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    The Big Board comes courtesy of Brian, currently swatting mountain climbers and their pesky pickaxes off the second tallest structure in the world, his penis. (Reggie Nelson's still tops his, or at least until Brian gets that radio antenna extension on the top.) Updates and clarifications follow.


    KANSAS. Home invasion is a rare thing, but Kansas football under Charlie Weis has been full of firsts. For instance, we're willing to bet this is the first time a player has managed to commit to one FBS school (Notre Dame,) attend three FBS schools Cal, Florida, and KU,) rack up arrests at two, and make the finisher a whopping three-felony finale with charges of aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and kidnapping. That's nine points for Kansas, or roughly what Charlie Weis considers a dominating halftime point total.

    WAZZU. Let's start with who's NOT getting charged, or at least hasn't been charged yet in Pullman. Running back Teondray Campbell has been charged with nothing following an incident he was allegedly involved in at a party on May 7th. The reason: those involved did not want to press charges, and did not cooperate with officers. Everything's still technically in limbo, so we'll just assign a placeholder of one point for the moment, and adjust scores later.

    Two other players from Washington State are not as lucky to have such forgiving friends-in-amateur-combat. Toni Pole gave a false name to police, and garners one point in the Fulmer Cup for a "gross misdemeanor," which we would like to believe means he gave a very immature fake name, and not merely an alias. ("Major Prolapse. Yup, that's M-a-j-o-r..."

    Logan Mayes also picked up a hit and run charge of the misdemeanor variety, bringing Wazzu to a total of four points with a bonus point awarded for being particularly active in a very short span of time. Pullman: where it's so boring it's inevitably exciting.

    AKRON. The MAC does not play when it comes to stealing four hundred dollar bongs. Four points for that, because the felony burglary charge deserves a bonus point for waving a gun around in a smoke shop. (We'd award another point if he called it a bong to the clerk's face, because GET OUT OF MY STORE okay, no, shit, you just do what you want to do.)

    OKLAHOMA. Backup QB Kendal Thompson was incoherent and either unwilling or unable to obey an officer's commands when police found him sleeping on a grassy hill in Norman. Ten years ago we had Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, and could sleep comfortably on a hill while our livers fought the eternal battle against complex sugars in the blood through the night.

    Now we have the son of Charles Thompson--yes, that Charles Thompson of Oklahoma--getting two points for the Oklahoma Sooners for public intox and interference with a public official charges. And Johnny Cash shot Bob Hope in a game of pinochle or something.

    TROY. Jadarius Gardner of the Trojans was arrested along with a Troy basketball player for disorderly conduct. (Disorderly conduct at 315 Exchange in Troy seems to be a common thing.) One point for Troy, which is like the St. Paul to Auburn's Minneapolis, but in some dystopian Alabama alt-universe.

    COLORADO. One point for a misdemeanor shovin' incident for Jordan Webb.

    UTSA. We'll give one point for getting in an officer's face officially, but "black guy gets tased at the apartment pool by off-duty cops working security" never sounds right to us.

    NAVY. No points awarded, but we are aware of this and are tracking it.

    The poorly kept Fulmer Cup accounts have been cleared. Go in peace, and sleep indoors after a night of drinking if possible.

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  • 06/03/13--14:58: HAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHHA
  • 20120429_pjc_al6_900

    The savory part about this is that the NCAA will finally break its teeth attempting to bit the implacable spiny hide of the most reptilian, unrepentant city in America. Oh, sure, you thought you had a good con, but then you went to Miami. Mark Emmert will wind up as the penniless bouncer at King of Diamonds before this is over, and live out the last of his days living on a derelict boat docked in Virginia Key.

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  • 06/04/13--08:01: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 6/4/2013
  • 169866734

    LEADERS AND LEGENDS AND PEOPLE WHO PAY $300 A NIGHT FOR HOTEL ROOMS. The Big Ten's new deal with the Pinstripe Bowl led to a Jim Delany first pitch at Yankees Stadium, and why not? With the addition of New York City's official football team, Rutgers, thousands of invisible but fervent Scarlet Knights fan in attendance had to applaud the Big Ten's embrace of long-neglected Big Apple, and its starving college football fans. Those invisible ones, who most certainly do not come from other places to begin with, and who are certainly just dying to watch a classic matchup like Rutgers playing Nebraska on November 14th, 2015.

    And hey: it's in a bad part of town, something Nebraska fans are already thinking about. We're told that's Delany holding up a "Yankees" jersey, whatever that is.

    PHARAOH BROWN. Feldman talked with Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, and you need to note two important things: one, that Scott Frost will be calling plays, something long awaited by those of us who wanted to see what a former Nebraska option QB would do with the Chip Kelly spread, and two, that there is a tight end named Pharaoh Brown who will likely start, and is named Pharaoh.

    ALSO, BISHOP SANKEY. More than just a name, but nevertheless pleasant to see in a review of the Pac-12's pretty intimidating list of running backs for 2013.

    DEAD. The reveal of Indiana's helmets to players went well, we'd say. Well, except for the man who died in the front row.

    IMPORTANT BLACKSBURG NEWS. You need places to eat in Hokieville, and the Key Play has them for you.

    T. BOONE PICKENS IS OLD AND WILL STILL KICK YOUR ASS. Over eighty years old and waking up to meet the personal trainer at 6:30 a.m. and let's just die at 75 because that sounds really, really hard.

    ETC: Prom, Detroit-style. Don't ever let anything ruin that smile, Gregory Tibbs. Tommy Tomlinson on our committed NASCAR life partner, Tony Stewart.

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    Good morning from the great state of Texas, and its greatest city and capital, Austin. Friends, it's easy to forget that the things you accomplish as a team come from just that: being a team, and the teamwork extends beyond the doors of this facility. The priceless, tropical hardwood mahogany doors of this facility, each worth $12,000 before they're rubbed with the bile of rare Malaysian black bears.

    For instance, we are only as successful as we are because of the great league we play in, and because of those teams that push us to be better. Not all those teams have their own network. But you know, not everyone can be Texas. Not everyone likes to drink their bourbon neat like we do. Not everyone can do it from a humble but still stylish 1920s German Lightbulb Tester Bar. At just under two thousand dollars, we like to think of it as the blue-collar German Lightbulb Tester Bar as the Texas Longhorns of repurposed antique furnitures.

    [Brown opens up bar]

    [hinge breaks, whole thing falls apart]

    We couldn't do any of what we do without the Big 12. That even goes for our rivals in Oklahoma.

    I have a lot of respect for Bob. He could have gone elsewhere. But he understands we're all part of something special, and took a meager $4.5 million to stay at Oklahoma. Because it's home. Because it's us.

    Sure, that won't buy you a revivified Civil War veteran in a biomechanical suit to make you breakfast. But the rental market's growing there, and RoboJed's creme brulee french toast is good even if it's only a special treat for some.

    Why, just today I was driving through this beautiful city in my four-wheel drive. And I thought about what it takes to be successful. Money helps, don't get me wrong. They say money can't buy everything, and they're right. But money CAN buy quarts of blood, which is the only currency my favorite weapons dealer in Lahore accepts.

    Hook 'em, Larry.

    Money can't buy family, is what I'm trying to say. It can buy people. Oh, lord, can it buy people. Whole people. People who come in shipping containers with oxygen tanks plugged in and wearing giant diapers. It's all labeled "Frozen tuna," and you'd be shocked how easily it gets from the Port of Houston, down the highway, and into the offices of SEC football coaches, where they're forced to work long hours without pay, food, or adequate sunlight. I'm just kidding! Or I'm not. You and the FBI can decide for yourself.

    And I know I might get in trouble for saying this, but winning isn't everything, either. Here's an old saying - "to the victor go the spoils." Well, hell, I got a whole airplane hanger full of decaying rhino meat. T. Boone? I've seen him eat other people's pizza crust straight out of the garbage can. Well, I didn't see it, but a friend of a friend did. That ain't spoils. It's just garbage.

    What I'm trying to say is that I'm just a man, counting his blessings and bathed in the humble scent of Chypre pour homme by Rojo fragrances. At $254 dollars a bottle, it's well below what we could afford, but life's about more than smelling of leather with top notes of bergamot and Cypriot limes. It's about knowing what matters, and what matters most is family.

    And at Texas, we just want everyone to know how grateful we are for that family, both here and beyond the walls of our beautiful campus and stadium. Unless you're one of those cretins still drinking wine through your mouth like an Aggie.

    It just opens up the flavor profile so much more, particularly in older vintages like the 1811 Chateau d'Yquem. But if you're a Texas fan, you already knew that.

