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    This is normally the spot when Hatin' Ass Spurrier goes up, but that's going to wait until tomorrow for one very important reason: the real Spurrier outdid any fictional characters this past weekend in discussing his own team IN A GAME THEY WON. In six minutes, the following happens:

    1. "That was a game I didn't like a bit."
    2. "The way we play is embarrassing."
    3. "We're not a very good team...and we have all the voters fooled, I guess cause we beat Georgia."
    4. [this number is just to point out Spurrier gets a Georgia insult in even in the midst of destroying his own team and coaching staff]
    5. "I'm taking over kickoff coverage." Enjoy being fired after game four, special teams coach.
    6. "Vandy is not an offensive juggernaut."
    7. "We've all seen good football teams. We ain't one. Maybe we can be. I dunno."
    8. [a thousand little shifts in his chair and thumps of the table]
    9. "It's one of the worst (wins) I've ever had."
    10. "We did force some punts...I apologize. We forced THREE punts."

    You'll get ours tomorrow morning, but the real one can't be beat for at least another twelve hours or so.

    P.S. It's disturbing how much Spurrier's "I'm-so-pissed-off-I-can't-walk-straight" cadence sounds like my grandmother's.

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  • 09/23/14--07:11: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 9/23/2014


    The bakery at the Starkville Wal-Mart are the real MVPs this week.

    THAT'S NOT NICE. Dammit, Jason, we're pretty sure that's a photoshop or something.

    "JEFF DRISKEL I WANT TO CUT THE BRAKE LINES ON YOUR FUCKING SCOOTER." So Florida makes a measured, reasonable, and compassionate appearance in this week's "It's Meltdown Time!"

    IT'S TIME TO LET SOMEONE ELSE FAIL. It's almost as if Will Muschamp doesn't believe in offense, ever, for any reason, or at least doesn't hold it to the same standards. So sure, let Treon Harris start. A new, exciting variety of failure can't be any worse than the current brand of stale failure, at least until this finally comes to an end sometime in late October.

    AGAIN, AT LEAST WE'RE NOT MICHIGAN. Please god confirm we are not Michigan.

    THE NASTIEST LOPSIDED RIVALRY IN FOOTBALL. Continue to doubt us, but we will stand by Memphis/Ole Miss as one of the nastiest quarters of rivalry football played every year. Maybe two quarters in a good year for Memphis, or in case of this year, a possible full quarter fight due to Memphis being...good? Memphis is pretty good this year? We'll type that without question marks one minute here, eventually.

    IN CASE YOU HAD TOO MUCH GOOD NEWS ABOUT LANE KIFFIN. The universe balances itself daily, you just have to notice it.

    RECRUIT THAT BANNER AT MIDDLE LINEBACKER. Got stopping power and endurance to play in the SEC, imho.

    ETC. In case you're short on vacation ideas well we have one for you.

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    "El Tractorcito" is the country's finest nickname, Indiana takes on all the rights and responsibilities that come with being the SEC East's best team, and the Week 5 schedule sets up for us all to get a little exercise.

    Giving up

    Not everyone should give up four weeks into the college football season.

    For instance, West Virginia sits at 2-2 and just lost at home in a conference game. This would be bad if you did not know the context: that the Mountaineers only won four games last year, and look very much improved in two losses to potential national title contenders Alabama and Oklahoma. There are downsides to scheduling a tough out-of-conference slate, but claiming a plausible quality loss is not one of them. The Mountaineers are vastly better in 2014, Clint Trickett is on pace for a 4,000-yard passing season, and giving up would be barking madness.

    That doesn't mean some teams aren't totally and utterly done. Florida is done, a very definite, evident, and replicable kind of done. The exact moment that happened came on the final series of the first half against Alabama when, it may amuse to recall, Florida only trailed by one touchdown. Florida got the ball on the 20-yard line with 1:44 on the clock. These were the playcalls.



    With a fourth-year quarterback playing against one of the most suspect Alabama secondaries of the airtight Nick Saban era, Florida ran the clock out because ... because they have completely given up on Jeff Driskel, a quarterback who completed nine of 28 passes for less than a hundred yards and looked like a converted tight end filling in for an injured starter.

    This came after Alabama handed the Gators free points via turnovers and begged them to stay in the game. In response to being given a free sandwich, Will Muschamp instead tried to use it as a cellphone and threw the whole thing in an adjacent gutter.


    The problems with Florida are pretty mechanical, and the politics pretty simple.

    The problem with Michigan may be more systemic, and here's where we have to delve into the ugliness of institutional politics before you ever get to "whatever happened to Devin Gardner's mechanics." The answer for that part is easy: he now has had so many offensive coordinators that he is a passing robot with a thousand serious coding conflicts running at once.

