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    BOOSIE FREE? GEAUX TIGAHS

    If Lil Boosie wrote more than a thousand songs in prison, we sincerely hope at least four hundred of them are about LSU football. Furthermore, we hope this leads to the first official Les Miles verse on a hip-hop record, and then progresses to a level of involvement not seen between rapper and football program since the days of Master P attempting to turn LSU into private stock for his failed career as a sports agent. Gerry DiNardo couldn't handle it because he wasn't street enough, but Les Miles is no Gerry DiNardo, who never required wiping down, has never been out chea or even over there, and could not be classified in any way as a bad azz.

    Also, there's this:

    Prosecutors have stated that they believe the rapper may have been involved in at least five other murders.

    We are doing the S-E-C chant as hard as we possibly can right now.


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    YOU'LL NEED SOME ACTION, AND HERE'S WHERE TO FIND IT, BRENT

    Brent Musburger is moving to the new SEC Network as their number one announcer, pairing with Jesse Palmer to cover ESPN's share of the SEC schedule. Because the Master of Odds hasn't spent as much time in SEC territory as he should have, we at EDSBS have compiled this helpful list of places and activities for each SEC town sure to satisfy anyone---yes, even the Gambling Demon Who Keeps The Mike Steaming himself.

    ATHENS, GEORGIA: Gambling of any sort is not allowed in the state of Georgia, and yet there sits "Mike Bobo, Highly Paid and Respected Assistant."

    AUBURN, ALABAMA: Simulcast dog track racing! It's the sex tape for your wallet!

    BATON ROUGE: The Hollywood Casino. Oh, the L'Auberge is nicer, but the price you pay for fancy is getting the side eye from the pit bosses when you open up a tin of Vienna Sausages at the blackjack table. No one's gonna judge you like that at the Hollywood because they, too, understand the importance of portable protein at a low price point.

    COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS: There are no casinos. Satisfy urge for risk by whispering "the best breakfast tacos in the world are in Austin," and then run to the nearest armored vehicle.

    COLUMBIA, MISSOURI: Isle of Capri Casino, Boonville. Just like the Italian version, immigrants are seriously unwelcome here.

    COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA: No formal gambling, but isn't being in Columbia enough of a wager on its own?

    FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS: Sure, you could drive to Roland, Oklahoma for the nearest gaming opportunities. But John Daly's headed that way anyway after the game, and there's plenty of room on that old mule's rump for the two of you.

    GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: A short drive to Ocala and you'll find the last true democracy on Earth - jai-alai. You'll need ID to buy a beer, but not to strap on a cesta. Can you win money? Friend, let me tell you - seeing that pelota crash into Hal Steinbrenner's tibia is worth more than cash. That'll teach you to be too proud to wear rec specs, Hal.

    KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE. Jimmy Haslam would love for you to participate in his Wheel of Rewards program. Roulette? No, it's certainly not that. Rumors of a magnet taped into the 00 slot? Purely speculative, as the Wheel of Rewards is just one of many ways Haslam gives back to his customers. We will need to check you for a wire before you can play.

    LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY. Keeneland's right there, and yet again Kentucky manages to beat anything we can make up about it with its own mindbending reality.

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE:Nothing is legal in Nashville, but if you really feel froggy you can try the most dangerous game of chance of them all: Randy Travis. There are no winners in Randy Travis, only the bankrupt and the impregnated. (Kenny Chesney's not bankrupt. Worth noting.)

    OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI: Anywhere in Tunica could do, Brent, but that's a long way to drive for a game of chance when Dr. Bo Wallace is open for surgery 24/7 in a secret pool hall beneath the Confederates' memorial in the Square.

    STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI: No need to go to Tunica: Fred Smoot's room at the Comfort Suites is your one-stop shop for all games of chance. "This room is a broom closet," you say. Incorrect - it's a broom closet with a window, and that distinction will matter when ATF shows up at what Fred keeps calling "The Lavender Lounge."

    TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA: Asking "Where's the Shula Statue" in front of Bryant-Denny is all the danger a man needs in life, really.


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    PULLMAN NEEDS HIGHER FROZEN FOOD THEFT STANDARDS

    It's amazing how flexible the definitions of "food" can be depending on context and geography. For instance, take anything eaten in the Midwest that isn't meat. Look at it all, despair, and then remember that not only do people eat it on a daily basis, they do it with full knowledge of the existence of other, better foods in the world. Potato salad with sour cream is SHIT. Stop making it that way, go Texas-style with mustard and bacon, and banish sorrow from your life forever.

    Not only do people consider a wide variety of things to be "food," but they'll go to a lot of different extremes to get those varying definitions of food into their stomachs. For instance, Washington State defensive tackle Austin Brown not only considers corn dogs to be "food," but also is willing to commit a third-degree misdemeanor in order to acquire them.

    Among the stolen items were two gallons of milk, a bag of potato chips, strudel pastries, and a box of frozen corn dogs.

