Bielema's predilections are SEC-compatible from the start: he favors a big power run game paired with beefy defensive lines on the other side of the ball, something that should warm the heart of every Arkansas fan who hated Houston Nutt, but didn't mind the pounding ground attack of his offenses.

    Those are all the positives, and now for the bad news. Bret Bielema never dazzled in recruiting during his tenure. He has no SEC experience, and that might matter as he settles into the viper's nest of the SEC West and its skullduggerous recruiting ecosystem. Remember that it was Bielema who openly complained about Urban Meyer's aggressive recruiting tactics when Meyer came to the Big Ten; now he enters a conference where every recruit left unattended for one second is fair game for opposing coaches.

    Bielema also might suffer from being a fish out of water, or at least lacking an immediate understanding of the unique political landscape he'll occupy as Arkansas head coach. This is the same athletic program that jettisoned the winningest head basketball coach in the history of their program, had their head football coach's cellphone records subjected to a FOIA request from intrepid fans, and then lost Bobby Petrino overnight when a motorcycle wreck unraveled his personal and professional life. There have been long periods of productive stability at Arkansas, but Bielema has to know what he doesn't know--i.e. that the roof can cave in fast at Arkansas, and in spectacular fashion.

    Oh, and he'll be playing a much tougher schedule than he did at Wisconsin, will face Les Miles and Nick Saban every year for the foreseeable future, and has no idea how nice and reasonable Badgers fans will seem in comparison to the deranged embrace of hardcore Razorbacks fans.

    Have you met Hogville, Bret Bielema? Oh, you're about to, whether you like it or not, and you'll be paid handsomely for the privilege.

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  • 12/05/12--03:49: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/5/2012
  • 134230390

    BERT BURLAMA. The first thing we thought this morning was not "Holy shit, Bret Bielema is the coach at Arkanasas." (That was something like, "Daylight Savings Time is some bulllllllllshit.") But it was something like the fourth thing we thought this morning, since seriously, Bret Bielema--a coach who went 16-18 against the non-leprous segment of the Big Ten--is now the coach at Arkansas.

    It's a financial windfall for Fake Bielema, of course. (Aka "dude named Evan who really does sort of look like Bielema. Thanks, Joel K.)

    gif maker

    One factor that may have contributed to the move: pressure after losing five games this year, something Bielema reportedly did not enjoy. This will, of course, not be a problem at Arkansas, where they once fired a coach overnight after losing to Jacksonville State. The bowl game coaching situation is an intriguing one, since current AD and former head coach Barry Alvarez might be the one doing the honors, thus fully starting the Bill Snyder Remix tour rumors in Madison before you even really knew they were possible.

    GUSTAV MAKES HIS MAGNIFICENT RETURN. Malzahn to Auburn is...well, it's kind of awesome, actually, since even though we're honor bound to despise the shammockery of an institution that is Auburn to our very bones, it is never bad to have an innovative, aggressive, and torpedos-damning young coach in a conference prone towards dull game management and risk-aversion. (See the Alabama Life Insurance Company and Industrial Concern, Tuscaloosa Division.)

    His reception, as with all events in Auburn, became official with the announcement on the Krystal marquee, and he is reportedly interested in Ellis Johnson as defensive coordinator. He's free. Trust us: he's very, very free right now. Ooh! And Kristi Malzahn is back in the SEC, which is clearly where she has always belonged. We love you, Kristi Malzahn. You truly are every batshit crazy adorable church lady we grew up with, and sort of wanted to make out with before we knew what sex really was.

    CONGRATULATIONS ON HIRING HITLER. Arkansas State fans are taking this well.

    AND A HAT SHALL LEAD YOU. This time that hypothetical hat is Larry Fedora, who interviewed with Tennessee in NYC yesterday, joining Charlie Strong and Mike Gundy as the final three. This means Larry Fedora will be the coach at Tennessee if we're making wagers, since a.) it feels like Gundy's just fishing for a raise after spending his whole career at Oklahoma State, and b.) Charlie Strong might be interested, but Louisville might very well make a real run at keeping him. Strong really does feel some loyalty towards them after the Cards gave him a job after A DECADE OF PEOPLE BASICALLY NOT HIRING HIM BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK. This actually happened, so get money, Charlie, and you'll be fine, Tennessee, since Larry Fedora is a really good coach who likes to score points and hit stuff.

    MAN TAKES THE CHALLENGE OF AN INVISIBLE JOB. Former Ohio State assistant and Kent State coach Darrell Hazel will be taking on the ultimate challenge: coaching football in the mind, because this "Purdue" does not exist. He and Malzahn

    GIGGITY! Giggity.

    DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE. Would you like to download Italian coach 2.0? Click YES.

    JERRY MOORE GOT SCREWED. It's a bit harsher in the SoCon than we remembered.