    Brady Hoke is to blame for the immediate football mess. He, in turn, was hired by Dave Brandon, who is to blame for hiring Hoke, but also for so much more: for giving away tickets to Michigan games with the purchase of a few Cokes; for then having to clarify what a bumbling mistake that was by someone; for allowing the Notre Dame series to end via Irish AD Jack Swarbrick handing him a letter just before the kickoff of the 2012 game; for rearranging the student section, then watching student attendance plummet beyond even the levels experienced by other schools; for, in short, adopting the Daniel Snyder Model of Monetized Brand Particulation, naming everything possible in the program's barrel of assets while failing to increase or even maintain output on the field.

    He also let this happen.

    [/quietly suffers through resulting poop-shivers after watching]

    Brandon is a half-clever stuffshirt who would probably talk about the program having "shareholders" and think it didn't sound like a vampiric robot sizing up his gullible human prey.

    The best part about college football's personalities are that they are largely allowed to be localized individuals. The worst part is that, for all the measures you might think are used in decision making, a lot of it comes down to localized individuals performing under weird, localized pressures -- like the pressures at Michigan, where people aren't necessarily comfortable with running football as a business and yet aren't quite okay with being a middling football team, either.

    At Florida, the local mechanics might be less complex. Jeremy Foley hires a good coach, and suddenly the major prerogative of Florida football has been satisfied: winning football games. Michigan, though, is stuck in the same schizoid power gap Alabama fell into for the better part of 25 years after the death of Bear Bryant, in need of something and someone falling role-wise between Bo Schembechler and a charismatic dictator. And to get that kind of authority figure in power anywhere, the usual price is always the same: the rolling of many, many heads.

    Ordem e progresso

    Alabama may be our nation's Brazil in that sense, a state where just this weekend I saw a dude running on the side of I-20 in full gear with an iPod sleeve and running visor, in violation of everything considered safe and sensible.

    I also watched as Alabama fans got quickly into the stadium, knew every verse and chorus of the pregame and in-game hymnal, and packed snacks and headset radios like they were preparing for a long afternoon's hike. Bryant-Denny runs exactly like its team does: like clockwork, right down to the Dreamland barbecue in the stands and the fans waiting for "Rammer Jammer" and leaving like they were clocking happily out of a pretty good day's work.

    P.S. Old dudes in cargo pants and fishing shirts have whittled down in-game fashion to a science. Vented fishing shirts give maximum ventilation with minimal fuss. Cargo pants allow for maximum gear totage. The man in front of me had no less than $15 worth of snacks stashed in his clothes and enough pockets to construct a pretty decent club salad made entirely from Lunchables purchased at a gas station. Ugly and functional, just like a houndstooth-patterned Bobcat.


    In summary: Alabama fans are now as regimented and disciplined as their team, and maybe Nick Saban should run for governor when he retires.


    Indiana beat Mizzou, and not even statistics can explain it. This means you now rule the SEC East, Indiana, and heretofore lay claim to all the benefits thereof. Those include, but are not limited to:

    1. The right to be piledriven into the turf by the eventual SEC champion out of the West in Atlanta in the first weekend in December.
    2. All the Chick-fil-A you care to eat, ever.
    3. A giant above-ground pool full of Dr Pepper, replenished as you like (watch for ants!).
    4. A mystifying, late-season loss to Georgia or South Carolina. Your choice, but pick one.
    5. An instant bowl slot somewhere between Jacksonville and Tampa.
    6. The ability to serve as single-case, meager rebuttal to criticism of the Big Ten.

    The job of the SEC East champion is simple. The SEC is someone constantly pleasuring himself to his own reflection. The SEC West is the burly right arm used for the pleasuring, and the SEC East is the shriveled, half-developed left arm that fills out a shirtsleeve. We feel confident you can fill out that shirtsleeve, Indiana football. Enjoy your new kingdom.

    Thought experiment

    Well what if someone just tried to rig up the strangest but still probable championships imaginable after four weeks well wouldn't that be an utter atrocity and oops we already did it--

    • Big Ten: Indiana vs. Iowa. Don't act like you don't want to watch this. It's "The People Under the Stairs"in football form.
    • SEC: Mississippi State vs. South Carolina. Winning a title with a four-loss South Carolina team and ruining Miss State's best year ever would be maximum possible Spurrier-ness.
    • Pac-12: Arizona vs. Cal. Okay, this isn't really possible, but who doesn't want to see if someone can score 36 points in a quarter again?
    • Big 12: [file not found]
    • ACC: Georgia Tech vs. Boston College. Like the most frightening things in life, is entirely possible at this point!