    Brown was arrested, because even an item as worthless as a frozen corn dog still has some proprietary value, but that's not the point. The point is that if you are going to risk a charge to steal some food, you do not do it at the Wal-Mart, dammit. You won't see us getting busted for stealing strudel pastries and some Lay's.

    Oh hell, no: we will be apprehended with a cart full of filets, the super-fancy type of Triscuits, a barrel of Australian Shiraz, some kind of fancy-ass chips which are probably sold for a dollar a bag under a different name at Aldi, and pomegranates because dammit those things are expensive. It's going to look like a Whole Foods exploded in there. Unlike the naive youth of Pullman, we know what groceries are worth stealing, dammit.

    P.S. Also lifting a thing of 27 blade razor cartridges, because we are playing this game of Hipster Supermarket Sweep to WIN. You get five things to win. GO.


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    EIGHT MONTHS IN THE PEN FOR A BLAZER AND AN EXPENSE ACCOUNT

    John, just tell people you got into some trouble in Arizona. Everyone in prison will understand that, because everyone in prison knows there are certain places that just suck people into jail: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and college athletics.

    Don't tell them you ran a bowl game, though. Tell them something more respectable, even if it is a lie. You were stealing from church coffers, or dealing ketamine to kindergartners. You staged elder-boxing in nursing homes for the delight of Phoenix's most demented and monied burghers, or committed arson not for the joy of it, but strictly for the insurance money. There's nothing prison hates more than an emotionally uncommitted arsonist.

    Tell them you were doing anything besides running a bowl game, a position so scurrilous it might genuinely cause problems for you in the pen. Oh, and that's what this is: the pen, as in FEDERAL PRISON, where the former head of the Fiesta Bowl is headed for campaign finance fraud violations made in the name of defending the territory and sovereignty of not a foreign republic, gigantic corporation, or even something as simple as the interests of one gigantic evil rich guy.

    Nope, John Junker is going to jail for riding too hard for a bowl game, and for what amounts to a shockingly small amount of money. You can make fun of America's Dumbest Criminals for leading police on long chases that started with a pullover for expired tags, but save something for John Junker, please. Those people at least had the legitimate fear of being incarcerated. John Junker went to jail for a blazer and the right to have a $33,000 birthday party for himself on the company tab. That's a motivation powerful enough to risk prison for, evidently, thus proving our theory that there is not a scrap of chicken skin on this earth that someone will not fight you to the death for.

    (Also, Junker got to plead guilty two years ago, and is only beginning his sentence in June. Being rich must be incredible.)


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    THE FUTILE ATTEMPT TO WATCH SOMETHING WE DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT

    MARSHALL HENDERSON

    He won't be in the NCAA Tournament. However, he should be allowed to sign on as a free agent with an NCAA tournament team just so we as viewers can enjoy the full repertoire: the jersey tugs, the full-court three-pointers, answering the taunts of opposing fans by pretending to take a bump off the back of his hand. Let him sign with Duke, and watch Coach K's head bloom into a glorious shower of crimson fragments. Put him on Florida, and whisper gently into Billy Donovan's ear that the ghost of Jason Williams is back to haunt him because of that gypsy he hit with his Cadillac late one night on 441. Which gypsy? There's no knowing, really. There's like, a lot of them out there on the roads of Gainesville.

    THE UNEARTHLY PALLOR OF MANY BASKETBALL COACHES

    In Caucasian coaches it really is a spectacular color: somewhere between bad oysters and the ashen gray of a recently severed limb, and always just a touch sweaty in the fifty degree weather of most large indoor arenas. A shade seen nowhere else in nature, at least not among those not imprisoned from birth as part of a "downstairs family."

    THE LAST MEN ON EARTH WHO USE HAIR GEL

    Besides blackjack dealers and Pete Thamel, there is no greater percentage of men on the planet still devoted to the sad shellacking of natural hair more than college basketball coaches. No, that man on the sideline is not the world's angriest and oldest bootblack: he is a basketball coach, confined by his profession to one of the four haircuts available to all: the cueball, the Boeheim for the Balding Man, the Crean*, or "I have been placed into a wind tunnel with dragon jizz in my hair, and left there for several hours for maximum hold."

    *what the fuck is a Tom Crean this is a serious science question

    500 TIMEOUTS A GAME

    As a fan of stilted, single-sequence sporting action, we can't argue with 500 timeouts being available in a single basketball game. Football basically has one between every play, IF YOU'RE PLAYING LIKE A REAL AMERICAN, THAT IS.

    THE SEC BEING BAD AT THINGS

    It's a nice change, especially the part where Florida is competent.

    VERNE UNCHAINED

    Verne Lundquist's marriage with Bill Raftery is so much less fraught than his work with Gary Danielson. By fall, Verne has to tug Gary away from chewing on the pant leg of modern football and bemoaning his recent divorce. What divorce, you ask? Isn't Gary Danielson married to his college sweetheart? Yes, yes he is, but death makes a divorce out of any happy marriage, something Danielson thinks about every second of the day, and twice as often watching a spread offense pee on the grave of dear old huddle-up football.

