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Articles on this Page
- 08/31/12--08:08: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 08/31/12--10:46: _A MICHIGAN MAN REGA...
- 09/06/12--10:56: _TEXAS A&M ROAD TRIP...
- 09/06/12--12:21: _FACTOR FIVE FIVE FA...
- 09/07/12--06:22: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 09/07/12--08:15: _NICK SABAN IS ALWAY...
- 09/07/12--09:23: _Rootability Index, ...
- 09/07/12--12:01: _FRIDAY AFTERNOON GR...
- 09/08/12--08:58: _FIRST SHIFT: AGRICU...
- 09/08/12--11:20: _Kansas State's Coll...
- 09/08/12--15:57: _EVENING THREAD: WHE...
- 09/08/12--19:17: _LATE SHIFT: BAT COU...
- 09/13/12--09:26: _JIM GROBE REMAINS T...
- 09/13/12--10:59: _OUR OVERSEAS CORRES...
- 09/13/12--11:09: _TEN THINGS WE HAVE ...
- 09/14/12--06:17: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 09/14/12--08:51: _Rootability, Week 3...
- 09/14/12--11:35: _JOHN L SMITH RALLIE...
- 09/17/12--07:28: _SHUTDOWN FULLBACK: ...
- 09/16/12--10:33: _HOMERIC TENDENCIES:...
- 08/31/12--08:08: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 8/31/2012
- 08/31/12--10:46: A MICHIGAN MAN REGARDS THE BARBARIAN WASTES OF DALLAS
- 09/06/12--10:56: TEXAS A&M ROAD TRIPPIN': SOME QUICK HELPFUL TIPS
- 09/06/12--12:21: FACTOR FIVE FIVE FACTOR PREVIEW: PITT AT CINCY
- 09/07/12--06:22: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 9/7/2012
- 09/07/12--08:15: NICK SABAN IS ALWAYS DOING SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT
- 09/07/12--09:23: Rootability Index, Week 2: Weird Games Deserve Weird Outcomes
- 09/07/12--12:01: FRIDAY AFTERNOON GRRR FOOTBALL CHAT
- 09/08/12--08:58: FIRST SHIFT: AGRICULTURAMA SATURDAY
- 09/08/12--11:20: Kansas State's Collin Klein Is Not A Point Guard
- 09/08/12--15:57: EVENING THREAD: WHETHER YOU'RE HIGH OR LOW
- 09/08/12--19:17: LATE SHIFT: BAT COUNTRY WELCOMES YOU HOME
- 09/13/12--09:26: JIM GROBE REMAINS THE NUMBER ONE STUNNA
- 09/13/12--10:59: OUR OVERSEAS CORRESPONDENT: PRESEASON IN THAILAND
- 09/13/12--11:09: TEN THINGS WE HAVE ALWAYS APPRECIATED ABOUT YOU, TENNESSEE
- 09/14/12--06:17: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 9/14/2012
- 09/14/12--08:51: Rootability, Week 3: Cheer For The Ultimate Underdog
- 09/14/12--11:35: JOHN L SMITH RALLIES THE TROOPS
- 09/17/12--07:28: SHUTDOWN FULLBACK: UTAH IS ON THE FIELD
- 09/16/12--10:33: HOMERIC TENDENCIES: TENNESSEE, AND CELEBRATION
- Tennessee is fundamentally unsound on defense. The Burton Wildcat TD came from an awful angle, and the Vols lost contain on the edge all night. This is why Pease kept calling that fly sweep: he likes what works, and that worked every time he called it. That helped open up the run game in the middle, and then Mike Gillislee ate his dinner in between Jeff Driskel scrambles.
- Tennessee also abandoned the run game before they had to, and attempted nothing on the perimeter whatsoever. Why you wouldn't at least try using Cordarrelle Patterson as a perimeter blocker on something is beyond us, but the end result was Bray looking at eight men in coverage and seeing Chinese. Wait long enough with enough men in the pattern, and sooner or later he will throw it to his own coach.
- Florida still had issues in third and short situations.
- Florida still doesn't really have anything like a deep threat on offense. Pease has used smoke and mirrors to get people downfield---see Burton's reception, for instance--but for the moment, it's still MIA. (Not that Florida's needed it, but they will. If you don't throw deep, they never back up.)
DO NOT TAKE THIS MAN'S BACON OR HIS FOOTBALL. Okay, he's a Wazzu fan. After two quarters last night, you could have felt free to take his football away from him because it was hurting him deeply.
The Cougars debut was a slow-moving disaster, but credit BYU for smacking the hide off of whatever popped up in the crosshairs all night. Coug Center suggests that Wazzu looked like a team thinking about playing football rather than playing, something BYU was too busy cracking helmets to worry about doing. They weren't even polite about it, really, with BYU piling up a shocking number of personal foul penalties. Per our experience, this probably means they are a good football team, and that fact-checking this assertion will confirm our guess.
YES THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS. We love you forever, Andre Parker. Oh, killjoys, that is great to point out that he could not advance the ball. You understand nothing about joy. It never checks the rule book, and doesn't care how many times you say the impossible or illegal can't be done.
SOUTH CAROLINA IS THE EXACT SAME TEAM THEY WERE LAST YEAR. Except without a tall receiver for jump balls, and with the savvy to commit pass interference with the game is on the line.
TRIPLE OVERTIME, MINNESOTA. But a win is a win, even if it's the stale win with someone else's bite marks all over it.
NOT THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF WORDS. Beating Northern Arizona can encourage some extremely unsound combinations of words.
MAYBE YOU CAN USE THE PARKING LOT, BUTTHORNS. USC won't make the LA Coliseum available to opponents for walk-throughs this season due to an overuse issue with the turf, and also because Lane Kiffin just signed you up for all kinds of great email lists, opposing coach. Good luck getting off that Best Buy list, bitch. IT WILL FOLLOW YOU TO YOUR GRAVE.
Dallas? A Michigan Man's curiosity is like the noble albatross: ever soaring and observant, encompassing all without soiling its feet with the filthy soil of strange atolls--GADZOOKS I have stepped in expectorated tobacco remnants. LET US END THIS TOUR WITH HASTE AND RETURN TO OUR PULLMAN CARS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
SUCH LUMINESCENCE. Foolhardy to illuminate the 'on' switch to Mexico like that, is it not, Dallas? This garishness. It tempts fate, no? Be more like Detroit, and predevastate yourselves to spite fate's inevitable malicious designs.
Children should not be seen in public, Dallas, nor encouraged to taunt gravity by the use of clever low-friction chutes. There are eleven trees in Dallas. All are accounted for in this photograph.
"Ah, the local police. Hello, constabulary? I'd like to order a plebe-cleanse. Do you take prestige credits?"
Public art! A bit too modern, of course - anything past Trumbull is gauche - but at least there is some effort in this wheezing carcass of a burgh. That black hulk in the background: are all your buildings of industry wrought to mimic Legos for the meloncholiac consumptive child? Yes? This is not entirely incongruent with Michigan Manhood.
The Dallas Hospitality Center seems quaint enough. Perhaps later we will see what we can target shoot from the roof, or if the local officials frown on such nobilities, do it surreptitiously from the windows. That grassy knoll out yonder: it is the highest point in the city, is it not?
WHAT PURGATORIAL ROBOT PORNOGRAPHY HUT IS THIS
FOOTBALL IS NOT AN ORCHID, DALLAS. It is a hardy thistle, and thrives in the worst climes while stinging the hand grasping it too tightly. How does one not suffocate on the filthy air, pneumatically vomited from the unwashed masses' heaving into the Michigan Man's nobler lungs? How does one sense the fatal brevity of the mortal moment when standing upon grass fabricated from bones of long-deceased reptiles? And what is--
HEY HOWDY WANT SOME PAPA JOHN'S GO BIG POPPA WELCOME TO DALLAS! HOOKERS!
