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    1. Carol dropping some oranges because she is the worst, and also because more Godfather jokes. Carol doing this with brown paper bags because she doesn't care about the environment, and proves it by watering her plants in the middle of the desert in an earlier scene, which happens later because timejumps. Carol, just sitting there not suing the Feds or the Whites because the house next door is clearly a property values nuke placed right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Good god, Carol, you are seriously the worst person in Breaking Bad, and that includes Todd, who shot a perfectly nice kid just for looking at them and then bottled him in acid like a snake in cheap Chinese rice wine.

    1a. But yes, the episode begins with a tumbling of oranges, and ends with Hank in a betrayal clutch with Walt, and hooboy more Godfather references.

    2. But yes, more oranges, more doom, and Walt in his Mr. Lambert phase is just a big ball of a.) invincible tumors, b.) wired snitchin' evil, c.) needs the Ricin for um...weight loss, d.) has that kind of burnt fleshy pork rind neck you only get from living outside in a sunblasted climate for several years, e.) is all of the above.

    3. Saul's green silk shirt ensemble was unfuckwithable, and was green, which in the Breaking Bad universe means something very complex like "Saul Goodman, graduate of the University of American Samoa, is a toadstool that spits cash when you kick it." It's not that hard sometimes, Kremlinologists. Also good to see Saul's still getting hand jobs from his middle-aged Asian masseuse. Most dependable, loving relationship on the entire show.

    4. Jesse would make a great hype man for an ICP-style rap act, if he's looking for a second career. The form on his cash tossing was impeccable.

    5. If Hank had just stumbled out of his truck, flopped onto that stranger's lawn, and then groaned and released an anvil-sized turd while primal screaming in the arms of his terrified wife, Breaking Bad could have made the greatest poop joke ever, and confirmed my belief that Hank had been sitting on the toilet for well over a year in real time at that point, just waiting for the cameras to start rolling again. It would explain the freakout, but Vince Gilligan is clearly a better man and writer than I will ever be. (See mailbox for rejected Breaking Bad script "Anvil Poop.")

    6. Walt and Skyler running the car wash was the best scene in the entire show. Oh, sure, you might like Hank and Walt showing their hands in the garage. (And finally, a legitimate reason to own a garage door opener: dramatic huis clos capabilities!) I did, too, but that's something that had to happen, was going to happen. Walt nitpicking the layout of the air fresheners, and Skyler--clad in new, expensive beige clothes like a cloaking device--mooning over new car wash locations was what the show does best. It showed that evil can be spectacular, but also is usually deeply banal. When you have a pile of blood money in a storage facility just collecting silverfish and moaning with the echoes of dead souls, what does the heart want? It wants to worry about the car wash, and the air fresheners, and perhaps dream of buying...another car wash, just like that, skipping over the whole BLOODY METH GOD OF THE SOUTHWEST like it was grad school or something.

    7. Oh, nice Gus Fring act, Walt, continuing the string of killing people, and then wearing their personality traits like a fleshmask. Mr. White would like to play humannnn tetherball, and then lie badly to Jesse, who clearly knows what happened to Mike, and clearly doesn't believe a fucking word of what Walt says. Jesse, as the loose end for a lot of people at this point, is the most dangerous human being in the show, and simultaneously the most endangered. At least poor Holly the baby has a sibling and a mother to look out for her. Jesse has Skinny Pete and Badger, and they're busy writing the greatest Star Trek scripts ever.

    8. This is not a lie: I would watch an entire season of Star Trek written by Badger.

    9. The framing of people in mirrors was a recurring thing. Walt saw himself in a broken mirror; Jesse saw himself in the drug, booze, and cigarette clogged reflection on his glass table; Hank saw himself in the mirror he'd slapped a Schraderbrau sticker on in his garage. Hanks was the saddest, because man, there used to be this Hank, out there in his garage, just living that sweet Fieri lifestyle of brewing your own beer, wearing Tommy Bahama shirts to everything, and grilling on the patio while cranked off a few Schraderbrau, thinking about ass, or football, or maybe goin' low carb for a while. He's broken, and the person who broke him is Walt. Remember the bottles of beer popping in his garage when this all started? It's Hank's sanctum, those were metaphorical warning shots, and now it's come full circle with the source of the pressure walking right in the door and threatening him.

    10. It occurred to me while watching this that Walt would probably end up in Supermax in Florence ADX if convicted. So, yeah: cancer/flight/living like a dog in the desert would be preferable to that, Walt.

    11. "Low Winter Sun" came on afterwards, and went 29 minutes without a commercial break to string you out before showing scenes from next week's episode. Prime dickery by AMC, but a valuable counterpoint in one sense. Everything in the show--set in Detroit--was dark, oppressive, ruined, and framed to emphasize the rusty grandeur of post-apocalyptic Detroit. This was meant to be DRAMATIC and SWEEPING and indicative of RUIN AND ROT.

    You can't ask Detroit to be subtle. However, consider that final scene with Hank and Walt, and the setting: a garage made of painted sheetrock and aluminum framing with the name Tyvek under there somewhere, stacked with well-organized tools undoubtedly purchased from a nearby Home Depot (the same one where Walt buys his corpsebarrels,) arranged in a circle of identical homes at the end of a cul-de-sac. It's not the whole appeal of Breaking Bad, but part of it for me has always been the very average, accessible, and utterly familiar surroundings. You know how that shitty stapler Walt is fiddling with in the office sounds, and can smell the weed coming off Jesse. You know all the glassware on the table, because it's all mobbed off the same three places your Mom buys her glassware. I've always known how the carpet in the White house smelled, a kind of old, eighties carpet giving off a faint smell of ambient dust and degenerating chemicals oozing out of the carpet. The devil met Hank in your dad's garage, and was wearing a khaki windbreaker when he was thrown into a pile of Office Depot file boxes. That's way more disturbing to me, and always will be.

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    Tulsa has a dog ambassador now. That's adorable and everything because it is a dog, and a Golden Retriever at that. This means Tulsa football will run out of the tunnel led by a likable, bounding, drooling animal with endless love, bottomless affection, and little understanding of what is going on around them. The animal is not named Dan Hawkins, Rick Neuheisel, John L. Smith, or Ron Zook, because that would be redundant. (But it still would have been a nice gesture in one direction, Golden Hurricanes.)

    The dog is the obvious choice, and one that's been done in variations before. (See: Boise State's Zee the Tee Dog.) No one has ever chosen a cat to represent the values and/or personality of a program, but perhaps they should. Football teams and cats share a lot of personality traits: long periods of inactivity, lack of personality, violent spasms of blind rage against random objects, frequent destruction of valuable objects motivated by boredom, and an irresistible, instinctive need to pee on things.

    So before you think we just want cats to be used as program ambassadors just to see the tragicomedy of a cat, being led on a leash, terrified of 80,000 screaming people and clawing its way up a flailing mascot on national television...well, we can't. That is exactly what we want to see. There are similarities, sure, but what we want most is to watch something like the Virginia Cavalier riding at full speed across the field, saber rattling against the horse, screaming and batting at the cat glued to its visage like a determined facehugger.

    But yanno, the cat as symbol works in a few ways, both for individual teams, and beyond:

    • Always poops in the same place (Pitt, and Birmingham)
    • Carries a disease that makes you nicer (Nebraska)
    • Doesn't care if you live or die (Georgia Tech, specifically their head coach)
    • No matter the situation, always prepared to show own ass in polite company (Arizona State)
    • May smother you in your sleep for sport (Arkansas)
    • Has weird glands that make a strange smell that sometimes require medical attention (Kansas)
    • Not a fan of Gene Chizik, just in general (Auburn)
    • Inexplicably popular animal with limited emotional capacity and inconsistent presence (Notre Dame)
    • Zero coachability (Tennessee, 2012)
    • Has never taken or attended a class at the University of North Carolina (UNC)
    • Prefers to bathe in dirt and and its own spit (Frank Beamer)
    • Mere appearance across path can spell misfortune and doom (Joe Tessitore)
    • Sleeps 22 hours a day wherever it likes outdoors, and usually without clothing (West Virginia)
    • May relieve themselves in a sand trap (Steve Spurrier)
    • Is terrible at feeding itself, and will wander into any home hoping for a meal (Maryland)
    • Cares about nothing, plays with its prey, desires only blood and the replication of its species (Alabama)
    • Prefers to perch atop furniture (Nick Saban)
    • Vomits up bones, feathers, and gristle without warning (Mike Patrick)
    • Descended from prehistoric tigers and easily distracted with laser pointers (Dabo Swinney)
    • Will eat an entire nest of baby birds in seconds (Will Muschamp)
    • Marks territory with urine, stares at you while doing this (Lane Kiffin)
    • Is petrified of water for no reason (Gary Patterson, don't ask)
    • Went to Hawai'i and ate all the native flora and fauna and left and now there are no flightless birds left in the damn place (June Jones)
    • Ripped physique and effective performance despite irregular diet of garbage-meat (Kansas State)
    • Not eligible for Puppy Bowl (Miami)
    • Evolved to eat woodland creatures (Jerry Kill)
    • Will tackle a Christmas Tree for no reason whatsoever (James Franklin, Vanderbilt)
    • Is rewarded richly for doing very little (Texas)
    • Loses eight times before it really counts (Alabama)
    • Has no idea what time it is, ever; occasionally eats grass for no reason (LSU)
    • Spiny tongue capable of abrading human skin (Nick Saban)
    • Goes feral in a matter of days (Florida)
    • Goes wild for certain plants (Florida)
    • Suspicious of vegetables (Michigan)
    • Lives in mortal fear of every moment of every day bringing a new threat, some new terror, some possible doom lurking in every twitch of the leaves in the trees, some beast waiting in the bushes with longer claws, and even sharper teeth, and faster legs to catch with stronger paws the prey you call yourself, meat on the bone, seconds from death at any instant, breathing oxygen in the mere hope something smaller and slower and sadder sees you as that rattle in the bushes, that for someone you are the reaper's blade clattering in the foyer as he takes off his raincoat, removes his galoshes, and makes himself at home waiting for you on the sofa. (Michigan State)
    • Seriously won't complain about having to eat rats (Bill Snyder)

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  • 08/13/13--06:41: LET COACH T DRIVE THIS BUS




    [what you gonna do coach]




    (You can download the song here, if you want a ringtone that sings of Tampa. And who doesn't?)