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  • 12/06/12--06:27: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/6/2012
  • Screen_shot_2012-12-06_at_9

    BARRY-APPROVED. First, cheers to Barry Switzer this morning. You can say this any morning, but shit, why not?


    These quotes are deeply unsourced, but if we're talking about Barry Switzer, it really doesn't matter. Re: Bret Bielema.

    The first thing I heard today was that he grew up on a pig farm. That's quite a start in my book. And my last memory was watching him hang 70 on Nebraska. Just those two facts are enough. Then, I hear that he's out of the Hayden Fry-Bill Snyder-Barry Alvarez coaching tree. Oh, that's enough for me to like a lot. Then, I hear he's got a 27-year-old wife. Okay, we can stop. I like him.

    You'll read this in Barry Switzer's voice, which will become George W. Bush's voice, and that's fine because they're really, really close to being the same. This happened, and was strange.


    CHARLIE STRONG IS OUR HERO. Charlie Strong did turn down the Vols, leading to "turns down Tennessee" being the leading Twitter search term last night for a brief hilarious moment. Tennessee now has to chase Larry Fedora with their pants down and weeping, or else fall into the trap of the midnight coaching booty call. That booty call. Oh yeah, girl. You know you'll hit those digits.

    PER RIVALS.COM: "HURR OF COURSE BERKLEY WOULD HIRE SOMEONE WITH THAT LAST NAME HURRR."Now that we've pre-empted the horrendous joke someone will make on a Rivals message board, Cal did hire Sonny Dykes, who with something like $500 and happy thoughts got Louisiana Tech into the national spotlight. No word on if he takes Tony Franklin with him, but if he does Franklin's growing his hair long, buying a weed dispensary, and then selling a detailed business plan to others interested in doing the same.

    IMPORTANT MARKER GAME. Gus Malzahn knows what's important: markers. (via)

    GET YOUR Y-CROSS GAME STRAIGHT. One of college football's most magnificent pass plays illustrated by the master himself, Captain Combover, Hal Mumme.

    ETC: Taste the rainbow, bitch.

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  • 12/06/12--08:26: E-FRESH SAYS GO CANES
  • 032


    Love in South Florida is a special thing with a thousand different levels of ardor, but at the top of all of them in the pyramid in devotion is "putting something on your car hood. E-Fresh has never been to a Hurricanes game, and cannot name more than five Hurricanes players ever or their positions, but he did paint his entire car orange and green. That is how you know he's a real Miami fan, and also how you know he is inestimably wealthy and virile, ladies.

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    1. Residence in Knoxville, the Akron of the Smokies.

    2. Orange matches traffic cones stuck in your truck grill.

    3. Jonathan Crompton will make you pancakes. It will be at 3 a.m., and he will not be invited, but hey -- pancakes!

    4. Is a great stepping stone to the USC job.

    5. Smokey fetches slippers. (Warning: no guarantees of bringing slippers to you, or anyone. But he will get them.)

    6. Proximity to Nashville ensures no shortage of fame-seeking youths with flat-ironed hair.

    7. Comes bundled with Amazon Prime membership. (Congratulations, Amazon Prime Member: you are already the head coach at Tennessee.)

    8. Is not the Colorado job.

    9. Hunting deer from stadium lights: TOTALLY cool.

    10. You currently have as many lifetime wins against ranked teams as your predecessor.

    11. Proximity to Oak Ridge Nuclear Facility heightens probability of superpowers via radiation exposure.

    12. Three awkward minutes of conversation with Peyton Manning annually.

    13. Free access to Andrew Jackson's Presidential papers, a single sheet of paper housed at the University of Tennessee libraries bearing the words "KILL" written in the blood of a slain foe on a shred of deerskin.

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    Butch Jones was Tennessee's fourth choice--at best, fourth--for its position of head football coach. Jones is a Big East coach with no SEC coaching experience whose most ignominious loss at Cincinnati came to the man Tennessee just fired: Derek Dooley, who coached the Vols in a 45-23 defeat of the Bearcats on September 10, 2011.

    That is correct: Tennessee just hired a man who has not beaten a single ranked team.

    Butch Jones has no victories versus ranked teams in his career, and yes, did lose to Derek Dooley. This is largely a matter of Jones coaching the Cincinnati Bearcats, a Big East team lodged in a conference whose only ranked teams have a habit of fleeing to other conferences. in the meantime, after a 4-8 first season in Cincinnati, Jones won 19 of his final 25 games and won two split conference titles. Yes, you can still split the conference title in the Big East, because they really would like to have a title game, but no one stays long enough to make a championship game feasible. Jones made the best of a bad situation, just as he did at Central Michigan, where he won 27 games in three years and won two conference titles.

    Jones currently has a one-game win streak versus Vandy, and a bowl win in that same game. Derek Dooley had and has neither.