PIZZA INFIDELS! TO THE EGRESS!
[/runs out door]
[/stops in horror]
[/runs back inside]
Prepare yourselves, men of the Arbor'd Ann. I have beheld the Pale Rider. He appears to have eaten his mount. Also, if I'm to understand, people eat entire bowls of cheese here. Please bring this Michigan Man one of those and a spoon right now at this instant so that the trip to this barren parking lot of the ill-read and queso-addled. Pardon my use of the papists' tongue, but by god that is what they call this angel's mucilage, so by its name I will call it.
We went to College Station last fall for the final game against Texas and had what is best described as a fun, but ultimately kind of sad and weird time thanks to Texas playing its last scheduled game against the Aggies, and then winning it at the gun in painful, predictably snakebitten fashion. We repeat: Case McCoy, like Steven Seagal, should never run, particularly in front of witnesses.
It's like that.
We can't be there this year for the debut thanks to some horrendous scheduling, so here are some free travel tips from EDSBS to those Florida fans experiencing the Hate Barn for the first time.
1. Be Nice. Aggie fans are absurdly nice. College Station is kind of like stepping back into 1982 in many ways, but this is not one of the unpleasant aspects of its 1982ness, even if you have to recalibrate your sincerity/sarcasm meters a bit. "Have a great day, and enjoy the game!" does mean exactly what it seems to mean, so don't answer it with "Fuck off, cracker asshole!" like you would at Alabama. (Or do. They have swords, you don't, so good luck.) For the most part, they mean it.
2. Don't Bring Your Horse! Don't do this, they already have them. Again, be nice: it's only a horse, unless it's President Horse, and then you should be doubly nice. He's had people killed.
3. You will have no idea what is going on. This is not like the first visit to an outside stadium. In a typical visit to a rival stadium, there are three, perhaps four chants, cheers, or gestures unique to the environment. These are pieces of semantic slang you can pick up rather easily without any deciphering or explanation. For example, at Florida there's the chomp, Go Gators!, and "We Are the Boys" and "Jaws." Simple enough.
At Texas A&M, there are no fewer than fifteen hand signals alone:
There are...soldiers. And the aforementioned horses, and kissing after scores, and some towels waving, and then everyone leaning back and forth and scaring the shitnails out of the reporters in the pressbox by swaying back and forth and rocking the whole stadium. It is a subculture complex enough to make DragonCon attendees look like amateurs, and that is before we ever get outside the stadium itself.
Let the weird wash over you. As strange as it may be, it makes almost everyone else in the league seem utterly halfassed in terms of coordination, and will make you hesitate before ever calling Alabama or any other fanbase "a cult" ever again. Commitment: Texas A&M has three decks full of it.
4. Watch the band. Everyone else does, sitting stockstill in the stands for the most part. Military band formations! They're kind of boring and mesmerizing all at the same time.
5. SAUSAGE. If the setup is what we remember to be, hit the sausage stands right outside the stadium. They are fantastic if only for the smoke that wraps one side of the stadium in a meaty, spice-scented fog of woodsmoke and staggering fandom. If Ron Swanson had an odor, it would be this with just a hint of reasonably priced scotch beneath it.
6. Look up. Three decks full of people swaying, even in an open-ended stadium, is a jaw-dropping, equilibrium-destroying sight.
7. Stay all night, stay a little longer. Like Clemson, Auburn, Morgantown, and so many other college towns, there are very few roads going in and out, so buddy up, bring enough beer to make yourself an attractive invite, and then bullshit for a while at tailgates because you aren't going anywhere. Red tail lights all the way to Houston will be the norm, and in most other directions, too.
The first Factor Five Five Factor Preview of the year comes to you from Cincinnati, where the Bearcats and their once-arrested mascot host the ailing Pitt Panthers. Pitt lost to Youngstown State last week, a team that does not even get the privilege of BCS money or a bowl game, and instead must slog through a gross playoff for championships. Ew, playoffs! Cincinnati made a better debut by playing no one whatsoever in a bye week, but what feels like an inevitable forty point win for Cincy could be something entirely different! Why? This is the Big East. No one is good at anything, even trends or being consistent.
The Factor Five, as always, determines the winner of the Thursday night game with a mix of five different extremely unscientific factors: Nebulous Statistical Comparisons of Dubious Validity, Mascot, Aura, Names, and Grudges/Scores to Settle/Sheer Cussedness.
Nebulous Statistical Comparisons of Dubious Validity. Cincy's data set is null, so let's begin with Pitt's, which after one game is an sketchy outline at best of the team's capabilities, talents, and ultimate potential. With that said, the image Pitt's numbers trace out is a really bad picture of a very poorly drawn cat. Like this one, say:
Pitt turned the ball over twice, never held a lead, and allowed over 200 yards rushing to a Youngstown State team whose future opponents include Valparaiso, Northern Iowa, and Western Illinois. That they can play a nearly identical schedule to Florida State's and still not compete for a BCS title, and therein lies the cruelty of our system.
Pitt's quarterback Tino Sunseri has thrown one touchdown in his last 16 quarters of football competition stretching back to last year. In this same calendar year, he threw a total of one touchdown in the fourth quarter for the entire year. We present this fact and a bad cat picture within several inches of screenspace to juxtapose facts and relevant images adding up to "You may want to consider other things at quarterback, because all you have is a poorly drawn cat of a team, and it starts at quarterback even though Tino Sunseri is very tough, and tries real hard."
His counterpart on the Cincy side of the field will be Munchie Legaux, a fantastic name who sometimes struggles with throwing the ball. "Struggles, you say? Like, throwing the ball with crab hands bad?" Not quite, and certainly not like "Tim Tebow throws like a centaur because HOOVES FOR HANDS" kind of way, but still not the most polished passer you could imagine by any stretch of the imagination. On a scale of one to five Reggie Balls--with five being "you are actually Reggie Ball"--he's around a three. That 47% passing completions rate? Somewhat mitigated by legs and playmakerfactorbackedness.
Cincy also has what could be a very good defense, especially at defensive end, and did not lose to Youngstown State last week. Pitt's the more experienced team at this point in the most negative sense of the word.
CINCINNATI, YOU'VE BEEN FACTORED.
A blowout in installments includes an outlandish origin, gigantic evil Disney villain eyes, its real life species referent having the name "binturong," and a 2010 arrest for throwing snowballs? Like a real arrest and everything?
Additionally, there is this note from Wikipedia about the binturong.
Females are 20% larger than males
Ohio's only perfectly suitable mascot? Ohio's only perfect mascot, and the clear winner of this category. Pitt has a panther that looks like an overgrown Maine Coon, and has never been arrested.
YOU'VE BEEN FACTORED, CINCINNATI
Nipper is deeply underrated, a small but well-wrought football theatre with decent noise for the size and some very game locals. They would despise the comparison, but it really is like an embryonic 'Shoe right down to the shape. The really low walls in the endzone allow for some very cute fan/helmet interaction which surely got Mardy Gilyard, just, like, thousands of blowjobs in the months afterwards (and deservedly so.) If we say "nice little place," that is not condescending in the least, and certainly no faint praise for what is (for the Big East, at least) a reasonably tough place to play.
They also were undefeated there last year, which is nice.
YOU'VE BEEN FACTORED, CINCINNATI
ADVANTAGE: CINCY. We didn't even have to mention Munchie Legaux, because Cincy has the strongest all-name team roster of any team in college football, and there is no close second. LEVITICUS PAYNE.