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  • 08/13/13--08:10: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 8/13/13
  • THE FIGHTIN' MANZIELS OF SWINDLETOWN. Bubbaprog's long history of the Manziel family is the first thing you should read if you think Johnny Manziel gives a shit about anything that has to do with an autograph scandal. EAST TEXAS OIL MAFIA, STAND UP!

    A MORATORIUM ON MACK BROWN JOKES IS DEMANDED. Kiehl Frazier, who started last year at Auburn and was the number one quarterback in the state coming out of high school, is moving to safety. That he's out of the QB race isn't a surprise--he ran behind Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson for much of camp--but the move to safety is odd, since one glance at Frazier in the pocket does not suggest obvious secondary skills. Nick Marshall, one of the frontrunners, is a former DB from UGA who was kicked off the team and ended up at Auburn. Auburn, more so than in other years, will be very, very weird this year. (And thus: interesting!) (And possibly tragicomic!) (And thus: interesting!)

    WE COULD DO THE CHESNEY THING FOR 35 MINUTES. At the 33 minute mark of the BHGP podcast, we sort of lose control and start venting about Kenny Chesney, which someone has to do for the future of America and our children. Do not skip the intro, though, because it is Patrick Vint singing "Blurred Lines" with Iowa lyrics.

    THE SHOCK OF PEOPLE NOT SHOWING UP FOR CASH GAMES AGAINST MEDIOCRE COMPETITION AT HOME. Stop scheduling Toledo and other cakes of the cup, and perhaps you can think about using guilt in a ticket sales push letter without us laughing, throwing the letter off the back of the trailer, and resuming our morning skeet shooting across the yard. (This is Atlanta. It's legal before 12:00 p.m. inside the city limits provided you use birdshot.)

    OR JUST SAY WE CAN COME SEE THESE GUYS PLAY. Hey, look, recruits and stuff. You're not so bad, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football.

    WE GOT HURT GUYS WHO ARE ACTING REAL HURT. Spurrier, just talkin' shit about hurt dudes.

    P.S. Clowney is totally playing, and Steve Spurrier is not new at this.

    KEEP TRYING, WAZZU. Washington State is attempting to combat binge-drinking on campus and at football games. As a counterargument to these efforts, please see the image below K-bigpic_medium

    Washington State fans drain entire planes dry on road trips, and smuggle whole bottles of whiskey into the stands. Until you teach them how not to be Scandinavians and hardass Western high plains drinkers from birth, you might as well just offer oral rehydration salts in the stands and sell beer in the stadium to keep the input element of BAC lower than, say, smuggled bags of hooch tucked into their anoraks.

    FIGHT! UCLA is feistier than any team with lacy cursive on their helmet need be.

    .ETC: Pedal steel, motherfuckers. We have to get a drone strictly for recreational purposes. Don't ever make them do Murphy following a heavy squat day, because then this happens. MADE WITH PURE RUSSIAN BEAR.

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    Top-25 lists attempt to rank quality, and if you have 125 teams in a single sport, you can't possibly be all that truly concerned with quality.

    College football is much closer to cable television than it's ever been, and not just because of the amount of money coursing from one to the other. You buy packages and sort through them as best you can. You want Alabama, LSU, and Florida? Congratulations, consumer: you also get Mizzou at no extra charge even if you will never watch them. You like Oklahoma? Please accept this Baylor as a part of our "Big, Dusty, and Lusty" Big 12 package.

    That you end up sometimes liking the add-ons, extras, and strange bonuses more than the premium channels is a unique perk. Baylor is a perfect example: not the greatest team in college football for talent and consistency, but certainly among the most fearless.

    So this is not a Top 25 based on talent, value, or potential finishing position. This is a Top 25 of the teams I care about watching. These are teams I like to watch for reasons, and not all of them good, noble, or explicable. It leans toward teams that encourage the most disorder on both sides of the ball and favors teams with a distinct lack of concern for their own well-being.

    I repeat: the teams are on here based strictly on personal interest. BUT HOW CAN YOU HAVE FLORIDA NUMBER ONE? Because I'm a Florida fan, and I'd rather you know how deeply subjective and logic-free this is from the start. (Would a sane person watch Florida's offense willingly? Exactly.) WHY'S CLEMSON AHEAD OF ALABAMA? Because they're way more fun to watch, and much less predictable. I know how Alabama is going to plow people like so much cheap topsoil. I have no idea what Clemson's going to do other than score points and go fast, and that is much more fun to behold than Nick Saban's Death March 2013 for someone who is not an Alabama fan. BYU? They're not as nice as advertised, and thus more fun than you'd imagine.

    So consider yourself warned, and if it's not apparent from the start just how unbalanced, biased, and completely arbitrary this list is, consider that the first entry uses a vomiting robot as a metaphor.

    1. Florida

    I'm personally biased/invested/addicted, so if you don't want to read about said personal bias, skip to No. 2 (which is the real No. 1 for pure interest.) This year's Florida team will be the most mature version of Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football yet, and that means MORE SPECTACULAR PERSONAL FOULS followed by EIGHT OFFENSIVE LINEMEN ON THE FIELD AT A TIME and perhaps accompanied by QUARTERBACK PLAY PROVEN TO HEIGHTEN THE RISK OF ANEURYSM.

    When teams say they do not care about the scoreboard, they're usually lying. This team is not, because Big Dumb Will Muschamp football is less about amassing a certain number of points on the board, and more about unorchestrated violence pointed mostly in one direction. Is there a player who wears chains, has a Chucky Doll, and allegedly gets in fights after big losses with former players in the tunnel? This is Florida, so yes. His name is Dominique Easley. He plays defensive line, is from Staten Island, and is all 193 members of Wu-Tang melted into a single person.

    You might want to know something about the offense. Here you go:


    I can't wait! [/puts brain in crock pot with three onions, some thyme, and four freshman wide receivers in the starting rotation for next five months]

    2. Baylor

    Please remember that this list is merely about interesting teams, not teams who are going to win the national title, because be honest with yourself: the national title campaign tunnels down as the season goes on, involves increasingly fewer teams, and in recent years has meant following Alabama's crashing bore of a killing machine to its inevitable two quarters of murder against an outmanned opponent.

    Baylor will not win the national title, but Baylor is screamingly fun, terrifyingly aggressive, and blessed* with two indefensible running backs (Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin) and a quarterback you've barely heard of who will throw for a minimum of 3,000 yards and run for 500 yards. (Because every Art Briles quarterback at Baylor does this, and will for eternity.) The defense ... well, they try really hard, and sometimes it goes into a fugue state and rages the doors off teams like Kansas State and UCLA, and that's about the best you can hope for when you play more snaps than any other team except for NIU and Arizona.

    *Baptist school previews require use of appropriate terminology.

    3. Oregon

    It's not just post-Chip Kelly rubbernecking if it's De'Anthony Thomas, Josh Huff, Colt Lyerla, Marcus Mariota, and various other fast-twitch mercenaries running roughshod over winded competition. Did you know Mark Helfrich actually wants to go faster than Kelly did? Have you looked at the Ducks' first five games, a rolling buffet of lambs waiting to be conveyor-belted into the mouth of this beast? Nicholls State, Virginia, Tennessee, California, and Colorado?

    Do you know how outrageously overrated they'll be if people don't account for the gigantic point differentials in September and just focus on all the blood left in their wake? Which they'll do, until they drop a game at Washington, or perhaps at Stanford on November 7th, meaning new Oregon will, in large part, look a lot like old Oregon (I.e. Must-watch, volatile, ALL CAPS football).

    4. Texas A&M

    The Aggies would be pretty high on this list without Jonathan Footballworth Manziel the Third, because Kevin Sumlin teams are innovative, as aggressive as a cornered cassowary, and just as exotic in terms of what they do on both sides of the ball. With Johnny Manziel they're way up here, and only because of sweet football, which shouldn't care what consenting adults do with a Sharpie in the privacy of a Miami hotel room. (Note: still appropriately ahead of Alabama.)

    5. Clemson

    The most shaded-on team ever to come off of two 10-win seasons, a bowl victory over an SEC team, and an offseason where much of its offensive talent -- its lifeblood -- returned to spring practice instead of graduating or hitting the draft.

    Part of the suspicion of Clemson is the middling defense, part of it is the superstition surrounding a team so historically mercurial it has its own verb, and part of it is the refusal to believe an ACC team coached by a grown man named Dabo can compete for not only conference titles, but beyond. I'm not saying these are not legitimate concerns. I'm also not saying they won't be immensely entertaining, because if you can run 100 plays in a game on LSU, you are capable of dark wizardry.

    6. Alabama

    Alabama now works in football the way plate tectonics does. It's crushing, incremental, inevitable, and still sort of fascinating in the initial stages of disaster.

    This year's variation may include more measured volcanic activity, with the best offense Alabama has had under Nick Saban, and the best wide receiving threat since Julio Jones in Amari Cooper, who is a.) fast and b.) actually known by name to Alabama football fans. Watching him sprint under play-action passes is fun enough, particularly if preceded by dazzling T.J. Yeldon runs.

    The rest is crushing power applied to the skull of the opponent, and Nick Saban is the Lord of All Gravity.


    Illustration: Alabama football at work. Source: Wikipedia Commons.

    P.S. They do this from time to time, and that is interesting in the most ghoulish way possible.

    7. South Carolina

    Come to watch Jadeveon Clowney feed, stay for the rest of the defense and Spurrier juggling quarterbacks like scorned mistresses. They play at Central Florida on September 28th, a very dangerous game for the Gamecocks because it is UCF, and there is no way in hell Blake Bortles isn't going down without a fight. Blake Bortles is a real name of a real person who plays quarterback pretty well.

    College football is a cornucopia of amazing things, you see. Half of them will be eaten byClowney this year.

    8. TCU

    You can turn a team of AFL dropouts into the best team in the Mountain West overnight.

    Full disclosure: we lean towards chaos-enabling teams of any ilk, and it just so happens that offensive teams happen to be a bit more willing to turn the chess match of football into chess boxing. Enter TCU, a team of a defensive bent capable of shattering order on either side of the football, especially if Casey Pachall stays on pace to return at quarterback and the extremely young secondary continues to mature into something of real terror.