    Seeing Verne call a game with breezy, daffy Bill is like catching a dear friend cheating on their spouse and realizing you like the other person much better than the dismal life-mate.

    THAT SHOT

    It's pleasant to watch something where years of preparation, effort, planning, film study, careful recruiting, and endless practice and training evaporates in the incandescent flame of a three-pointer thrown from sixty feet out by someone who will be selling cellphones in a matter of months. When it happens, you realize how funny it must have been for a peasant to watch Franz Ferdinand get shot, because AHAHHAHAHA LOOK AT THE HORRIBLE ARISTOCRAT TOTALLY NOT DODGE THAT BULLET.

    WATCHING THE PEP BAND DRUMMER

    Pep Band Drummer: Watch me play a real drum set, nerds. I'm gonna get so much ass.

    [/gets no ass]

    [/makes sweet run at end of "Celebration"]

    [/still gets no ass]

    [/bangs head to conceal the tears during stirring rendition of "All of the Lights"]

    BOB HUGGINS

    He is the Bowden that Bobby will never admit to siring, because it doesn't matter that they were just blanks, Bob. You still can't pretend to shoot the pastor during Easter service.


    WEST VIRGINA

    West_virgina_medium


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    The SB Nation staff believes almost any school seems like a believable 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Even the fake ones.

    .m-sbnation-2014-march-madness img {
    max-width: 100%;
    }


    SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

    Compiled with Celebrity Hot Tub, Jon Bois, and Jason Kirk

    Gunt State Vapers

    Voltron State Moneydoctors

    University of Jack Reachers

    UL-Boston Ragin' Irish

    Randy Travis A&M (Arson and Menacing)

    Coastal Oklahoma Pirates

    University of Wisconsin-Appleton Larrys

    Manhattan A&M Aggies

    Saint Dabo's Hilltrippers

    Illinois State Technical College of Texas-Alaska Sooners

    Dog The Bounty Hunter Tech Stunners

    Wu-Tang College of Real Estate and Alternative Medicine

    Bitcoin College Fedenders

    College of the Holy Rawse Bawses Sponsored by Wingstop

    The Falmouth State Activia

    Cal State-Stockton Garbagedragons

    Connecticut Poly-Arts Progressive University (CPAP) Gaspers

    Welcome To Moe's Southwest Grill-Baptist Zappers

    Paul Blart Military College Blarts

    William and Theodore College Wild Stallyns

    Virginia Mystikal Institute Tarantulas

    New Atlantis University Buoyant-Men

    UMIP (Utah Monotechnic Institute of the Paranormal) Cauldron Stirrers

    Florida Hobo College Sunny Times Ramblers

    Mntana Colege of Letter-Thievs

    Tri-State Area Cubicle Kings

    Terrebonne Parish École Militaire Crossbow Cocodrie

    West Bangerdale Toffee Gods

    Snake Forest Hobblin' Tipplers

    The Wyoming State Steve

    Bikini Atoll Tech 30 Foot Crabs That Can Fly And Shriek Electromagnetic Waves

    Saint Chad College Poor Kids

    Delaware Tax Academy Ruffians


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    HE LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU AND ME, IF WE WERE MUPPETS

    If you see this man, please contact Gainesville Police. This image is a composite sketch of the serial urinator plaguing Florida's campus, who on four different occasions has urinated on someone, exposed themselves, and then left the area on foot. He is described as "chunky," a technical term the police like to use when they decide to make fun of you for not only being a pervert, but being a fat pervert.

    The description: six feet tall, husky because that's what mom called it, black, and wearing jeans made of ziploc bags, aka "baggie jeans," per the local Fox affiliate's spelling. They're very fashionable, and you do not know about them because you are old and getting further away from knowing about new kinds of jeans, and so much closer to your eternal death.

    This man may also be a muppet-- a giant, pervy, dick-waggling pee-bandit muppet*, just tromping around the campus of the University of Florida not sweating at all, because muppets are made of fabric and wire. If you see him riding a bike it will blow your mind like that scene where Kermit does it in The Great Muppet Caper. Per further research, he may also swim (The Muppet Movie, "Never Before" sequence,)  tap dance (TMM, "El Sleazo" dance number,) and marry legally in the state of New York. (Muppets Take Manhattan, finale.)

    *But muppets don't have urinary systems," you say. Oh, friend, you have clearly never seen The Dark Crystal: Director's Cut.

    The suspect may also be an escaped Mii tired of losing to you in Wii Bowling,  Franklin the Puppet from Arrested Development, a Sim, or a superfat Jaden Smith.

    A crime scene photo follows. Warning: is disturbing.

    18_medium

    Please help end fat Jaden Smith's reign of asparagus-scented terror in Gainesville. See something, say something.