    As in committees, because giving up on one coach means shopping for another. Since 500 people have asked since Will Muschamp's tenure as Florida coach officially died against Alabama, here are a few clarifiers.

    No, no one's hiring Mike Shanahan, because he is pro football poison, and would just be looking for a retirement prep gig. You can also mark Jim Harbaugh off the list via being a West Coast person who might only consider the Michigan job out of affection. (Note: Jim Harbaugh loves only cheap pants. Michigan has no shot.)

    Take any other pro coach you could possibly consider off that list. They are making more money to not recruit and would probably be happy doing that for the rest of their lives. Chip Kelly is not coming to coach Florida. That hurts so very much to type, but the heart is a lying bastard at all times, and I am typing that as much for you as for me, hopeful person.

    Hey, we finally joined Facebook!

    Dan Mullen would be hiring the expectations of the past with all the pressures of the present. Bobby Petrino would be leaving Louisville after a year and torching every last bit of rehabilitative work he'd done to convince people he was not the kind of coach who would leave a job in the middle of the night. He might get a call anyway, being one of Foley's alleged primary targets last time around.

    No one's even thinking about hiring Jon Gruden. Take your jaw and wire it shut with a clothes hanger for even thinking about saying that out loud.

    This leaves a small crew of friendly, not entirely shocking or unpleasant possibilities for the job.

    Mullen is still probably one, all personal reservations with Foley aside. Mike Gundy is an excellent coach with a verified age of 47 and a stellar track record at Oklahoma State. Ruffin McNeill is older, but in a not-dissimilar spot in his alma mater at East Carolina. Mark Helfrich at Oregon will be mentioned, but he still might need some time to escape the long shadow of Kelly to get serious consideration. Kliff Kingsbury might have a rough year at his alma mater, Texas Tech, and still get consideration. The prospect of offensive coordinator Kurt Roper pulling the Dabo Swinney Protocol and successfully taking over the program after Muschamp's firing seems unreal, but Dabo Swinney is employed, isn't he?


    If Muschamp is fired before the end of the season, Ed Orgeron should be hired as the Designated Interim Coach In Charge Of Getting Everyone Awesome Food And Generating Abundant Positive Hollerin'.

    This is a new business, and Orgeron is the best practitioner of what could be a brilliant and necessary niche job. You, the Designated Interim Coach, come into a program in trouble, love it up, and agree to leave things happier and better than you left it -- all without assuming a single bit of long-term responsibility.

    The Rebound Coach, the Football Spot Uncle, That Cool Boyfriend Dad Had After The Divorce: whatever you care to call it, it's an idea whose time has come, and one that Orgeron might have already mastered.


    French for "detained," as in the LSU run game. The Tigers only got 89 yards of rushing offense in their loss to Mississippi State, despite having Heisman enthusiast Leonard Fournette in the backfield.

    A Les Miles team may be a lot of things: inconsistent, maddening, and prone to baffling, outright odious quarterback play. But all of them have run the ball well, and all of them have at least five completely batshit special teams plays. LSU had neither this week, and watching that forces me to resort to the mother tongue to say, nous sommes préoccupés, Lester.

    El Tractorcito

    If Alabama fans do not embrace the Spanish language announcers' nickname for running back Derrick Henry, then they are wasting one of the greatest college football nicknames and visuals ever.


    EL TRACTORCITO. Know him, and know the very definition of punishing, clock-killing victory.


    By assuming the mantle of being most noble in defeat, Washington State's Connor Halliday now stands in the role of college football's new Nick Foles.

    Foles, now with the Eagles, became one of the most admired players in the college football blogosphere for his ability to complete 35 passes for 500 yards and multiple touchdowns and look completely awesome in ... well, in inevitable Arizona losses during the Mike Stoops era. Halliday threw for 436 yards, 4 TDs, and zero interceptions, and that would have been enough had he not been playing Marcus Mariota, who threw for five touchdowns in a 38-31 road win for the Ducks in Pullman.

    Connor Halliday never, ever gives up, and at Wazzu that makes him either a noble fool or our bravest American. (Or both, which is entirely possible.)


    Auburn keeping an out-of-conference game with Kansas State on the schedule happened thanks to cold economics. It's cheaper to keep the prestige-damaging risk of losing to Kansas State on the schedule rather than buy it out.

    The dividends, though, are paid out in the kind of early season experience Auburn desperately needs. The Tigers played a deliberately slow, frustrating team ideally suited for a game against a faster opponent bent on sprinting a winded opponent off the field. They won, passing an early stress test few voters will even remember when Playoff time comes around.