    The Frogs play LSU in week one, an underplayed matchup of one weird coach capable of creating designed havoc, and another weird coach who just emanates it from strange glands only he possesses.

    Here's Gary Patterson's playbook. Use it correctly and you can turn a team of AFL dropouts into the best team in the Mountain West overnight. Use it incorrectly, and you will suffer blistering all over your body and see everything tinged with blue for a month, because the contents are caustic and to be handled by professionals only.

    9. ULM

    As long as the Warhawks play two quarterbacks at the same time, take every impossible shot against an AQ school they can get, and play every game like it's the last football game before Ragnarok, Funroe belongs on this list. They get a rematch versus Baylor in Waco this year in a game that you should watch while mainlining Monster energy drink and pumping horse adrenaline into your eyeballs with a syringe.

    10. Oklahoma State

    Scored at least 30 points in all five of their losses last year, earning their title as the Pyromaniac's Backup just in case the store's all out of Baylor. The two teams play on November 23rd in Stillwater. Bystanders are advised to leave a three- to four-mile blast radius surrounding the site and to watch through cobalt glass and filtered binoculars.

    11. Northwestern

    Meerkats. Small, outmanned by every other animal on the savannah, and devoid of any real obvious weapons. You would assume they would be the prewrapped meat burrito for every predator on the prowl, and sure, you almost had one down your throat.

    Then its friends appeared, and more friends, and at first the bites weren't quite so sharp, but in aggregate you realized: blood loss. Your lunch turned on you in the worst way possible, and in your final moments you saw the silhouettes of their heads peering at you, and your last thought creeping through the misfiring neurons of your dying brain: I never should have underestimated the noble meerkat, or Kain Colter, or the ability of Northwestern to take any game to the bleeding edge of the wire.

    12. Florida State

    Mostly for quarterback Jameis Winston, who can do some incredible things as long as he doesn't play within the constraints of Jimbo Fisher's offense. Jameis Winston is a first-year starter and a freshman, so there is zero percent he will even know the whole playbook and a negative percentage of him not improvising at will once the ball is snapped.

    This is good for you the viewer, and realistically bodes well for Florida State, because somewhere along the way Fisher joined Steve Spurrier in contracting Brian Billick Fever. (The virus that turns an offensive coach into one best left to standing on the sidelines, running the ball, and clapping for the mauling defense.)

    Additionally, there are cheese balls involved.

    The 2013 Seminoles: They're gonna get some cheeseballs anyway. Oh, the whole defense is awesome, and they play in the ACC so they're a.) good for entertaining carnage, and b.) will lose a shocker at one point in excruciating fashion because history never lies, but perennial preseason national title predictions for FSU do.

    13. Louisiana-Lafayette

    The Ragin' Cajuns' Terrance Broadway is really, really good, and capable of being a 3,000/1,000 quarterback if he stays upright for all 13 games.

    But yet there's more: they nearly beat Florida at home (see R2D2 graphic for Florida's offense above), could beat Kansas State or Arkansas this year straight up, and do it all under the auspices of a coach who can bench 225 pounds more times than many NFL Draft prospects. They also play breakneck-paced Sun Belt ball with the extremely talented trimmings LSU can't take in Baton Rouge and have a giant demonic pepper as their mascot. Love them, or face a spicy doom at their hands.

    14. Boise State

    The enduring charms of Boise State remain: the unfolding hellboxes of shifts and motions that make their offense so maddening, the random Dutch dudes on the roster (hello, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe) the defense that rotates no fewer than 23 different defensive linemen and linebackers in on a single series, and the inevitable progression of every quarterback who takes a snap under center from clueless n00b to computerized and ruthless avatar of Chris Petersen's football soul. This year's is Joe Southwick. He's going to be a brilliant Las Vegas Bowl MVP.

    15. Arizona State

    NO TODD GRAHAM JOKES. Only defensive tackle Will Sutton, who had the same number of tackles for loss as Clowney while playing at nose tackle. This year, he'll be playing fullback in select situations, because Todd Graham is a friend of horror. Also, ASU's defense features a position called the "Devilbacker."

    After a gimme against Sacramento State, they walk teeth-first into a four-game streak of Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame, because bravery is entertaining, and also because even Arizona State knows how funny it would be if it tore the hide off Notre Dame in the soulless, shiny expanse of the JerryDome. Dear Todd Graham: please tear the hide off Notre Dame in the JerryDome just so we can read the spluttering rage of old columnists bemoaning the satanic, sordid present of college football.

    16. Kansas State

    Like watching an old man walk into the gym in khakis and an old T-shirt and pause beneath the pullup bar for a moment, and then standing in awe as he bangs out 40 in a row without pause.

    You have no idea how Kansas State works. The Wildcats appear to be running a high school offense, their defense is stocked with discards and mismatched parts from various community colleges, and their coach is 73. He perversely enjoys making a team out of football odds and ends year after year. They'll have a ridiculous turnover margin and a misplaced tight end at quarterback. They'll win nine games despite your doubts.

    Late on a Saturday night, you hear a knock at the door. You open that door and find a bag of Werther's butterscotches on the doorstep, wrapped in a purple bow. A man in a K-State windbreaker with flowing white hair waves from the sidewalk.

    "Check the note!" he says. You read it: "They'll never believe you no matter how many times you tell them."

    And then he's gone, into the night, probably to pick up a bowl trophy and a three-star JuCo linebacker who'll be an all-Big 12 selection in a year. He'll stop by the store for some whole milk, too. Just like they had on the family farm.

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    17. Texas Tech

    Kliff Kingsbury and the wide-open spaces of the Big 12 and ... pretty decent personnel, actually, at least on the offensive side of the ball. Did you know Texas Tech, due to the distortion rendered by all that empty space in Lubbock, actually plays on a field that is 60 yards long but 200 yards wide? Football's not different in Lubbock; reality is, and no one's better equipped for that than a man who slapped Kevin Sumlin on the ass and lived to talk about it. (Plus: ladies? Ladieeeeees.)

    18. Miami

    Would be higher up the list for sheer aggression, but a new offensive coordinator in James Coley is an unknown quantity. Running back Duke Johnson isn't, and destroys most of what is stupid enough to step in his way with extreme prejudice.

    They're still uneven as hell, but they're fast, cruel, and sort of like a Miami team is supposed to be. WELCOME BACK, TROPICAL VILLAINS. We missed you.

    19. Northern Illinois

    This is a gateway drug. We hide the drug inside the visage of Jordan Lynchand his handy Heisman-insulating promotional bags. We sell you on NIU being a small miracle of a program, somehow getting talent to come to DeKalb, Illinois and then getting it into places like the Orange Bowl and the MAC championship game. One of those went a lot better than the other, but still, the point is getting you hooked on MACtion, and the entry point is Northern Illinois.

    Congrats! You're now watching football on Wednesday nights forever.

    20. UCLA

    QB Brett Hundley is worth it alone, but additional benefits include the sudden, inexplicable collapses all growing teams have, and their counterpart: the blindside upset out of nowhere.

    Plus: if USC's season comes down to a do-or-die game, it'll be at UCLA for Lane Kiffin's job! Rivalry! Buyouts! College football! Kiffin taking the Fresno State job! UCLA could ruin a lot of lives this year, and that's all we really want out of the Pac-12: round-table ruin in all directions, and an endless buffet of locally sourced upsets on the television on a late fall evening.

    21. Auburn

    I'm not saying interesting means "successful." But Gus Unchained will be enough fun to watch by itself, particularly because he'll have to strap the offense together with baling wire and happy thoughts and bridge the gap between aspiration and ability with fake punts, trick plays, and all the other entertaining foolishness teams making it up as they go have to use. The defense isn't bad and could be even better now that it should be playing less than 48 minutes a game. Offensively, there is nowhere to go but up: Auburn was the worst offense in the nation last year, and presumably that coordinator is now out of football and wait shit really --

    22. Arkansas

    Not because Bret Bielema is going to have the Hogs in anything like compelling shape in year one, but mostly because Bielema's cologne is pepper spray, and he wears it wherever he goes. He scored 80 on poor Indiana. Up 41-17 against Minnesota in 2010, he went for a two-point conversion. He openly spars with random strangers on Twitter, and pointed out his record in the Big Ten was about the same as Nick Saban's. Jokingly. JOKINGLY.

    The man called BERT knows it's about the fight, and not who ends up on the barfloor, and that's what will make them fun this year. (The dude on the floor will be Arkansas, and he will be talking shit even as he's thrown through the plate glass front of the bar.)

    23. USF

    Willie Taggart made Western Kentucky football interesting, so he's more than capable of undoing whatever Skip Holtz did to the Bulls. Louisiana Tech would have made this list easily last year, but it just hired Skip Holtz, who keeps getting jobs because                                                   , and also because                                          . Plus, Taggart is Harbaugh Mafia, and they do fun things like go for two in inappropriate situations.

    24. BYU

    For that fierce defense. For Kyle Van Noy, one of those hoovering linebackers who sucks up every runner off the line of scrimmage like the world's most malicious vacuum cleaner. For the Holy War, one of the most underrated running feuds in college football. Frankly, between us (and in language they wouldn't appreciate, but that is accurate and necessary), BYU is just plain damn mean, and makes up for any lack of top-end speed with the kind of malice you can only muster with a roster full of grown men with children. (Living with preschoolers makes a man angry, and only BYU has been smart enough to take advantage of that.)

    Bonus: the mountains of the Wasatch look real pretty on the TV at sunset.

    25. Georgia State

    Really just to see if they survive the most lopsided and mismatched football schedule of 2013.