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    WHEN YOU DIP I DIP WE OH CRAP

    Georgia's arc as a program in the criminal sense under Mark Richt follows the football program's: constant, even performance, but never managing to pulling off the really impressive crimes like winning a national title or stealing an oil rig. Florida managed to do both in 2006, and successfully managed the oil rig for several years afterwards. (It's fine, nothing happened to it, Urban Meyer did a great job running the thing, let's change the subject.)

    So if "theft by deception" sounds really adventurous, the sad truth is that it is not. Four UGA players were arrested on the sexy-sounding charge, which was actually just them double-cashing their stipend checks, and then expecting no one to notice that the checks had been cashed twice. The UGA Athletic Department did notice, the four were brought in and charged, and now everyone's learned a valuable lesson about why athletes should never be given money, food, thanks, gratitude, or anything but the applause of the crowd. It was enough for high-school dropout George Gipp, and it should be enough for them.

    P.S. That's not really what you should take away from this.

    P.P.S. Now that they have been arrested for check fraud, all four players are eligible to run for the office of governor in the state of Georgia. Congratulations.


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    BEHOLD THAT HANDSOME REFEREE

    The football scene in M*A*S*H is the greatest football scene in any movie: total chaos, cheating, profanity, lots of mashy line play, and confused and excited spectators. There is an angry coach on one side, a blasé one on the other, and a ringer brought in to seal the game under shady circumstances. No one is really sure what is happening at all, but everyone is deeply invested in whatever that thing is-- both financially and emotionally.

    So of course the referee is Howard Schenellenberger. Like, the real, gun-toting Howard Schnellenberger, who presumably brought his own pistol to the set without anyone asking him to bring it. He was probably a consultant, too, right down to the part where they asked him how to sneak a hypodermic into the game to inject the opposition's best player with powerful hallucinogens. The ol' Lexington Lasso, they called it. Might not have helped Kentucky win many football games, but it certainly made them entertaining for a young defensive end who one day would be the handsomest man in a Robert Altman film.

    (THANK YOU PETE VOLK FOR THIS. And for pointing out that Nick Saban has 30 IMDB credits, and lost to Auburn in excruciating fashion last year. He didn't point that last part out, it's just fun to repeat over and over again until someone cries.)


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    HEY, WATER COOLER FOLKS, WHAT'S THE WORST DEFENSE EVER HEY WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING---

    We were sitting around wondering what the worst defense we'd ever seen was, and it's Kansas 2011. What was meant to be an offseason question sparking debate was cut short. There should be a longer wait for that reveal, really, but this is a surrealist movie: we'll slash the eyeball in the first three minutes just to make sure you are paying attention. The eyeball is football and your love for the game, and the razor is the 2011 Kansas Jayhawks defense.

    Ha ha, you say, but the 2007---STOP. The Kansas Jayhawks in 2011 were the fat antelope with seven perpetually regenerating legs, each meatier and more delicious than the other. Replacing your defensive coordinator in April is never, ever a good sign, but one might think five months of work by an internal hire could yield something like positive results. That person would be wrong in a world where we did not respect words, or the degree to which "wrong" does not cover the degree of wrongness in that statement.

    After two wins (they had two!) to start the season, the Jayhawks dove face-first into a septic avalanche of points, errors, miscues, facemask penalties, bleeding, seizure, Turner Gilling, uncontrollable shitting from the ears, and spontaneous corporeal evaporation. Kansas gave up 604 yards rushing to Georgia Tech, then rebounded by only allowing 500 yards or so to Texas Tech. That is a trend of one in the direction of improvement, and a good illustration as to why there is no such thing as a trend of one.

    Then Kansas allowed 35 points in the first quarter to Oklahoma State. This is not an exaggeration: this remains one of the few games we have ever seen where a team could have feasibly scored one hundred points not just in a game, but by the beginning of the fourth quarter. Mike Gundy was still calling passes in the fourth quarter--nine of them!-- because Mike Gundy watches every football game with David Attenborough in his headset, whispering magnificently about the total, emotionless cruelty of the struggle for life. If you wonder what Brandon Weeden did to deserve the Browns, it was this.

    This happened against Kansas State. The worst part of this clip is not the song "St. Anger," and that is a cruelty you reserve only for your worst enemies and the 2011 Kansas defense. The defense in this clip shot your daddy for two sheep and fifteen dollars on a cold prairie track one night. Feel no pity for its demise.

    Allowing fewer points to Oklahoma was a nice formality, but Kansas still bled out over 600 yards to the Sooners before allowing the offense to take the stage against Texas. The defense only gave up a tasteful 590 yards to the Longhorns, and insisted on highlighting the 46 total yards the Jayhawks offense gained on the day against the Texas defense.

    No one must ever watch Iowa State/Kansas from 2011. The less said about it, the better for you, humanity, and the universe as a whole. (In short: Kansas lost that, too.) The Kansas defense in 2011 was so bad they let a Mike Sherman Texas A&M team finish out a win with conviction, and could not beat a Baylor team who all but tried to charitably donate a win to Kansas for tax purposes. They played a great game against their rival Missouri because nothing makes sense, ever.

