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    To their credit they went hard after the falsetto. Some might be scared of it, but no: they knew what the hook needed. They went after it without an ounce of fear like champions do. They missed the notes, but like Urban Meyer used to say: if you're gonna miss, we want you missing BIG. (Which they did.)

    Further points credited for the verse "FSU 18/ and I just turned eighteen," following the Rick Ross rule of never shying away from rhyming the same word twice or even several times in the same verse.


    P.S. gotta make it to the top

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    Look at him. He's a man at peace. Why can't you leave him alone, TV producers?

    1. Celebrity Wife Swap featured the families of DJ Paul, founder of Three Six Mafia and legendary hip-hop producer, and Plaxico Burress, NFL wide receiver and noted sweatpants aficionado. I have never watched this show before, and do not need to watch it again. I will never get as much out of any combination of two other celebrity case studies, nor enjoy it more.

    2. You should know first that DJ Paul lives in Las Vegas with his fiancée Majda Baltic. In addition to being the man who made the beat for "International Player's Anthem,"  a regional barbecue baron, and an Oscar winner, DJ Paul can also claim to have met his future wife at the Salt Lake City Airport. (On her day off). He named his son Nautica, keeps all his awards in a closet because "when people come to my house they already know who I am," and stays up until 5 or 6 in the morning every night partying. His exercise regimen appears to little more than riding waterslides with his son.


    He and his spouse-to-be appear to be dangerously happy with their life, and also with waterslides.

    3. You need to also know that Plaxico Burress is in a plural marriage with his television, and also with Tiffany Glenn Burress, his spouse. Television shows are edited to make cheap, simple truths. I know this. I know that it looks like Plaxico Burress does nothing, but hand his check to his organized, efficient, world-dominating attorney of a wife, and then retreat to the comfort of his basement to watch TV alone in the dark. TV can edit its own very slanted reality out of level reality, and it does it all the time.

    But if it is true, that's OK because based on this single episode of Celebrity Wife Swap no one in the history of humanity has ever been as content as Plaxico Burress is when watching television.


    Look at that beatific expression. Life is a bitter, fallow plain of boredom dotted with land mines of misfortune, and Plaxico has found something that makes him happier for hours than you'll be for more than a few seconds in a calendar year. Later in this episode, per the way this show works, Plaxico will be dragged out to interact with his children, become a fuller, better person, and ... we sort of wished they'd just left him down there. He looks so much happier that way, not being around people who talk and want things from him. Maybe some people don't need improvement. Maybe some people have already become all they can be, and what that is for Plaxico Burress is watching TV alone in his basement.

    4. DJ Paul describes lawyerly, orderly living with the term "Shimmy, shimang, shimmy shimmy chang chang."

    This makes total sense to me. So does this interaction with Mrs. Burress, which while also mostly devoid of words still gets its point across that she is not cut out for Vegas living, and DJ Paul was the child in elementary school who found a way to make a bomb out of mucilage, old milk, a 9-volt battery, and a discarded Weekly Reader.

    Despite their differences, DJ Paul and Tiffany agree that his son Nautica should begin to look at colleges in earnest. Tiffany mentions what a great fit Nautica would be for their theater program, while DJ Paul notes its important and admirable proximity to the Vegas Strip. I had the wrong father. We all had the wrong fathers if those fathers are not multiple DJ Paul clones.

    5. One good thing distracting us from how sad Plaxico Burress looks when dragged out of his cave-basement: He knows his dinosaurs.

    HERBIVOOOOOOOOOOORES. Yay, Plaxico just answered a question. Now please let him go back and eat in the dark in his basement alone. He's so much happier down there, eating the burnt cookies you made him make for his kids that they wouldn't eat.

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    If every highway is like a story waiting to be told, then it follows that some of these stories are beautiful, poignant travels in the human experience, and some are Lovecraft stories that end with you wanting to cry and gouge your eyeballs from your head. We asked the SB Nation staff about their worst highways, their least favorite drives, and what roads in this great country need to be shut forever and left to the zombies. These are their answers.

    Spencer Hall: I-40 between Nashville and Memphis

    I-40 between Memphis and Nashville is 211 miles of pure unendurable redneck wormhole, just pine trees and blank highway and bucolic country blight without a single landmark to keep you half-awake. There are longer, more desolate roads -- hello, I-10 in the desert between LA and San Antonio. There are far uglier -- looking at you, US 19 in Pinellas County, Fla., a road that should be erased from the human consciousness and replaced with something more attractive like a giant, rotting quilt made of whale tumors.

    There are bad, bad roads in America. None have I-40's ability to warp time itself, and turn what should be a three-hour drive with traffic into a creeping space-time anomaly broken only by the words "hey, there's the exit for Bucksnort." I am convinced a person could extend their lifespan near infinitely and live to biblical ages provided they drove only on this stretch of I-40. No one will ever prove this, because no one would subject themselves to this even in the name of near-immortality. They would rather die, and wisely so.

    The worst payoff comes in the destinations, since no one who likes Nashville has ever liked Memphis, and no one who likes Memphis has ever liked Nashville. It's three hours that feels like nine, and all on a road where tons of people are going somewhere they openly dislike. But hey, look: Bucksnort!

    Hey look y'all: It's Bucksnort, located seven hours into the three-hour drive between Nashville and Memphis.

    Alfie Crow: I-4

    Interstate 4 is one of the worst stretches of highway anywhere. Connecting you across the middle of Florida from I-95 to Tampa Bay, it's a continual pain in the ass of constant construction or wrecks. Trying to go to Disney World? Have a fun two-hour jaunt on I-4 as you navigate dynamic speed limits during rush hour that add unnecessary time to your trip, despite the fact that at parts it's an EIGHT LANE HIGHWAY WITH A SPEED LIMIT OF 55 MPH. Then there is always a wreck. Always. No matter how minor it is, traffic is ruined for 10 miles each direction.

    Brendan Porath: I-90 between Toledo and South Bend

    I nominate the Ohio/Indiana stretch of I-90 from about Toledo (and points east) to South Bend.

    This is the most bleak, unforgiving and usually fallow stretch of land on the American interstate system. There are no turns, grades or hills to even keep your interest or attention as a driver. There are no landmarks, towns or points of reference that would prompt discussion or anything thought-provoking.

    There are two primary sources of entertainment derived from this stretch of road: 1) the internal struggle of whether or not you should stop and bring yourself to indulge at that Hardee's you were just notified is approaching, or 2) the contemplation of what could possibly be offered and desirable on the menu at Fazoli's, listed on Wikipedia as a "fast-casual Italian-American chain restaurant" that you assume only exists on an Indiana turnpike rest stop sign.