    G Date Day School Opponent Conf Pts Opp W L Streak Notes
    1 Aug 29, 2013 Thu Georgia State Samford Non-Major
    2 Sep 7, 2013 Sat Georgia State Chattanooga Non-Major
    3 Sep 14, 2013 Sat Georgia State @ West Virginia Big 12
    4 Sep 21, 2013 Sat Georgia State Jacksonville State Non-Major
    5 Oct 5, 2013 Sat Georgia State @ Alabama SEC
    6 Oct 12, 2013 Sat Georgia State Troy Sun Belt
    7 Oct 19, 2013 Sat Georgia State @ Texas State Sun Belt
    8 Oct 26, 2013 Sat Georgia State @ Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt
    9 Nov 2, 2013 Sat Georgia State Western Kentucky Sun Belt
    10 Nov 16, 2013 Sat Georgia State Louisiana-Lafayette Sun Belt
    11 Nov 23, 2013 Sat Georgia State @ Arkansas State Sun Belt
    12 Nov 30, 2013 Sat Georgia State South Alabama Sun Belt
    Provided by View Original Table
    Generated 8/14/2013.

    "Are you breathing?" is now a legitimate point of interest for a football team, since Georgia State enters its first year in FBS play against a full schedule of hyperactive Sun Belt schools and also West Virginia and Alabama on the road. There might not be a win on the schedule, and that includes Samford. I don't always watch football for the right reasons, and taking an interest in Georgia State in 2013 is downright evil.

    I'm also still going to watch, because you wouldn't be watching college football if a small part of you didn't crave at least a little evil. (And the very definition of evil is West Virginia getting to play Georgia State for 60 minutes of American football.)

    More from SB Nation:

    Bill Connelly’s 125-team preview series is almost done

    The developing Johnny Manziel autographs scandal

    How ULM’s two-quarterback offense works

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww look at Tulsa’s new golden retriever

    Projecting every 2013 college football conference race

    Today’s college football news headlines

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    In a world without EA Sports licensing college football games, conferences will be forced to contract out their own games. They will have choices: important choices, nay, vital choices for the future of their brands. They will have to consider what video game company most represents the core values of each conference. These are questions. We have answers.

    THE SEC SELECTS: Andamiro Games


    Are you a bad enough dude to rip your arm off for football? You probably won't even if you are, because no one plays alone, and usually pushes with the help of at least four "quality control assistants" and a couple of medical redshirts pushing.

    THE PAC-12 SELECTS: Oculus Rift VR


    You think you know what it's like to play against Stanford and line up against twenty-two tight ends in a single formation. But do you know how it feels? Can you see the flames shooting from Willie Sutton's exhaust system like they're an inch from your face? Can you admire the marvel of the Flatirons looming over Folsom Field, probably while taking a leisurely stroll through the Colorado defense? Not unless you're using the video game client of choice for the PAC-12, OCULUS RIFT, an experience so real you may think you are tasting that In-N-Out hamburger Mike Riley gave you after a good game.

    Warning: if you do begin eating something while wearing OCULUS RIFT, makes sure it is not a member of your family, or a pillow, or Monte Kiffin you found stuck between the cushions of your couch. He likes to rummage around there for change.



    ACC Sims is easy to pick up and play without learning all the details, but you'll gradually start exploring the features and see that the depth is what makes this a truly engrossing experience. You can spend hours getting the look of your office just right, trying out hundreds of flooring options. (The burgundy carpet was really a tasteful choice.) Is there football? Not a bit. But when you're busy walling Paul Johnson off in a room that has three toaster ovens and no doors, you're too curious to see if he'll learn how to put out fire with his own urine to care.

    THE BIG 12 SELECTS: Rockstar Games


    Endless ammo, wide open spaces, and a Mexican standoff in every direction: you need the team from Red Dead Redemption, and you need to make sure Iowa State is the hardy character riding a burro with a sawed off shotgun that is crap at long distance, but a terror up close. Gameplay will be realistic in that there is no defense from anything, random death around every corner, bottomless reserves of ammunition, and bears lurking where you least expect it. Play GOLD RUSH with Mack Brown, and collect gold no matter how many times someone shoots you point blank with heavy weaponry. Tie a maiden to a railroad track and unlock the DANA HOLGORSEN DIVORCE SETTLEMENT achievement.

    Purchase elixirs like STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE ELIXIR.


    Please note: your character cannot swim, because your character is Mike Stoops.



    It's not slow. It's intricate. It's contemplative. It's got grandeur, and requires the use of your brain, and SHUT UP NO IT'S NOT YOU'RE JUST TOO DUMB TO UNDERSTAND IT. CD-ROM WAS NEVER SO PERFECT AS IN THE ROSE BOWL SPONSORED BY BRØDERBUND. PLEASE ENTER THE FIFTH WORD OF THE SIXTH PARAGRAPH ON PAGE 18 to verify your copy.



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  • 08/15/13--07:38: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 8/15/2013

    Look at Frank Beamer's majesty there. He'd look so majestic leading troops into battle, scars and all, riding a horse into the fray with zero fear and no hat. Okay, he's probably riding a donkey. A donkey with a pot for a helmet. Frank doesn't need a hat, because neither bullets nor rain do disturb his iron skull.

    THEY COULD USE SOME HELMETS, THOUGH. Any preview that starts off with "just wait 'til next year" is always a discomfiting one for the subject of said preview, and that's you, Virginia Tech. Someone please explain what a Scot Loeffler is, and what it does, and why Frank Bamer bought one.

    PLEASE DONATE LEGS AND HEALTHY ACLS TO FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY. The Seminoles got even thinner at wideout this week. This increases the probability of "Jameis Winston Improv Class" as the default mode for 2013, and that is just fine with us for both entertainment and personal political reasons.


    (sing to this)

    Mark Richt don't you go and cut your hair

    Don't you know it's gonna make you age

    He's just a boy with two haircuts

    (and those are pretty nice haircuts)

    Georgia's hair's a puzzle

    Ms. Richt's got no muzzle

    Told Mark he wasn't fly

    look around/ look around/ his fluffy hair is down

    Protective hats are found

    ooh ooh oooh ooh oooh

    ooh ooh ooh oooh ooooh/ ooh oooohhhhh

    THE NCAA WOULD LIKE TO AVOID TACKLING JOHNNY MANZIEL. See, they're just like everyone else including every defense they played last year.

    ETC: Together, we can become the overmonied Mogadishu we have always craved. Columbus, you just got more interesting to us. Hank Hill is never wrong about anything. I would go out tonight, but I haven't got a stitch to wear.

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    1. Steve Spurrier addressed the band at Florida every year. He thanked the band for what they did. He mentioned their importance in making The Swamp "a place where only Gators get out alive." He fiddled with his visor a bit, and was cheerful, diplomatic, and as smooth as Steve Spurrier can be when speaking in public, i.e. "not at all smooth in any way." It's not that he's uncomfortable with it, or even particularly bad at it. He tends to start-stop, moving over sentences like he's pushing a fast car with bad brakes over a line of hills, coming over the crest slowly on an "AAAAAaaaand..." and then rolling downhill in a pinched East Tennessean twang as he finishes. When he looked out at the band, he was saying everything correctly, and yet all I heard was:

    Look at you. How'd you not figure this out? That football was the better way to go? Maybe you couldn't play. Hell, I'm lookin' at you. I'd take that tuba player as practice squad fullback. Yup, you, fattie. Run a 5.5 and we'll let you get knocked around a bit. See what comes loose.

    Good lord. You colossal bunch of nerds. God bless you. I gotta go. Even the Ol' Ball Coach has to make a tee time or get bumped. Thank Jesus I was born sexy, good-looking, and a quarterback.

    He meant that nicely, and also in the sense of someone beholding a giant pile of sweaty band dorks and thinking: what haven't y'all understood about how this all works yet? Is it so hard?

    2. It's not hard to grasp the concept of a tonal language if you're used to listening to people like Steve Spurrier. This is what he said this week, verbatim, about several injured players after a South Carolina practice.

    "We got a bunch of hurt guys that act like they’re really hurt," Spurrier said after Monday’s evening practice, the last of No. 7 South Carolina’s first two-a-day session. "Right now, they may not play."

    On paper it's one thing, but the way he said it meant a whole other thing. Translated: I do not believe these very important players to our football team are truly hurt. I would like them to know there are people waiting for their jobs if they are only mildly hurt, and attempting to malinger. In addition, I feel deep disdain for them for even attempting such a ruse. All of this should be very clear to them.

    Spurrier managed to say that using way, way fewer words than that, and all while not exactly saying it explicitly. A running theme in coaching is the ability to convey information in a very short, calculated burst of communication. Will Muschamp does it with concision and rage. Gary Patterson does it by taking his entire defense and cutting the field into zones, each with clear responsibilities and their own simple, easily deciphered calls. Mike Price at Washington State did it by building much of his offense around a single, repeatable sequence of plays. Say what you will about Jackie Sherrill, but cutting the testicles off a bull, while a clear case of animal cruelty, is very much a form of to-the-point communication.

    3. Simplicity remains Spurrier's chief strength. It doesn't have to be that hard. When he came to South Carolina, he complained about the facilities, and wrangled with the administration over admissions. It sounded like bad politics initially, but bad politics turn in a hurry when you win, beat hated rivals, and bring in the kind of recruits you get with friendlier entry requirements and weight rooms dripping with fresh barbells and logo'd gear. Just give him what he wants, and you'll get what you want. In the meantime there's an open microphone, and an old smartass all too happy to bust out the razors on you. If you are in the way, you're getting cut, or at the very least pleasantly reminded of everything you are not doing to make Steve Spurrier's life simpler, and therefore easier for everyone.

    4. The job, too, is uncomplicated. He no longer even recruits directly, farming that out to his staff. He still calls plays, but no longer butts his head against the limitations of his talent, and has happily used the zone read and shotgun formation for the better part of a decade with one of the slimmest playbooks in the game. This, after once scoffing that the shotgun formation was for teams that had trouble scoring points. Oh, and he really doesn't even have a formal playbook, but just concepts he works through different formations.

    He still juggles quarterbacks, but no longer soul-eviscerates them for their failures as he did at Florida in the 1990s, and before that at Duke. He once made a throw in practice, under center and wearing his coach's whistle, that his QB Dave Brown thought was impossible. Spurrier then looked back at his QB Dave Brown and said "Well, I must be a better quarterback than you are." Spurrier couldn't do that now for a lot of reasons--he's gimpy, old, and who knows what lurks in his decimated shoulder joint--but one of them is a bit more time-earned diplomacy, at least in public. Spurrier now describes his quarterbacks not as "playin' pretty bad for a while there," but as "struggling mightily." His players are less disappointing teenagers breaking curfew, and now something more like toddlers caught playing with the light socket.