    This seems gory, and it is, and we could write about it all day because just look at it all. Horror is a genre, and the 2011 KU defense is its pinnacle, a perfection of imperfection, a bridge built of rust and happy thoughts. It's nice to spend the offseason talk-radio style, pausing before leaning into the mike and asking our co-host Beef Fartman "HEY, pal whatcha think the worst defense ever is, huh?"

    I said: What's the worst defense ever? You can repeat it, but you won't get an answer. The talk radio set falls silent. Beef Fartman goes still, even catatonic. The wind whistles. In the distance, wheat waves. Birds make strange patterns in the sky, and somewhere, someone clutches a 2008 Orange Bowl shirt and rocks back and forth in a dark storm cellar.

    Giphy_medium

    Kansas football. Don't ask.


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    MOST PHYSICALLY DOMINATE

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    WHY ARE WE BAD AT EVERYTHING NOW GODDAMMIT FIRE EVERYONE YOU ARE ALL IDIOTS EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU WHYYYYY WE BLAME CORRINE BROWN FOR CURSING US IT'S ALL BEEN DOWNHILL SINCE THEN AND EVEN THE ONE GOOD SEASON FEATURED A NEAR LOSS TO LAFAYETTE SERIOUSLY FIRE THEM ALL AND MAKE THEM CLEAN BARNACLES OFF JIMMY JOHNSON'S YACHT FOR A LIVING


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    THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA, LET'S DO IT IMMEDIATELY

    Boxgate_2520final_2520render_medium

    WHAT IS IT?

    We have no idea. It looks like some kind of tailgating fantasia conjured out of the ghost of a shipping container, complete with bar, multiple flatscreens, a beer tub, and aluminum tack-on observation deck. This is a Chinese box. You open it and find a biblical hangover, an ungodly amount of money gone from your bank account, and possibly a friend crammed behind the bar. Hopefully, he's still alive, because shipping containers have lousy ventilation, and your tailgating pod doesn't need a drowsy ghost.

    AREN'T SHIPPING CONTAINERS OFTEN CONTAMINATED WITH HEAVY METALS AND OTHER POISONOUS THINGS?

    Yes, all sorts of toxic sludge accumulates in trace amounts over years of transport. Additionally, shipping containers heat up like the punishment box at a state labor camp in direct sunlight. On a hot day in Texas, you would essentially be inviting fellow tailgaters to brine themselves with beer and salty chips, and then cook themselves slow and low over the course of a football Saturday. You put a barbecue inside your barbecue, tailgate geniuses, which is ironic and kind of brilliant.

    HOW DO YOU TRANSPORT IT? THAT THING AIN'T GOT WHEELS

    We don't know. Maybe you flatbed the thing in on a massive truck. Who has a massive truck? SOMEONE YOU PROBABLY DON'T LIKE THAT MUCH. What will you have to do to get them to let them use your massive truck? PROBABLY TRY TO BE HIS FRIEND, AND INVITE HIM TO THE TAILGATE. Oh, how's that gonna go? HE'S GONNA GET TOO DRUNK, TALK ABOUT OBAMA, AND MAYBE SHIT IN THE CORNER WHILE NO ONE'S LOOKING. Man, that sounds like a problem. IT'S GONNA BE, PARTICULARLY IF YOU DON'T NOTICE IT, AND BOX THE WHOLE THING UP FOR A WEEK AND CREATE A SUPERFUND SITUATION.

    Another alternative might be airlifting it to the site, and raining heavy metal boxes randomly into the beautiful scenery of your campus from above. You should definitely do this, particularly if there is heavy tree cover around the stadium.

    SO WHAT'S THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE INSIDE THEM THINGS GONNA BE IN SEPTEMBER?

    The average temperature will be 183 degrees Fahrenheit.

    WHAT ABOUT UP TOP?

    Everything on the roof of this thing will be turned into a mannequin of ash in seconds on any day above ninety degrees.

    HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

    Way more than you think it will because life is expensive anyway, and really expensive for fools. You are a fool. It will cost you.

    WHAT DO I GET IN RETURN?

    A giant metal box stuffed with a sports bar. Also, probably a tornado. We bet tornadoes eat these things like Doritos.

    THAT SEEMS USELESS FOR LIKE ALL BUT SIX DAYS OF THE YEAR

    Yes.

    YOU WANT ONE, DON'T YOU?

    Yes. Immediately. We will leave it on the campus of Florida State, and they will call it the new home of the anthropology department. You're welcome, Tallahassee.

    [via r/cfb]


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    PRAY 4 CORNDOGZ, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LSU WHATSOEVER

    Prayinggirl_medium


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    The NFL is banning dunking a football over the goalpost. In the NFL, football is a distraction, excitement is a danger, and eventually humans can be eliminated from the equation entirely.