    Butch Jones is also a failure of a hire in another sense: recruiting. Jones has never recruited in the SEC, a must for any coach coming into the SEC snakepit. Tennessee, more than any other SEC school, requires a coach who understands the layout of the talent pools, and how to access them from the difficult, contested geographical position of Rocky Top. Tennessee recruiting has sunk--particularly on defense--over the last few years, and there is no indication Butch Jones is capable of righting it.

    Sane Vols fans react || Giving every coaching hire the Tennessee fan treatment

    A quick look at Cincinnati's roster shows that if any coach has an understanding of Tennessee's diversified recruiting needs, it is Jones. He recruited Florida and Georgia well, and excelled at finding and successfully recruiting talent from out-of-state, something Tennessee has always had to do thanks to its small talent base and location. His starting quarterback was from New Orleans, and his leading playmaker, Ralph David Abernathy IV, was from Atlanta. Jones also did a nice job keeping the local talent around him, that same talent that more often than not was pursued by Ohio State. He also developed that far-flung talent, another failing of Dooley's throughout his tenure.

    Jones will surely be adequate, but is that what Tennessee is really after here? Tennessee fans craved a winner, a splashy hire, a real proven champion and program-builder like Jon Gruden, Charlie Strong, Larry Fedora or even Mike Gundy. Rather than landing any of these, Dave Hart dragged the Tennessee fan base through an embarrassment of rejections before finally pulling a coach who simply could not say no. Tennessee deserved better. Tennessee fans deserved better.

    No, no you didn't. The Tennessee fan base deserved a coaching search executed with effort, honesty, and with an eye toward actually hiring someone who could do the difficult job of coaching the Volunteers football team. That person, contrary to all reports, was never Gruden, who was at most offered the job by boosters before the AD could react, and then scuttled when it became clear that half the people involved in Tennessee football are barking, tree-licking insane people.

    Then the university pursued three very difficult targets because when you have ambition, you aim at targets you might not hit. Charlie Strong was staying at Louisville from the jump because after two decades of being an assistant, the Cardinals gave him a shot, and Strong is legitimately attached on both an emotional and financial level to the university and the team. Mike Gundy is another excellent choice, but is a lifetime Oklahoma State alum and coach, and might have been angling for a well-deserved raise the whole time. Larry Fedora has been at UNC one year, and leaving after one year gets you a Kiffin/Graham mercenary tag.

    Butch Jones is a good coach who said yes, and was looking to take a better and better-paying job. If you have a problem with this, you have a problem with America, commie. Butch Jones has a better record coming in than his predecessor, has actually been a successful coach at the FBS level, can recruit, prefers a run-first offense, and unlike anyone interviewed ACTUALLY WANTS TO BE IN KNOXVILLE COACHING THIS FOOTBALL TEAM.

    No, he's not Jon Gruden, but you know what he is? Real, talented, and currently employed by the University of Tennessee, where he will not flirt with an NFL job, not lose to Kentucky and Vandy on the regular, and will not care about the lunatic fringe of the Tennessee fan base currently holing up in the hills with delusions of grandeur that they are Tuscaloosa-by-the-Tennessee-River. Right now you are a program that lost to Vanderbilt and Missouri in 2012.

    Start there, and work your way out of the woods one game at a time. Start with someone like, say, Butch Jones, the new head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.

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    It is Jack Cristil's birthday today, and for no other reason you could admire the retired Miss State announcer for this: he has survived watching more bad football than you can possibly imagine. How much bad football? Oh, there's a number: 359 Mississippi State losses spread from September 1953 to February 2011 when he retired, more losses than Bear Bryant has wins, and the only real measure we have of a human being's capacity to absorb spectated defeat.

    Literally, he is the test subject for a human's tolerance for defeat. How much losing football can one man watch? Jack Cristil bravely and unknowingly climbed into that test pilot's suit in 1953, and gave us the only answer we have: a man can watch 359 losses without dying, going insane, or ripping his eyeballs from his head. Warning: we may have a confounding variable in the amount of cigarettes smoked, a normally unhealthy factor that may counter season after season of Mississippi State football. Are you hearing this as "I should smoke and it's good for me as long as I watch Mississippi State football?" Yes. This is exactly what we are saying, because: science.

    P.S. Happy birthday, Jack Cristil.

    P.P.S. Don't smoke. It's worse for you than watching sixty years of football, and watching sixty years of football is really, really bad for you.

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    With obvious hat tips to great internet concepts of yore.

    You probably need a coach because per a study from the American Bureau of Laser Statistics, every year 100% of coaches are fired. This includes yours, math guy, and that means one answer to your problem and one only.