    5. He would also take responsibility for those failures, and always did. Even at his evil heights, he blamed himself for Terry Dean's implosion, and again later on with Stephen Garcia. (That had its limits, and should have, because Stephen Garcia remains an enigma no man can fully understand or control.) He left Washington after working in a league and a place where things could not be simple, and was so burnt out by the experience he took an entire year off, a span of time that in coaching terms might as well be five years to a normal person. If you think he's over that whole experience, he is not.

    You write it. Spurrier. YEP. THAT ONE, BUDDY. S-P-U-R-R-I-E-R. He may be older, but he still needs to keep his teeth sharp by using grudges like chew toys, even grudges that made him rich enough to play golf wherever he damn well pleases. A lot of spite can can kill you, but just the right amount will keep you alive forever, and standing on rickety knees shirtless at practice, lacking only a tallboy in one hand to complete the picture of a smug-ass redneck lawn lord.

    6. And all of this is pretty simple, which is why--with zero irony whatsoever--Steve Spurrier said this year he didn't have a stressful job. He has a Jadeveon Clowney, but there's an entire two-deep stocked with all that recruiting loot his staff has brought to him. ("I hired those coaches, mind you.") He has two good quarterbacks, a line with the potential to keep them both upright. ("Gonna play 'em both, because they both deserve a chance.") He'll let the defensive staff figure out how to develop young linebackers, and then let some ballplays shake loose someone to replace Ace Sanders. ("Oh, we'll coach 'em up.") He has answers for all this, and probably played golf today, and tomorrow, and maybe a little during the week in-season if he can spare it. ("Nothing serious. Just a quick eighteen. Used the cart.") He's the best coach in South Carolina and Florida's history, is sixty-eight years old, and still happy. How's that so hard for anyone else? It doesn't have to be that hard, you poor, clueless bunch of nerds. Bless your hearts, but it just doesn't, at least not for Steve Spurrier, the Shirtless Dawnbringer of the SEC East.

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  • 08/16/13--07:56: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 8/16/2013


    "Nice car, dorkface. See you in November, buddy. Hope you get through the ACC alright. It's a tough conference. I know cause I won it once. With Duke, in football. Life's hard for some people. Not for others. Hey, let's go get some Arby's up in this piece, Fiddy. CLICK CLACK."

    SON, DON'T PUNT ON FOURTH AND ETERNITY. R.I.P., Alabama bro with the most recent greatest obituary of all time.

    WANTED: TWO MORE QUARTERS OF FOOTBALL. Florida State really only did play two quarters of really bad football last year, and that is why football is a very upsetting game that ruins people psychologically and emotionally. Please come back, psychotic life partner: we miss you so very much.

    UM...SO....OHIO. Opening week predictions by the numbers favor, among other odd teams, Ohio over Louisville. Computers never account for Frank Solich, and that's why he's the one who will defeat Skynet one day with guile and punting.

    NOW WE TALKIN' ABOUT PALETTES IN FOOTBALL THANKS OBAMA. If you wondered, the University of Tennessee would like you to know formally that it's more of a fall than a spring.

    HUD, SPECK, AND PLEASE MEET OUR BROTHER, BORT. Indiana's bowl chances rise with every famous walk-on's arrest.


    ETC: Happy birthday to the once and future coach of Tennessee Football, Jon Gruden. It's happening! Book it! He just needs some time, Tennessee fans! This should never happen to you, ever.

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    We cannot emphasize how strange Bud Wilkson's pronunciation of the word "oatmeal" is in this Quaker Oats commercial from 1959. Yes, we looped it to prove our point that Wilkinson may have been the vocal pattern model for Moonbase Alpha's text-to-speech engine. No, the commerical is outdated, since eating that disgusting beige breakfast described by Bud Wilkinson really will get you to six feet tall and 190 pounds, which in 2013 would be a weight cut from the average American's standing bodyweight of 450 pounds.

    P.S. What kind of a jacked up Oklahoma bakery abortion is this thing the poor urchin is reduced to eating?

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    We don't know exactly why Mark Dantonio is so funny to us, but there are starting points: the odd feud he has with Kirk Ferentz, or the insistence on his players all wearing ties to pregame, or his stellar media relations skills on full display last year after struggling for much of the game against Eastern Michigan.

    SUCH GREAT QUESTIONS. Maybe it's the overall sense that Mark Dantonio is being forced to be a football coach by organized crime when, in fact, he'd rather be doing something he really loves, like stonemasonry or killing people for money. That he's Stanley from The Office, and that the entire point of the day is to run out the clock, get home, and then get back to what he enjoys the most: the oblivion of sleep, where no one can ask him great questions, or make fun of those recurring dreams where he's quietly and happily running a dying framing business in the outskirts of Zanesville, Ohio.

    Oh, and it's funny that Mark Dantonio says it's a four-way race for the quarterback job right now, because when you have one quarterback, you have a quarterback. When you have two, you have a competition. When you have three, you don't have one quarterback, but if you have four you can trade three in for a queen if you get them across the board. If you have five quarterbacks, you have accidentally kidnapped a shuttle bus for a high school skills camp. Tim Beckman will pay good money for you to drop them off in Illinois right now, no questions asked, and no liabilities assumed by either party.

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    Someday, you will be able to watch a full slate of bowl games WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO LEAVE THE STATE OF ALABAMA. We break down the ultimate road trip, a spin around Route 6-6, aka the best of all possible worlds...the great Alabama Bowl Circuit of the Near Future.


    December 14th, 2014: THE ALABAMA SPACE BOWL. Fly into Birmingham International Airport, drive north on I-65, and take exit 25B into home of Route 6-6's first stop, the Alabama Space Bowl. Why are the rockets rusting? And why is Space Camp now an unlicensed day care center? Because it's not space, it's ALABAMA SPACE. (Alabama Space was created by Lot, and the stars are fragments of his salt-wife's body.)

    (per the Alabama State Dept of Ed)

    Don't forget to see....the grave of Miss Baker, the first American monkey to make a successful space flight.

    December 15th, 2014: THE DECATUR LIMESTONE BOWL. Played in the old quarry. Not the flooded one. That wouldn't make no sense.

    Don't forget to see... The Pest Control Museum. Closed 12-4 on account of needing to feed Bess, The Termite Queen The Size Of A Mobile Home.

    December 17th, 11:45 p.m. THE DADEVILLE ROUNDUP BOWL. Alabama's most scenic inland bowl is played by the shores of Lake Martin between the seventh ranked Sun Belt team and the runner up in the AFL American-North Division. Y'all can quit in the third quarter and just hit the lake if you want, because if the Tide ain't playin' that's exactly what Harvey Updyke's gonna be doing anyway.

    Don't forget to see...the Lost City of Auburn, an abandoned suburb of Opelika located just a short drive outside Dadeville on the Georgia border. Admire the strange ruins dating back to the late nineteenth century, but be sure to leave before dark.

    December 19th, 2014: THE BLU E-CIGARETTES CAMELLIA BOWL. The electric heart of Alabama gets a bowl sponsored by the electric heart of the e-cigarette product universe! It's fine by the NCAA and member schools because no one really knows what e-cigarettes actually are, including smokers. You could be smoking dryer lint for all you know. You're probably smoking dryer lint is what we're saying. Montgomery has a bowl game, and this is real, and there are no other comments necessary save this: Joe Schad is totally getting sent to cover this game.


    January 3rd, 2015: THE ALVIN'S ISLAND TROPICAL DEPARTMENT STORE BOWL OF DOTHAN. The gift bag for coastal Alabama's second-largest bowl game features a sexist keychain, four rubber animals of varying sizes, four irregularly sized Big Dog t-shirts, an unclaimed airbrushed tank top, a varnished bamboo backscratcher, three painted and broken sand dollars, and a "I LET THE DOGS OUT" coozie.

    Don't forget to see... Rat-eatin' frogs. They're somewhere on the road, but you'll have to find them yourself. If you don't do the legwork to see them, you probably didn't deserve to see them anyway.

    January 4th, 2015: THE BBVA COMPASS BOWL. Featuring house band "Pitt" and a guest. Halftime entertainment by Taylor Hicks.

    Don't forget to see... The Racist Dogs Sculpture! Or the Ram-Devil reading to children.

    January 5th, 2015: THE GODADDY BOWL. If you've made it to the sea, you've completed Route 6-6 and have arrived at the GoDaddy Bowl, America's only bowl where the winning team is awarded a derelict battleship. The festivities for the GoDaddy Bowl include a baffling revue of ladies in brightly colored hoop dresses. Do not peek under the dresses, as they are a front for smuggling exotic animals into the buses of the MAC team, and into the heartland for distribution to potential buyers You could be bitten by a coatimundi AND be forced to register as a sex offender, and simultaneously ruin the MAC's greatest source of steady cash. (Those sweet exotic animal sales dollars.)

    Don't forget to see... The U.S.S. Drum, which proves that Alabamans can put ANYTHING up on blocks in their yard.

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  • 08/20/13--07:15: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 8/20/2013
  • VOTE NOW, INFLUENCERS AND DISRUPTORS. A full lecture by Kliff Kingsbury at SXSW is waiting for you.

    FRANK BEAMER'S PEOPLE DONE SHOT UP THE COURTHOUSE. It's from 2010, but if you've never read the extremely badass story of Frank Beamer's family, and the time they really did shoot up a courthouse, then do that, because Frank Beamer is so much harder than you will ever be.

    NUKED FROM ORBIT. Houston Nutt said a lot of Hugh Freeze's success came as a result of his recruiting, and it's fun when things like that are said because people like Neil McReady get to absolutely fucking destroy said things. (Start at 15:00.)

    CONTEXT IS IMPORTANT WHEN DEFINING SUCCESS. For instance, there are certain data sets where Tim Tebow is the most successful pro quarterback in his peer group. You're choking on a piece of food after reading that, and you're welcome for the microintervention on your lifelong overeating binge, fatty.

    HE IS THAT GOOD DON'T ASK HOW WE KNOW. And if Louisville were in the ACC this year, it'd look a lot better for the indomitable Teddy Bridgewater.