    The NFL has outlawed the dunking of the ball over the goal post, and now the NFL is great. Before I did not like anything about the NFL because my son could see Jimmy Graham dunking the ball, and my son would cry. Later, he would break into cars, and in jail would tell other inmates about the day he took the wrong turn in life -- the day he watched a man pretend to play basketball with a football, and his innocence died.

    The crossbar can still be toyed with in other ways the NFL must address. The ball may not be used as a prop anymore, but players may still do pull-ups on the crossbar. They may mount it and perform balance beam routines, or even set up model trains along its length. It may be tapped in jest, or even mocked silently. Someone, some deranged deviant, could even perform a muscle-up on the bar, and contaminate the purity of the NFL with Crossfit. This disaster is real. It could happen.

    This is what the NFL is now: 12 months of litigation and debate practice periodically interrupted by football.

    This is what the NFL is now: 12 months of litigation and debate practice periodically interrupted by football. Far from the reputation of being stodgy on the field, the NFL is creative as hell with its legal jiu-jitsu. They sued MIA for over $16 million for shooting a middle finger during the Super Bowl halftime show, are fielding numerous possibly disastrous concussion lawsuits with panache, and are fighting the usual lawsuits from their own players and people hit with ice falling from their stadiums.

    There's also players getting arrested-- something treated with a vastly different attitude than the poor, bedeviled owners of the league-- and free agency, and the draft, and talking about the salary cap, and rules decisions like this, and that random Tuesday when Merrill Hoge decides Johnny Manziel is going to be a bust. The issues the league's owners may have, like getting arrested for DUI or being investigated for toxic, discriminatory business practices by the FBI, are less publicized, and differently weighted.

    And it's all product, at least the parts not focusing on the league's owners and their problems. This is nothing you don't already know, but the NFL manages to make you eat 10 pounds of soy filler for every gram of actual football meat you consume. Calling the NFL "They" at this point seems wrong. Let's call the NFL an "it," an impersonal, monstrous thing that stands somewhere categorically weird: part full-time law firm, part branding consortium, part etiquette council, and part massively gifted real estate scam.

    Sometimes they play the distraction of football, and now you understand why you can't dunk a ball over the goalpost anymore. When you become something so inhuman as what the NFL is at its godlike size, the slightest trace of human excitement registers as an error, and must be eliminated immediately. In the end, Dr. Manhattan became so powerful he didn't need Earth anymore. When the godlike corporation of the NFL figures out a way to eliminate humans entirely from their equation, it won't either.


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    HE WAS NINETEEN

    He was nineteen. That's the part that sticks in my head over and over again: he was nineteen years old. That's the part that sticks with us a half day after Navy announced his death: he wasn't even old enough to drink or rent a car, and he's dead, and a family doesn't have a son this morning.

    That's all. It's awful, and the worst thing in the world, and that's all. Good morning.


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    Caillou -- one of the worst creations spawned by man -- has made a mortal enemy in Arian Foster. Now, the Texans running back is looking to rally against this despicable, hairless child.

    Arian Foster isn't wrong about anything, ever. He answered questions in pterodactyl-speak at Tennessee, wants to take DMT when he retires from the NFL, and curses on Twitter just like you do. He congratulates long-dead geniuses for inventing calculus, and also hates the children's television program Caillou:

    Oh, God, thank you, Arian Foster.

    If you are not familiar, you lucky person: Caillou is a despicable, spineless 4-year-old boy who cannot do anything. He can't grow hair, not because he has cancer or progeria, but because he sucks, and even his own body recognizes that he does not deserve hair or food or love. He has a baby sister who dominates his life because she is a normal, loving child who does not whine about the slightest fart of the breeze. Caillou's parents love her better because she is a better person.

    Someday Caillou will realize this, and probably whine while falling face-first onto the pavement in front of a Tim Horton's for no reason whatsoever. Maybe he'll die from his injuries. That would be great, especially because Caillou is Canadian and his health care in event of catastrophic injury isn't on my tab. Win-win for American parents everywhere, really.

    Caillou can't grow hair, not because he has cancer or progeria, but because he sucks, and even his own body recognizes that he does not deserve hair or food or love.

    Arian Foster is not lying: There is indeed no plot whatsoever to any episode of Caillou. The average episode involves Caillou being challenged by something: dogs, loud noises, the wind, stairs, cats, vegetables, sitting up, taking really big breaths. He fails at all of these and cries before being left by the side of the road by his laughing parents. They drive off, ecstatic and free, as the credits roll and the screen fades on a shivering silhouette of Caillou alone in the wilds of rural Quebec.

    Foster's right about the art, too. Caillou started out life as a cartoon baby, and when he got bigger, the animators simply gave him longer legs and arms. At his rate of current growth, Caillou will look like a human version of a Daddy Long Legs when he reaches adulthood. Adult faces are frozen and expressionless. This is because it is in Canada, which is very cold, and also because the mundane horror of living with Caillou has killed anything human in their souls. Backgrounds are barely fleshed out; the animators hate this show as much as you do, and want to give it as little effort as possible before returning to making anime pornography and drinking to forget their pain.