    Jim Caldwell is from Beloit, Wisconsin, aka "the gateway to Wisconsin." Jim Caldwell used to stand there as a child in Beloit and tell people, "HELL NO, WE'RE FULL, GTFO." No one listened, but Jim Caldwell created and honed his trademark JIM CALDWELL STANKFACE there. There is no actual gateway into Wisconsin. Please, never, ever tell Jim this. It would break his heart.

    Emotion one of Jim Caldwell's bottomless repertoire: I HAVE JUST SEEN MY ENTIRE FAMILY KILLED BY BARBARIANS ON PIGBACK.


    "I'm disappointed to have seen that."

    Jim Caldwell then attended the University of Iowa, where he studied gridiron under Professor Hayden Fry. Fry described him as "a player for us in the 1970s," but said this while wearing white pants and wearing a mustache. Then Caldwell became an assistant coach and performed well enough to earn the profession's highest honor involving Wake Forest: THE MOTHERFUCKIN' HEAD COACHING POSITION AT WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY.



    This pinnacle of my profession has me electrified at the opportunities. Let's show some enthusiasm and try to bring this one home for the fans.

    Jim Caldwell won TWENTY-SIX GAMES at Wake Forest. That's as almost many as he won in the NFL. All Jim Caldwell does at every level is win somewhere between 26 and 28 games of football. Very few things in life are guarantees, but Jim Caldwell promise: you get him, and you will get more wins than that clownass sack of sad squash blossoms Jim Grobe ever had at Wake Fonest.*

    *Wake Fonest is a private school in North Carolina in Jim Caldwell's imagination. HE CONTAINS WHOLE ALTERNATE REALITIES, LIKE ONE WHERE HE TELLS YOU THOSE TWENTY-SIX GAMES CAME OVER EIGHT YEARS BECAUSE WHISKEY AND JIM CALDWELL FOOTBALL TAKE THEIR TIME TO MATURE. Jim Caldwell is in a barrel right now. Maybe not by his choice, but he's definitely in one, aging his ass off thinking about you, hater.

    Jim Grobe has also never had an NFL head coach come from his ranks of assistants, because the real ninja knows the student of today is the threat of the future.

    Jim Caldwell beat the devil out of Arizona State 23-3 in the Aloha Bowl in 1999 because HE HATES THE FINGERS OF THE DEVIL CALLED SUCCULENT PLANTS OF THE DESERT AND PEPPERY FOOD because Jim Caldwell HAS IBS LIKE A BOSS and also THAT TIME HE GRABBED A CACTUS AS A CHILD.

    Then he grew too big for sleepy North Carolina and threw himself into the crucible that turns men into gods: TAMPA BAY. Caldwell coached the shit out of Brad Johnson in Tampa Bay, teaching him to checkdown because that and insurance in Blackjack are the betting man's two best friends.

    THEN JIM CALDWELL TAUGHT PEYTON MANNING'S DUMB LOUISIANA ASS TO PLAY QUARTERBACK. Show us what that felt like combined with the time you saw the sunrise over the Grand Canyon, illuminating all of the start, brilliant beauty of the desert in a manner that taught you how to personally transcend your own selfish fear of death and impermanence? Also, you were on cocaine, and it was great?


    "I liked it a lot. It is an experience I will remember for several days."

    When the BITCHASS COLTS decided they'd had enough of excellence, they gave ol' Jim his walking papers, but 2-14 sometimes has to happen by design because HUMBLE AIN'T FREE. He is now rocking the balls off the Baltimore Ravens offense because John Harbaugh finally saw the light and told Cam Cameron to MOVE OVER, MAYO JIM IS IN TOWN, AND THIS SANDWICH NEEDS SOMETHING SPECIAL but definitely not anything crazy like THAT CRAZY SPICY LIE THAT IS MIRACLE WHIP.


    Free resume if you like winning, dumbass:


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    Bobby Petrino is a risk-free investment for Western Kentucky, and that's a great thing for them, since they did hire him as their football coach on Monday and will likely have to deal with him for at least a year or so before he moves on to another job.

    A year is a long time, and long enough for some very strange thing to happen. Things like this include Petrino having to live up to the standard set by Willie Taggart, who did manage the sorcery of going 7-5 at Western Kentucky, a tiny program out of the Sun Belt with almost zero recruiting base and little in the way of facilities. Those potential strange things also include Petrino not doing as well as imagined at WKU, something any coach stands just a few key injuries and bad strokes of luck from doing.

    Amused sports fans: Arkansas fans react || Louisville fans react

    Weirdest of all, Petrino may come close to some small degree of redemption in the eyes of the college football universe. It sounds insane now, yes, but a year is a very, very long time.

    Petrino should in the end be successful as a head coach at Western Kentucky. He has a good amount of Sun Belt-level talent and better at his disposal. He has a Sun Belt schedule with two of the SEC's more beatable teams, Kentucky and Tennessee, on the docket. He can get a small, tidy success story on his resume, and then try slowly edging up a level to a BCS conference job in need of fast wins and abundant, well-schemed points.