    ALL THAT MAJESTY. Look at it. Look at all of it.

    ETC: We will always have time for you, old bongo-playing friend. Oh, man, people used to be so much better at being sexist. Aim for the moon, and the worst thing that will happen is oh yeah that. WATCH HIS EAR IT'S WEIRD. Nick Offerman peeing on things with a fake penis. (NSFW)

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    All behold what Purdue hath wrought, and then review the rules for making a video where you rap about your favorite team, usually as an undergraduate at that institution. (If the video's still working. If not, we'll sub out when someone inevitably reposts it.)

    Step One: Don't.

    Step Two: Don't. You will anyway, but it bears repeating.

    Step Three: At least don't rap.

    Step Four: If and when you do, own it. Make it yourself. Bring forth the shame from your own misguided soul, and thus make the sin more pardonable. No outsourcing (see: Freakbass)

    Step Five: If you're going to involve coaches, have them do cool shit. Mark Richt nodding and lip syncing? Dull. Mark Richt popping a wheelie on an ATV and screaming RUFF RYDERS? Awesome. (P.S. actually that should be WHERE MY DAWGS AT???)

    Step Six: If you can do anything from a Ca$h Money video, then do it. I see you, James Franklin doing donuts in a Lambo with the gull wing doors flipped up in the Vandy parking lot.

    Step Seven: Search out students who want to be in this video.

    Step Eight: Use none of those students, because what the hell is wrong with them.

    Step Nine: Nudity. You might want to outsource this, especially if you're a school with a lot of smart kids. EXCEPTION: Georgia Tech, because sometimes nudity is funny, not sexual.)

    Step Ten: Rapping is unacceptable unless you have a white guy who sounds exactly like Ghostface Killah and weighs 300 pounds. NOTE: applicable to Cal State-Action Bronson only.

    Step Eleven: If you are going to rap, despite rule #3: GO ALL OUT. Do not just talk about how your rival is lame. Really ether those assholes. TIP "Your quarterback makes me sick" rhymes with "yo mamma love my gold plated dick." We provide a list of rhymes you can and may want to use when constructing your devastating verses.

    "My dick demolish the finest vaginas/ get plowed like Clemson lines by South Carolina"

    "I rep Vandy, and roll candy/ paint on the drop, Anchor Down like your pops/ on your mom, your sis, and twice on your girl/ My degree gets paper like gheri gets curl"

    "I'm from Wisconsin bitch, seein' double when I get me some/ wasted, can't see straight, so every night's a threesome"

    "A Michigan Man says thank you, more turducken/ pizza thick all around, magnum condoms when we fuckin'"

    "East Lansing, y'all, where the gangstas ride with no stress/ keep the feet on the pedals cause the ride's repossessed"

    "Thought yo girl was faithful, had plans to bride her / Now she's a juco transfer for Coach Bill Snyder"

    "Girls call me Mack cause my money's breezy/ and sometimes David Ash because I grew up without TV"

    "Call a farmer, get a rope, do it fast/ Shake it like that, I can't take a pass/ Run the ball Bobo, cause we off the far hash/ Mark Richt lost control of that ass"

    "My name's Dan Mullen and I'm here to say / Fuck, I'm not getting the Texas job, am I?"

    "You say no to Kansas football/ Charlie Weis cain't"

    "Keep talkin' shit bout this Louisville sched / Charlie Strong keep stackin' Papa John's bread / Imitation Product"

    "Yeah, Muchamp's angry and he rips his pants / But don't call him Hulk, Hulk wouldn't kill Jim Nantz"

    "WOOP WOOP! That's the sound of the police / I root for Mike London and intern for Credit Suisse"

    "I see them at the church when I passes/ looking like they need gospel-in' maskses, it's hard for them to (FREEEEEZE!!!!) But I keep recruits in the stashes, Nigerians in my recruiting classes, these bitches can't (FREEEEEEZE)

    "Bob Daaavie / awomanwenzeliznvawo / a licky boom boom yeahhh"

    "Bielema in your momma's crib/ posted up and roasted on the sofa with a pile of ribs/ wipe a mouth on the cushions while she blowin' me/ Send a pic to Nick Saban, hood diplomacy"


    "Tiger paws on the highway, step to this and you'l die quick/ Dabo Swinney's in the Range, but it's weird cause he don't drive stick/ Gotta park, switch some seats, let Chad Morris drive/ Get some Sonic and some chronic and the Tigers stay alive HOLLA"

    "Maybe you'll win, and maybe we'll lose / But I bet you won't smile, because you're still in Syracuse"

    "Tennessee things, put jug wine in your anus/ get it on Clay Travis site, shit let's get famous"

    "The movies, the barber, a baptism hall / I'm Ohio State, son, I'll fuckin' drink at 'em all"

    "Ames rollin', three girls at once, live' the dream/ While they scream say how proud you are of this team"

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    Hi. Don't ever try to write a football article explaining football to women. If they're football fans, they know about football. They watch it, too. This is like an article trying to explain Downton Abbey to men, as if we didn't CRY LIKE A BUS FULL OF SCARED TODDLERS starting somewhere in the middle of season three. Oh, I use Secret deodorant, and have for years. This is a safe place, and we should share those things regardless of gender.

    The point is that football is kinetic violence, and that works for people, or it doesn't. In fact, the most violent football fans I have ever met were women. My wife nearly got kicked out of Vanderbilt for profanity during a game against Florida. While she was sitting in the Florida section, surrounded by Florida fans. A mother of two next to me at LSU vs. Auburn told her son, "If he ain't wearin' purple 'n gold, I hope he gets sent to the hospital. And that's how we do it." She said this to her son, who was around 12 years old and standing horrified next to her. Football fans in general scare me a little. She scared me a lot.

    And yes: If you want to get unbearably pedantic, women are less likely to be football fans relative to the rest of the population. But the assumption here that annoys the hell out of me is that women have some different kind of needs as football fans relative to the general population, i.e. that they would rather exchange dip recipes than read about the creep of the pistol formation into mainstream football, or ponder tablecloth/napkin combinations. It assumes a lot of things, the most noxious being the idea that men don't like making dip, or that it's a woman's job to be interested in the decor, not the game itself.

    They might actually prefer this, for all I know. I have no idea. That's a generalization about women, and I'm a man. The things I know about my own gender in general could fit into a dip cup, and the things I know about being a woman amount to even less. I'm making no guesses about either gender. I do know football fans, and they hate this shit, male, female, or otherwise.

    P.S. This was written for a paper in Alabama, a state where every woman and man alike know Bama needed to run the damn ball more against A&M last year. Zone right out of an unbalanced two tight set ain't got no gender, neither.

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    The 2014 SEC Schedule came out today. Let's review the reactions, because yes, the conference IS out to destroy your school.

    ALABAMA: Still ain't figured out why they trynta hold Alabama down, but haters are everywhere, Pawwwlll. Look at the SEC doin' their dangdest to knock us off the throne. First they bring Florida in here to give us some kind of disease and weaken us up before we go to Ole Miss and get another one. Tilapia Flu. It ain't nothing to laugh at, and you get it from touching people from Mississippi. It's why they move slow, and sometimes sprout dang ol' gills while you're talking to 'em. Oh, another Southern exaggeratin'. I hear you, but listen, I don't wanna lie to you, so I'll tell you straight: you cain't call it magical realism if it's just real and weird, and especially if it's coming out of Florida. They made Will Muschamp a head coach. Gabriel Garcia mark that down on your calendar of real, okay? You put whoever you want on the schedule, and try to bring us down. I get that. THEY HATIN'. But I cain't have you assailing the very definitions of modern literature here.


    Dear Auburn Jesus,

    Thank you so much for blessing me

    By making me an Auburn fan

    And part of the Auburn family

    Which is the most blessed among that blessed tribe

    Of the most blessed and chosen of football tribes

    The SEC, God's Conference.

    Also, thank you for giving us the South Carolina game in Auburn,

    Because Columbia smells like asphalt and mold and sorrow and poor people, and has a giant alcoholic mosquito for a mayor.




    P.S. Please kill Nick Saban with a wasting disease in a Christian and swift fashion. I mean that in the holiest of ways.

    ARKANSAS: A tree stand. Early morning. The smell of deer piss and possibility in the air. He spits in a cup, and sips his gas station coffee. The sun has barely streaked the sky when his phone buzzes. He is angered by the noise. There could have been a buck right over that hill, glorious and free and waiting for him to raise his bow and make it his. That buck would be scared off now, running toward the horizon and away from destiny.

    Dammit, he thought. His phone read: "SCHEDULE OUT. GEORGIA AND MIZZOU FROM THE EAST."

    He spit in his cup again. A man yelled at him from the ground.


    The forest was practically a traffic jam this morning. He'd never catch anything with this racket.


    He would have to move, and follow where the killing instinct guided him.

    FLORIDA: No, no, it's perfectly fair for us to be playing LSU and Alabama while Georgia gets Auburn and Arkansas. No, it's not part of a pattern of clean undies handed to Georgia, and soiled hobo drawers handed to Florida by the SEC schedule. It's not, and BRING IT. WE DON'T CARE ANYMORE. ALL THE NERVES ARE DEAD. WE EXFOLIATE WITH STRAIGHT RAZORS AND LOOSEN MUSCLES BY GETTING BEATEN WITH BATS. But seriously, we don't care. Bring it. It's not like Jeremy Foley's scheduled anything hard out of schedule, and that's no disrespect to Toledo, who could totally beat us in the opener if we don't fix our early game offensive constipation. Full game offensive constipation.

    Whatever. We love playing LSU, and whatever happens with Alabama ain't anything that ain't happened before. Go ahead and do us in the dirt button, Alabama. It's all numb back there anyway.