    I'm convinced that's why so many people are moved or drawn to the golden dome -- it's the only moderately interesting thing rising out of this hellscape.

    Jon BoisI-77, West Virginia

    When you drive through West Virginia, you are flipping a coin. If you win, you're in for a drive that winds through valleys and up mountains, full of breathtaking, gorgeous scenery. If you lose, Satan crunches a fist of talons around your Toyota and devours it whole with you inside, like an Little Leaguer too impatient to shell his sunflower seeds.

    I have landed on the unlucky side a number of times, most notably on a March evening when I was 21 years old. I was driving to Roanoke, Va., from Cleveland, and in some apparent effort to win the Sad Things Triple Crown, I took I-77 through the southern part of West Virginia. A storm gathered on the way, and a foot-plus of snow and freezing rain dumped all over the Mountain State. I was absolutely dead broke, and was managing my gear shifting like an Apollo flight leader trying to limp back to Earth. I was running out of fuel, with no means to buy more. I spent two hours in the dead of night creeping behind a snowplow at five miles per hour. It was abject misery.

    I coaxed my Toyota into gaining 44 miles per gallon, and we made it home with maybe a shotglass of fuel in the tank. On my way out, at one of several billion toll stations, West Virginia hit me with one final indignity. The toll was 35 cents, I think. I rifled through my glove box, back seat, and trunk for pennies and nickels. It was a while before I looked up and saw that the operator, taking a cruel sort of pity, had raised the raised the barrier. I think I'm a pleasant person, by and large. But I stared at him, as though this was all his fault, and flung all the money in my fist at the collection chute. Ten of those cents might have made it to the Governor's office. Ten more fell in the snow, doomed to lie in the Devil's Province for all of time.

    Chris Haines: the Schuylkill Expressway

    The Schuylkill Expressway is Philadelphia's answer to traffic hell. The views of the Schuylkill River and Boathouse Row (which everyone will recognize from any nationally televised sporting event in Philadelphia) are magnificent, which is good because you're going to spend hours looking at 'em. It doesn't matter what time of day or night you drive on the Schuylkill, you're going to hit some kind of traffic. Go ahead, open up Google Maps and turn on traffic data. There will be red somewhere between Philadelphia and King of Prussia. The especially cruel secret (rumor) is that when engineers were planning the expressway, one poor soul missed a calculation by a decimal point and that threw off the traffic pattern forever.

    Tom Ziller: Interstate 5 from Bakersfield to Los Angeles

    Congratulations! You're a Northern Californian who has successfully navigated alternating periods of incredible boredom and terror at obviously sleeping/texting big rig drivers to make it to Southern California. I-5 actually sidesteps Bakersfield, so you're going straight from the unending flatness of the Central Valley up a mountain pass with a six percent grade for its first five miles and 22 miles of rolling hills to follow, with lanes upon lanes of 18-wheelers and overstuffed SUVs fighting gravity and each other. If you pick the right time of year, the CHP just might close down the pass due to ice or wind, which means a minimum three-hour detour just to sniff the L.A. basin.

    Your prize for safely completing the mission: you descend immediately into the hell of L.A. traffic, where you'll move the next 20 miles in roughly three hours. If it's not rush hour.

    Heading north at the end of your trip? Good luck surviving that six percent Grapevine downhill, previewed by an endless stream of warning signs and multiple brake check areas.

    Brian Floyd: Highway 26 between Vantage and Pullman, Wash.

    When one decides to attend Washington State University, a certain level of commitment is involved. The school, located in Pullman, is in the middle of nowhere, a solid hour and a half from civilization and real transportation hubs. Choosing to go to school in Pullman, for most of the student population that lives on the west side of Washington, means choosing to drive four and a half hours to the middle of nowhere on the most boring highway in the state.

    Highway 26 in Washington between Vantage and Pullman is long, mostly straight, and surrounded by nothingness (wheat fields). It says something when the landmarks are a barn that has WSU painted on the side and a town that has a big gas station everyone stops at. There are also large rocks along the roadway for a couple miles.

    It's a two-lane highway with a speed limit south of 70 that also functions as a revenue generator for the fine folks at the Washington State Patrol. This leads to two things: Each student getting a speeding ticket at some point in their Washington State career (mine was on my first visit to the school; I banged that out early) and cars being backed up going 60 or less, unable to pass or simply playing leapfrog for two hours. Everyone is suffering the same misery, and usually doing it in packs.

    And that's why everyone who has spent significant amounts of time in Pullman gets a warm and fuzzy feeling when cresting the hill into the city. It's not just because Pullman feels like home. It's because the damn drive is finally over.

    Ryan Van Bibber: Three selections, because he has made a lot of mistakes in life

    1. King of the Road:I-80/I-76 - Cozad, Neb., to Sterling, Colo., 184 miles

    Remember the scene in Clint Eastwood's The Unforgiven where Gene Hackman's character tells Richard Harris' character that he was dead but it turned out he was "just in Nebraska?"

    Nothing I could write here better describes the four lanes of asphalt that follow the Platte River through the state of Nebraska. The gentle curves of the highway are the only thing forcing a driver to stay awake and the only feature of note until the Sand Hills start popping up when you get closer to the Wyoming border. You get to watch subsidized corn fields turn into subsidized wheat fields. And heaven help you if you want something to eat. There's only one option on this stretch of road, a Dairy Queen combined with a Stuckey's in Brady, Neb.

    On a trip through there with my uncle and my cousin between my eighth grade and freshman year of high school, we were getting desperate. Hungry and bored. A Dairy Queen sign and the promise of soft serve reinvigorated my uncle and I. My cousin opted to be stubborn, he did not want his share of Dairy Queen's brazer bounty that day. And we didn't stop there.

    The practice of insistence humor is a virtue, no matter how much you want a twist cone. The dried up plains of late August in Nebraska is a good place to appreciate that.

    I-70, Salina to Hays, Kan., 97 miles

    There isn't a damn thing to see in Kansas (outside of Eisenhower's boyhood home, because, dammit, I like Ike). It took me a long to time to realize that, much longer than it should have considering I've traversed that state from east to west and vice versa no fewer than 100 times in almost four decades of existence.

    And I can say this as someone with roots in Kansas. My grandmother's family homesteaded in Hays, and lived there until the middle part of the 20th century.