    Hook 'em.


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  • 06/04/13--12:16: DON'T STOP BIELEBELIEVING
  • 157691232

    Dear Justin,

    As someone else who suffers from haters, keep doing what you do from a fan in Fayetteville.


    Don't stop Bielebelievin', and WPS to you.

    P.S. Keyshawn Johnson's just a big mean cat someone sewed some human hands onto one day. Throw some catnip on his lawn and put the pedal to the floor, broheim.

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    Since it circulated on Twitter and other social media timesucks this morning, let's revisit this golden moment from college football.

    Is that Eric Crouch nearly getting his head pulled off by a Kansas State defender? Oh yes, yes it is. Scott Frost also wore number seven, but no one ever tried to pull Scott Frost's head off in the middle of a football game. Why? Because Scott Frost's head would have soared off on a plume of rocket smoke and bitten every player on the opposing team like a floating balloon-shark before landing safely on his shoulders and reattaching itself to his body.

    Also, that's Travis Ochs, and there's film showing the whole thing in that video above, and that film shows no flag thrown on the play whatsoever.

    Did it matter? Oh holy shit yes, it did. A blitzing Ochs got his fingers on Crouch's facemask on 4th and 8, spun his helmet backwards, and slammed Crouch to the ground for a sack with Nebraska trailing by four late in the fourth. No flag came, the ball went over on downs, and Kansas State outlasted the Huskers and won their first game against them in thirty years. (And only their second against Nebraska since 1960.)

    Did Ochs admit it was a facemask? Yup, and better still expressed zero regrets about it, or about the excruciating pain he felt tangling his whole hand in the grill of a very fast-moving eventual Heisman Trophy winner. Nebraska would finish 9-4 and lose to #5 ranked Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. (Yes, that Arizona.) Kansas State would go on to lose a thriller in the Big 12 Championship Game to Texas A&M, and then another life-shortening inferno of a game in the Alamo Bowl against Drew Brees and Purdue.

    You wouldn't want to kill the rest of the day watching the whole game at your desk. Nope. Not one bit, especially with Ron Franklin calling the game.

    Did we forget anything about this game in particular? You probably did. You forgot that this was Frank Solich's first year, and that this game was probably one of those ghastly moments where Nebraska fans first openly wondered about that whole "effortlessly replacing Tom Osborne" dynamic they thought would happen. You also might have forgotten what a fairly good game Crouch had, throwing for three TDs and rushing for 108 yards.

    That would be understandable for two reasons. The first is that 1998 is a very long time ago. The second would be Michael Bishop busting out with one of the more insane forgotten games of a lifetime: 19-33 for 306 yards and two TDs passing, and 25 rushes for 158 yards and two TDs on the ground against a Nebraska defense that didn't let individual players get that in four years of starting experience against them.

    P.S. Michael Bishop would later play for the New England Patriots, where Bill Belichick traded him for eleven draft picks that all became All-Pros and multiple Super Bowl winners. This may not be factual, but Michael Bishop finishing his long meander through the NFL, CFL, and AFL with the Texas Hurricanes of the SIFL is. Football isn't fair, and never pretend like it is.

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    Interview with Art Briles.


    Waco, Texas, in the offices of the Baylor football program.

    12:03 Central Time.

    Spencer Hall: Mike Leach said you have a pretty good power clean.

    Art Briles: I used to.

    SH: One-point-five times bodyweight?

    AB: Naw, Leach is pumpin' it up. Just living every day, trying to be my best, just like we ask our players.

    Briles is straight from central casting for a Friday Night Lights reboot: tall, saddle-tan, and wearing athletic gear and a Nike heart monitor fitness watch on his wrist. His office is decorated with black bear iconography and the NFL jerseys of Baylor players and those he's coached elsewhere. A Kevin Kolb Eagles jersey sits just opposite him on the wall, and a small, curvilinear black bear sculpture sits on the table between us.

    He's got camp today and is clearly in some gear of coaching speed. Not high gear, but enough for him to have his Baylor baseball cap on already and to wolf down what appears to be a turkey wrap (no chips) at the start of the interview. Like most football coaches, he can do this and carry on a conversation at the same time without effort or dropping a crumb. From time to time, his eyes dart out to the office door to see who's passing by and to the big bay windows overlooking the practice field and indoor facility to note arrivals.

    SH: You coached at a lot of different levels. Where do you start when you are working with fewer resources than the other team as a head coach?

    AB: The mind. Without question. Everything's about your mental attitude, and how you approach it, and how you get to where you wanna get. You have to understand that the field may not be equal from a lot of different standpoints — resources, facilities, support, fan support — but all those things, if you let them filter in, you lose sight of your focus. Our focus has always been that we're gonna be the standard, we're gonna do what we do and do it as well as anyone does it, and we're not gonna have any excuses or comparisons along the way. That's our motto: no excuses, no comparisons, and no compromises.

    SH: How do you get players to forget the previous down?

    AB: The great thing about young people is that they have short memories. They're living in the now, the moment. If they can focus on a reality or a vision which is short-term, which might be having a great practice, or improving their body percentage, or making an advancement in the weight room or the 40, then that's a step in a positive direction. If 85 people are making positive steps, then we have a chance to have a pretty good football team.

    We're just always focused on the now. I've always said "the past is last." We don't care what happened yesterday, we're gonna work towards what happens today and tomorrow and be the best we can be there. It's just grinding and enjoying the journey and expecting great outcomes.

    Have you ever listened to a coach get into his motivational talk? Have you ever noticed how at the same time your brain might recognize it as being wildly, even blindly optimistic? And maybe even noted how a lot of it sounds like cliché? And even despite that, you find yourself nodding along somewhere in your head, and thinking yeaaahhh, that's totally it, dude. Let's do THAT. Let's LIVE. Art Briles does that thing really, really well, which is probably one very big reason why he's paid to be a head coach, and not just an offensive coordinator. It's nothing you haven't heard from a hundred coaches in a hundred postgame interviews, but it sounds great. Probably sounds even better to an 18-year-old who can run a 4.4 and catch a back-shoulder fade pass effortlessly.

    SH: When you were at Stephenville High School, you were one of the first coaches to make a switch from the traditional run-first approach to a pass-first, spread offense. You were running… was it the wishbone or wing-T?

    Four state championships from 1988 to 1999, all done in a town of 15,000 located about an hour and a half outside of Waco. Stephenville is between Fort Worth and Abilene on the east/west axis, Fort Hood and Wichita Falls from north to south, and is in the middle of nowhere in terms of theoretical football power. Art Briles' whole career hasn't had much to do with what is theoretically possible.

    AB: Split-back veer.

    SH: A pretty conventional high school offense. Why did you do that? Did people think you were crazy at the time?

    AB: Actually, it started with my first college football job coaching in Hamlin in '84-'85. My first year there, we had a great football team, ran the split-back veer, went 13-0-1. In the second year, I saw that if you got deep in the playoffs, you're gonna face people with talent just as good or better than yours. So what I looked for was an edge, something different; so in '85 we went to the one-back, four wides and went 14-1.

    When we got to Stephenville, we were always kind of based out of a split-back veer look. I played at Houston, played in the Houston veer, sat in meetings with Coach Yeoman. A lot of the terminology we use today is Houston veer-related, if you hear the verbiage.

    At Stephenville, we definitely had to do something that gave ourselves a chance to get the opportunity to win football games. We weren't just gonna line up and beat people. We had to be a little unconventional, which we were. In 1990 we had a guy throw for over 3,000 yards, and then had a 3,000-yard passer every year over the next 10 years. In '98 we actually set a national record for total offense.

    8,664 yards, a 15-1 record, and a state title. Poor, poor Joshua High School.

    SH: When you switched at Hamlin, was that based on Dennis Erickson's single-back stuff from the time?

    AB: It's funny you say that. It's just what we came up with. We weren't watching TV and going to other schools and saying, "Why are you doing this?"

    I've always thought, you got who you got, so you better find something that fits who you got. I can't watch what the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins do and say, "That looks good for us." It might look good for them because of the personnel they have.

    We did things out of a desire of necessity. I had good people there — we were gonna win anyway — but I was trying to win a state championship. At Stephenville, it was out of necessity. It wasn't something I wanted to do; it was something we needed to do.

    SH: Is it weird to see that kind of offense as the standard in Texas?

    AB: I think it's encouraging, without question, because it got so many guys to play football. At Stephenville, I'd tell people, "I don't care if you block. Come out and play catch. I can find someone who can block. I need someone who can run and catch the ball. We'll worry about being tough later; I need to get you on the field and see if we got some talent."