    GEORGIA: Oh, looks fine to us. Fuck Auburn. [tees off at 12:30 p.m on a working Wednesday]

    KENTUCKY: [points to Rivals recruiting board]

    [throws self in cryogenic hypersleep chamber until basketball season]

    [which is really just a body-sized cooler filled ice you lay down in after taking a fistful of oxy and drinking a bottle of NyQuil]

    LSU: Surrounded? Lemme tell you a story about another man who was surrounded. Tanks all around him. Freezing cold. The kind of cold dat gets into the bones. MONROE, LOUISIANA KINDA COLD, FRIEND. Dat man coulda surrendered. But that's not what Americans do, and that's not what Tigahs do even with a schedule with Florida on it. So you know what he told 'em when he saw impossible odds? He said, "NUTS" and then started shooting in every direction. Y'all think I was talkin' about General McAuliffe in the Battle of the Bulge? Nah, that was my cousin Ray-Tom. He's dead now, rest his soul. BUT HE WAS BRAVE AND DRANK HIS 12 PACKS COLD AND THAT'S WHAT COUNTS, CHERE. WE HATE EVERYYYYYYYONNNNNE.


    Vandy, Kentucky.

    No sure wins anymore, love.

    We sigh. We CLANGA.



    As long as we keep running the cotton candy formation, no team shall best us on the field of battle, not even Arkansas and South Carolina.


    Tennessee's been throwing their garbage over the fence into Mississippi for years. Keeps the raccoons distracted, and compost is for hippies. Getting Vandy and Tennessee in the same year is an opportunity for revenge, provided either team can get the equipment truck over the 3,400 foot tall midden of waste products between the two states. Oh, we hear what you're saying: why don't you just drive through Alabama. Clearly someone's unaware of the Thirty Year Bamassippi Conflict, or the giant chain of above ground pools filled with eternally burning propane lining the border between the two states. (Hint: it keeps the recruits in Alabama, and was designed by Nick Saban himself.)


    The only team to get three SEC cross-division rivals on the schedule with Texas A&M, Auburn, and Clemson.*

    *Shut up, they are.



    eatin' grubs

    eatin grubs

    eatin' baby chickens








    [passes out on road]

    [is run over by Ole Miss and Alabama]


    South Carolina and Mizzou will be brisk demonstrations of total spread football power for Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel, who will openly collect a salary, sell memorabilia, sign every endzone he walks into, and start a multilevel marketing business all while still registered as an undergraduate JUST TO HUMILIATE THE NCAA AND STAY FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE WHILE TURNING HIS ENTIRE CAREER INTO AN ACT OF PROTEST. HIs finale will be applying for an extra year of eligibility under a medical exemption, citing a lingering case of "haters." He application will be approved, and no one will understand how.


    Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the same year? SOMEONE'S craving a good ol' fashioned "pulled over in a Memphis airport rental car they didn't know was loaded with meth and cash," and they're Anchoring Down as we speak. (Memphis: it's Legends of the Hidden Temple for adults, but with guns, theft, and the giant head of Marc Gasol narrating the whole show.)

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    There are surely Ohio State fans who believe they'll win the national title this year. They also believed Ohio State would win a national title game with Joe Bauserman, just like there are Kentucky fans who believe the Wildcat football team can vie for a national title this year. They are out there: dug-in, licking the moisture off the top of their caves for hydration's sake, eating tin cans of the last victorious carcass they packed up, stored for later, and now stroke in the dark like talismans of a dark age. Somewhere a Minnesota fan in an ice cave mouths "Murray Warmath," thinks of 1960, and reaches for his knife when you ask how an 8-2 team could win a national title, much less one from the Big Ten.*

    *Totally happened in real life.

    Preseason polls start the poison flowing. Florida State, Oklahoma, Florida, and Miami are too beautiful for their own good, at least poll-wise, with each school bombing out badly in the end versus their preseason poll numbers. Much of that is ghosting, or at least failing to recognize the glaring flaws in a team that bears little resemblance to the memory of better teams.

    For instance: last year, a collection of people whose job it was to watch and evaluate college football were asked to choose a preseason number one. That group of people chose USC at number one in the AP Poll. The Trojans would lose the Sun Bowl to a team that lost by three touchdowns to Middle Tennessee State. To be fair, no one could have seen a thin depth chart, a disastrous run through a difficult Pac-12 schedule, and injuries derailing their season, save for this: this is what happens every single season in college football, and what will happen to some poor, miserable souls again in 2013.

    Those miserable souls come from privileged corners of the football neighborhood. There are blue-collar aspirants to the champagne room who get tossed after a brief flirtation with success-- hellooooooo, Arizona ---and upstart trendspotting that turns out to be half-right at best. For the most part, these are outliers. The biggest disappointments are additive, and explode from an esteemed, well-regarded college football power in a period of decline ignoring a gas leak for years, and deciding that yes, a cigar would be a nice way to unwind on a fall evening, but no, it was definitely too cold to do it outdoors.*

    *For Lloyd Carr it was a pipe in a study full of bound World War Two books, but you get the point here.

    When the smoke clears, investigations usually reveal damage far less than expected. Gene Chizik may have had the greatest single collapse in college football history over three years following a BCS title, but Gene Chizik was and is a unique talent in the field of disaster facilitation. The bottom for some teams never really gets close to the real bottom, and if you doubt it look at Oklahoma's record under Bob Stoops for proof, since he's averaged ten wins over 14 years as head coach there, and yet catches a shit cyclone every time they lose a bowl game or drop one conference matchup. The crippling pea under the bed of Oklahoma fans is what a Baylor fan would sleep on happily, and what Alabama fans would at the moment consider nigh unbearable.*

    *I'm not saying Alabama fans are irrational at this point for thinking they should win every game. For once, they may be right, and that says way more about Nick Saban at this point than their ability to properly gauge their team's capabilities.

    So the answer to the question "What teams could be headed for disaster in 2013" is all about context, and always is. Mel Brooks said that "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." Two losses for Alabama would be total tragedy, a forfeiture of talent and potential that only malign gods could be blamed for. Two losses for Baylor would be fantastic, while two losses for Michigan would be evaluated strictly based on "who did we lose to, and did we do it tastefully, as a Michigan Man should?" One loss for Clemson would be fine, so long as that one loss does not come to South Carolina. If Kentucky lost four games this season Mark Stoops will begin sizing and preliminary work for a statue outside Commonwealth Stadium.

    Disaster has a lot of different definitions, and all of them are contingent on a long string of events leading up to a definition of the present, and about what the future should be. Oregon is switching head coaches. Stanford is pulling further and further away from the legacy of Jim Harbaugh. Florida State is now fully a Jimbo Fisher production, while USC can still point to scholarship limitations and the depth chart and plausibly say "Listen, we can pay you next week, but until then it's gonna be tight, kids." Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Florida all have mastered the game of making ten win seasons seem mundane, and even disappointing. Texas could be the sick man of college football Europe; Texas A&M could have overshot their potential by miles, and headed for a nasty market correction.

    No one knows anything about LSU under Les Miles and no one ever will and that is science and you will have to deal with it.

    That's not their fault. It's yours for being human, and thus weak and in need of expectations in the first place. (Also, what the hell are you doing trying to predict anything surrounding Les Miles.) Take weird-ass, perpetually unpredictable LSU. In 2007, they opened their season with a 45-0 erasure of Mississippi State so complete and bloody we thought LSU might not ever lose a game ever again on any field against any opponent. They horrified the casual viewer, but then again so did Mississippi State, albeit in an entirely different and opposite way.

    They went on to lose to both Arkansas and Kentucky, and win a national title against-- yup --- America's salutatorian, Ohio State. None of this should have happened, but Jim Harbaugh dared to make Stanford a good football team. None of that should have happened, but in the course of world history even the smallest Hobbit can make a huge difference. By that "smallest Hobbit" we mean Pitt, and Dave Wannstedt, who deserves a special place in Pitt history for playing a special part in the most painful loss ever inflicted on West Virginia by their hated rival. Oh, that Mississippi State team went on to win eight games. No one knows how that happened, either.

    This is a sport that still relies on a largely mythical notion of a championship batted around by the same 20 teams over and over again. Letting it--or whatever stupidities you assumed about a team prior to them ever actually playing a down-- madden you would be insane. Expectations are the fart that started on the ground floor, followed you into the elevator, and then carried you all the way up to your destination. They can and do ruin the whole ride. A team is what it will be: vague potential molded by deliberate form, and mangled or coddled by the whim of circumstance, fate, and blind luck. Ambitions are nice. They could be crushed, and will at the very least be altered, and the conditions of the contract with them renegotiated on the fly without warning.

    None of that should interfere with watching Braxton Miller trace obscene shapes through defenses at lightspeed, or obscure the effortless flick of a Teddy Bridgewater pass through a tiny window of unguarded space. But it will, and when it does try to remember: for good or bad, you don't get a second chance to watch this, Washington State salvaging a horrendous season by beating Washington in the Apple Cup, or anything else thrilling and stupid in sports, for the first time.


    It'd be a shame to let your loyalty to bad guesswork get in the way of any of that.

    *Except for you, Alabama fans: anything but a national title is failure. You don't need to hear this, because you already think this, but it's still so much fun to type. ANYTHING BUT A NATIONAL TITLE IS FAILURE. RANK, STINKING FAILURE. Enjoy.

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  • 08/23/13--08:16: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 8/23/2013

    A&M's Chancellor is in the ring now defending Manziel, so good luck with the army of trained horse assassins the Aggies are undoubtedly sending to your door. (We do not mean people who kill horses. We mean horses who kill people, and then have been trained to whinny "WHOOP!" while pooping on your still steaming corpse.)

    FOR SALE: ONE BELLDOZER. Trevor Knight, a redshirt freshman, has gotten the nod at QB over Blake Bell, currently plowing northward through everything in his path, and laying waste to all he sees like a drunk Juggernaut. He should be stopped by the time he reaches the Canadian Shield, but if he is not follow him because that thing's loaded with diamonds, and his loss could be your gain.

    BREAKING: THESE MEN ARE GOOD AT THEIR JOBS. One's slightly better, of course, because victory is giving the other one a heart condition. Roll Tide. Speaking of that guy, he's fine in Columbus per a new book by John Bacon, something you should look at if only for the quotes at the end.

    CUTCLIFFE NEVER LIE. Chris Brown on all the ways quarterbacks are groomed, including Professor Cutcliffe's school of learning the enemy's tricks before you ever start. David Cutcliffe would have been great in counter-intelligence, and not so much in actual intel because RECRUITING ISSUES, AMIRITE OLE MISS FANS?