    You never know where you are when you're crossing Kansas on I-70, at least not outside the Kansas City orbit. The trip starts and your subconscious takes over. It's about a six-hour drive that somehow seems like a fortnight, but one you have absolutely no memories of. Kansas blacks you out on itself.

    Salina is about the halfway point, but you don't remember it, either. The only thing there to jar you into reality for a minute is an adult bookstore, I-70 Novelty, in the middle of an oil spot pulloff called Brookville, just west of Salina. You can't miss it thanks to a series of billboards to remind truckers and conversion van pilots that there's an oasis of pornography and sex toys waiting for them in the middle of the prairie.

    I-44, Joplin, Mo., to Tulsa, Okla., 113 miles

    It's not fair because you think, or you want to anyway, that you're heading into the heart of the West. This is Oklahoma. Television has always crammed it in there with the pioneers and covered wagons and cowboys with six shooters.

    But, nope, it's just flat, especially in this part of the state, indistinguishable from Kansas or Nebraska. There are casinos. And it's fun to listen to Ray Wylie Hubbard sing Choctaw Bingo with the pedal to the floor, trying your damnedest to get the hell out of Oklahoma.

    It's also home to the world's largest McDonalds, which is built OVER the interstate in Vinita. The world's largest McDonalds is just like any other McDonalds, and it's size doesn't give it any more cash registers or any more cashiers to expedite your stop at the world's largest McDonalds. The only thing that really makes it stand apart from other franchisees is that it happens to be the world's nastiest McDonalds. Woe to you if you can't hold it in until you get to Cracker Barrel in Tulsa.

    There's one more thing this part of asphalt America has that it's Kansas and Nebraska counterparts lack: signs advising drivers not to drive through smoke.

    Why? Who knows. Nobody at the world's largest McDonalds has ever been able to tell me.

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    For 14 years, the Tampa Bay linebacker was the master of his craft.

    It is so hard to make playing linebacker look like a skill position. It is a job that when done really, really well by the most talented people on the field resembles either a.) a rodeo contestant successfully completing a calf-roping, or b.) a runaway forklift tearing through a terrified warehouse full of workers. Linebackers traffic in blunt force and obstruction, and while that's a skill, it's not the kind you would ever confuse with the gossamer frames of wide receivers catching passes on their fingertips, or a quarterback gently floating a fade in over a cornerback's hands. It is a position with skills, but not what you could call a skill position.

    Derrick Brooks, though: Derrick Brooks made linebacking look like a skill position. Part of it came from playing weak-side linebacker, where he often had to cover receivers and play in space against people who should have been faster than he was. Brooks shattered that theory, and was faster in space than many of his opponents were. Cutbacks by running backs were swallowed whole, and passing lanes choked off before they ever got a chance to open. Brooks was not a prototypical weak-side linebacker. He was instead a redefinition, a soccer midfielder fed lean buffalo meat for years and forced to memorize the route trees of doomed offenses.

    The midfielder descriptor isn't a knock. At six feet even, Brooks was kind of short for the position, and started life as a safety before moving up to linebacker on a full meal plan and squats. His physique was a mismatch for his movements. Brooks's legs weren't long, but he strode with such huge steps that on interception returns he looked like he was loafing, even when he was clearly pulling away from defenders in pursuit.  But his arms were cartoonishly long, so much so that he could bat a pass into the air wrongfooted, juggle it a few times, and then haul it in with a receiver's touch like someone five inches taller. He read plays so well his finishes looked like afterthoughts. By the time Brooks had diagnosed a play, he was already at the point of attack -- cerebral pursuit paired with consistent, intimidating violence. Yet that violence was controlled. For someone who started as many games as he did, his career penalty total is shockingly slim.

    He was undersized, and it never, ever mattered. In 224 games, he started 221 of them. Luck is part of that, but so was being the smartest person on the field at all times. Brooks rarely found himself in car crashes he had not designed himself. His interception in the Super Bowl might be his most famous highlight, a startling image of a weakside linebacker playing pass coverage like a safety, cutting off the route, and then running the ball back past the entire Raiders team with that weird, slow/fast uncatchable gait.

    Somewhere in all that jaunty NFL synth music is something you might have forgotten: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won a Super Bowl after enduring one of professional football's most singularly blighted franchise histories. Brooks came to the Bucs in 1995. Prior to his arrival, they had appeared just three times in the playoffs. During his tenure with the team, Tampa Bay made the playoffs seven times including that Super Bowl win and four division titles.

    Brooks was the fulcrum the Bucs used to lever themselves out of the mire, and into something like respectability. Derrick Brooks wrote checks for so many, and that's before you factor in the cuddly and very real results from his charitable foundation. He was the linebacker Tony Dungy constructed his career around, and a huge reason Jon Gruden is paid handsomely to construct obvious nicknames for football players on live national television. ("I call this guy "Big Thighs," cause he's got big thighs.") He stayed with Tampa while other, more replaceable Bucs defenders left for lucrative free agent contracts made possible by playing next to Derrick Brooks. Keyshawn Johnson has a Super Bowl ring thanks to him; so does Brad "Captain Checkdown" Johnson. You could even argue that Brooks' talent was the foundation for the increased value of the Tampa Bay franchise, a value that allowed the Glazers to ride a wave of liquid credit to ownership of Manchester United. (Please don't blame him for this, Man U fans; he was only doing his job.)

    In summary: Derrick Brooks made everyone he played with (or for) richer, better, and smarter. He caught the greatest running back of his era, Barry Sanders, in the open field like a cheetah bringing down an eleven pound chicken. He could have played any role in the middle of the defensive back and midfield with ease. He read QBs like a cornerback, and had the hands of a receiving tight end. Sing it with me: who's your favorite player?

    The refrain is the same as he goes into the Hall of Fame this weekend: Mister Derrick Brooks. 153 tackles. 36 assists. And now, you get to sing that to him while he gets a yellow jacket and thanks his mom, and probably says "Better. Let's do that again" after you finish, because this is Derrick Brooks' bus. Everyone gets a little better when he's leading the field trip.

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    Gameday will be running the first hour with as few commercials as possible this year in order to accommodate the hardcore fan not interested in waking up for the nine o'clock hour only to have Geico ads pumped into their bleary eyeballs. That is largely good news. It means more room to meander, and unlike almost every other discussion show on TV you want Gameday to wander a bit. It would also be great if they could just keep a TV on the set piping in the early EPL games, since we know Fowler's watching it anyway, and oh look, we just left this on in the background for you. NBC can't even afford lawyers at this point. It'll be cool, trust us.