    Then, if this all happens, Petrino will get hired again by an FBS program. Barring utter disaster, coaches usually do, even if they have sex with an assistant, crash a motorcycle, and lie badly about it to their bosses.

    It would be delightful to take his reptilian personality, personal treacheries, mercenary tendencies, and utter inability to tolerate success without tripping over his own member and brand him a failure. He may be in many senses of the word a failure. But Petrino is also talented, and talent is rare enough to excuse almost any failure--particularly when it involves football, the South, and people capable of winning 10 games a year.

    At the very least, it is an opportunity for Petrino to innovate on failure. He's already taken NFL flameout and sex scandal, so the third act could contain something truly novel. Then again, he has always been an innovator.

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  • 12/10/12--13:16: BOBBY PETRINO'S THIRD ACT
  • Gyi0062350838

    The third act of the Petrino saga is really worth waiting for, since the escalation can't bring anything but marvel and wonder when it happens. Consider that which we do not have to make up in the least:

    • That Petrino soured his relationships at Louisville in a private jet flirtation with Auburn. That same very poorly kept secret started a booster revolt at Auburn, and permanently curtailed the power of booster Bobby Lowder, and looked even worse when Auburn went undefeated under Tuberville the following season.
    • Left Louisville in the hands of Krag1N1, and then left for the Falcons only to abandon them--quite literally overnight--for the Arkansas job.
    • Left Arkansas because that thing happened with the motorcycle and the tall lady and the boning and then the lying.

    Those bullets were supposed to be fake, fun hypotheticals about the depths to which Bobby Petrino could theoretically sink to in his third act, but after reviewing these, we ask: what could exceed the unreal fiction of what has already happened? The answer: only that produced by the capering vagabond sleaze fable author and football coach Bobby Petrino. Expect the exotic animal trade, insurance fraud, and fake recruits created solely for the purpose of trafficking burned CIA informants from Cuba to WKU.

    At this point, we're to the point of cheering him on like a Depression-era bank robber. We can do nothing to dull his powers, nor sway those intoxicated by him, so for maximum personal benefit we have to hope he continues to climb higher, fall farther, and yet somehow still survive the forty foot tall from the top of his own ego. Did ya hear the news about Primate Petrino gorillatizing another farmer's credit union in Topeka! Gave twenty grand to a widow and kissed her right on the smacker! Why, the G-men neva saw so much as his tail lights by the time they got there, ya see?

    Speaking of exceeding fiction's humble imagination: of course the letter Bret Bielema wrote to Jeff Long when he fired Petrino is public thanks to someone FOIA'ing it. OF COURSE IT IS.

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    The Johnny Pizza, available from Hungry Howie's in College Station. Notre Dame fans may order bitterly and flip onto their roof like so many angry Walter Whites. On another note: if there is a Man-Chai Tea-o at a local South Bend coffee shop, you cannot complain, ever, Notre Dame fan.

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    TODD FUCKIN' MONKEN. Southern Miss now has a coach, and that coach is fuck. Or Todd Monken, who may be lost under the pile of filth and expletives he uses to bring excellence to your football program. It would be a shame to lose his talent under all that, or his real, family-friendly quotability, but know this: he's coming for Conference-USA, and it's not going to be politely.


    ALL HAIL THE SEC. The SEC Championship Game was the highest rated football game in all of college footballtelevision, with Alabama appearing in three of the top four slots overall. The other was Notre Dame/USC, i.e. the play-in game for the national title for Notre Dame, so everyone gets to make the argument they like: the SEC dominated ratings, or perhaps it was just all those Notre Dame fans scouting the opposition.*

    *This assumes Notre Dame fans watch any other football games, which is false.

    JOHNNY PIZZA. Our most scrumptious Heisman candidate ever probably remains Ron Dayne--so well-marbled!--but the Johnny Manziel pizza will have to do for now, even if it is made with the fake corpse-cheese Hungry Howie's uses on their pizzas.

    TEE MARTIN WILL NOT BE RETURNING HOME. Because sometimes Mama calls, but you've got this really awesome job in L.A., and also because as an adult living in Tennessee when you could be living in Los Angeles is just not good for anyone. In lighter homecoming news, Neal Brown is returning to Kentucky, and Jared Lorenzen is lobbying openly for a job with them.

    LE SHADOW DE ALVAREZ. Maybe Bret just needed a solo project, right?

    THE MIGHTY BUFFALO APPROVES. A cautious optimism settles in over Colorado like a gentle morning fog rolling down from...well, just about anywhere in the state, really.

    IS IT A JOB? Then yes, Houston Nutt is very interested in said job, even if it is at FIU where they just fired a really good coach after one bad year.