    It's not even that Caillou is bad at things. I have a 4-year-old. They are astonishingly inept at things, but they try, and also randomly excel at things they've never even tried before. They are people, in other words. Caillou is not human. No human has ever given up and cried at every single thing they have ever attempted, and then whined into his parents sweater. Which parent? Either, any, whoever: It is a Canadian cartoon, so everyone wears a sweater all the time, even when nude.

    This is Caillou playing baseball before crying and giving up completely:

    This is actually pretty good effort by Caillou on the "Caillou sucks at life and quits" curve. Maybe the design of the show was to show 4-year-olds another 4-year-old who would go through many of the same scary things they would undergo in life. Then, they would take that 4-year-old, rob him of all will, skill and character, and show him failing and being the worst child on the planet. Then the 4-year-old viewer would feel better about everything because at least they weren't Caillou, who even to 4-year-olds is the walking embodiment of failure and everything they will never, ever be.

    This is not an isolated opinion. Every parent I know hates Caillou with a passion usually reserved for cockroaches and Hitler, and with good reason: Children who watch Caillou get whinier after watching the show, and become more like Caillou, and thus less lovable and more likely to wind up abandoned by their parents on a cold Canadian roadside as bear food.

    Arian Foster has the solution for this, too:

    In summary: Bullying is no laughing matter, unless it is done to Caillou. Caillou is awful, and Arian Foster will get it off the air as soon as he retires and finally takes some DMT.


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    HOOK 'EM, HAIL SATAN, WHATEVER

    Our nation's textbooks are full of lies. For instance, a Texas fan's hand signalling in Norway would not be problematic if confused with Satanic overture. The reason: Satan is a beloved figure in Norway, something we know from listening to all that fantastic Norwegian death metal. He's done a lot of things for Oslo, so flash the Hook 'Em as often as you like. It might get you someone to buy you a free drink, or maybe get invited to a blood orgy. If that sounds a lot like Texas, well, it's because both are filled with oil-rich lunatics who drink too much (and like the occasional blood orgy.)

    The other error is that it might be misinterpreted. Norway knows a lot about college football, and in fact is the homeland of one of its pillars: Knute Rockne. Knute Rockne also left Norway for America, and is thus a traitor to the country, and that's why Norway hates Notre Dame, just like you do. You're alright, Norway.


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    AH, BASEBALL!

    The crack of the bat, the dew on the grass, the sound of the ball whapping into a leather glove. Ah, the national pastime!

    Back at last! America at full bloom, resplendent in her love of the game, embracing it as a child does its mother, rushing across a crowded airport waiting area to grasp it in its adoring clutches!

    Baseball. Back at last, and better than ever.


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    WE ASK THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION IN ALL OF FOOTBALL: CAN THIS MAN F#@$ YOUR WHOLE WORLD UP?

    We now look at the upcoming class of beloved college players and answer the only question a dedicated college fan can about their NFL prospects: can this player fuck your whole life up with their football skills?

    STRENGTHS

    He is big. Like, really big. He's so big you sort of instantly thought of him as stupid, not because he was inherently stupid, but mostly because you assume that evolution only makes things that big if they take their character hit points and put them all into "bigassedness," and not "IQ." Also, Roethlisberger-y. Just a touch of Roethlisbergerness will make you think that about someone, fair or not.

    You think this is a joke, but it was the first thing Ron Jaworski mentioned one morning when discussing his pro prospects, because the NFL shops for quarterbacks the way your mother shops for cars: she just wants something big that makes her feel safe out there in all that traffic. Something bigger than a sporty Manziel, like a dependable Roethlisberger you can drive headfirst into a another car with confidence.

    He also has big, floppy, snowshoe-like feet, making his ability to escape pressure all the more remarkable when you forgot how big his actual mass is, and just marveled that something that big and slow-looking could pull away from defenders, and sometimes run into defenders horribly, and other times make passes with three defensive linemen gnawing on his legs.

    He throws a really accurate, moderately attractive ball. Not a trashball knuckler, but not a gorgeous line drive godball like a Matt Stafford would throw. He was recruited as a tight end by most schools, and as polished as he is, he still looks like the best possible case scenario of a quarterback who had to play tight end due to everyone else getting injured, and then never gave up the job even after everyone got healthy.

    WEAKNESSES

    Success is about context: terrifying, variable context. If you watch Blake Bortles play and play well in most of his game tape, you see someone who was very, very well coached. That's great: he's obviously capable of taking coaching, and of giving the offensive coordinator enough varied skills to confuse the shit out of a defense. That's bad: he's not displaying a lot of the eye-popping, uncoachable things you might want in your base model quarterback you expend an expensive draft pick on in the draft.

    *This is an issue at any level, by the way. That superb five-star recruit you just blindly committed to? He's John Brantley, and peaked exactly at the age of seventeen years and nine months. All ceilings are translucent in scouting.