CINCINNATI, YOU'VE BEEN FACTORED.
GRUDGES/SCORES TO SETTLE/SHEER CUSSEDNESS
Eh, maybe Pitt wants to avenge a painful 26-23 loss, and get a fresh start on the year? We're sure they'd like to do both of these things, but life is not about what you want to do, it is about what you can do. And right now it looks like Pitt can just put its head between its legs, brace for impact, and hope to wake up one day, not too badly injured by the experience of 2011, bathing in the sunlight of a beautiful new football world.
For the moment, though, this plane is crashing, mostly because the pilot Todd Graham bailed out before any of the passengers could say a peep about it. Be gentle, Cincy. The Binturong is a tender lover.
CINCINNATI, YOU'VE BEEN FACTORED.
SUMMARY: 5-0, ADVANTAGE CINCY. The Factor Five is a blowout this week, just like the game will likely be. There is no record for the year, but if you're winless you're also undefeated, no? We'll take it.
MORE FLAMING FOOTBALLS. What's all that stuff around it? The hot molten passion of our commentariat, of course. It may also be wing sauce with a tinge of bourbon, because, bourbon.
Not exactly a new-new logo, but we like our flaming footballs around here. If you like new logos, whew, do we have PLENTY of them to go around at SBN United, the network redo we have coming up. They're all here for your perusal, but let us just single out Rocky Top Talk for the swankiest logo in the SEC. Checkerboard never fails, unlike the Tennessee football team. (This is not Bring On The Cats new logo, but it should be.)
A NAME CHANGE MIGHT NOT BE THE WORST THING IN THE WORLD. Not after Pitt/Cincy last night, which in all fairness was not the atrocity we imagined it to be initially, but was still bad enough to facilitate plays like this. My, Walter Stewart and Ralph David Abernathy IV are entertaining to watch, unlike almost anyone on the Pitt football team.
Tino Sunseri was sacked six times, and may be the Rudy Carpenter of his generation (minus Carpenter's production.) Pitt did not get a field goal off at the half while sitting at the nothing and inches line with time to spare, and it is going to be a very long year for Pitt. Three coaches in four years! Never, ever let Steve Pederson touch anything you own, because this will happen.
So sure, go ahead and change the name. Might be for the best, actually, since geographical references and numbers are both so passé in college football conference taxonomy.
CHRIS FAULK OUT FOR THE YEAR. The bad news: LSU lost a starter on the offensive line. The good news: you know, just a grizzled and very intelligent sixth-year senior replacement waiting on the sidelines after serving as a de facto offensive assistant on the field during the 2011 season. As long as he forgets everything from the national title game, LSU is gonna be fiiiiiine. (Via.)
OH, YOU ARE TOO KIND. No really, Bill's way too kind to Florida's offense here, but shit, we would love for him to be wrong. You know what makes great sense offensively? Doing exactly what everyone else is doing, but not as well! Seriously, Mizzou, rip the SEC East a new one and prove what Michael is talking about here.
PAT DYE'S PANTS ARE BACK! On the internet, since they never really left your heart.
BALL OUT, KEVIN SUMLIN. Kevin Sumlin has that Rick Neuheisel Air Express going, which may actually be driven by a semi-employed Rick Neuheisel when he's not doing commentary on the Pac-12 Network.
WHORES! The team that brothelizes together stays together for a short time, and then is broken up for brothelizing.
ETC: WARREN ZEVON GETS DOWN, Y'ALL. Why does Mike Leach look like he's being held at gunpoint here? The toothbrush that saved the International Space Station deserves some kind of valor award for toothbrushes like the one they give Shane McGowan's toothbrush.
At this very moment, Nick Saban is doing something very important. He is reviewing film, or catching up on his players' development as people, or perhaps talking to boosters about the important things that need to be done in the Alabama football program's ongoing collection of gigantic buildings and video screens. He is processing things, and then reprocessing them until they are as close to perfect as mortals can make them.
He has the legendary door closer remote. He spends eight hours discussing how camp will be conducted. He consults Bill Belichick and then does exactly what Bill Belichick says to do because Bill Belichick just picks up the phone for Nick Saban because process respects process.
THWACK. *Well that's a nicer, one, Jamie? Beautiful day, ain't it?*
Nick Saban does not even eat without purpose or efficiency. The Process Salad:
Then there's lunch itself. He has it down to a science -- another in a series of small efficiency measures. Every day, Saban sits at this very table and works through his lunch hour while eating the same exact meal: a salad of iceberg lettuce and cherry tomatoes topped with turkey slices and fat-free honey Dijon dressing. No time wasted studying a menu.
Not even a second wasted on lunch, mind you: it's all that important. You are not paying Nick Saban to be normal. You are paying him to have eight hour meetings about simple things, and to not sleep ever, and to Skype with recruits and recruit and recruit and be the ruthless killing machine he wants to be twenty four hours a day whether he has a job or not.
MEANWHILE, ON A GOLF COURSE IN SOUTH CAROLINA...
Yeahhh, funny how some people work when it all washes out. Hey, Jamie, hand me a beer. Let's tee up another nine before we head back to the office, okay? Sounds good.
With its return this week, the Rootability Index attempts to help the non-invested college football fan lean one way or another in this week's slate of games using the same logic the random fan uses: that is, none at all.
Utah at Utah State, 8:00 p.m (all times ET). It's a family picnic: Utah State head coach Gary Andersen and Utah's Kyle Whittingham worked together on Urban Meyer's staff at Utah and together on Whittingham's staff until 2009, when Andersen accepted the Utah State job. Because it is Utah, there will be sunny weather, Jell-O, and comparisons of uniquely named children, with everyone agreeing the Mendenhalls still beat anyone present at the picnic in that department.
Then, like most family picnics, there will be a fistfight, and everyone will go home mad. If you like the older brother's calm confidence and steady, fight-finishing headlock, you're in luck: Utah is that older brother, and all too happy to choke out a game little brother in front of all their horrified children.*
* If you did not have fights at family picnics growing up, you missed out on so many invaluable lessons. The most important one: croquet mallets are useless, but the balls they hit are definitely not, in a combat situation.
Lean: Utah. Underdogs are nice, but if it's a family picnic with the Utes, Steve Smith might be there, and he punches people out of the NFL.
Auburn at Mississippi State, noon. Dan Mullen has only beaten one SEC West team in his three years plus at Mississippi State. You will hear this fact several hundred times during the broadcast Saturday, and might be convinced to root for Mississippi State if you like desperate men yearning to prove things. (If you do, and you are a woman, your life must be
utterly miserable and filled with investment bankers fun!)
He's not alone in that, though: Gene Chizik's tenure at Auburn is already being referred to by "with Cam Newton" and "without" phases. Auburn also bled out 320 yards of rushing to Clemson last week despite the presence of new defensive coordinator Uncle Rico and a steady debut at starting QB from Kiehl Frazier. In the life cycle of a team, they are still somewhere between "stumbling toddler" and "angry adolescent," and though talented are going to need a full year to congeal into something resembling a coherent squad.
Since both teams have their own brands of desperation, so we'll rely on the traditional tiebreaker of using something that annoys us. K-i-e-h-l is the stupidest possible way to spell "Kyle" besides just using a symbol, or perhaps saying "No, it looks like 'Steve,' but it's pronounced 'Kyle.'"
Lean: Mississippi State. Cowbells it is, then. If and when Mississippi State creates the combo vuvuzela/cowbell, we will have college football's most irritating environment not involving the song "Rocky Top." Murder rates in the Starkville era will spike immediately.