    SH: You think that's changed the kind of athlete you see on a football field?

    AB: Without question. Now, it's a space league. That's why Texas is the most-recruited state in America. Because you've got undoubtedly great skill players, and then you've got QBs who can throw the ball and backs who can make plays in space. And then the defense, on the flipside, they've all got to play in space, too. So it's a space game. I like it.

    SH: Last year, you did something unusual for those who've watched Baylor over the past few years. Against UCLA in the bowl game, with Nick Florence coming off a huge season, you passed the ball just 12 times.

    Briles starts laughing the minute I say, "UCLA," because he knows where this is going already. He does that a lot -- not exactly cutting you off, but leaping a few steps ahead in the conversation because he knows where things are going, what you're going to say, and how to address, counter, and contextualize it. In conversation it's helpful; he's engaged, and clearly involved in the flow of the conversation, and doesn't shy away from direct answers to direct questions. In playcalling, it has to be terrifying.

    AB: Isn't that ridiculous?

    SH: Was that just what was working?

    AB: We felt going into that game that UCLA were the Pac-12 [South division] champs, had lost to Stanford by three points, and were playing on their home court in San Diego. That's not Fort Worth. We're in their backyard. And they had a great national image. Our goal was to increase our national image out on the West Coast, because we're not out there much. Our goal was to get out there, play hard, be physical, win the game, and go home. That's all anyone's gonna remember, is who won the game.

    We got in a position early where we got a good lead, and we sat on it, quite honestly. We sat on 49 points, but we sat on it. That's what that was all about. The only thing I feel bad about is that it cost Nick the No. 1 offensive leader in America. He was the leader all through the season, and he went to No. 2 after the bowl game.

    Briles and Griffin. Jeff Zelevansky, Getty.

    SH: You went from Robert Griffin III to Nick Florence, and Florence's numbers were comparable or better than Griffin's.

    AB: Yeah, believe it or not.

    SH: That kind of production goes back to Kevin Kolb, Case Keenum, and your quarterbacks back through your high school level. That's a really diverse group of guys, all with different skill sets. What's the thread that unites them physically and mentally? What do you look for first in a quarterback?

    AB: Burn hot*, No. 1. You mentioned earlier being an underdog or having a chip-on-your-shoulder deal. I love those guys, I love those situations. I want a guy that burns hot and wants to prove himself. So if they've got the right mentality of a tremendous amount of confidence, a tremendous amount of wanting to prove himself, then we've got a chance to have a guy who can play if he's got the skill set to go with it.

    There's a wide variety of skill sets. There's a lot of ways to get it right. Those people you just mentioned? The common factor is that they all burn hot, they're all very competitive, they're all multi-sport guys, and they're all highly intelligent. That's something we never overlook.

    * I can't really convey the depth of his accent here, but "Texas as hell" comes close. It comes out like "borne hawt." The word "skin" comes out like "skeeeeyun," and "paper" is a full "payypurr" in emphasis.

    SH: Is there a trait others might think is mandatory that you're not so big on?

    AB: Arm strength is No. 1 there. We're about getting the ball out of your hand and making good decisions.

    SH: You coach in the Big 12. The SEC has seven BCS titles and leans a lot on defense and in particular the defensive line. With the success of Texas A&M in the SEC and the hire of Malzahn at Auburn, do you think that a bit of that Big 12 style of football is bleeding over into the SEC?

    AB: That's a situation where if I were sitting in the SEC, I'd say there's no reason to crack our blinds. What we're doing seems to be working pretty well. I don't think they're sitting as a conference and saying, "Well, those guys are doing that, we should do a little bit of that." I would be thinking "Hey, what we're doing's working pretty well."

    Now, I wasn't surprised A&M did well in their first year in the league. They're coming in with a different style of play, and the thing about being in a big league like that is there is a tendency for everyone to be pretty much the same at the end of the day. They may have had a few variations, but A&M was different completely from first play to 85th play. They're gonna be a little bit different from their mentality to their formations to the philosophy standpoint.

    That didn't shock me. Whether that continues with the adjustments made in the league? We'll see. Malzahn has been there before. He was there with Cam. They won a national championship. It's such a fine line, though. They had a lot of things happen when they won it in [2010]. They had an overtime game, etc.

    Same thing last year with Alabama. If Stanford doesn't upset Oregon, if we don't upset K-State, there might not have been a championship for the SEC. I think there's a lot more parity out there than is realized. With the playoff system coming up in '14, it won't be a one-game victory.

    SH: Do you think that's going to change the dynamics of how the system currently determines a champion? More variety, parity at the top?

    AB: Well, there'll be four instead of two. I think it'll be different. I think the guy sitting at three like Auburn in 2004 stands a really good chance in that format. I think it will alleviate some of the doubt that's been created.

    SH: When you look at an opponent when you're breaking down film, what are a few of the keys you look at --

    AB: Oh, come on now.

    SH: Okay, well ... if you're the casual fan, and you ... you want to skip this question, don't you?

    AB: The reason I would like to is that we're a little bit unique in how we view film study from an opponent. We start in different areas than others, I think.

    SH: I won't ask you to give away the company store.

    AB: Thank you.

    Phil Bennett, Briles' defensive coordinator and someone who's coached with and against him on defense, didn't give away the company store, either. He did have a lot to say about working with a coach who's so aggressive offensively:

    "It's almost 100 percent we're gonna have to play more snaps. We're gonna have to play more guys. If Art can score 49 points, we can hold 'em to 39. That's the thing you look at. On defense you've gotta play good red zone, get some big takeaways, and do what we do. I might not have the numbers I had earlier in my career, but I'll win more games than I ever did before."

    He also said his wife, when she found out he was interviewing with Briles, got excited and said, "Art will go for fourth down anywhere on the field!" Even defensive coaches' wives like Art Briles, this despite Briles being hot death for a lot of defensive coaches in the Big 12 and beyond.

    SH: With RG3 in the pros, and with the way the NFL is currently adopting a lot of spread and zone-read concepts --

    AB: 'Scuse me.

    Briles ducks out to greet some visitors. There is schmoozing and accent and some backslapping and how's-your-mama'ing. If you spend enough time in Briles' orbit, you will get a nickname. Most of the Baylor football team has one right now. A short list of those follows:

    • RB Glasco Martin - "Glass-pack"
    • WR Clay Fuller - "RBI," thanks to his minor-league baseball experience
    • LB Eddie Lackey - "Fast Eddie"
    • QB Bryce Petty - "Pettybone"
    • WR Tevin Reese - "Spinmaster" and "Sweet Feet"
    • PK Aaron Jones - "Stork" (he has a long neck)
    • CB Joe Williams - "Six Three" (because he's 5'11) and "Little Joe"
    • S Sam Holl - "Thief" or "Sam T"
    • TE Jordan Najvar - "Big J" and "Navajo" and "Niveman"
    • WR/PR Levi Norwood - "Little No-No"
    • All-American OL Cyril Richardson - "C-Note"
    • WR Jay Lee - "Jay Leezie"
    • CB Darius Jones - "Daddy D"
    • DT Beau Blackshear - "Bo-Bo"
    • LB Brody Trahan - "Bro"

    He ducks back and picks up the conversation mid-sentence without a stop.

    AB: You talking about RG3 running the zone read and all that?

    SH: Yup.

    AB: I think that's a tough question to answer. I think the difference between college and the NFL is that as an owner, you're talking about franchise and longevity as a quarterback. Collegiately, you're talking about a two- to four-year window -- usually one to three, more realistically, for a QB. You can survive in the short term.

    Whether you can do it for a seven- to 10-year period, well, I think then you're looking differently at the mentality of your quarterbacks. You're not going to invest a whole lot of money in a guy and then on third-and-three get someone in there to run the zone read. You're not paying a guy $20 million a year to do that.

    I think time will tell. I'm interested because I know our guy, I know RG3. I know he's very dynamic. One of the hard things about that position that I mentioned earlier — and I talked to Robert about it before the season last year — I said you cannot let your competitive nature dictate how you play the game. The thing about the NFL is longevity and staying in the league for a long time. You're the face of the franchise, and for you to help that team you've got to stay healthy.

    That's a fine line. For those guys at that position, or any position really, they're all ultra-competitive. And you put 'em in a stadium with people in the stands and yards that have to be made or stopped depending on what side of the ball they're on, that's the first thing on their mind. It's not what's going to be happening in 2016, it's what's happening that second.