    The great challenge in going commercial-free is recouping lost ad revenue.


    Challenge: met. Thank you, wearable sponsorship!

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    2012 was a good year for offense and shhhh never mind about the defenses

    There's a few glorious things about this first installment of preseason Lunch Theater. In the 2012 matchup between Louisiana Tech and the Aggies, Texas A&M commits no fewer than seven hundred penalties in this game, Louisiana Tech allows 678 yards offense to the Aggies. The Bulldogs allow Texas A&M to walk out to a 27-0 lead in the second quarter. For long stretches of this football game, there is nothing resembling sense, including the part where Quinton Patton decides that he will take no tackling, and catches 21 balls for 233 yards and four TDs.

    And that kind of rank absurdity is how you get a game so long you have to break up the pirate video into two parts. Aggie fans yell loud enough to get Louisiana Tech false start penalties in their own field, Manziel rushes for 181 yards, and the game comes down to a doomed Bulldog two-point conversion attempt that somehow does not go to Quinton Patton. (Here's part two, if you want to see that and the frantic fourth quarter.) Almost 1300 yards of total offense and a finish time damn near one o'clock eastern? Oh, there is nothing sweeter than when Saturday invades Sunday and begins annexing the early morning for football purposes.

    P.S. Who would have imagined Sonny Dykes would be largely indifferent to defense at Cal after watching this? WHO, WE ASK YOU?

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    We want our quarterback erect after every play and not take the big impact type hit.

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    Baton Rouge Influenza; a viral condition affecting LSU running backs. Scope of infection is believed to be localized and restricted to Baton Rouge, Louisiana; thus the name. Infected patients are almost always LSU running backs, and almost always ranked highly by recruiting services and accompanied with breathless field reports and eye-popping recruiting highlight videos.

    Onset of disease is highlighted by initial success on the field in either limited playing time or sudden starting position. Following initial success, symptoms deleterious to patient health and performance manifest. These symptoms may include, but not be limited to:

    • weight gain due to carousing
    • weight gain due to poor but delicious dietary concerns
    • grade deflation
    • random parking lot assaults and subsequent legal trouble
    • sudden disappearance from depth chart
    • "I was watching you sleep."
    • random bloat
    • seizures of enrollment resulting in sudden transfer

    Treatment: there is none, you sort of mull through it and become Joseph Addai, or you don't.

    Long term prognosis: Bill Belichick will probably sign you for the minimum, let you start five games, and then (REDACTED BY ORDER OF BELICHICK AEROSPACE AND WASTE MANAGEMENT)


    Leonard Fournette. Just, damn, all the Leonard Fournette you could handle, coming to you this fall.

    That third run. JESUS IN HEAVEN OR NEW ORLEANS, THAT RUN AROUND THE 40 SECOND MARK OR SO. Please be immune, Leonard Fournette, because hot death on two legs doesn't come our way that often. We know it does for you, citizens of Louisiana, because swamps breed running backs and huge defensive linemen like Polynesia spits out offensive linemen, but still. Let this one go, curse of LSU curses. (He might just stiffarm it away, and slip Baton Rouge Influenza's tackles. Which would be fine with all of us.)

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    James Brown would like an "I", please

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    You may have noticed that Jon Bois has been relatively scarce around here. There is a reason: he has been holed up in a bunker writing the Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, the definitive fictional account of the quarterback's adventures in the Great White North. It features illustrations like this, cameos from Natrone Means and Dante Hall, and...a sea battle? I'm pretty sure there's a naval battle at the end that's also part of a football game, if I've got that part right. At 35,000 words, I can also honestly say it's the world's first CFL-seaventure-GIFstory novella, and also its finest. When do you get to see it? The answer: when it's done, which should be fairly soon, aka sometime in the next week or so after Jon records the audio tracks to Johnny Manziel's country album. It's harder to find a good pedal steel player than you might think, even in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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    MacIntyre discussed his time in the NFL, his past rebuilding projects, the challenges at Colorado and Colin Kaepernick.

    Mike MacIntyre's office in the Colorado football offices looks exactly like what you hoped a Colorado football coach's office would look like: earth tones, buffalo statues and iconography all over the place, and a broad set of windows overlooking the new construction at Folsom Field, and the reddish-gray profile of the Flatiron range rising over the lip of the stadium. It smells like fresh carpet and leather and makes you want to recline and do things you do in places with leather furniture and slate rock wall accents: smoke a cigar, eat a venison steak, or drink scotch and talk about hunting, fishing, or other acts of outdoor killing.

    MacIntyre, the second-year head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, manages to work a good chunk of his day in that office without getting distracted by the view. We talked about doing his second rebuilding job in a row, how he never worked at Shoney's no matter what Wikipedia says, when recruiting four tight ends isn't really recruiting four tight ends, and how Colin Kaepernick was an eye-popping talent even when he was roaming the fields of the now-defunct football division of the WAC.

    SH: When you walk in the building, what’s literally the first thing you do?

    MM: The first thing I do when I walked in the building was the first thing I did when I came to San Jose State. I wanted a picture of our players, our current players, on the walls. I want former players and alumni, sure, but our current players need action shots of them, especially our seniors. We want action shots of our seniors so that when they graduate they can take them with them, and then the next class comes in. We want shots of live action in our games. We put up a lot of the various slogans we go by, and want them to see it every day.

    Those are the first things you do, because you don’t want to go in and say "Well, we’re tearing down this wall, and then tearing down this wall." When we got here we redid the office area to make it more of a place you could meet with recruits and parents, so it has a bit more of a wow factor. Mainly it’s for our players to make them have a lot of pride in what they’re doing, and that it’s their time and their legacy and that they’re part of the great Buffalo tradition.

    SH: You’ve done this a few times now. This is your second rebuild. If you go through your resume, you’ve had a long slog through a few places where people might not have a lot of hope of success: Temple, Duke, San Jose State. How do you help people — the boosters, the administration, the players and fans — how do you help them find that hope before there’s ever on-field success to point out? Especially when historically, that might not be the case?

    MM: Fortunately at CU, there’s been some success, historically. This is the 23rd winningest college football program in history. The first place you start is with the individual athletes. They all have dreams and aspirations of being successful academically, athletically in the future, so that’s where I dive in. It’s all about relationships, and as you build that you try to help them understand that you have a plan, and ideas, and that it’s all gonna accumulate in a successful situation.