Maryland at Temple, noon. Maryland is only traveling with 60-odd players to Temple this week because Randy Edsall has no football players. Randy Edsall has not heard from anyone at his high school reunion because he has never gone, and has forgotten everyone's name he ever knew. Fine. You want the truth? Maybe Randy Edsall made some mistakes. Maybe his name isn't even Randy Edsall. Maybe WitSec DID give him the job of football coach at a little out of the way program at UConn, and then he got famous, and now this is all out of hand and he needs to be coach of a small program where the cartels can't see his face in the paper every day.
You'll never understand the pain Randy "Edsall" feels, especially for that really bad thing in Juarez he can't talk about. But he's gonna make it right. Right after he loses to Temple to stay alive, and remain more anonymous than he ever wanted to be.
Lean: Temple. Maryland football will make you said, and Temple has a great rushing attack and the checkered pant-stripes to go with it. Did you know Maryland fans are calling Randy Edsall "Rangoon?" 2012 is already the best year ever.
Florida at Texas A&M, 3:30 p.m. A deeply personal choice. Do you attend church regularly? Do you believe men should wear pants, both because of common decency and because you may be called upon to ride an animal or do manual labor at any point in an average day? Are you a farmer, and do you like to fight, preferably with other farmers? Do you believe in an America strong and true, unified behind hard work, family, faith, and a respectable bed time between 9 and 11 p.m. Central?
If so, you must root for Texas A&M.
Now, if you woke up at 11, and aren't even sure if you're in America, much less believe in it? But just know that you need aspirin, an attorney and to find your passport with a quickness even if you find out it's Miami you're stuck in? Are you bleeding? You're probably bleeding, and undoubtedly sweating because the place you are is humid, hot and filled with bad people making worse decisions.
Your choice is made, Florida fan. It's in your DNA, just like that virus you picked up in the Bahamas or wherever you were that one time you cannot remember at all.*
*Author is a Florida fan, and is writing this from the protective custody of the Cuban Coast Guard's offices in Miami.
Lean: Florida. Well, um, we're not bleeding. Not badly, at least. (No idea how it happened.)
Western Kentucky at Alabama, 3:30 p.m. Western's already selling itself here in so many ways: the obvious underdog, the terrifying but compelling mascot, the quirky name (toppers of hills!), the charming head coach Willie Taggart and his team's willingness to walk into Bryant-Denny Stadium and take a beating like men. But then, this happened, and your heart was left with no decisions to make:
What to expect Saturday: "Yeah, man, I'll tell you what, we're gonna play hard - I'll tell you what, we're gonna freaking win this game. Truly, we got a great defense, great linebackers - so watch this game, we're gonna win."
They're losing this game, and most likely losing badly and with extreme prejudice. But like their mascot, we will look, and watch them take their pummeling with a respect (and terror, because with Big Red it's always about terror.) That is your leg in Jesse Williams' hand, Big Red. Let him have it, and maybe he will lose interest and walk away without doing further damage.
Lean: Western Kentucky. No one wants to live forever, especially you if you like poking Nick Saban in the eye with a sharp stick.
South Florida at Nevada, 3:30 p.m. The elderly will appreciate B.J. Daniels' attempt at an advanced age to become an NFL Draft pick. Otherwise, all other people of good taste and sound judgement will pull for Nevada and Chris Ault, the college Hall of Famer who invented the pistol formation and then turned it loose on an unsuspecting college football world, but mostly the Cal Golden Bears. Bad things happen in Reno: it's a rule that applies to everything in life, and football is no different. Isn't that right, Boise? (Also, Nevada QB Cody Fajardo is far too entertaining to pull against here, or ever.)
Lean: Nevada. Skip Holtz, these slots are tight, and the blackjack table will be no kinder.
Purdue at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. We use the truly important things to decide rootability. For instance: after taking no snaps whatsoever last week, do you trust Caleb TerBush on the road in his first 2012 start for Purdue against an active ND defense fresh from a good performance against the trixy Navy triple option? And more importantly, can you trust someone with such a ridiculously spelled name, aka invoking the "The Kiehl Frazier Rule?" It would be arbitrary to do that, and deeply unfair to a talented football player and his improving team.
Lean: Notre Dame. No one said life, or rootability or being a Purdue football fan had to be fair. (They already know it isn't.)
Nebraska at UCLA, 7:30 p.m. A weird week of games deserves some truly strange outcomes, and nothing would be weirder than both of these teams blowing through the over and scoring truckloads of aberrant points. This is of course what they will do for both good and bad reasons, so you just have to choose between mutant strains of either team: a Nebraska team all too happy to pass the ball with (gasp!) the astonishingly effective Taylor Martinez, or a UCLA team with a powerful rushing attack spearheaded by running back Johnathan Franklin.
It feels strange to pull for UCLA here, but if you don't do something that scares the hell out of you every day, you're not really living. Eleanor Roosevelt said that once, and that's why she once stabbed a man in a craps game in the naval yards at Bethesda once cold night in 1938. To feel alive, dammit.
Lean: UCLA. For Eleanor, and Pappy Red Smith, the gambler she killed that night.
Georgia at Mizzou, 7:45 p.m. Further weirdness: the phrase "old man football" applied to UGA by Mizzou DT Sheldon Richardson. UGA's old man football only in the sense of Mark Richt being the old man of the SEC, and in UGA players' preference for driving scooters around campus. They're full-sized adult scooters, mind you, but if UGA wins big this will probably spark a new fad of UGA players honoring "old man football" by driving Rascals around campus and popping wheelies like Spike Jonze in the Jackass movie. I so badly want to see if it is possible to get arrested on one, and for this reason alone am siding with Georgia here (in what is otherwise a fascinating fitness test for Mizzou and a great road trial for UGA.)
Lean: Old Man Football. Imagine if it were a 330-pound offensive lineman, it makes the visual so much better.
Illinois at Arizona State, 10:30 p.m. The Bat Country Game Of The Week this week--given to the most chaos-potential-heavy game starting after 10 o'clock and happening somewhere in the vast wilds of the American West--goes to Illinois' visit to Tempe. Illinois' defense is rife with talent, ASU's offense is firing on all cylinders against inferior competition, and neither coach avoids fourth down calls, so you know what this is already: the late-night desert refinery explosion you've been waiting for as two teams without clear identities sort out their issues before your bloodshot but transfixed eyes.
Lean: Illinois. If you love something you should set it free, and if you're an Arizona State fan you should just stick to being in "like" with Todd Graham, because there is not a leash made in the world to keep that dog on the sidewalk.
While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:
Rootability is up over at the Mothership, and the deeper we got into this week's schedule, the more we realized what a bizarre week this was: oddball non-conference games, the SEC playing its first conference games in College Station and CoMo, Bo Pelini and Jim Mora going head-to-head in an offensive struggle, and U-Dub going into Death Valley before a late night filled with strange Arizona and Arizona State games.
Oh, but it's not that weird, you say, and then we remind you this is the weekend of Iowa/Iowa State, always one of college football's most preternatural rivalries in that no one is ever totally sure who will win this game or in what bloody fashion it will happen. Will Muschamp will be coaching Florida in College Station. Go back two years ago, and then think about what a mystifying guess that would have been.
So let's chat about just how aberrant this all is. OPEN FRIDAY CHAT is around. If you would like to talk about gorillas, we can talk about gorillas, too, since they are a favorite topic of discussion among the EDSBS staff, and also because they are one of nature's top five best animals ever. Those five, in no particular order:
P.S. Run Home Jack wants to know why jello pudding is sold refrigerated, but snack packs are room temperature.