    SH: He didn't even run the ball that much by college standards last year. But he did do it a lot by NFL standards.

    AB: That's a lot. I've always said, you wanna see grandmomma get out of her seat, sack the QB. On both sides. Quarterback's grandma and the linebacker's grandma, they're both hollerin', but for different things.

    SH: When you recruit at Baylor, what's the pitch?

    AB: Our pitch now is just reality. We're centrally located in the best state in America for high school football. That's just a reality. We've got I-35, which carries 44 million people a year up and down it. It's one of the hottest highways in America from San Antonio to Dallas.*

    Fact: we're putting a $235 million stadium on the Brazos River that 44 million people are going to see a year that's gonna represent Baylor University for generations to come. We're one of the only schools in America to have a stadium on a river and on a major highway. Lot of people have beautiful stadiums, but you gotta drive to 'em. This one's in your face. That's a fact.

    And then we have production on the field over the short recent history, and the great thing about young people is that if they're 17 years old, then what happened in 2012 is recent. That's a good thing for us because our recent history is pretty doggone good. We deal with guys in the now. And we have as good an academic institution as there is in the United States of America.

    *There's always speculation about coaches like Briles leaving a smaller school — and in the Big 12, that's certainly Baylor — and going elsewhere, somewhere bigger off I-35 with larger budgets, a bigger national presence, and maybe an easier pull in terms of recruiting by name alone. I have no empirical evidence to back this statement up, but listening to Briles wax poetic about the power of I-35 and talking a bit further down about beef brisket, I don't ever see him leaving the state of Texas. He's too married to the state from an emotional perspective, not to mention the fit he himself helped develop between speedy Texas high school talent and the high-powered offenses in the state.

    He could always leave Baylor, sure, but it won't be for a school outside the Lone Star State's borders, and not anytime soon, judging from the looks of the construction cranes behind his shoulder across the Brazos River. This could all change in an instant, but that's certainly how it feels on June 2, 2013.

    Baylor's new stadium concept.

    SH: How are you doing in learning the curve on being a coach in the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram era? How has that changed things?

    AB: I've learned to let some things go in one ear and out the other. I'm not always believing everything I see or listening to everything I hear. Just like a 47-year-old man might get on the Internet and punch Send when they didn't mean to, don't think it's not happening to a 16- or 17-year-old. I'm not going to overreact when I hear something that isn't complimentary to them or to our university. I've never been a panic guy. Let's get face to face with each other, shake hands, hug necks, and then get on with it.

    SH: Does Texas have the best barbecue in the nation?

    AB: Everyone's wondering who's gonna be No. 2.

    SH: And brisket is the king of barbecues?

    AB: I'm a little biased, but yessir.

    SH: And your favorite place?

    AB: Now, that's where you might get me in trouble*. That's where social media's gonna catch up with me. I've got many. If its last name is Texas, I'm eating there. It's good.

    *This is the only time in the interview Briles looks genuinely uncomfortable.

    SH: Okay, well ... how about a sentimental favorite, or some place that most people might not know about?

    AB: I'm trying to think of one in Houston that might get me off the hook.

    SH: Name one way out in West Texas that won't get you in trouble.

    AB: Joe Allen's Bar-B-Q in Treadway, Texas. There you go. If you want better than good, that's where you go.

    SH: You're not a sauce man?

    AB: Yes I am. Leave the mild on the counter. Gimme the hot.

    SH: Big Red soda with that?

    AB: Not really a Big Red soda guy. Stains shirts.

    SH: Big 12 stadium with the most intense atmosphere?

    AB: Right when you said it I thought Manhattan, Kansas. You want to stand next to someone and not be able to hear them, walk your ass into Manhattan, Kansas.

    SH: Your non-Big 12 stadium environment you enjoyed the most? You've played Alabama, for instance, in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

    AB: Almost beat 'em, too. We're on their goal line, 27-21, and we're in no-back and their linebacker, I mean, he's still got a piece of my wide receiver's skin lodged under his fingernails. First place that comes to mind is Oregon. They're active, and they're vocal. They're hungry.

    SH: If I ask you about a play you can't forget or think about a lot?

    AB: There's 4,000 of them. If I had to talk about one, the pass from RG3 to T-Dub sticks in my mind because it was so monumental. I mean, I could go on and on, but the thing I've always talked to our players about is that there are five plays in the first half that determine the outcome of the football game. It doesn't have to be in the last 30 seconds of the football game. That's the great thing about sports. That second-and-two stop, or that fourth-and-short conversion at midfield in the second quarter win the game, too.

    SH: Last book you read?

    AB: A Neil Young autobiography. I'm a big music fan. I like people who are lyrical, because for me that's creation. You're making something out of nothing.

    SH: If I looked on your iPod --

    AB: Whew. There's a lot of everything. Just a while ago I was playing "Always" by Stevie Wonder. I grew up on Motown and Earth, Wind & Fire, and then got into Jimi Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, the Eagles. Now I'm kind of more on a soft rock feel. I love Amos Lee. Seen him about six or seven times.

    SH: Favorite movie?

    AB: Not a huge movie guy. Don't really have that kind of time. Some old Clint Eastwood movie, I don't know.

    SH: TV show?

    AB:Dateline, 48 Hours, everything that's real. I don't watch anything that isn't real.

    SH: Do you have a hobby? This is always a dangerous question for coaches. Most don't.

    AB: Is sitting on my back porch with my wife a hobby? When I get dead time that's all I do.

    Briles hops up, shakes hands, and bounces out to the lobby, down the elevator, and out into the sunshine of a Sunday afternoon in June.

    More from SB Nation:

    Bill Connelly previews ugly, brilliant Florida

    What’s the point of playing Texas?

    SB Nation interviews lots of star NFL rookies

    The college football Twitter directory

    National recruiting coverage

    Today’s college football news headlines

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  • 06/06/13--08:04: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 6/6/2013
  • Stoopsmidlifecrisis

    HEEEEEEE'S/ HE'S A NEW DAY RIIIIIIIIISIN'. The Bob Stoops Year of the Midlife Crisis continues, with Stoops now reminding everyone that the SEC offense of the Aggies' long history in the Big 12, and then randomly biting a bystander. Bob Stoops is going through things, and like all middle-aged men in the grips of a deep midlife crisis is probably playing "Times Like These" by The Foo Fighters over, and over, and over again, perhaps while crying and singing along.

    ON A POSITIVE NOTE: He also dances in the locker room after games, and video of this will be had.

    A REMINDER. That Kevin Sumlin, the one of that award-winning monster of an offense, vanquisher of the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, and all around smooth bastard, did a lively little promo chat with Jason Kirk, and also walked into SEC Media Days only wearing a porkpie hat over his business. He definitely did one of those already, and will probably also do the other as soon as he drops a few of those recruiting tour pounds.

    OH, AND SELL YOUR CHILDREN. For tickets to the suites at the new Kyle Field. When college football stadiums start selling tickets to "drinking-only sections," then we'll really be cooking with oil.

    RANDY SPETMAN IS OUT AT FSU. The only logical replacement is Jeff Bowden. Do it now, FSU. Do it before he's snatched up by someone else.

    ETC: James never gets dunked on or cries, but Krispy Kreme ain't your average man. Chewed-up Chicken Wings Of Atlanta dot tumblr dot com. MONTAEOUS WALTON MADE IT ALL UP AND EVERYONE BOUGHT IT. Wright Thompson went to Italy and found racists! Like, tons and tons of racists.

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    Brian Kelly woke up and walked right past the toothbrush, eyeing it. Daring it to hop from the porcelain cradle and scrape the bacteria off his sparkling white teeth. It wouldn't, because it and the rest of the world were cowards.

    Brian Kelly made some eggs. He uses butter in the pan. Like, a whole stick, because butter is delicious, and because eggs are alive, love to swim, and prefer the sweet buoyancy of 100% real butter.

    Brian Kelly then set off a whole pack of firecrackers in his living room, and DVR'd everything on eight channels.

    "Are you sure you want to proceed without checking available space?"

    Brian Kelly hit confirm, and then did a jumping split kick without bothering to warm up or stretch. Recording conflicts could kiss his torn hamstring.

    Brian Kelly texted the whole way into work. He didn't even look up once, and may have missed a few traffic lights, but this was a train, and the world his tracks. Clear way, or get tossed like a cow getting plowed by the Western Continental steaming across the plains.