    When you get out in recruiting and you meet coaches, you do everything you can to get the word out about what you’re about. Being truthful, being honest, and having a great hope and a great passion about what you do. Also, I truly believe things can be accomplished with people all moving the same direction. It’s exciting to be able to do stuff people say you can’t do.

    SH: An example of that honesty when you’re pitching the program?

    MM: I think that you don’t put on rose-colored glasses and hope that everything’s okay. But you’re not negative, either. You say we need to fix this, we need to find a way to fix it. I think that you’re a problem-solver, and you find the right ways to solve the problem. The solution is people, and people who are excited and passionate about what you’re doing. It’s a combination of all different situations, but also of realizing that you can always make excuses about why you’re not successful. You’ll always have regrets in life, but you make no excuses.

    Whatever it is, you find a way, and at every school you go to it’s a little bit different. Every business is a little different, but most of the time when you start a new business or start from scratch you take it over because it hasn’t been successful. So you need to install your ideas, your culture, what you’re trying to accomplish and what you believe in. It’s the same with a football program.

    At the same time you can’t come in and be a used car salesman, put a fresh coat of paint on, and say everything’s fine. We try to find the root of the problems and build a foundation. You do that and then build on it. It’s a process, and it happens daily. You have to be urgent about it, but at the same time you have to be patient.

    SH: When you got to SJSU, for example, what were a few of those initial obstacles?

    MM: Two things. First, when we got there, they were on APR probation. We had to fix our academic daily program, and we did that. The second was that the strength program was not really that good, and we had to improve that. Those are the two basic things we had to fix, and the things the students are around every day. And as they were doing better academically and getting stronger in the weight room they had a lot more pride and confidence. Combine the work ethic of both of things, and those kids rise.

    Here at Colorado, it’s a bit different. Some of the kids were fine academically, but some weren’t, and we worked on that. In the weight room, we need to make a big jump in getting strong there. Those are the first two places you start.

    SH: You won one game in your first year at San Jose State and had a brutal overtime loss to Idaho to end the season on the road. How do you keep everyone in the same direction when you’re in that phase?

    MM: You have your plan, you stick to your plan. You truly show the kids you care about them. You don’t treat them like dirt because you lost, you don’t treat them better because you win. You treat them like people, like you want to be treated, and make them understand that you care more about them as a person than as a player. When you do that, you trust them, and they trust you, and that trust builds. That’s when you become successful on the field and off it, and they’re focused on the field and in the classroom and hold their head high.

    We needed a football facility in a way — a safe haven. When our kids go out of here, they’re hearing "Oh, you’re terrible, you can’t beat them."

    One of the first things we did here was say that we needed a football facility in a way — a safe haven. When our kids go out of here, they’re hearing "Oh, you’re terrible, you can’t beat them." They’re hearing it from friends, they’re hearing it from school classmates, they’re hearing it from parents. When they come here, they’ve got to hear, "You’re something, you’re worth it, you’re a good football player, if you do this, this, and this, we’ll get good results. And if you improve in those areas, this is a process, and we’re gonna have good results." When they come here we want them to be excited, to put their work hat on, and realize this is where you get everything done. All the stuff you hear outside, all the stuff you read, all the things you see on ESPN mean nothing if you’re doing the work here. That will all change if you do the work here.

    Our big thing is that they understand that. It’s a whole mindset.

    SH: Does Boulder being…I want the right word here…disengaged? Laid-back? This is not Tuscaloosa, this is not Tallahassee. For instance, I feel pretty safe in saying that people here probably won’t poison trees over Colorado/Colorado State. Does that help or hinder what you’re trying to do here?

    MM: With it not being a real populated state, and with us being so close to Denver, we’re relatively big in the media. There’s only so many papers, and only so many stations, and there’s basically the Broncos and us. We get maybe more coverage than other programs that have two or three other teams in state. I do think there’s a lot of scrutiny on our players and our program.

    I think there’s a lot of other positive factors, too. We get a lot of press here and a lot of people watching. Boulder was voted the number one college town in America last year. So a lot of the city of Boulder revolves around Colorado. When our players go out to eat, a lot of people recognize them and know who they are. That’s awesome, and at the same time, if you’re not doing well it can be a negative.

    SH: Do you monitor players’ social media activity? Do you train them on what not to do?

    MM: I’ve had to learn a lot really fast. For coaches my age, it’s a lot: the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the Vine line … we educate them on that. The kids need to understand that once it’s out there, it’s public, and here you go. They are kids, and when they’re younger they’re going to goof around with each other, and when you do it in college someone can take it and turn it into a bad situation for a young man. I’m not the Gestapo with it, but we do educate them and try to make them understand they can get in a lot of hot water with it and put me in a position where I have to make a decision on their future based on a Twitter message.

    SH: Your recruiting profile. Colorado is not the most populous state, and your territory is spread across a lot of territory. Historically the school has gone to California and Texas for additional talent. Where is your recruiting profile right now in 2014?

    MM: Great question. Of course, we recruit the state of Colorado hard, and signed five young men out of the state this year, which I think is the most they’ve signed here since 2009. We really tap the whole state. We’re in the Pac-12, of course, which is a great conference and a great fit for Colorado. We recruit California hard, and have a lot of contacts since we came from California. We recruit Texas. It’s not too far away, and we have a good name recognition there. There’s always been a strong Hawaii connection here because of the WUE Act. They’ve had a lot of players here from Hawaii, and we have five guys right now from the islands. We recruit Hawaii pretty hard. We also recruit other Pac-12 states like Washington and Arizona, both big population centers. But our big profile is the West Coast, Texas and Hawaii.

    SH: When you are a program that may sometimes have to identify a player who has been mis-evaluated by other programs, what’s your M.O. for finding a player others might have missed?

    MM: We really try to get young men that can do it academically, and then to guys who can do it athletically. One of the things I look for are guys who are multiple athletes. A lot of the time guys who are multiple athletes might not be maxed out as a senior.

    SH: You’re talking about multi-sport athletes, right?

    MM: Yeah, they play football, they play baseball, they run track, they play basketball, so they’re not lifting year round and aren’t just zoned in on one sport. We’ve found a lot of really good players that way, guys who might be 160 right now, but I know he played basketball, he ran track, and then he went and played baseball. Here, I know that in 12 months he’ll be at 190, and with good weight. Where, another guy who only plays one sport, he might be bigger and being recruited harder.

    The second thing is that we have camps here, and love to have kids come here and get to know them, see how they compete. You get to find out a bit more about them. We also send our coaches to camps in other states and small colleges to see the kids, meet with them, and work with them at camp. It’s all about developing relationships, getting to know them.