Party's at the Hate Barn, but Saturday's tour of Agriculturama and its member schools kicks off with the immortal Auburn/Mississippi State matchup. Should we be so lucky, we will somehow come close to the perfection of 3-2. Also up: Penn State/UVA, ECU at South Carolina, and Maryland versus Temple with RON MOTHERFUCKIN' CHERRY on the call. Five hour game that ends 4-2 with all safeties? In one of these games, this is exactly what you're getting. Lucky, lucky you.
Kansas State is hammering Miami, doing whatever they want for at least 85 percent of the first half in Manhattan, Kansas. The Hurricanes look like a ghastly shell of themselves, and do-everything mandozer Collin Klein and the swarming Kansas State defense get the majority of the credit for it.
They also tried the strangest, least effective goal line pick 'n roll you will ever see on either a basketball court or football field. It's kind of you to look mortal, Collin Klein. Now do not ever, ever do that ever again.
Check the national college football scoreboard right here, and look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.
Oh, no reason. Why do you ask?
We did a quick commentary we're sure Cal fans will completely misunderstand over at the mothership. It's not that Jeff Tedford is not an excellent coach, and certainly not one without his frustrations. We're simply saying that from a job perspective, it is really hard to beat being Jeff Tedford at Cal right now, scoreboard be damned, because you're still at Cal, and you're still one of the few people to ever make it work consistently for football there.
Sure, you might say you want to coach at Alabama or Texas, but you don't mean it. You don't want the burning gaze of fan-Sauron on you at all times. You don't want people coming up to you at the grocery store and asking if you are going to beat [RIVAL] this year. Bricks through windows are a form of precipitation for coaches in places like these.
You want better weather than that. You want some place where you can be Tedford: living in an awesome place, getting a really good salary, and then winning consistently while not being overly spectacular and raising the expectations you can keep manageably low year in and year out. Just under the radar and over the walls of the highest tax bracket is where you want to dwell, no higher, and certainly no lower.
Tedford would almost be the master at this were it not for two men. The first is Kirk Ferentz, he of the $3.785 million salary at Iowa. The true master, though?
Your Jim is bad, your Jim is hood, Wake Forest. Your Jim does stuff that our Jim wishes he could, like pulling down $2.25 million a year with a 70-67 record at a basketball school happy with the occasional breakout year and public humiliation of Florida State.
Oh, is that game this weekend? Funny, Jim was just thinking about that lake house. The dock looks awful bare with just one boat there. Lonely, even. Get his agent on the line, cause college football's quietest Big Tymer has the ten, but is feelin' 20 karats in his grill--all platinum, this time.
Our overseas correspondent @dannyfordisgod is soldiering through a football season spent overseas. He credits his endurance of such rigors to his strenuous preseason conditioning. His preseason conditioning was very, very different than yours.
It was two weeks before the college football season started and I just wasn’t ready. The brutal, smoggy Shanghai summer (think Atlanta at its worst, but all the while you’re sucking from a Ford Excursion’s tailpipe) taken its toll on me and I needed to get my head straight.
I needed to go to Thailand. Everyone said that’s a place you go and you never come back. Well, you forget things over there. One minute you’re sitting at a bar having cold drinks with a tattooed Thai chick sitting in your lap, the next thing you know you look at your watch and realize your flight home just left… 3 months ago. You forget things.
The other expats were all so loud, so drunk, so Australian. And many of these Aussies had tattoos on their arms that seemed to magically repel shirt sleeves. I saw no less than 4 "MADE IN AUSTRALIA" tats. I can’t blame em, in Thailand you forget things.
After a few days in Bangkok, I flew south to Ko Phangnan, home of the Full Moon Party. There’s a place I could really get right with the world. I took a lot of voice notes on my phone in the midst of the chaos. A mantra I repeated keeps popping up, yet I had no idea where it came from. In Thailand you forget things.
"I need an underwater phone. I need an underwater phone. I need an underwater phone."
Switching tenses here, so I’m in the moment. I go to the Full Moon Party – it’s the biggest, drunkest, craziest party in the world that’s not a tailgate. 10,000-30,000 tourists crowding a beach listening to techno and just getting buckwild. The party is already raging as the boat from my hotel pulls up to Haad Rin. There are bonfires, DJ booths, flaming jump ropes, snacks. (Hey, you’ve gotta have snacks). We cruise up to this scene and thoughts of the Normandy float in my head. We’re approaching a dangerous, occupied beachhead. Not everybody is going to make it back. And there’s a lot of fucking Germans.
We disembark and party for hours. Late into the night, my friends convince me to try a magic mushroom shake while we’re there. So I take one… nothing. Wait a while then take another one, nothing. I’m a giant human being, so maybe it takes a few to really kick in, and I grab two more and head to the beach. Oh calamity. I knew something was wrong when the techno music started to sound good. And I knew something was VERY WRONG when the music started to taste good. I had to get out of there and away from that salty ass trance mix.
I’m on the taxi back to my hotel and everything is fine as long as I focus on the passing island to the left side of the boat, and not to the right at the edge of the water disappearing into the earth’s horizon. If I stare to the right, we’ll fall off the edge. And if we fall off, the turtle that holds up the world will eat us. Everybody knows that.
We pull up to the hotel and approach the beach so fast I’m afraid we’re going to crash into it and kill all the sand. I got really concerned for sand and nature in general. Then I realize OH SHIT I have to get my room key. I have to interact with people now.
I go to the reception desk, my pupils as big as saucers.
"I need to get in my room." I frantically explain. "I wanna be in my room and my room – it wants me in there. There’s that energy you know? And you, you’re the keymaster. You can make it happen"
That’s when I realize if you stay at a nice enough resort, you can be as fucked up as you want and the staff just pretends you’re fine. It’s the same reason that Lindsay Lohan’s high-paid entourage covers up for her week-long coke bender by telling the press she can’t make the interview because she’s got…uh… exhaustion.
So the guy behind the desk, he doesn’t even bat an eye.
"Yes, sir, energy. Here is your key"
And then the lady behind the desk brings me a cold towel and mocks patting her head with it. "Sawatdii kaa. For your… exhaustion"
Okay now I could be alone with just myself and the energy shadow that was following me and also the palm trees who were checking on me. I needed to be in a safe place, so I get into the pool and duckwalk around, all but the top of my head submerged, for about 3 hours. I’m giving the palm trees a thumbs up to let them know I’m fine when a plane flies overhead. It’s the same plane I was on two days ago coming here. I’m on the plane, but I’m also here! YES IT’S ALL HAPPENING NOW! EVERYTHING’S COMING TOGETHER AS ONE. I need to tell people about this. I have to tell people about this. But I don’t want to get out of this pool.
I need an underwater phone.
You may follow Chili on Twitter at @dannyfordisgod. He is still in need of an underwater phone.
1. Your mascot. Not the dude, or the plushie, but the real live dog. You cannot hate a dog, even if you picked the dog least representative of Tennessee as a populace, since the bluetick is active, intelligent, and goes insane without a job to do. The bluetick is also a "loud, constant, and howling barker." Anyone familiar with 100,000 mumbling fans of Neyland Stadium knows this is deeply inaccurate. (Shhh. Tennessee fans are the Michigan fans of the SEC, minus the pretentions of education and doubled down on the Realtree.)
Athletic, relentless, and nope, not appropriate at all, really.
2. Your former penchant for recruiting terrifying defenders. The price went up for them, or perhaps the recruiting salesmanship went through the floor, but at one time Tennessee recruited ursine killers of the hollow and dale like Al Wilson and John Henderson. Parts of Jesse Palmer may still be embedded in Al Wilson's teeth from the 1998 Florida/Tennessee game. They probably taste of delicious Canadian bacon and hair gel.