    He got a second breakfast at McDonald's, and put the lidless coffee in his lap and sped toward the speed bumps. The burn reminded him he was alive. The stains matched his hair. The universe's plans are never faulty, he thought. He shot the middle finger at an Indiana State Trooper as hard as he could turning onto the highway. He smiled.

    A reminder to pay his mortgage popped up on his iPhone.


    An IPhone clattered to the ground on a lonesome stretch of Indiana highway, spitting glass in all directions as it shattered. He smiled, and sped toward campus with boiling coffee splattering everywhere. The CHECK ENGINE light came on. He stopped the car.

    He poured the rest of his coffee on the engine.

    Consider yourself checked, bitch.

    He stopped and stared directly at the sun for two minutes before walking into the office, because your mother doesn't know anything about what eyes are capable of enduring.

    He stepped into his office and sat down to his computer. No, he did not want to back up any purchases made on his account. No, he was not going to stop smoking in his office. With two cigarettes in his mouth, he fumed away as he made lurid searches on his company computer. He refused your Linkedin request. ALL OF THEM.

    He put on a DVD of Burn Notice and sat with horrendous posture.

    His secretary battered at the door.

    "Coach, you know how bad smoking is for you, right? Right, coach?"

    Kelly exhaled, and remembered last night.

    "Is it, Sandy? Who really knows what's dangerous around here?" he yelled. He held a Nerf gun to his head, spinning barrels that weren't there. Who really wants to find out what dangerous really is this fall?

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  • 06/07/13--08:40: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 6/7/2013
  • 20121124_jla_ad8_1039

    GOOD MORNING MISSISSIPPI STATE. So let this be a lesson that being upfront with the NCAA, cooperating, and disclosing everything fully still gets you two years probation, a loss of two scholarships for your troubles for those two years, and a pat on the head from the NCAA for your cooperation. We still don't know what the NCAA does, exactly, but they did just make a difficult job in Starkville that much harder for Dan Mullen. Um, cheerleader for student-athletes mumble mumble something.

    OH MAN VEGAS HATES LSU SO MUCH. We would, too, if we were dependent on Les Miles being predictable and patterned in the name of betting money on football. Additionally, Alabama is favored in every game they play by embarrassing margins, and for some reason Miami is a Vegas favorite. You might want to start making money by betting against Miami covering in these games right now, because the ACC is a graveyard of "things you expected to happen."

    STOP BEING SO DAMN ALABAMA, ALABAMA. Bill C's look at Alabama finds a number of points of concern for the Tide going into 2013, like shut up we were kidding there aren't any Roll Tide.

    JOHNNY COUNTRY MUSIC FOOTBALL GET BACK TO WORK DAMMIT-- Those who think Johnny Manziel has had too much fun lately what with the kid and the drugs and the long hair and the hippy partyin' will be thrilled to know he is appearing in a music video. He will not be playing bass like Joker Phillips, mind you, but not all of us are the seasoned session hand/Instagram genius that is Joker Phillips.

    DON'T MESS WITH HIS ROBOT HEART. It's not fair to toy with the emotions of a man with a baboon's heart, young man.

    HEYYYYYYYY COLORADO. Remember that thing about Art Briles saying he didn't believe a lot of what he read on social media, and how he was forgiving about that? There's reasons, and they start with 18 year olds making dumb decisions in real time on social media.

    ETC: What celebrity looks best in a bathrobe? Legendary Texas A&M Aggie Rip Torn, obviously. Holy crap, that bass line. Don't ever cheat on your spouse, ever, for any reasons. This is extremely accurate, and also better than anything Lil Wayne has done in years.

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    You can hate squirrels, but it's simply rude to take joy in their flattened corpses littering the road, and even worse to swerve to hit them double-good-dead. Randy Edsall has suffered enough--not enough to root for him openly, mind you, but certainly enough to move him off the Enemies List. Additionally, Maryland may now fully occupy the role of ACC Deathbringer for teams with hope, dreams, and more than two functioning quarterbacks.

    [/Randy Edsall swings scythe]

    [/Randy Edsall misses]

    [/stabs an undefeated FSU team on a Thursday night in November on the backswing]

    [/loses to UVA at home the next week]


    Off the Enemies List due to one of the worst denouements to a football season on record. Will go right back onto the list the instant someone says "BCS Title spot," or mentions "doing things the right way" while openly swindling the national media for maximum Heisman votes.

    Oh, you say, you're just making this up as you like? That part should make you very comfortable, people who have openly embraced Knute Rockne's fake sick children, fictional ladies of the mid-Pacific, and mythical claims to a BCS Title game slot. We sort of like you for the moment out of sympathy. You will spoil that, and we know it, but life's about the journey, and not just about the chance embraces that end with us throwing you out of the car at 80 miles an hour

    P.S. You also have to start the year dealing with this, and we like disaster movies more than the average human does.


    He's simply become someone too useful (for our purposes, at least) to hate.

    He also tends to be nakedly wrong about almost everything, a kind of talent in itself. (See: Ron Cherry, Bob Stoops.) Additionally, his Twitter feed is a nonstop ode to the value of a Pitt education and a secondary stint in the University of Sports Broadcasting, his on-air presence is clearly a fart-mask of sarcasm he can't do for three minutes without giggling through, And ooh! Burn Notice! Harris, he's talking about Burn Notice!

    He is his own parody account. It doesn't mean we like him, per se, but he's off the Enemies List because of sheer, dependable reliability.


    You always let Gin back in. (The entire year 2004 wasn't your fault, anyway.)


    We kid! You're a dead man for haunting our dreams and spoiling our days. Watch your ass, and enjoy your permanent slot on the Enemies List.



    The Joey Crawford of college football referees has a particularly worn spot on the Enemies List, but never without a tinge of respect and warmth. It takes a special kind of man to constipate a football game as badly and ineptly as Ron Cherry, and we at EDSBS are about recognizing special talent in all its forms--including that which itself is a special anti-talent.


    Bob Stoops was on the list? Only as half a residual punching bag for the woes of the Big 12, with Mack Brown making up the other, even richer half of the conference's dollar-sneezing Statler and Waldorf act heckling the SEC, each other, and in Stoops' case anything he happened to find displeasing at that particular moment. Bob Stoops has, at one point in the past three years, raged about chafed thighs, and how no powder on earth solves the devilment of the vermillion ham meat he carries around on his legs. (And if he hasn't, you would believe us if we told you.)

    And with his rampage through a grab bag of college football's hot-button issues this offseason--and landing squarely in the wrong on almost all of them--you'd think we'd just qualify him solo, and save a spot on the bench for him in the Enemies of the State edition. However, two things complicate this:

    1.) He did just show up and help in Moore, Oklahoma without telling anyone, alerting a reporter, or doing much to draw attention to himself, and that's pretty great and human of him

    2.) Overly Emotional Stoops is pretty damn entertaining, and we'd like to see this trend continue unabated through the season under the real, crushing pressure of a full college football schedule. This is what he's been doing without a whole lot of people around; with the glare of camera lights and live television, the results could be spectacular. Call Animal Control, and have them wait by the door of the press conference with a catch net and snare.

    3.) It's possible Mike's living with him and "is really close to finding his own place but doesn't want to rush anything." Mike Stoops is, in fact, spending his weekends playing air hockey at the bowling alley.


    Deb. DEB. The Notorious T.O.B. was THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS CLOSE* to making it all work! But you just had to act a fool. Are we just supposed to be okay with your hatin' ass? We're not Deb. We're not.

    *Was not actually close whatsoever. Was like that one kid at the Easter Egg hunt. The one who keeps checking the mailbox.


    Firing Chizik in favor of Malzahn is a very transparent play to win our favor, but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate it. Besides, 2012 was a self-flagellation so vicious that it has to absolve you of some of your past sins. Here's a fun game! STEP 1. Count to 141 out loud. 2. That's the number of seconds Auburn held a lead in their last six games against FBS opponents last year. 3. That's it, that's the whole game.


    In an offseason overflowing with Big Ten dumbassedness, Jim Delany has, somehow, been responsible for basically none of it. Perhaps silence really is golden, Mr. Delany, as it has bought you a demotion.




    It is the nature of open commerce to produce far more products than we as consumers will ever want or need. The Plymouth Roadster, Bubble Yum soda - it's not hard to find examples. But "liquid beer enhancer" is more than something we don't need. It's something we should reject as loudly as possible. Syrup is for two things: 1) breakfast foods and 2) sexy R&B video interludes. Not beer. Never beer.


    Who the hell said you were allowed to become good at your job, Mike?