    ETC. My god, one day we will do karaoke with Yoko Ono and watch with glee as she empties the place in minutes. The United States Army's chemical weapons program was the best party ever, and had a real experiment called "Project DORK." Get on that twerk team, girl.

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    This being the practice offseason, let's go ahead and follow Twitter's lead and begin ranking every single mascot in terms of edibility. This goes all the way down to the least edible, and counts up twenty or so slots into the cannibal category. We do rank humans as being edible, but only as a near last resort, and even then grade by hypothetical quality. Yes, we would rather eat a rocket than a yellow jacket.

    104. Navy Midshipman. Perfectly tasty, but the experience is ruined by the crushing sense of betrayal to one's country.

    105. West Virginia Mountaineer. Do you like your meat with a faint tinge of tobacco product and recently consumed bear meat? Now if you said yes, would that also be worth a prion disease? You better, because you already have one.

    106. UCF Knight. An Orlando hobo wrapped in putt-putt grass and old Penny Hardaway jerseys. Roasted and served family-style for $78.00 at Downtown Disney.

    107. San Jose State Spartans. The superior Spartan, mostly because they only shop at Whole Foods and shit.

    108. Wyoming Cowboy. Comes in a simple tin, labeled only "FOOTBALL/MEAT." Is it one? The other? Neither? Death in the wilderness will render all these questions irrelevant, friend.

    109. Michigan State Spartans. Fed diet of Faygo and raised inside Soviet-designed pens in Canada. Happy animals make happy meat, and this is not happy meat.

    110. Rutgers Scarlet Knight. Chemical-laden meat loaded with toxins. Difficult to remove carapace. Carapace contains panini press and David Guetta CD.

    111. Wake Forest Demon Deacon. Has an almost subtle poultry taste, but is known as "Montezuma's Revenge Of The North" for a reason.

    112. Texas Tech Red Raider. Difficult to slaughter, but will save you the trouble by cutting its own head off several times a decade.

    113. UNC Tar Heels. Better in smokeable form. Subject to recall by government authorities every few years.

    114. UNLV Rebel. Lifetime of alcohol brining makes the unpalatable semi-edible. Is never served in bowls.

    115. Ole Miss Rebel. Better suited for sausage production. Wrap in casing of Vineyard Vines shirts and season with the LIberty Bowl for four years.

    116. MTSU Blue Raiders. A collection of quarterbacks personally drowned by Al Davis. None of them have been properly preserved or seasoned.

    117. San Diego Aztec. Meat reeks of corn. NOT HARD PALEO, BRO.

    118. Virginia Cavalier. It's not a well-marbled steak if it's just fat and bone.

    119. Indiana Hoosier. Greasy. Belligerently bland. Goes bad at the first cold snap.

    120. Tennessee Volunteer. Long-pig rankings bottom out with the skoal-infused, flabby, anger-tinged human-steak of the Smokies.

    121. Tulsa Golden Hurricane. The "golden" might add a hint of Cinnamon Toast Crunch to the proceedings, so it gets a spot higher than ISU's maelstrom for edibility.

    122. Iowa State Cyclone. We interpret this as a storm, and tropical storms probably taste like salt, spilled industrial fuel, and dead fish. [YOUR MOTHER JOKE GOES HERE]

    123. Toledo Rocket. Technically inedible. If you ate the whole thing, you might luck out and eat an MRE or some astronaut ice cream, but be honest: it wasn't that good to begin with, and certainly not worth eating three stages of a Saturn V.

    124. Yellow Jacket. Categorically the worst-tasting mascot due to two factors: its stinger, which does hurt in the mouth like five hundred burning suns swallowed with a shot of tequila, and two, its actual foul taste. We know this from hard experience, having eaten one that flew with exquisite timing and landed between our clenching jaws and a peanut butter sandwich when we were nine. They taste awful, and you're lucky if your throat doesn't swell shut from the sting. THE WORST.

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    Say, Barry. How about you gimme a clue about who can coach the Rose Bowl now that our pig farmer protege has decided to live with the swine?


    Well, he's gonna have to have experience. Familiarity with the program. Most importantly, he's gonna have be handsome enough to blow the panties off a hot nun at forty yards. Know anyone like that, Barry?


    Sounds like Barry, Barry. How about we give you a net bump of $118,000 for one game's work? That tickling the ivories a little, piano man?


    I'm playing Rhapsody in Blue over here. I'm glad we had this conversation. Have I ever told you that you're the best looking man I know, Barry?


    Well, this is my good side.


    You bitch.

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    For one reason or another, we seek to subject both ourselves and you, the listener, to doing 35 podcasts for 35 bowls again. Why? In the words of ultramarathoner Jack Denness, when asked why he once ran not only the full length of the Badwater once, but then ran back and did it again in reverse?