    STOP THAT DEION. He should be able to do this, but until the NCAA evaporates in a cloud of its own irrelevance and the member schools are pressured to act like business owners, you can't do that, especially not at SMU.

    THE MAGIC OF AL BORGES. Mmm, the play-action passes of Al Borges, or why rollouts and all that Borges magic in the redzone can go sideways in ways Auburn fans and others might find very, very familiar. (Devin Gardner's maturation will have a lot to do with this.)

    ETC: Waddup, DJ SEX CHARGES.

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  • 08/23/13--11:50: YOU DID IT SOUTH CAROLINA
  • 1. HOLY SHIT, SOUTH CAROLINA. Someone made a team-themed song for you that doesn't suck. This isn't borderline good: It's well-shot, brilliantly edited, and features pretty much every major Gamecock football player of note from the past thirty years. The rappers can actually rap. The beat is a sample from "Oh, Sherry," and Steve Taneyhill is in it. It's got black and white people in it, and all of them except the baby look like they're ready to kill at the first booming tones of 2001. This is South Carolina as hell in every direction. We mean, look:





    Yup. That's the whole state right there.

    2. And yet there's more. There's fat dudes with beards wearing wide receiver's gloves. The rappers are named things like "Suga Shane" and Big Hurc, just like half the dudes you know from South Carolina. We repeat: they can actually rap. It's not even really a fight song, but a city anthem for, um...Columbia? Which they admit isn't always great? Which makes it even cooler, particularly when they're rapping with Steve Taneyhill Mike Hold in the burned out husk of St. Paul's Lutheran in Pomaria? Because, metaphors for most everything in South Carolina football history prior to Steve Spurrier's arrival?

    3. Mean-muggin' convenience store clerk, you are appreciated.


    4. No, but really, it's good. It's really freaking good. It's not cheap, it's not badly made, and if you heard it on the radio you would let it roll without thinking it was obviously a fight song. Even Darius Rucker looks as grizzled and country as he can possibly look, which is probably the video's second greatest achievement.  We like this, without reservation or snark. It's great. This is weird for us all, but then this happens at the end:


    If we were South Carolina fans we would have thrown our laptop through the nearest brick wall like drunk Gambit with excitement. This is the greatest single moment in the history of the state. When schoolchildren ask about human greatness in the classrooms of the Palmetto State, let them be shown this GIF. This, children: this is what dreams are made of, and the thing hope springs from eternally and without end.

    P.S. Um...there's also as baller a Clemson joke as one can possibly make in there.


    REAL TIGERS. THEY GOT A REAL DAMN TIGER FOR THIS. We hope this is successful because after this there may not be any more money in South Carolina, due to blowing it all on this unofficial video. If so? WORTH EVERY PENNY.

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    2005: He was wearing an Osteen. You know, the thin, wireless headset, the choice of the modern, hellfire-free televangelist, so tiny you might not even see it from a distance at a casual glance. This gave the impression he was muttering to himself much of the time on the sideline, an escapee from a mental institution who stole a size 8 1/2 white hat, floated atop his head, and then stole onto the field under cover of windbreaker. This was Tiger Stadium. It wouldn't have been the first time someone took the field at Tiger Stadium as an impostor and got away with it.

    The Osteen would not be the choice for a typical SEC coach. That would be the giant plastic earmuffs favored by Bear-itarians like Jackie Sherrill, and anyone else who understood that a red-blooded American football coach used the same headset their grandfather used to call in artillery strikes on the Japanese on Peleliu. Those coaches wouldn't be caught dead in the slim Silicon Valley conference call headset. They would certainly not cough up a 21 point lead--TWENTY ONE POINTS--to Tennessee in the first home game since Hurricane Katrina.

    Remember that. At the start, wearing the wrong hat and the wrong headset and up twenty-one points over a still-estimable Tennessee team at home, Les Miles performed his first act of self-immolation. The year concluded with another classic Miles pairing: another inexplicable loss in the SEC Championship game to Georgia, and then a turnaround brutality carnival against Miami in a 40-3 victory over Miami in the Peach Bowl highlighted by a brawl that knocked out a Miami player in the tunnel.

    Oh, and in between those reversals, LSU had an 11 win season. Remember that, and how totally dangerous the man in the hat seemed to all around him--including, at times, his own team.

    2007: Les Miles now no longer uses the Osteen, and rarely puts on a headset. He wasn't wearing one when they beat Florida in the best football game I have ever seen, the 28-24 victory over Florida in Baton Rouge where the sky caved in with the announcement of USC's loss to Stanford, and Miles gambled over and over again on fourth down and won. This being Les Miles reviewed from the comfort of the present, you knew what was coming. There would be  profligate losses to Arkansas and Kentucky, because teams built by Les Miles always got an entourage, blew the winnings on booze, lottery tickets, and an elaborate backyard water park. Then, the inevitable rebound, always against an unexpected opponent, and always just prior to losing the farm to the bank.

    They should not have been able to do this in 2007. This was the year when Les Miles, Michigan Man and native of Ohio, was going to Michigan. They should not have been able to do this because Matt Flynn, the Tigers' starting QB, was laid up with a bad shoulder, and replaced by the physically gifted and utterly flaky Ryan Perriloux at quarterback. They should not have been able to do this since they were facing Tennessee, and Erik Ainge, the quarterback who recovered from being thrown headfirst into the goalposts at Tiger Stadium to beat LSU in that first 2005 home game.

    They shouldn't have been able to do that after their coach called an impromptu press conference, and angrily told a press to have a great day in one of the weirdest bits of sports theater ever broadcast.

    They should not have been able to count on Erik Ainge throwing two interceptions to win the game for LSU. The Tigers would paint "HAVE A GREAT DAY" on the equipment truck the following year, because Les Miles stayed, won a national title, and completed a vicious butcher's run through three sacred cows of college football: that you go home when momma calls, that the Big Ten could claim equal footing in a title game even against something as uneven and schizoid as a two-loss SEC team with Gary Crowton at offensive coordinator, and that Phil Fulmer could win another SEC title, hold on at Tennessee, and stop the program's inexorable slide into the gutter. You always remember how improbable Les Miles can be; yet you forget how much of the course of common football history he's helped determine, and how many careers he's helped bury in the SEC West and beyond. Les Miles has helped define football reality. This won't help you sleep at night, but that doesn't keep it from being true.

    2011: LSU would wander for a few years, flirting with outright mediocrity in 2008 and '09. Unlike someone like Phil Fulmer, Miles would not suffer in unspectacular fashion. No, he would botch clock management in excruciating fashion, watch the stands empty out before roaring back to beat Troy--Troy!!!-- in 2008, or lose to Penn State--a Big Ten team! like that was a possible thing!-- in 2009 in the Capital One Bowl. He would tie bizarre knots of verbiage about oil spills, appear on Sportscenter commercials, and appear on Twitter in all his garbled glory.


    That Miles tweeting on accident and his actual speech seemed to be eerily similar got more comforting as LSU won, buoyed in large part by the constant funnel of recruits Miles kept coming in, and also by the hiring of John Chavis at defensive coordinator. The 2011 team may have been the least Milesian team of all: a team so dominant it seemed half-awake for most games, reclining atop money piles of three TD leads they were in no way capable of blowing. The only true Miles moment came against Alabama, when the Tigers decided the best way to play Alabama was to not play them at all, and simply punt their way to victory. Bo Schembechler approved of the game plan, and also of the grotesquely ugly 9-6 victory.

    That steady dominance was the longest play-fake of the Les Miles Cosmic Constant. The undefeated Tigers would play a rematch against Alabama. They would lose thanks in part to Alabama's stifling defense, a stellar game by A.J. McCarron throwing the ball right at star CB Tyrann Mathieu, and the borderline deranged gameplanning that had Bobby Hebert openly haranguing Miles on the podium after the game. Consider the grandeur of that fall: that LSU had beaten everyone they faced, including Alabama, only to blow it all in one night against...that same Alabama team. Les Miles is one of the few people to have actually faced the video game situation of slaying the last boss, and then having to do it again. He did about as well as you do in those situations, and did not have the luxury of respawn.

    A fortune of goodwill and karma went up in a single night of football. When you rob banks like Les Miles does, sometimes you leave with the money, and sometimes you blow up the whole vault in the process.

    2013: The Les Miles era at LSU is now as old as the song "Hollaback Girl," and is longer than all but Mark Richt's in terms of standing SEC coaches. (He's tied with Spurrier, who came to South Carolina in 2005.) Unlike countless others, Miles has not only survived, but thrived while calling Nick Saban a neighbor in the league. If they were neighbors, Miles would wave, smile, and anger Saban by keeping his lawn in deplorable condition, but still winning the Christmas Lights Contest every year.

    Last year was an average year for Les Miles: ten wins, three losses, and at least one moment in one of those losses that obliterated much of the patience and credit accrued in the ten wins. In the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, up 24-22 on Clemson and with the clock bleeding in the fourth, LSU passed three straight times. A punt, a quick drive down the field, and a field goal, and suddenly there's Les Miles again, a beacon with a white pillbox of a baseball cap on his head, as dangerous as ever in a situation involving time, the game, and the split-second use of probabilities in a high-pressure situation. There he is, on fire in the moment as always, and this time setting his whole team ablaze in the process.

    They'll probably win ten games or so, again, as they've done for a decade, because for all the unpredictability there is one constant: rampant winning intermittently punctuated by losses so bungled or unexpected even Miles seems perplexed by their appearance. Every time Les Miles approaches the status of being a coaching institution, a landmark unto himself in the history of LSU football, a staircase collapses during a wedding procession, or a gargoyle falls off building and crushes an innocent bystander.

    In the midst of all that is a coach who, eight years later, feels like he might as well still be taking the field wearing the wrong mike and coaching his first game. Most coaches attempt to be unpredictable in a measured way; Les Miles remains totally unchanged from the first day he started the job, and more baffling by degrees as the pressure rises. Eighty-three wins later, and every LSU game still feels like an unhelmeted nude toboggan ride through an active forest fire.

    Miles has the opposite problem of many long-tenured coaches. It's not that he seems too comfortable after all these years. It's that you, after so many hair-raising yet successful runs through the fire, can't ever get too comfortable with him, the faint smell of singed hair, and how close you get to the fire each time.

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