    (If you've already forgotten this game that happened last Thursday, the point has already proven itself. Remember how bad Ole Miss looked against Boise State in the first half? You've probably forgotten that already, too, but here comes a super-hyped matchup of undefeateds in Oxford on October 4 anyway.)


    Wisconsin pulled Melvin Gordon after just 13 carries. Those carries went for 253 yards and five scores, making this the first substitution this season for "That's enough, mutant" not involving Mariota.


    The week ahead is so lightweight I'm going to an OutKast show on Friday instead of watching Fresno State at New Mexico. It's a brave sacrificem but it's one heroes make, particularly when Thursday night has a pretty good slate of Texas Tech-Oklahoma State and UCLA-Arizona State on. Remember that OutKast plays three shows this weekend, and that something good happens for the Oregon Ducks at every single one of them.

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    THE SHUTDOWN FULLCAST RETURNS. This week ain't much, but it still means you get fifty minutes of heavy chortling about the following topics and more:

    • We decide China invented fireworks like, 4,000 years ago
    • We figure out how Florida will end up playing only ten games this year
    • We play disastrous game of Coaching Replacement Theater
    • We offer up a few people you will have to explain to the NFL in a year or two
    • We answer a few reader questions in a very serious fashion
    • We make the case for Bobby Cox coaching Michigan
    • We also make the case for watching Texas lose to Kansas.
    • We also also predict that Steve Spurrier will go on Gameday and pick against his own team

    Listen to the podcast here, or in the embedded widget below.

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  • 09/25/14--06:52: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 9/25/14

    PLEASE ASSIST THEM IN THIS IMPORTANT FIGHT. Noted vampiric sports louse/gimp Kenny Chesney will be the guest picker at South Carolina because he is a lifelong fan of the South Carolina Gamecocks and at least twenty other teams. He likes sports, and teams, and winning, and also being on camera wearing sports gear. When asked for comment, Chesney replied "Sports, and margaritas. Two for one margaritas on the beach with my baby. Trucks."

    Anyway, help Garnet and Black Attack fight this menace however you can, and if you are there in person boo this man. Boo him mercilessly and without ceasing.

    THERE IS ACTUAL FOOTBALL ON TONIGHT. And because it's four teams who enjoy scoring, that probably means no less than seven hours of it, starting with Texas Tech/Oklahoma State in T. Boone's natural gas fantasia bowl of a stadium. Oklahoma State seems modestly confident; Texas Tech should be a bit nervous after getting rolled by Arkansas and losing a defensive coordinator, but hey, have an empty post corner anyway.

    ACTUAL FOOTBALL, CONT'D. The late show is UCLA at Arizona State, a game where both teams are playing with their second-string QBs. House of Sparky's feeling chippy, and why the hell not when you're playing at home against a team that struggled with Memphis late. They're also staging their own anti-celebrity protest, one we support with equal fervor.

    WHY ARE YOU SUPPORTING STUPID LAWS. Sure, Charlie, test your players for weed aggressively. Your loss for absolutely fucking nothing in return. Remember: every time a first year coach heats up the drug-testing regimen it's not really to enforce a stupid law, but to catch the dudes who he wants off the team anyway. (Charlie's a good coach, this is a dumb rule, and legalize weed so we can stop doing this shit.)

    OH HEY. ESPN suspends someone after they asked to be suspended.


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    For one of the nation’s ascendant offensive stars, this bath routine is a means to enhance both his preparation for football and his recovery from its rigors. Before a game, it allows Foster to visualize the many responsibilities the Sun Devils heap upon him to keep defenses off-kilter. After a game, he hops in to to soothe his aching joints and muscles. In either case, he is all to himself. He is at peace. Or he would be, if only his roommates permitted it.

    "They’re jealous," Foster says. "They ask me to borrow some salt every day. They’re just hating. They want some, too."

    There's a lot to like about DJ Foster of Arizona State, but the two best things are a.) he's a deeply sensible person and thus hopefully doesn't go on to the NFL, and b.) he's all about baths, which are great things people should take regardless of gender. #TeamBath

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    Football's not a hard sport. As an example, let's look at Oklahoma State, currently the #15 team in F+, and currently sitting at 2-1 after almost beating the Florida State Seminoles in the season opener in Dallas. (My, didn't they look well-coached, and not at all tragicomic in everything they did!) They ran for a solid 161 yards in that game, and stayed committed to it throughout the entire game to the tune of a 42/28 rush-pass ratio. (And looked so composed in doing so, like they had practiced during the week, and enjoyed playing offense!)