    So if you want to be sort of panicky about Bortles as a prospect, it would be with the kind of panic you want to have: that he's moldable, but needs some kneading into product within a system. Charlie Taaffe did a brilliant job last year using Bortles as destabilizing force in the UCF offense, rolling him out, using him on the occasional zone read play-action, and straight running him just to keep the defense honest. UCF's offense never felt like a lot of spread offenses feel-- that grease fire rolling out of control sort of look that a 2012 Oregon or 2013 Auburn had-- but was instead controlled fury. If Baylor in the bowl game was the Nick Diaz type, throwing eight fruitless punches a second, the UCF was on some Anderson Silva business. They took one move, and then another in sequence, and then you were on the floor in brutal, calculated fashion.

    Then again, Bortles is capable of doing so many nice things so well, and with such formality. He steps up in the pocket, a unique thing to actually do in college without freaking out, holding the ball forever, and running endlessly towards the sideline before throwing an interception. He takes easy throws for short games if they are there. He rolls out really well and sees all those easy throws that magically appear on those rollouts. (See: the game-winning throw in the Louisville game.) He can improvise, but even then it's a measured improvisation ending with a quick slide.

    Mannered sounds like a bad word to use to describe a football player, but it shouldn't be. It means "behaving in a highly specified manner," which Bortles undoubtedly is. Blake Bortles is a highly mannered football player with a lot of habits he clearly developed through a tremendous amount of practice. It's not exactly organic, and watching him was never overwhelming, jaw-dropping football, but that's kind of the point.

    ODD COMPARISON THAT IS NOT REALLY THAT ODD

    Steve McNair, and wait wait wait we know that sounds weird but bear with us: big, mobile, and will likely have to rely on some cunning scrambling in his first few years playing play-action dealer in a run-first offense. He doesn't have McNair's arm, but does have McNair's a.) background from a smaller and/or off-brand school, and b.) that thing where you're not really sure how he beat you so badly, but usually does. McNair didn't come into the NFL as a running QB, and neither will Bortles, but a bit of LEG IQ* could keep Bortles starting until his pro-style passing skills blossom.

    *TRADEMARK FILED FOR DON'T STEAL THAT PERFECT BIT OF HACKY DRAFT TALK SHIT JAWORSKI YOU BE-JOWLED TROLL DOCTOR.

    CAN BLAKE BORTLES FUCK YOUR WHOLE WORLD UP?

    That's really the question you can ask a college football fan that carries over into the NFL well: can this player, at their position, fuck your whole world up from the other side of the field? Can they utterly ruin your dreams, poop pure disappointment into your town's well, and poison the hopes of not just you, but your children and their football children?

    Absolutely. Blake Bortles can fuck up your whole world, and sort of specialized in it in 2013. (Hi, Louisville and Baylor!) We have no idea if he will succeed in the NFL, mostly because so much of the NFL is dependent on whether your owner is distracted buying an EPL team on credit, paying entirely too much attention to the team, or merely freeloading off the TV money other NFL owners kindly earn for you. If we knew what success was in the NFL, Tim Couch would have a Super Bowl ring and Trent Dilfer would not.

    But does Blake Bortles have that ability to spew ruination and hellfire on you and your hopes? Absolutely. We feel utterly confident in saying that the mannered Blake Bortles model is capable of doing a lot of the detail work the NFL loves while also doing the thing you want a skill player to do: completely fucking someone else's world up, and making someone cry in the process.


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    ALWAYS CHECK TO SEE DM OR PUBLIC, DANGIT

    DIRECT MESSAGE, BOB. ALWAYS LOOK TO SEE IF IT SAYS DIRECT MESSAGE OR TWEET. That's Bob Hertzel, by the way, a columnist for the Times West Virginian in Morgantown Fairmont, West Virginia, trying and failing to have a private conversation with WVU's former SID. You can see that, and that means we can all see that, and Bob's now going to have some lovely interactions with Dana Holgorsen at a local casino.

    This is endearing in a lot of ways. It shows that columnists really do use the word "clown" seriously in private conversations, and not just as part of columnspeak. It's an older person not using technology well, which is also adorable unless it's your great-uncle trying to use a mini Super Cub blowtorch to scorch the warts off his feet. RIP, Uncle Lee "Wartfoot" Harris. We drove you to your accidental death with our cruel nicknames as much as that gas leak in your house did.

    Lastly and most importantly, it gives you just a peek into what you might suspect about West Virginia football at any time, but maybe especially under Dana Holgorsen: that no one knows what's going on, everyone thinks everyone else is beclowning themselves clownishly, and that there's a thousand backchannel backstabbings happening from the governor on down. The usual stuff, we know but at least the governor keeps his DMs in the DM column.*

    *The governor of West Virginia is not on Twitter, and only communicates via flying messenger squirrels. They're slow, but so damn cute, even with a touch of rabies makin' 'em all nibbly-like.


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