    You change the name. You change the trophy to some boring piece of shit you could get on eBay for eighteen bucks. And then you force us to watch Michigan State and TCU headbutt each other to death. Do you want us to force you to take UCF? We'll do it. Don't push us.

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    To be fair: when Ed Orgeron calls you a motherfucker, it's really just a sign Ed Orgeron is talking to you, and not any specific sign of anger.

    You motherf—-r, DeMars remembers Orgeron, who went on to become head coach at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007, and is now back at USC as assistant head coach, shouting at him. "He M-F’d me all over the place," says DeMars. "He made me feel like a bad person for going to class."

    Bob Demars is currently making a documentary called "The Business of Amateurs," so sure, he'd be biased against yelling at players for not skipping class. But let's consider all the ways Ed Orgeron helps young men that have nothing to do with football.

    • Passing down the ability to be both wild and a boy simultaneously, and usually in groups.
    • Teaching invaluable trapping and taxidermy skills, often whether you want to learn them or not.
    • Proper instruction on telling people about the magnificence of the Hummer
    • How to properly move a Red Bull fridge from Knoxville to Los Angeles overnight
    • Precious lessons on how to maintain a low-carb lifestyle through savvy gas station foraging.
    • How to cover for your head coach when he crashes a car under weird circumstances. HYPOTHETICALLY CASE ONLY.
    • Witness intimidation. [again hypotheticals only]
    • Bringing down survey helicopters with compound bows for fun and profit.
    • Yawwbeebawwww. Yaw. Bee. Baw.

    So Ed Orgeron may yell at you for leaving practice, but it's not because he doesn't love education. It's because he has so much to teach you that the professors dont' even realize is essential to a real education: ass pursuit (and the need to continuate said pursuit until ass acquisition,) how to fish on the gas company's land without getting caught, and why you should stop being such a nerd and hit this pad if you want to be third string on his team, you massive, class-having nerd, you.

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    The changing media landscape for both college coaches and recruits can be a confusing one. This is especially true when it comes to abbreviations, hashtags, and other so called "internet slang" you might see in the form of a text, tweet, or facebook post. Avoid saying things that make someone "SMDH," and learn up on the latest below!

    ABC = Another Bad Creation. Usually followed by a picture of Lane Kiffin's most recent poop.

    ACCCG = I Ate The Bones

    AFAIK= Am Following Ambulance In Knoxville.

    B2K = B2K. Nobody really gets why, but Frank Beamer loves these guys. Especially Omarion.

    BBW = don't worry about what it means just know that it's Dana Holgorsen texting you if you don't recognize the number

    #BEARDOWN An Arizona company specializing in rent-to-own facial hair and generator sales.

    BRB = Burying rogue boosters, literally. Gus Malzahn uses this frequently.

    BTHO= Be The Hospitable Opponent. Usually precedes a rival school's name

    EMAW= Every Mink Is Rabid (Kansans use weird spelling)

    ERROR = Steve Spurrier doesn't have a cell phone and even if he did he wouldn't just leave it on in the middle of a round.

    FFS= Freeze Freeze Salvation. Hugh Freeze's unlicensed arcade dance game performed exclusively to DC Talk karaoke tracks

    GATA = Golf And Truck Accessories. Popular saying among Georgia fans, and shorthand for the values and traditions of UGA.

    GCISIMF = Gene Chizik is stuck in my fence. Means Auburn's former coach is literally stuck headfirst in your fence, and please contact local fire and rescue.

    GTFO = Go Trojans, Fight On!

    HailState = We're postponing your official visit because it's raining gravystones again.

    HORSE = Indicates that the recruit is being contacted on the night of a full moon, when Bob Davie transforms back into his original horse form.

    IHSMOFANA = "I have set myself on fire and need assistance." Mark May has found your phone number, and it is just another weeknight in Bristol.

    IDGAF = Irradiated Defense Gets All Finishes (The LSU 2013 team creed.)

    LMAO: Les Miles Amateur Orthodontist. Common text message for LSU recruits explaining why coach needs you to come to a Baton Rouge storage unit with a lot of Tylenol, some paper towels, and no questions asked.

    loI = Letter of Intent, because maybe you should have selected a font with serifs if you didn't want to accidentally commit to Notre Dame.

    #PLAY4BREW = [unknown]

    PLAYWR4DAJOKR = You should probably take that offer from Purdue.

    RTR = Run, Todd Rundgren

    SMH= "Strip Mall Hellhole." You are recruiting in Orlando and will get back to the recruit shortly.

    TCBY = Troy Calhoun Beee Yotch (DOD has reprogrammed Dave Christensen's phone so this is the only message it sends out.)

    TTUL = Tommy Tuberville Usually Leaves

    TTMHLPCHO = Tommy Tuberville may have left please check his office.

    UMWAD= Uncle Mike Wants a Dog, or no really if you want me to go to your school my Uncle Mike will require one new hunting hound and maybe a carton of Newports. I know, ew, menthol.

    Unsubscribe = you need snacks cause really i'll bring 'em.

    UTI= Unusually Touchy Individual Code for Nick Saban.

    WL Record? = Is Willie Lyles Recording This?

    WPS = Wooo, Public recordS. Common refrain among Arkansas fans.

    23ijjjll1fjzz = Mark Richt's butt sent this message.

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  • 06/11/13--07:35: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 6/11/2013
  • 20120724_ajw_aj4_094

    LANE KIFFIN AND HIS MAGICAL WINDOWLESS RECRUITING VAN. Just get in, kid. No, it's not a real offer. No offer to an eighth grader ever is, but if you can talk them into love, the Children's Crusade, and buying Audioslave albums throughout history, well shit you can probably make them think they've got a scholarship. June is the worst month ever, and consists of nothing but Bob Stoops bitching about things and Lane Kiffin "offering" toddlers scholarships.

    RE: BOB STOOPS. Matt Hayes gets Bob complaining about former players complaining, and then the usual wondering about when Bob will become Oklahoma's all-time wins leader. (Presumably against Baylor this year, but that's not exactly a guaranteed win anymore AMIRITE SIC 'EM.)

    RE: PANTS.



    RE: WEIRD THINGS IN OHIO. Mark Stoops is And doing it out of Ohio? And this is all part of some multi-level marketing scheme that will end up with someone in jail, and several others hundreds of millions of dollars in debt? That sounds insane, but consider that Bobby Petrino basically did this with Louisville already, and if you don't believe us ask John L. Smith and all those underwater exurban subdivisions he used to own.

    RE: NOOOOOOOOO. Damn you, Boston College, for being part of the problem and not the solution.

    ETC: PLEASE STAND FOR THE NATIONAL PANTHEM. The PlayStation 4 thread on Polygon is hilarity.

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    All Greg McElroy of the New York Jets has done in life is win. He grew up surrounded by football. He becameTexas 5-A player of the year, record-holder for touchdown passes in his division in high school, and did it all in the freedom-loving, family-embracing state of Texas. It's a little place you might have heard of known for cranking out the finest signal-callers in the nation, and also for boundless optimism about what is possible in this country.

    Greg McElroy's optimism did not stop at the borders of Texas, however. He kept on winning at the University of Alabama, defeating the University of Florida in the 2009 SEC Championship Game and going on to win the BCS Title Game against Texas. At every point, McElroy believe he was bound for greatness. He believed in it, and that belief was contagious among his teammates.

    And yet after three years in the NFL, McElroy has been given virtually no chance to succeed. He's languished behind Mark Sanchez, holding a clipboard patiently while the Jets flounder. Mark Sanchez never won a BCS Title or Texas state championship.

    The reason for this?

    I blame the death of optimism, and the emergence of cynicismism, all part of a new and distinctly American disease affecting not just Greg McElroy, but our society.

    This society is a team -- a team just like the New York Jets. The great wall of democracy holds back the walls of tyranny from that society. This is not unlike a football team. There is an invisible wall of togetherness that separates the team from chaos and loss. It may spring a leak -- all walls do -- but when it does, a leader is there to plug it with a finger. That finger has a name: winning.

    That silent finger helps the team stick together, or at least that team should stick together. But the Jets have been plagued by a series of leaks undermining everything they've worked for and dissolving the invisible bonds of their little society. The team clearly needs a leader like McElroy, but no one in the Jets locker room can so much whisper without having it become front page news in the New York Post.

    There is an Edward Snowden in their locker room. And his extreme individualism is killing all the team works to accomplish.

    This is all part of a disturbing trend. I call that trend "cynicismism." A recent study by the Pew Research Group* shows 78 percent of Americans identify at "cynical." When cynicismism creeps into a social network -- be it the New York Jets or America -- the very fabric of society is threatened. When that fabric comes apart, the individual suffers, and the team collapses.