    [pointed to temple with finger, made screwball motion] [laughed]

    That's what Denness said to me at least, but here's our answer: fuck us, that's why. This weekend's games number only two, and that seems to be a doable task even for perpetual procrastinators like ourselves and Aunt Stabby. As always, we promise to keep them to around five minutes or so for sanity's sake, and also because very few people besides John Hodgman and Barry Switzer have anything interesting to say after five minutes.

    You may also download it here for further enjoyment. This game does have two very entertaining offenses and two very bad defenses playing in it, but does not have Bob Davie. He was the most interesting result in the photo tool that we had rights to that did not involve Gene Chizik's terrifying toothless mouth. You are welcome, and the game is tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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    Get the hell out of Gary Andersen's way, because he's headed to Boise, the severely underrated town on the high plains of Idaho hosting the second of Saturday's games (4:30 ET on ESPN) to kick off BOWLMAGEDDON in earnest. Like its neglected counterpart the New Mexico Bowl, this game features two very entertaining teams who will spend the majority of the time running past the man with the ball. This makes for a horrendously stressful experience for the invested fan, and should have you clapping and rolling around on the floor like a plastered walrus.

    Listen here:

    You may also download the whole thing here if you like a more portable form of insanity. WE'RE ALL GOING GO-CARTING IN BOISE.

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    First, you should watch this, and realize how little English you actually know.

    Second, you should congratulate ESPN on making its second-best rivalry commercial ever, falling just behind the aforementioned Iron Bowl rivalry's darkest and funniest variation. (With a possible honorable mention for this, and Roll Tide.)

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    In order to protect the shield, we must prevent the horror that has enveloped the NFL's postseason and damaged the brand: mediocre teams getting to the NFL brand's crown jewel, the Super Bowl. Fortunately, there is already a solution to the plague of 9-7 teams -- mostly the New York Giants -- defacing the shield with their mediocrity. The shield: it must be defended.*

    *Adult men actually use this phrase seriously. They exist, and are real.

    That solution is obvious: a NFL bowl system. No more will your team have to endure the travesty of a 13-3 season ruined because your kicker cannot make a simple 30-yard field goal, or because your franchise quarterback picked the worst day imaginable to throw four interceptions to a hapless 7-9 team's secondary. The regular season, a marginally important series of play-in games now, will carry real significance. The postseason, now more arbitrary and frustrating than ever, will spark debate and anger for decades to come.

    Skip Bayless will have so many things to talk about now! Oh, you're already so welcome, America.

    A few ground rules to remind our NFL brethren of:

    • We're freezing records for picking purposes as they stand right now.
    • One bowl and one bowl is currently loyal to matching up the two best teams: the BCS Title game. This call is made based on rankings, which the NFL does not have. In lieu of this, we will use the two teams with the best records and, if necessary, the best strength of schedule relative to that record. If this fails or there is a tie, we will simply pick the teams we think will get the best ratings and ticket sales.
    • The rest of the bowls will be decided on attendance and likely ratings based on regional pull.
    • College football really ends their season like this every year. They also do not pay their players, which hey Jerry Richardson, seriously, IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE $$$$$$$$$$$.
    • We also will only use about half of the available teams and a quarter of the available bowl games. This is a matter of math: to play in a bowl game, you have to have a .500 record barring a loss in a conference championship game. There are 16 teams in the NFL with a .500 record or better, and those teams have to play each other in eight select bowl games.

    What if college football had a 16-team playoff?

    OUTBACK BOWL: The former Hall of Fame Bowl just barely makes the cut of cuts thanks to its generous payout -- remember you get money from bowls for attending -- and because it was once advertised in the area with enormous billboards bearing Sam Wyche's face. That last part has no statistical weight, but it still haunts my dreams, so deal with it.

    The Outback selects the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) and the New York Giants (8-6) based strictly on attendance potential thanks to half of Tampa Bay's population coming from these two metropolitan areas. The other half's origins are a mystery, as they have neither federal ID, nor came to the door when the census men came because things outside of the house are scary and people sometimes investigate workers' comp claims and you won't like the results.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: You get a $150 Outback Steakhouse gift card.

    CAPITAL ONE BOWL. The surprisingly flush-with-cash Cap One bowl is set in Orlando, a city of theme parks, parking lots and scrub pine littered with newly homeless realtors. The overheated mayonnaise colada of American cities demands two fan bases who would consider Orlando to be "The tropics," and who would gladly vacuum up the experience like human Dysons cleaning every last crumb of processed experience from the Citrus Bowl's bland, vanilla rug crammed with existential Chex mix.

    I don't know what that means either, but it adds up to the Capital One Bowl selecting Minnesota (8-6) and Indianapolis (9-5). Indy fans are the ones complaining about the spicy chicken fingers at the concession stand (they have no salt or pepper in them.) Minnesota fans are the ones quietly being thrown out of the park after a drunken family brawl at the bar in Epcot's Mexico pavilion. Tequila and sublimated Nordic hatreds are never, ever a good mix.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: A shopping spree at Best Buy, because nothing says "Orlando" quite like "Buy anything you want at this half-abandoned big box retail store."