    We have a linebacker here, Addison Gillam, who as a player he had one scholarship offer. He was a young man that played tailback, played linebacker, and was gangly and very athletic. We’d seen him in camp, and was very bright and played other sports. The rest is history, and he’s done really well. We really like multi-sport athletes.

    We also have an M.O. that anyone who’s 6’3" to 6’5" and is a multi-sport athlete and you don’t know what he’s gonna be coming out of high school? Well, he might be a tight end coming out of high school, but he might grow into being a D-tackle or offensive lineman. We look at a lot of guys like that, so you might see us and think "Oh, you signed four tight ends." No we didn’t, we signed one tight end and that guy’s gonna be a defensive tackle, that one’ll be a defensive end, this one might be a fullback or an offensive lineman. They’re not ready-made, but we’re gonna develop them. That’s where we find the diamond in the rough.

    SH: When looking at out of conference scheduling, particularly already playing a Pac-12 game, do you look at scheduling as something where you need FBS games, or do you need those measuring games against tougher competition?

    MM: Those are great questions. What I do is play the schedule we have. I really don’t worry about that, I’ll be honest with you.

    SH: If you have a hole in your schedule and I can get you a game with LSU or Alabama in the next five minutes, would you want to play them?

    MM: That’s a great question.

    SH: It’s an unfair hypothetical question.

    MM: It would be great to play Alabama and LSU, especially if it was home-and-home. Pretty sure right now they’d love to play us, given level playing fields, but we’ll be there before long. Usually you can’t schedule them next year, so that’d give us a few years to be ready.

    Wikipedia says you spent a year working at Shoney’s? "No, no, no, I don’t even know how that got on there."

    SH: Wikipedia says you spent a year working at Shoney’s?

    MM: No, no, no, I don’t even know how that got on there.

    SH: That’s not accurate?

    MM: No, that’s not accurate at all. I worked one year at a logistics company called Micros, and one of the companies we supplied was Shoney’s. I don’t know how it got on there. I did that for one year as a logistics manager for a huge company in Nashville, Tennessee. Then I got a call from Ray Goff at Georgia to be a graduate assistant there, and took off for the opportunity.

    SH: Is there any transfer from that to being a coach?

    MM: Oh, yeah. My management degree from Georgia Tech has really helped me. I manage people, I have to motivate people, I have to organize things, I have to manage my day. There are a lot of moving parts and I have all kinds of different departments within my department. Being a logistics manager truly helped me be able to manage people, organize things, motivate people. It was a great degree.

    SH: Would you encourage people to go do something else entirely different before getting into coaching?

    MM: I think it helps. I think the FBI makes you do that. There’s a couple of reasons behind that, but I definitely think it’s a good thing to do. It’s hard to turn down immediate opportunity, I know. I wanted to see if I could try coaching, and once I did I knew I couldn’t live without it. Coaching is a kind of profession you can’t live without it. If you don’t feel that way, you probably should go do something else.

    College coaching is a totally different thing than pro coaching. College coaching, every day you’re dealing with young people. A lot of my job is dealing with the issues young people face and helping them grow, and mentoring them. That’s an exciting part, but it’s also gut-wrenching at times. And you have to be able to coach and be successful on the field, too. You have to realize you’re dealing with young people, and not with pros.

    SH: What is that difference from the pro side?

    MM: I coached there for five years, and really enjoyed the pros. I like to say I got my PhD in coaching there, because all you do is football, and evaluate and find weaknesses, and find ways to coach them, find ways to get guys better and pay attention to all the minor details. That really helped me getting back to college, because when I had questions I could say, "Oh, I saw Bill Parcells do this, and I saw Mike Zimmer do this." I learned how to coach this technique through Roy Williams, or through Terence Newman.

    That really helped because in college you’re spending half the time in academics, and half the time evaluating players, and half the time coaching, and half time time being a counselor. I know that adds up to two hundred percent, but that’s what you’re doing. In the NFL, you’re just doing football.

    SH: I talked to Art Briles last year and he talked about simplification. Teaching a pared-down system is a skill in college, yes?

    MM: It’s definitely a skill. Think about the great professors you had, and the best high school teachers. They can make it simple for you so that you learned it, and you kept it. It’s an exact skill, and that’s something we pride ourselves on here.

    SH: It’s a scoring game right now. Is there an answer for that, or is that trend going to just keep going?

    MM: I think it’s gonna keep going. It’s definitely exciting for television. You’re just trying to find ways to win a football game, and if you feel like you can do it by running more plays or by slowing teams down, you do it. I think that trend will continue, but defenses will catch up and then there will just be something else. It’s always evolving. I was talking to a head pro coach the other day. He said in the pros, it’s hard to do that. They’ve done some of that. But he said if he was in college he’d run a college offense, because it just gives you so many more options. I think you’ll see it change more and more, and more teams that haven’t done it add it to their game. I don’t think it’s a fad. I think it’s something that will stay for a while.

    SH: You talk about catering to local talent. What’s the profile in Colorado?

    MM: It’s similar to a lot of other states. There’s just not as much population. Here we create a little bit of everything, to be honest. You’ll get a quarterback here, a DB here, last year we had a really good kicker out of the state of Colorado. But population-wise, it’s just a numbers game.

    Now, other areas of the country might be just a little bit more rabid about high school football than others. See: Texas, where it’s just more important than other sports. So you might get a few more players there playing on a Friday night than in other places. In Indiana, you might see them playing basketball instead. But on a per capita basis, we’d fit right up there with everyone else.

    SH: It’s a dangerous question to ask a coach: outside of football, do you have a hobby?

    MM: My hobby is really my kids. I have one who’s about to graduate college, and a son who’s going to be a receiver here at Colorado, and another son in tenth grade who I got to watch play football in yesterday. I do like to go run to get away. Sometimes the hills are a little rough on me, but I enjoy it.

    SH: What is your work week in-season?

    MM: The one thing about being a college head coach — and my family knows it — is that this is a 24/7, 365 days-a-year job. If the phone rings in the middle of the night and it’s a kid, a recruit, or a coach, they understand. When I have the time, I devote it to them. But it’s really 24/7. I was up late last night, watched a basketball game, and when the game was over I talked to a couple of coaches about a few things, and answered a direct message on Twitter. Then I was up at 4:30 a.m. for workouts at 6 a.m. here.

    SH: Is this your really articulate way of saying "I’m not really sure?"

    MM: [Laughs] During the season we’re here all the time. It really is 24/7.