    *This study is about beverage consumption patterns in teenagers, and has nothing to do with attitudes at all It's not even by the Pew Research Group, and was published in 1993. But, um, keep going, because he's not linking it, either.

    Cynicismists don't go to movies together. Instead, they sit at home naked and watch the story of a failed family, the Bluths, in new episodes of Arrested Development. Cynicismists shop online only. Their most common Amazon purchases are not books, but video games and horse masks. Where Americans sit down for meals with friends, Cynicismists pick ingredients from a steam tray table at the Cynicisismist's restaurant of choice, the demand-a-food chain bistro.

    One guacamole ramekin at a time, Cynicismists are turning America into one giant Chipotle of sad diners. They are all listening to their earbuds, and not to each other. They order a burrito for one, and then post about being "forever alone."

    Cynicismism is an epic fail. And no one in America should be LOL'ing about its far-reaching effects on the .

    And the NFL, as the most popular sport in America, is America itself. Red states love its violence. Blue states love its teamwork. Purple states admire its quasi-socialist business structure , and fuchsia states embrace its next-man-up willingness to replace even the most outstanding talent in the name of teamwork. Plaid states embrace its pescatarian unifascitarianilism.

    Everyone in America loves the NFL. But the cynicismists and their snitching tortilla bistro dystopia will kill the league, and with it possibly this country. Rex Ryan's emphasis on the individual above all -- and on the showboating Sanchez over a sensible, proven winner like McElroy -- is just symptomatic of Cynicismismists and their a la carte mentality toward football, America, and toward democracy as we know it.

    The NFL is now like a Facebook where the only button is "dislike."

    As a result, our national optimism gland is failing. It's something I call O.I.D.S: Optimism Is Dying Syndrome. Everyone from bobos in the Virginia Suburbs to Nub-Worts in the Pan-Texan Mall-o-sphere is suffering from O.I.D.S. Neither Costco America nor Wal-Mart America is immune to it. It permeates the homes in Roomba Wisconsin. It infects the spirit of Dyson Hand Dryer Rhode Island. Even in the burgeoning cornfield prefab Old Moderne pseudo-condos of Hibbertarian Apple TV Indiana, O.I.D.S. strikes home.

    Its effects are devastating. We now share the national playbook with the world and call it patriotism. We give winners clipboards. We elect the Ron Paul of the NFL, Rex Ryan, and let the Rand Paul of the NFL, Mark Sanchez, freelance the league into oblivion. We discard the ties that bind, and replace them with Amanda Bynes.

    We mock the church of the rock, and instead rock the church of the mock.

    We need a Google Hangout on a national level about O.I.D.S., cynicismism, and why we leave starters in life like Greg McElroy on the bench when it's the fourth quarter and we need a win. We need to realize that winning is the ultimate social network. Why won't the Jets unfriend cynicismism? Like this country, they have already let too many winners get away.

    You have a new DM, America.

    It says that we cannot let cynicismism and O.I.D.S. buttfumble away the future of this country.

    Where did the last winner on the Jets' bench go, you ask? To the cradle of democracy, New England, where a certain football Patriot--one who understands the value of some light but necessary spying to keep the team together--happily picked up what others had #blocked from their Google Plus face circles.

    There are no cynicismist leaks in the Bill Belichick barricade. But in Foxboro, the winners have never carried clipboards. They have a vaccine for O.I.D.S. and other diseases of the modern American soul. It's called teamwork, and it's an over-the-counter drug available anywhere Americans decide to work with each other, and not alone on their iPads in the dark, cynicismist Chipotles of the soul.

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    You're in your final game of the season. You're probably the fifth or sixth-ranked team in a conference. You're winning, and the clock is winding down. A bowl game, you say. We're going to get to go to a bowl game. But where? Shreveport? Montgomery? Dare dream of Boise? You close your eyes. The band plays.

    Open those eyes. You're on a plane. That plane is made of pure platinum. Its engines have blades of diamonds. The fuel for those engines is an expensive champagne. The grapes that make that champagne are only grown on a lone peak in the Alps on five pieces of exposed cliffside tended by an order of blind monks. Those blind monks each make the equivalent of $7.2 million Euro a year. This jet uses over a thousand gallons of that champagne a day, and makes seventeen flights a month.

    One of those blind monks is flying this plane to your bowl game. He's like a bat, and uses sonar and "good vibes" to find the runway. The runway that takes you to Dubai, and the Dubai Bowl.

    You're in a limo. You're also driving a Lamborghini. You're driving a Lamborghini inside a limo that contains an entire F1 grade racing course inside it. You're realizing that going 5-7 with an exemption from the NCAA has gotten you into this Lamborghini, inside this limo, and that maybe losing to Kentucky that weekend wasn't a bad call, since they ended up in the Music City Bowl for the eighth year in a row. You're firing Mario Kart shells from the Lamborghini, because everything in Dubai is Mario Kart compatible.

    You're noticing the Chain Chompers along the side of the road, barking their welcome. And not eating Filipino guest workers. And most definitely not eating Filipino guest workers, something you would most definitely never share on social media, honored guest of the Dubai Bowl.


    You step out of the Lamborghini inside the limo which is now inside a giant hotel made to look like the Dubai Bowl. You're now inside the Dubai Bowl, a hotel and stadium complex that spends 12 hours underwater each day, and then rises to the surface and comes to a resting spot 450 feet above the Persian Gulf. The hotel costs 485 billion Euro, and is the future of our species as we know it. It has neg-grav maglev propulsion systems centuries ahead of existing technology made by unstable Russian scientists, and can filter seawater for drinking, fuel, and conversion to gasoline for flame weaponry to prevent piracy. It has its own hospitals, plastic surgery clinics, and three Prada stores.

    It also has a buffet.

    A simply astonishing buffet.

    You're in your hotel room inside the boutique hotel inside the Dubai Bowl/Sub-super-marine Life Support Sportsplexium. Your sheets are made of pure silk stretched over the beds of dead aristocrats who chose to end life rather than spending a moment in anything less than the perfection of the Dubai Bowl. No one has ever committed a luxurious suicide after attending the Independence Bowl. We have verified this using the CPUs that run the temperature controls/sex robot functions inside each Dubai Bowl bathroom. Each is more powerful than any computer known to man, and exists solely to make your robot sex sessions and showering as pleasurable an experience as anyone has ever had.


    Sex robots are not operational on the Sabbath and during daily prayers for men. There is no such thing as a sex robot for women. You will be deported for asking about these at the Dubai Bowl.

    There are, however, lesbian sex robots by request of Dana Holgorsen.

    You turn and find yourself on the field at the Dubai Bowl. The grass is Kentucky bluegrass. The stands are pure marble lined with hand-stitched Italian seats. Each is capable of exploding at any time with the power of a pound of C4 wired to the seat to prevent disturbances. You marvel at the comfort and security you feel knowing this. The goalposts beckon skyward, each changing color to reflect the mood of each team.

    Yours is glowing a deep red: the color of contentment, and ultimate happiness.

    You feel a gift bag being placed into your hand. You open the simple plastic bag. Inside you find a small lemur. It smiles, and emerges from the bag and sits benignly on your shoulder. This lemur speaks seven languages, including English. It can cook exquisite royal Thai dishes, but is also an able pastry chef. It is fully housetrained, a not insignificant accomplishment for a Harvard graduate. It is a licensed masseur, and has overseen the growth funds for three different notable famous investors. It will kill for you, and has been genetically engineered to be immortal and partially fireproof. It never sleeps. It is capable of minor surgeries and is a keen listener.

    You have met the best friend you will ever have.

    You think how much better this is than any Best Buy Gift Certificate you would get in Shreveport.

    You smile a smile you did not know you possessed.

    You smile this smile because you are in the Dubai Bowl, an experience unlike any other on the planet.

    And also because you are so high you can't feel your face, because the air is laced with aerosolized cocaine at all times.

    The Dubai Bowl: We've got untraceable, drug-test-safe aerosol cocaine everywhere. Suck it, Shreveport.

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  • 06/12/13--07:57: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 6/12/2013
  • 153062433

    BURRAH DELIVERS A CAKE IN DISGUISE. Let's clear a few things up. The Kang is Jackie Sherrill--cheating-ass, fist-clenching, brawlin'-ass, bull-castrating Jackie Sherrill.

    The King is Barry Switzer. If you watch this video, you can see him delivering a cake to Bob Devaney at the 3:22 mark, and then getting slain by Devaney with a single joke.