3. John Chavis. We love Chief for all the right reasons. He never beat Florida that much, but was intense, beat the hell out of people, and had a mustache that belonged on a drunken ranch hand in an old Western. He also didn't win against Florida a whole lot, something that makes you quite likable indeed, but not as likable as having the good sense to pursue life outside the parallellogram-shaped prison that is the state of Tennessee. He did that, too. Chief's all right in our book.
4. The Vol Navy. There's nothing really meant to say about this. If you can take a boat to a game and just pull up and drink with total strangers and not end up with scores drowned or set ablaze in barbecue, you're doing something right. You can just walk onto total strangers' boats and they will give you alcohol and food, often without pushing you over the edge and into the river. The only other place in America where this happens is in Miami, but walking onto the Frot-Yacht (owned by BangBros, LLC) is an entirely different experience.
5. Casey Clausen. If you're going to make an unlikable bantam rooster of a quarterback, make it really, really obvious what he is from the start: four carnival stilts bound together with Livestrong bracelets and topped with a Dragonball Z wig. Losing to Clausen was less an exercise in anger than disbelief, as in "oh my god, that bundle of sticks and Three Doors Down albums just beat our football team." Solid heel work: the legacy of the Clausen family in all theaters.
This is Jimmy Clausen, but don't tell the AP that, because this is what pops up when you look for "Casey Clausen" in the photo archive. Same thing, though.
6. Your running backs. Mostly Arian Foster, since he answered questions in a press conference in "pterodactyl" once and skewed weird in a place that struggles deeply with the slightest deviation from normal. Arian, like so many other people, would only discover happiness outside the state of Tennesseee. Oh, and Jamal Lewis, both because he was brutal between the tackles, but also because he was a future coke dealer, and thus completely about that hustle. (Travis Stephens? NEVER HEARD OF HIM.)
7. Your fans' general level of predictability. When our toddler comes ripping through the room, we usually think "battle stations!" in our head because at no point is anything safe: your balls, your knees, your eyes, the TV, the windows, his balls, knees, or eyes, or anything else, really. Whether he knows he's doing it or not, something is going to get crashed into, and it will not be pretty.
We think the same thing when dealing with Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, or Georgia fans: keep your head on a swivel, and make sure someone has your six. Tennessee fans, for the most part, are content to grumble and drink, except for that lady who spat on us at Neyland. We did shut them out that night 31-0, so yeah, that's gonna happen, but besides her? Grumbly and tense is predictable, and we will always take predictable over "Alabama fan suddenly trying to rip your shirt in half for no reason in the middle of the street because 'I'M JUST FULL AH THE TIDE BABY.'"
8. Proximity to the China Knife Bazaar. Not joking. Very few college football venues come with a guaranteed opportunity to buy a twenty dollar crossbow in easy driving distance.
9. Peyton Manning's forehead. It was the little impact bruise on the forehead from his helmet that turned it from "freaky acromegaly" to "adorable geological feature."
10. Tuesday, January 12, 2010. We honestly can't remember anything as weird as this, ever, and for that we will owe you for lifetimes, Tennessee.
QUEEFCORE BEATDOWN. BRB, just watching this all day:
On mute. ON MUTE.
HOLTZ MEANS HARD WOOD, IRONIC WHEN USF COULD NOT GET IT UP. USF lost to Rutgers last night by the score everyone seems to lose to Rutgers by--something like twentysomething to teensomething--and that gives you an excellent opportunity to cite horrifying records, USF blog Voodoo Five. You go right ahead and do that.
Mark at Big East Coast Bias rattled off this ugly stat last night -- USF's seven wins since the end of the 2010 season are against Notre Dame, Ball State, Florida A&M, UTEP, Syracuse, Chattanooga, and Nevada.
Jim Leavitt, like his mentor Bill Snyder at Kansas State, was an absolute wizard. A wizard who sort of hit a kid in a locker room, but they only take your job for that, not the pointy hat and wand. Oh, and Rutgers' holder dislocated his pinky but still held onto the ball on a kick. You don't want to see it, so here it is.
HE'S A BALLPLAYER. Manti Te'o will play against Michigan State despite losing his longtime girlfriend and his grandmother in the span of 24 hours. Thoughts, prayers, etc to him, because he has to be somewhere way, way out there emotionally right now. (via)
EXCLUSIVE [FUNNY OR DIE VOICE]. Amy K got the first interview with Jamie Kuntz, the gay football player North Dakota State kicked off the team for lying. Or being gay. Whatever you say, North Dakota State College of Science, but the whole interview comes out tomorrow on the Full Nelson. By the way, yes: that is a horrendous last name for anyone to have, but especially a gay man, and let's all chuckle about that openly.
DOOLEY TALKIN' FASHION! Part of Gameday tomorrow will be Derek Dooley talking about his orange pants, and no, stop. If you wanted "GRRR SERIOUS THINGS, " go to the NFL where they only talk about serious things like players being like women and the backup quarterback and punt protector for the Jets being the best player in the league.
BEING A VIDEO MAN MEANS VITAMIN D IS A DRUG. They really don't get outside very much.
ETC: But your honor, my client has some really, really amazing underwear on.
College Football Rootability attempts to sort out the most likable teams in the weekend's given matchups so that the uninvested fan can clearly stake claim on one team or the other in whatever they happen to be watching. It makes little sense and is entirely unscientific, but so is college football. Enjoy.
Washington State at UNLV. Remember Mike Sanford? You probably don't, but he was the coach at UNLV once. His most notable achievement as head coach came in 2006 when, in front of a relentless camera's eye, he flipped out at the end of a close loss to Iowa State and refused to leave the field.
Sanford disintegrating is just gripping: the running around aimlessly, the moment where it sort of looks like he might just run out of the stadium and away from football entirely, the stumble over his own headset caught on camera, and then telling his entire team to stay on the field despite the game being very over.
It is some sad Christopher Guest sketch made real. You know he got fired at the end of the 2006 season just from watching it, no further information needed, no confirmation required. (He was, but you knew this already from watching the video.) UNLV football is pretty much the same in 2012, but at least they have a good history of disappointing in a cinematic, sweeping fashion.
LEAN: Washington State. Like a Todd Solondz film, just because UNLV does something and does it well does not mean I'm going to subject myself to it. Plus, Mike Leach just hands out free gardening tips all the time.
Cal at Ohio State, noon. Rootability is over the instant you read "team on probation/ineligible/banned in 42 countries for misconduct," because at that instant you must pull for the team playing with nothing on the line but the game itself. The entire Ohio State team is wearing NCAA ankle monitors, but Braxton Miller could wear two and still trot gleefully through the Cal defense given the way the Bears played against Nevada's option attack two weeks ago. Has a quarterback ever played a full season with an ankle monitor on? No, but Marcus Vick came so very close.
LEAN: Ohio State. Because we're suckers for the outlaw, even if that outlaw did something that is like 1/10th as bad as what UNC had going on under Butch Davis.
Wake Forest at Florida State, noon. One other rule of Rootablity -- in direct contradiction with the rule above -- is that the underdog is more rootable than the overcat.* The team that has won the last four of six in this series clearly comes into the game with every advantage but one: the heart of the random viewer, who must by definition pull for the plucky, oft-dominated hard luck longshot.
LEAN: Florida State. One play at a time: that's how you beat a team like Wake Forest.
*Should be a word, dadgummit.