    SH: Are coaches good at keeping track of everything but their own time?

    MM: Maybe. You have to set aside some time to take care of yourself physically. If not, you’ll wake up and realize you’re just run down. As soon as practice is over, I give our coaches an hour and a half to eat, take care of themselves, and then we’re back at it.

    SH: Where was the toughest place to play in the (now defunct) WAC?

    MM: Utah State. The other place I’d say was a tough place to play was Fresno. That’s known a little bit. I don’t know if people know about Utah State. I tell you what, when we played Hawaii in our first year and they were rolling for a night game, that was a tough place to play. They always talk about the guys playing harder on the rock than off it, and those guys were bouncing all over the place.

    SH: You worked under Bill Parcells, but also under Duke head coach David Cutcliffe. What did you learn from him that’s helped you in your current situation?

    MM: I learned a tremendous amount from David Cutcliffe. I think the world of him, we talk quite often, and I’d say I think of him as my main mentor. I coached for him twice, and he kind of gave me my start just like Bill did when he jumpstarted my career in Dallas. What I learned from David was how to be truthful with young people, and how to get them to believe and overcome obstacles. I learned how to handle a college staff, and recruiting and academics and how to put it all together. His practice tempo, his practice demeanor, he truly believes you get better on the practice field. I know everyone says that, but he truly believes it in the way he teaches, and the way he practices. You’ve seen that at Duke; he develops players.

    SH: Is he one of those people you hear coming out of your mouth?

    MM: Oh yeah, a lot of the things I say and do and have on the walls are through David Cutcliffe. I’m not bashful about saying that at all. I thank him quite often.

    SH: Another person people imitate a lot without knowing it is Bill Parcells. What did you learn from him?

    MM: I learned practice organization. I learned how to evaluate players. I learned how to get a staff to be all on the same page. Those are three main things I learned from him. My practices are a lot like his, my staff meetings run a lot like his did, and how to evaluate on a college level as opposed to a pro level. We still have to go get them, but how we put together a team? I learned that from Bill.

    SH: Explain a little bit about how Parcells evaluates?

    MM: Well, you look at a certain body type for certain positions. You look for guys who are hungry to be football players, and look for depth at certain positions, and how you handle your special teams. They draft them, but we recruit them, and when you’re thinking about redshirting a guy, you’re thinking about how many plays is he gonna give you on special teams? Not just first-team or second-team reps, but can he give you starting time on special teams? He taught me about counting the number of plays a guy is going to give you out of a game. A guy might not have started for you, but he might have given you 35 plays in a game. That guy is really, really valuable for you.

    SH: Player that you have seen on an opposite sideline that still astonishes you when you think about them?

    There was this skinny little quarterback at Nevada. I could not believe how fast he was in person.

    MM: This might seem kind of obvious, but when I was at San Jose State there was this skinny little quarterback at Nevada. I could not believe how fast he was in person. You’d watch him on film and think, "Oh, he’s not that good," but then you get out on the field and he just runs by people and throwing laser darts, and you’re thinking "this guy’s unreal." But not many people saw him because he was at Nevada, and of course that was Colin Kaepernick.

    That’s easy to say now, but when I first saw him I was like "eh," and then he got in the game and nobody could catch him— nobody, on any team. He would be the one on the field that just blew me away.

    SH: Toughest place so far in the Pac-12?

    MM: When we played Washington that was really serious. What made it more serious was Bishop Sankey being pretty good that day, and being real hard to tackle.

    SH: Last movie you saw?

    MM: We were sitting around last Sunday afternoon and my boys wanted to go see Godzilla. To be honest with you, it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

    SH: If Godzilla’s a player, what’s your evaluation for position?

    MM: I think he’s a d-tackle. He’s got the lower body. He's tenacious.

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    Have some fun and try to find the defender responsible for holding the edge on a simple fullback dive play at the 6:40 mark or so in the second quarter. Then, laugh as you see him charging into the backfield, and past Owen Schmitt on the run that would become the Great Beer Truck Run of 2008. Rejoice twice at one of football's great joys: something very aggressive and smart being totally destroyed by a near-cromagnon playcall and execution.

    Ah, it's the 2008 Fiesta Bowl for lunch, a game West Virginia won by a score of 48-28 after being given zero chance of competing with Oklahoma, and the catalyst for Bill Stewart being handed the job postgame (allegedly during a barstool negotiation with the Morgantown Mafia.) It wasn't a long run, Bill, but it had its moments. RIP, Bill. It got so much weirder for both teams, including a full role reversal six years later for Oklahoma when they returned the favor in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.

    Oh, and Owen Schmitt cries at the end, so if you kill the rest of your day watching it, you are required by law to cry along with him.

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    Someone will always try to tell you a story about a coach after they leave town. The worst stories are outlandish slander, but the best straddle the line between outright untruth and total plausibility. Late night oral sex in a car gone wrong, for instance, leaving a job to escape the mafia, or simply not washing your hands one night at a bar after using the bathroom: attach each to the right subject in the right situation, and it all becomes myth before you can get it sanitized by cold, antiseptic wash of fact.

    The key to making it stick even in a rain of facts, dear messageboarders and commenters, is making it sound like something that could totally happen to the subject. The best example of this ever comes via the late, great Blue-Gray Sky, and features former Notre Dame and current New Mexico coach Bob Davie convincingly and plausibly fighting with a hot dog machine at a 7-Eleven.

    During my junior year in 1999, two of my female friends from Welsh Hall went off-campus to the 7-Eleven Store on the corner of Edison and Jefferson. They were shopping for snacks when they heard someone in the rear of the store banging on the hot dog machine (you know the kind -- the multi-pronged device capable of cooking up nasty 7-Eleven nostril-dogs at any time of day).

    It turns out to be Bob Davie, who was having problems getting the little plastic door open.

    According to my friends, when his last attempt to get the door open failed, Bob slammed his fist against the side of the machine and bellowed, "I swear, this whole town is trying to f--- me!"

    The punchline seems contrived. Angrily tussling with a hot dog machine, though, and actually thinking that was a food one could put in one's mouth for nutritional purposes, despite having a six-figure salary one could use to purchase real, non-horrible food? That part seems all too real, or at least close enough to it to stick in your memory forever like...well, like the jammed door of a hot dog machine reinforcing the futility and sadness of your existence.