    (Most people are more recognizable with a bottle of Jack Daniels in their hand.) (Via Corn Nation.)

    DEREK DOOLEY MAY HAVE HIT AUTOPILOT AT ONE POINT LAST YEAR. Not that APR isn't a deceptive stat--and it is, particularly when at lot of it has to do with giant, expensive buildings devoted solely to keeping players eligible--but damn, Tennessee, were you letting Tyler Bray run everything last year? (The answer is yes, which is why finals consisted of a game of cornhole and a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. AND THEY STILL FLUNKED.)

    EVERYONE AT EA HAS GIVEN UP AND IS JUST SWIMMING IN MONEY. The atrocities in the rankings for teams in the latest edition of EA Sports are the best argument yet that EA is desperately trying to NOT use real players, capabilities, or anything taken from real life. Florida has a 90 on offense, which is accurate if you talk about total points scored on the year.

    THAT WILL GET YOU INCARCERATED AND SHOULD. Arizona State brings the total of sexual assault charges we need to tally for the Fulmer Cup to two on the week, because some people still think rape is okay in the 21st century in America, and that's a real statement that just hurts to even think about being true. (But is somehow true.)

    HEH. CHUBB. Nick Chubb committed to the Bulldogs by receiving a ticket on a scooter in Athens, because Athens things and stuff.

    LONGHORN YOGA. It's a difficult discipline, but fifty million dollars a year and consistent practice will turn you into a master after some time.

    EVIL TWO QUARTERBACK NONSENSE. Devilment in need of review from Funroe.

    ETC: Kanye is insane and Kanye is brilliant and Kanye is insane and Kanye is brilliant and Kanye is insane. The outside world is learning about Florida Man.

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  • 06/13/13--08:07: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 6/13/2013
  • 20120908_kdl_ak7_168

    THAT'S NOT SMART. Clemson fans may be mourning a bit after a bit of vandalism chipped a piece off Howard's Rock last night, but consider a few things before becoming too sad and/or angry.

    1. Someone's going to punish them for this. Note: no one said it would be the police, because this is South Carolina, and we know that not all transactions of crime/punishment occur within the codes of civil and criminal law there. (Like, easily 70% of them, by our totally made-up estimate.)

    2. It's a rock. You had the good sense to pick something that can't be poisoned (See: Auburn) as a symbol, and also something that the coach it is named for used as a doorstop for years. A blow from a pickaxe just chips the damn thing. It's also replaceable, since we have been to Death Valley pretty recently, and let us assure you: there are still shitloads of rock just laying everywhere doing jack nothing.

    3. A Clemson fan wasn't the one who attacked a rock. If nothing else comforts you here, it should be the notion that though this might be bad, at least you're not the ones who in a fit of rivalry anger decided to take out their aggressions on a lifeless, formless hunk of rock. Rephrased: you weren't the ones taking out life's frustrations on a fucking piece of stone.

    CAPTAIN PRESS CONFERENCE. The real useful thing in SI's article on the NCAA in crisis is a.) that anyone believes the NCAA is a real thing and b.) Mark Emmert used lasers and preroll video for his intros like a pro wrestler would. MARK EMMERT OFF THE TOP ROPE WITH THE DEVASTATING FINISHING MOVE: THE LOI.

    WELCOME BACK, DREAD RAIDERS. Whatever happens with Texas Tech this year, it should be fun, and per Bill C. that's a sorely needed change from the Tuberville era. Remember when Tommy Tuberville's wife refused to live in Lubbock? Ah, memories.

    RE: THE DREAD PIRATE. Why yes, this is very clever, Wazzu fans. (via r/cfb)

    ETC: Man, Kyle Petty's hair was so gorgeous we sort of want to lay newborns on it. There is no translation needed, but suck it anyway, El Tri. Oh look, Uncle Dana came over from Morgantown for a visit. He just won't give up on that old truck. LOL NOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE. Ordering this bike immediately with no regrets and certainly no helmet.

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    Stephen Jackson, former professional basketball player and amateur melee fighter, appeared on Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable this week. You may not have watched it. Remedy that immediately.

    We will help by pointing you to crucial moments of vital public interest.

    1:39 This is an actual chyron from the interview, and also a question that Stephen Jackson answers without blinking.


    "You never know when it's your turn." That's Stephen Jackson talking about the immediacy of death, firing a gun in a strip club parking lot in self-defense after getting hit by a car, and getting surgery on his lips without anesthesia less than two minutes into a televised interview. Again: THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE INTERVIEW.

    3:40 It's been published elsewhere, but any talk of Ron Artest saying, "Are we gonna get in trouble?" in the locker room after the Malice in the Palace brawl is worth listening to--especially when it's easily only the fifth best thing in this interview.

    4:40 Le Batard: "Admit that you enjoyed punching the customer."

    Jackson: "Lemme say this. All those racial slurs I done heard, all those things about my mom, my basketball game and my kids and all this...It felt good to punch a fan one time. I'm not gonna lie."

    6:10 Stephen Jackson says he "didn't really get to do what he's capable of" in the Pacers/Pistons/population of Detroit brawl. Stephen Jackson fought no fewer than three people in the fight and dominated every single round. Stephen Jackson basically wants to set up the hallway scene in Oldboy, leave the hammer behind, and show the world what he's really capable of doing in a real fight.

    6:55 The part where Jackson admits to removing "something that was illegal" from a friend's house as a teenager to prevent his friend from getting arrested. The part where Stephen Jackson talks about the cops questioning him while he was holding "something that was illegal" that would have sent him to jail for a long, long time. The part where you start thinking growing up in Port Arthur, Texas was not fun in the least, at all.



    Just ten minutes into the interview, talking about how his brother was beaten to death with pipes.

    11:00 This interview ends with a tale of foreign NBA players attacking each others' genitals with towels.

    Just watch it. I can't explain any of it, but Stephen Jackson's Real Tales Of Real Stephen Jackson Life will be coming to you sometime soon as a form of reality television. It will be the hardest television show ever created.

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    The Wildcat is an issue. Your school isn't: it's putting some actual money into football, hired a good recruiter in Mark Stoops, and shows signs of real, verifiable commitment towards competing in the SEC. Your athletic director is even into Tumblr, and how many schools can say that? Besides LSU's, who's probably got some horrifying erotic tumblr you don't want to know about?

    (Psst. It's definitely not And he definitely won't take submissions anonymously, and no dudes it's not that kind of tailgate.)

    You have a lot of great things going for you at this point, and yet have the bad luck to be stuck with one of the worst default mascots in all of sports: the Wildcat.


    That's a bobcat, not a Wildcat, so congratulations on not being just another team with a what amounts to a high-falutin' feral cat as your symbol. Your mascot doesn't make its living scavenging stray rodents and dodging a bowhunting Chipper Jones on the weekend. ("It's a tiger, Billy! Right here in Roswell!) That would be Kansas State's mascot, which translates to a sad football player so bad he cannot reveal his identity in public, and instead lives a double life as student and costumed feral cat.

    But it's still just a Bobcat, and not even one that gets posed well enough to look cool. That WildBobFeralCat appears to have been stolen from a vast Chinese taxidermy diorama about exotic cats in a discotheque. He was the DJ, with one hand on the fader and another up in the air begging party felines that no, they didn't need water, because the roof could and would continue to burn, and also because they were all cats, and all hated water.

    .Except for tigers, man. Tigers are weird, and we don't let them in the club anyway.

    Winning football games will fix some of that. In the meantime, consider the following things to make the Wildcat slightly more intimidating than he is.

    • posing only at full height when holding knives, because some people are terrified of guns, but everyone is terrified of knives
    • always on fire all the time
    • talks in Michael Ironside's voice
    • motion sensor that, when triggered, says "mama loves you" in rick pitino's voice
    • only appears held by Rich Brooks holding a royal flush and/or tumbler of smooth scotch in other hand
    • basketball? (shrugs) (?)
    • tape a bunch of insanity DVDs to him
    • child-sized Christian Laettner jersey
    • clever use of mirrors INFINITY WILDCATS FOREVER
    • leave it in a dark room with something draped over it/ maybe someone thinks it's a ghost
    • spread a rumor that it's Charles Robinson in a costume
    • teardrop tats
    • tape even more Insanity DVDs to him
    • use a tank as your mascot and when someone asks where the wildcat is say "inside the tank" and then watch everyone run because nothing is scarier than a very stupid 20 pound wild cat trying to drive a thirty ton killing machine

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