    COTTON BOWL: HOOOWEEEE like Jerry Jones is letting a chance to snag his Cowboys for an extra home game here regardless of record. Jerrah also won't bypass the chance to grab a classic NFL franchise he deems beatable, so to maximize pointlessness, they'll also grab the Redskins here because nothing would be more pointless or appropriate than the Cowboys and Redskins playing yet another game, and doing so for a.) nothing and b.) at great cost to the viewer.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: An iPad, reportedly. You are now in debt to Snyder Enterprises, Inc. for the full assessed value of the iPad, which according to Snyder Enterprises, Inc's books is $4,300. Daily interest will apply. Thank you and enjoy the Cotton Bowl.

    ORANGE BOWL: One case where the bowl game with NFL teams will make so much more sense than the college alignment. The Orange Bowl has been a cursed blight of ACC and Big East train wreckage for a decade now, but picking along those lines here gives you some genuinely good and hard-traveling NFL teams to put in the pristine, little-used seats of the SunLife Stadium's upper reaches.

    If you're being playful and sort of following the usual alignments for the Orange, then you can very clearly take teams roughly corresponding to the Big East and the ACC. This gets you a steal with the New England Patriots (10-4) vs. the Baltimore Ravens (9-5) hitting South Beach. All the angry adult men in jerseys fighting over not getting into the club on South Beach? ALL THE ANGRY ADULT MEN IN JERSEYS FIGHTING OVER NOT GETTING INTO THE CLUB ON SOUTH BEACH.

    Bonus: Ed Reed, former Miami Hurricane, will totally be out on a porch playing dominoes on Calle Ocho like it's nothing after this game. And if you throw down a hundred on the table and bone up, so can you.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: A Tourneau watch, most likely lost in the aforementioned dominoes game around 5 a.m.

    SUGAR BOWL: Remember, this is not about skill, or matchups. This is about roughly satisfying some kind of existing tie-in while balancing your TV ratings and maybe -- just maybe -- selling some tickets. Thus do the Denver Broncos (11-3), the pride of the Rockies, end up in New Orleans versus the Cincinnati Bengals (8-6). Matchup? An atrocity in the making, most likely, just like most every SEC vs. Big East matchup in the real Sugar Bowl, but it will sell tickets thanks to the pull of homeboy Peyton Manning and the unblinking desire of Cincinnati residents to go somewhere, anywhere at all but home in the month of January.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: A "gift suite," a New Orleans term for a sack full of live exotic animals freshly taken from NOLA airport customs.

    FIESTA BOWL: The bowl that's still sort of in trouble with the other bowls for openly bribing Arizona officials and nearly capsizing the entire system doesn't get many choices, and that's why they get the Seattle Seahawks (9-5) and Chicago Bears (8-6) whether they like it or not. Pete Carroll in a bowl game, for NFL fans unaccustomed to the phenomenon, is like Pete Carroll injecting pure Pete Carroll directly into the jugular vein, and then calling a bowl game. It's basically Crank 5 in football form, and you're going to die.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: Another gift suite, which in the past from the Fiesta Bowl have just been sacks of cash and autographed pictures of Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

    ROSE BOWL: The Grandaddy of them All selects the San Francisco 49ers (10-3) vs. Green Bay Packers (10-4). Not only does the game trace the Big Ten/Pac-12 roots of the Rose Bowl in picking a great Midwestern/West Coast matchup, it also ensures maximum ratings by matching two offenses capable of paying respects to the recently deceased WAC. Jim Harbaugh in a bowl game is like five Pete Carrolls freebased into a cyborg wolverine's brain and let loose in a chicken coop full of sleepy hens, and you're already dead, Mike McCarthy.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: Just the privilege of being here is enough for you, hahaha. Just kidding, you get a truck made of flowers because ROSE BOWL PARADE something something.

    BCS TITLE GAME: The Atlanta Falcons (12-2) vs. Houston Texans (12-2) would face each other here mostly because they would have to, playing a well-matched, slightly bland title game while the NFL's advertisers slit their wrists at not having the Giants, Bears, Patriots or Steelers selling the NFL's ancestral homeland on the game. On the upside, some kind of awkward-lookin' white guy named "Matt" is totally earning his life's salary in this game while Arian Foster has a whole week to talk to the media. Pterodactyl time is an inevitability.

    GIFT BAG SAYS: Another "gift suite," which in our world is a bag filled with Rick Ross springing shirtless from inside, putting on his sunglasses, and quietly saying "Lemme show you how a Don do at the Outback Steakhouse in Dania Beach before we go make some money watching fixed jai-ala matches."

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