VIrginia Tech at Pitt, noon. Once, on a crowded city street, I saw a car accident happen right in front of my eyes. It was a small but very loud accident, a cabbie T-boning a car coming through a busy, slow intersection late, and one of my friends shot his hands up involuntarily and shouted "YES!" at the top of his lungs. If you are this person, your decision has been made.
LEAN: Virginia Tech, unless you are my friend who cheers random traffic accidents. If you are this person, you pull for Pitt.
Alabama at Arkansas, 3:30 p.m. Maybe it was his smile, dotted with a temporary gold tooth with a...is that a martini glass cutout in the middle, John L. Smith? Why it is, and you'd hardly noticed because he was so suave pouring the Night Train, yelling at the waiter to bring more bread but not charge us for it because classy joints don't make you pay for the bread, and getting your piss all hot telling you about his days coaching Dave Ragone and Drew Stanton. Most girls would go for that type A Nick Saban type, but an old charmer like John L. has his game, too, at least until the second half of the date goes downhill and you're left with the check and...wait, valet, that was my car, and you gave him the keys, and crap, he's probably already driven it back to Weber State, hasn't he? He has.
LEAN: Arkansas. No one said Rootability or John L. Smith had to make sense.
North Carolina at Louisville, 3:30 p.m. North Carolina is at an advantage in so many ways here, since Louisville has our favorite coaching totem ever: The Charlie Strong Top Button, the levee preventing the ladies of the world from being swept away by the flood of Charlie Strong's fully unleashed masculinity. Larry Fedora is no slouch on the other end, since he's a handsome man, and one who sometimes lets his players take short naps during the game. He's for the kids like that.
Virginia at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m. An emotional game for current Georgia Tech defensive coordinator and former Virginia coach Al Groh, if Al Groh had human emotions, and was not in fact a sweatshirt that grew a man one day as cover. Paul Johnson doesn't care if you like his team or not, but they are likable for all the obvious reasons: they always go for it on 4th and short and they never change their paleolithic horseshoe crab of an offense.
It's not that you're less likable, UVA. You're just not as weird or cromagnon, and in Rootability the caveman is always holding aces and smiling. (He's smiling because he's just happy, not because he can read the cards. He cannot.)
LEAN: Georgia Tech, not that Paul Johnson cares at all about a single thing you think, ever.
Florida at Tennessee, 6 p.m. Being a Florida fan makes any objectivity in evaluating this game impossible. I will be watching it with a Tennessee fan in the room, though, and this is what is going to unfold in my living room.
LEAN: "Things that can't be unsaid" in a landslide.
USC at Stanford, 7:30 p.m. With two private schools in California going at it, one has to move away from the similarities, and toward the real differences between the schools. Advantages for Stanford: academics, prestige outside of football, and location because it is located in America's Narnia, and Narnia is really just a great place to be. USC's advantages: infinitely better historically at football, heavier on the glamour, Barkley/Lee/Woods at Kiffin's ready, a fantastic band, and cheerleaders in classy-type sweaters.
Oh, we almost forgot one thing for Stanford.
LEAN: It is a deeply personal choice, but Tree always wins Rootability's heart before the contest even begins.
Notre Dame at Michigan State, 8 p.m. Michigan State is the old 1980s Japanese businessman of football teams: at its desk early, hammering away at its work for 14 hours a day, and then unraveling under pressure at the end of the evening and doing something spectacular. Spectacularly bad or spectacularly good is always the question, but the main point is Michigan State is rarely boring at the end, something Mark Dantonio himself knows all too well after calling a fake field goal to beat Notre Dame in 2010, and then suffering a heart attack afterwards. Sparty football: it's an egalitarian kind of stress.
LEAN: Michigan State, just being the salaryman dancing with a tie around his head at the karaoke lounge on select Saturday nights every fall.
Check the national college football scoreboard right here, and look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.
BANG! I'm shooting this gun why aren't you people all dying dammit--
A. John L. Smith has an assistant enter the locker room. "I'm sorry, Coach didn't make it. He's gone." A hush falls over the room. The assistant, reading from a note written in what is clearly John L. Smith's handwriting, insists they should continue on with the game, because that's what John L. would want. After an inspired first half, Arkansas is only behind 17-3. The team enters the locker room and sits down for halftime notes. John L Smith jumps from a locker. "Just like you guys, I'm still alive!" The team falls silent again. Arkansas retakes the field and loses by forty.
B. "Men, this isn't a great situation. But a lot of great opportunities are born from not-great situations. I want to tell you about a woman. For her, the winds are blowing every morning."
"Just to do her hair now, coach?"
"Yes, it wouldn't be right without her hair. Every morning she gets up early just to do her makeup, okay?"
"She's never had her makeup, coach."
"That's right. Because she's homeless."
"Yes, that's why she's singing, singing for money."
"LA DA DEEEE LA DOO DAAAA LA DA DEEEE LA DOOO DAAAHHHH"
[Arkansas loses by forty]
C. John L. Smith bans cleats, has team play barefoot "to connect them with the earth. 38 major foot injuries later, the Arkansas Razorbacks lose by forty points.
D. Plays 2006 Notre Dame/Michigan State for team, but runs it backward because "If we do it like that, we can't lose." Arkansas turns ball over 17 times attempting to snap from quarterback to center, loses by forty.
E. John L. Smith has his team eat "a rare mold that grows on other molds" because "Those who survive will be champions." It just turns out to be marzipan Smith rolled in some food coloring and sprinkles, but eight are hospitalized anyway. Arkansas loses by forty.
F. Has the team huff CO2 instead of NO2 as a bonding exercise. When they realize it after multiple guys lose consciousness, he tries to hype them up by convincing them the game is going to be played on the surface of Mars and this is just practice. Arkansas loses by forty.
G. He reminds the team what they're really playing for here. "What's that, coach?" asks a player. Smith smiles. "Exactly! Let's go." Arkansas loses by forty.
The Admiral-Guardian of Biloxi, Derek Dooley's amazing catch, and John L's lifetime of amazing unlocked achievements all make their appearances in the weekend recap from Shutdown Fullback. Are those Utah fans in the clip wearing Georgia, Indiana, and Nebraska shirts? No, you're having a stroke. Do not seek medical attention, it will make Shutdown Fullback viewing all the more sensical and pleasurable.
Relevant Kanye: "Celebration."
1. This game still makes me so nervous it spoils my appetite for hours, which is why I was dropping chicken on my laptop at 10:30 Saturday night. During the 2000 game I sweat through my shirt in a freezing apartment waiting for Jabar Gaffney to drop the winning touchdown. During the 2007 game, a game so hot I thought my corneas were going to fall out of my gelatinous, melting eyeballs, I stayed through the last snap of a Mongolian hammer party of a game just to watch Tennessee suffer because...because the suffering gave me pleasure. Great, deep, rewarding, endorphin-rich pleasure.
The scene at the end of Deliverance, where Jon Voigt raises the bow, kills a man, and then weeps for the savagery he's discovered in himself, other men, and in cold, indifferent nature? This game is like that, but without tears, or at least not the tears of a man feeling sorrow, but those of someone with a malfunctioning limbic system lining the walls with plastic sheeting, arranging the tools carefully on the table, and looking at the victim prone on the table as the tears stream down his face. I would really like to argue the point that Dexter would not be the greatest possible embodiment of a Florida fan, but this slide labeled "9.15.12" I'm sliding into a wooden box I keep in the living room won't let me.