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    Todd Berry's resumé points: made ULM interesting, actually used formation with two quarterbacks in it, made Baylor (Baylor!) the overdogs, almost beat Auburn and hastened the end of the John L. Smith era in 2012, completely revamped career after disastrous turn at Army, and will totally pose in hunting camo paint and holding a shotgun for your program because Todd Berry, for whatever reason on earth, fell into the perfect Todd Berry-shaped hole in Monroe and doesn't seem to be budging.

    (Oh, and he just made "the first Camo-Out in college football history" a real thing.)

    ULM's going to face another crapshootish year in 2014, but they do have a few advantages. They do return a lot of their skill players. They do get the possibility of beating an ACC team at home in their season opener, as someone talked Wake Forest into a home-and-home with them. (Though it's arguable that Monroe has a larger fanbase at this point.) They do have the following outstanding names on their roster:

    • Lenzy Pipkins
    • Rob'Donovan Lewis
    • Ben Risenhoover
    • Harley Scioneaux
    • Ben Banogu
    • D'Marius Gillespie

    Stop hogging all the damn names, Louisiana. For the third straight year the Warhawks are a lovable, quirky underdog from the conference that has like, all of them: The Sun Belt. Love them, love their coach posing in hunting gear, and maybe pat their AD on the head for sort of holding a shotgun almost-correctly.

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  • 08/08/14--10:29: KORT SHANKWEILER
  • 0 0
  • 08/08/14--14:09: A POEM FOR THE WEEKEND

    An excerpt from "Ulysses," by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    ...Come, my friends,

    'T is not too late to seek a newer world.

    Push off, and sitting well in order smite

    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

    Of all the western stars, until I die.

    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:

    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

    We are not now that strength which in old days

    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

    One equal temper of heroic hearts,

    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will


    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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    Let's get the bad parts about The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football out of the way. It has a colon in the title, which we hate because it's the kind of thing we think is for dullards who need things explained. If you don't have the curiosity to figure out what the book is about based on title, you don't deserve to read it, and please don't remember this sentence when Penguin publishes our memoir A Giant Yelling Slab Of Failure: the Will Muschamp Years, and How Murdering Wealthy Strangers In Other Cities In The Dark Helped Me Survive Them.

    (Also, there's also a bit of -ism worship and Great Man Historifying that assumes history isn't just a series of hammers dropping randomly on human heads, and makes some kind of unified sense. The author's a Michigan Man, so he's automatically forgiven for believing things should make sense.)

    There are these delightful facts about the first installment in the UGA/Georgia Tech rivalry, though:

    1. Georgia Tech kicked UGA's ass 28-6 behind the muscular running of fullback Leonard Wood. He was 33 years old, an Army doctor who had fought the Apaches, and left no record of his attendance at Georgia Tech. There's good reason for this: besides maybe sort of signing up for a shop class at Tech, he never went to the school. This was shockingly common in the early days of college football. (See George Gipp of Notre Dame, a college football legend who spent most of his time in South Bend playing pool for money.)

    2. Someone in the Georgia contingent hit Wood in the head with a rock during the game.

    3. Afterwards, Georgia players invited him to play for them.

    So know this: that a rivalry can really be forged in their first meeting and never change much. That's Georgia Tech cheating, and UGA resorting to illegal activities or violence in response. History is a fat man falling down the same staircase over and over again, and so is the UGA/Georgia Tech rivalry.

    P.S. The Big Scrum is still pretty great, if only to read the multiple letters Teddy Roosevelt writes to his detractors that all boil down to "you are a huge pussy, and I am not."

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  • 08/11/14--09:09: TASTES LIKE VICTORY
  • Smoothieles

    It's from this ad for the College Football Playoff, which doesn't mention Florida once. :( WHY IS YOUR SLIGHTLY ADDLED COACH FUN AND OURS ISN'T, LSU???? WHYYYYYY--

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    Dana Holgorsen, addressing the press:

    I know you lie in recruiting a bunch. That's just a part of it.

    "It's a short trip to Lubbock, and the team hotel is definitely not haunted by dead bank robbers."

    "I did not get drunk with one of those dead bank robbers. Because they don't exist."

    "That chimpanzee has a hunting license and a concealed carry permit, officer."

    "We just don't consider Pitt a rival anymore. Now, when you leave the parking lot you're gonna want to take a right on Death Is Too Good For Dave Wannstedt Drive."

    "No, we value defensive players. If you don't believe me, ask our starting safety, An Elk. We recruit Finland pretty hard."

    "We know where Bob Huggins is and he can't hurt you."

    "These are my pants."

    "Those aren't my pants."

    "Facilities are a top priority for us. We're going to get the feral pigs cleared out of the weight room next week."

    "It's only a violation if I give you American dollars. Casino chips are all good. Also that's not blood."

    "By state law, It's not murder if you do it with a harpoon gun. Then it's just, like, fishing."

    "Flying a plane is just like flying a bike."

    "Our fans are going to respect you no matter where you choose to go."

    "Brandon Weeden could have been a great pro, he just went to the wrong team."

    "I am definitely excited to open the season against Alabama."

    "You get the chance to compete in the Big 12 against some of the greatest coaches in college football like Charlie Weis."

    "Your folks will be able to see all our games on the Longhorn Network."

    "I will return this money to you in three days, plus interest."

    "This is an ankle Fitbit."

    "You can have Buck Week off classes every year."

    "Don't worry, rental cars are like toothbrushes. Lose one, just take one at the hotel for free."

    "The bathroom was already like that."

    "Downton Abbey? Never seen it, son."

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    BYU WR Devon Blackmon will be suspended for the Cougars' opener against UConn for violations of the team's honor code. His specific violation? Having pierced ears, something he referenced in a few Twitter posts last night before deletion.

    Before BYU fans get too tetchy about us poking fun at the more outmoded and picayune sections of the honor code, let us remind the rest of the college football world that the Cougars are not the only team with their own versions of the honor code. They might be the only ones who have to do it along with the rest of the student body, sure, but plenty of other teams have honor codes.

    Two parts, though, are truly offensive to common decency. The first:

    Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.

    And that's where you lose the entire state of Tennessee and anyone who grew up there. The second offensive part:

    If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth.

    How on earth can you consider yourself true Westerners if no one on campus looks like Sam Elliott? Your ancestors didn't cross the plains to sport the accountant's sad private's stripe across his top lip. No, they wanted freedom, the kind that flows freely but neatly down the sides of the mouth like so much honey from the buzzing hive.  Have your standards, sure--but a standard that follows the orders of Sergeant Major John Sixta isn't the one that honors your cowpoke ancestors, Cougars.

    We shake our bonnets at this section of the honor code, BYU. We are shaking them so very indignantly right now.

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