[strokes the box, stares longingly at the ceilng]
2. So if you told me that at the half, down 14-10 in the same mode as the Texas A&M game, on the road and merely trying to survive the first half flurry from Tyler Bray, I would have still been nervous as hell about the prospects, about the idea of Tennessee just hitting the nitrous, flooring it with bombs from Bray to Patterson and Hunter, and then keeping the line off balance with Neal runs up the middle, and then the blood, and the screaming... it would have made terrible, paranoid sense to me. Florida's offense, aside from a third down lottery-shot from Driskel against the blitz and the TREY BURTON WILDCAT OUT OF NOWHERE, was doing its usual marooned Roomba imitation.
3. Paranoia made even more sense if you watched the opening drive of the second quarter by Tennessee. Tyler Bray went 7-11 on the drive, overcoming penalties and looking better in third and long than he ever did in third and short because Tyler Bray may have football farsightedness, and can only really see things clearly ten yards away. He was patient, which Tyler Bray rarely is; he was unflustered, without memory, and scarily accurate for the last time in the game on the TD pass, a floater over coverage into Rivera's waiting hands.
4. Then this happened.
That only led to a field goal, but note a few things. First, that Sunseri is blitzing the daylights out of Driskel, something he would not stop doing the entire game on any down. Second, please note Xavier Nixon at left tackle buries his man at left tackle, because that is a good thing he did, and it's only going to get weirder for him deeper into the game. Third, Jeff Driskel rolls right with two men in his face and darts a ball to Solomon Patton for a crucial first down, and this weird warm sensation in my heart tells me I'm either having a slow-burning coronary or feeling this weird emotion called hope.
5. Todd Blackledge also notes just before the half that Florida's backup line is in late in the second quarter because "Will Muschamp needs fresh bodies for the fourth quarter." Todd Blackledge, in the edited script of the game in your head, is the guy who says "I'm just going to keep this gun in this drawer. It's loaded. Don't shoot it at anyone, that would be bad."
6. And rewatching the third--where Florida ended the game, scored seventeen points to Tennessee's six, and swept Sunseri's scattered blitzes to the winds--it's even stranger than we remember. That is a kind of veer/fly-sweep hybrid Pease brought out to slow down the blitzes, one Tennessee did not defend along the perimeter all game. That is Jeff Driskel ripping off long runs, even with Xavier Nixon (the aforementioned left tackle) whiffing on blocks and killing an entire drive by himself with a hands-to-the-face penalty
7. That is Trey Burton, the platypusback no one can really find a spot for, finding a spot doing the one thing he can do: everything. Pease had him in the wildcat, running wheel routes out of the backfield on intricate play-fakes out of that spread-out veer, and doing everything but staying in one place. The best position for Burton appears to be none at all, and after Pease tells you this he puts his sandals on his head, walks into the forest, and curses at a tree until it develops tearducts and cries. Even for weird monks, Pease is a weird monk.
8. That is also Tyler Bray coming apart, something i had to watch three times just to understand. Bray went 1-10 in the fourth quarter, but the disintegration began with drops, and hands on his jersey, and then most damaging of all, his feet. Go back and watch the tape courtesy of ESPN3's glorious replays, and you will see that in the third and especially the fourth Bray is annoyed into mistakes, overthrows, and neural short-circuits.
9. This manifested itself in his feet more than anywhere else. When Bray's feet are solid and planted, he is a tactical weapon. When they move, he is a cheap mortar mounted on the back of a Hi-Lux, tossing shells in no particular direction and creaking around the corners. Dooley caught one of those. It was amusing.
The moment Bray came apart completely might have been the sequence in the third when Bray misses badly to Hunter--not a drop, but a flat out miss on an out route he usually hits in his sleep. Then they miss another pass, then Bray comes back to Hunter, and then a run, then Lerentee McCray is lined up against the TE Rivera. McCray leaves Rivera in the turf, gets an arm across Bray, and Matt Elam finishes the play with the ball in his hands. Matt Elam is the safety for Florida. This is not in any pass scheme Tennessee has ever designed, and never will be.
10. A lot of that was Bray getting spun off his equilibrium by the Florida line (fresh bodies!), but if nothing blew Bray's gaskets completely by itself, the finishing blow to his composure had to be Corderelle Patterson dropping an ever-so-slightly long deep bomb at the start of the fourth. Patterson was gone, and tried to one-hand a ball that Blackledge (right again on a very good night for him) should have brought in with both of his very free, very unoccupied hands. Bray doesn't come close to putting one through the tire the rest of the game, or even hitting the tree the tire is swinging from, or perhaps the grass and flowers around said tree. It was as bad as he has ever been.
11. At 9:15 in the fourth Bray puts his hands on his hips and huffs in disgust. His brain is departed, somewhere on a jetski in the mesosphere angrily throwing beer bottles at cardboard cutouts of Sharrif Floyd. He's utterly fried.
11. Dooley effectively ended the game for Tennessee by punting on their own 49 on 4th and 2 in the second half. Forget Bray: Tennessee probably could have gotten two yards with their wildcat, much less a slant to Patterson (who outmuscled his man all night on the pattern.) They punted, and thus surrendered the field to the team's inferior unit, the defense. It's easy to criticize Dooley at times, and this is one of those times.
12. Remember the manic blitzing? On the Hammond TD, the score where Florida ended the game, and perhaps Dooley's career at Tennessee, Sunseri brought at least six, and perhaps seven on an alert read on a man out of the backfield. It is beyond a Saban blitz: it's a balls-out, all-in frenzy party straight from the Jon Tenuta book of hulksmash blitzes.
13. Driskel threw his TD to Reed off his back foot under pressure, and this one is also with a rusher in his face, a tidy throw to Hammond squatting on the curl in a smash route on the right side. Four men in coverage, four receivers in coverage, and then it turns into a race to the endzone. The way the camera panned had to be agony for Tennessee fans: moving left to right, scanning the field for anyone coming hard from the hash to make the tackle, and then finding only Hammond, open grass, and the obligatory shots of sad faces and crossed arms in the stands.
14. We know the following, all of which should temper outrageous enthusiasm:
15. We also know that Florida has won two games in a row on the road in the SEC, and done both trailing at the half. We know that once the Florida defensive staff sees what you are doing on the field, then there is a very good chance you will do absolutely nothing in the second half whatsoever. Tennessee had five yards of offense in the fourth quarter. FIVE.
16. We also know Will Muschamp's fight card now. In any corner of any octagon Florida plays in this year, the fighter in the orange and blue trunks will be looking to take the fight to the ground, and keep it there. Wins by submission are the design, denying the opponent any opportunity to get up and turn the match into a fistfight. Ground and pound will be the mode, and if the fight goes into the third round then that fight is effectively over for so many reasons: because they've planned it this way, because the conditioning is unreal, and because the opponent, if this all goes right, will have no options but to get on the ground with you and play your game.
17. Someone will come along and upset this--most likely LSU in two weeks, a team also fond of taking the fight to the ground and exterminating all hope. This is a very young team playing a brutal, measured form of football it takes years to master. On the sensei curve, they are still in the academy while Miles and Saban chop apples in half with their bare hands on the mountain top.
18. But there's a very specific hope at work here: the hope that exists without expectations. I loved watching Brian write about last year's Michigan team because of the surprise, the week-to-week slow reveal of what this team is going to be, and the uncertainty of the present being the only data. This team has that, with so few preconceived narratives, so little riding on each game as a point. It is the opposite of the 2009 team, a new invention week to week.
19. I'd call this optimism if I wanted to remember trends and how things were moving over time, but for the moment enjoy the amnesia, and the deeply odd sight of Will Muschamp smiling at a football game. It's a celebration, bitches; grab a drink, grab a glass, and don't look so surprised, Derek Dooley. You wear those orange pants, and someone's gonna get the urge to spank that ass. (Probably Lerentee McCray, actually, and there is not a damn thing you can do to stop him.)