    Texas Tech gave up over 400 yards on the ground to Arkansas in a loss. (Like Mike Gundy's disciplined, likable teams NEVER would.) In fact, they're giving up 5.1 yards a rush, and just lost their defensive coordinator, and barring the last-minute announcement of Greg Robinson as an inexplicably good interim DC will continue a downward slide into total chaos. (Not at all like Oklahoma State's steady performance under Mike Gundy despite working off the main road of college football in sleepy Stillwater!) Oklahoma State's gonna run the ball and dare Texas Tech to stop it, and that's basically the entire game for Texas Tech right there. See? Football's so damn easy sometimes.

    (We might be considering Mike Gundy as a head coach! This is all transparent ogling in light of our own football team's implosion! Never mind us admiring that man, who is 47!)

    ADVANTAGE: Oklahoma State



    The Texas Tech mascot is officially The Masked Rider, and not the Raider Red. That's a shame because we could have had a matchup between one gun-toting psychopath..

    ...and a less goofy, more terrifyingly realistic giant-headed gun-toting psychopath.


    I can and will wave this around in a daycare, it's the law here, don't act weird about it commie

    Instead, we have a blowout between the Masked Rider, a Zorro-type figure who enters the game at full gallop on a horse as black as the bubonic plague. Sure, every now and then one of them runs into a wall (or doesn't), but that's how Texas rolls as a state in general. There will be casualties, and people will write stories about them. We'd rather those come as a result of literal horseplay than two dudes with abnormally large heads firing pistols at each other across a field with 22 players on it. (And if you don't think those two mascots have loaded pistols, you have never, ever been to either state.)


    ADVANTAGE: Texas Tech



    Oh, just ask Baylor if T. Boone's Frackbowl is underrated as a venue. It's loud, traps noise in really well, and is full of little, menacing touches like the night-black cattle gate the Cowboys bustle behind before they take the field. (Really, it's way more menacing than it sounds. They look like a bunch of Bane's henchmen bounding around back there before it opens.) All of that seems to work perfectly well on Texas Tech: they haven't won in Stillwater since 2001.

    ADVANTAGE: Oklahoma State



    Texas Tech:

    Poet Thomas
    Josh Outlaw
    Kash Knutson
    Kramer Fyfe
    Le'Raven Clark

    Oklahoma State:

    Cole Walterscheid
    Brad Lundblade
    Daxx Garman
    James Castleman
    Jimmy Bean

    Man, this is a tough set. What I really want to do is mix these names with one another so we can have Poet Castleman and Daxx Outlaw and Le'Raven Lundblade. But that isn't how this Factor works, so the balance is tipped by Jimmy Bean. That's a name that must have been difficult to go through childhood with, and it's about damn time that the Jimmy Beans of the world started getting extra credit instead of extra shame.

    ADVANTAGE: Oklahoma State



    Not really any, in any serious direction? Unlike "Texas Tech versus [every Texas school]", there's no history of personal animus here, no historical vandalisms, and no real on-field tussles not involving a fight over an interception. (Which, yeah: there will be more than a few of those tonight, as there usually are between two hyper-aggro offenses.) Texas Tech lost last year, so a marginal revenge call for the Red Raiders here.

    ADVANTAGE: Texas Tech


    FINAL TALLY: Oklahoma State triumphs in the final Factoring 3-2. Remember, there is no Factor for handsomeness, because Kliff Kingsbury and those like him already succeed enough thanks to their tremendously good looks in the real world. They don't get an extra bump here, dammit.

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  • 09/26/14--07:29: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 9/26/2014


    Bless your heart, Christian Westerman. That man sacking your quarterback isn't even your assignment, but you're the one the cameras caught looking for dudes who were behind you, and that's why television is a natural match for football: because both are deeply unfair. Arizona State had to replace nine starters on defense this year, and this marked the worst possible moment to show precisely how bad that turnover could look as UCLA scored 62 points, the most Arizona State has ever surrendered in Sun Devil Stadium, and ran the Sun Devils off their own field.

    REFRESHING HONESTY IN POSSIBLE NON-HONESTY, JIM MORA. Jim Mora can answer questions honestly or not honestly, but at least he admits it.

    LOLOLOLLLLLLLLLOLOLOLOLOLOLLLLLLLLLL. Just ahahahahaa and wooooooohoohohohohooh and aaaahahehehehehheheheheeeeee---

    That's going to be plain for all of us to see, but it's also going to be played out over the course of 11 games and we'll see where we are when we get to the end of the season."



    HEY THAT'S NOT GOOD IN ANY SENSE OF THE WORD. The word "embarrassing" pops up a lot when looking at Texas Tech's last ten games, and that includes last night's loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

    MORE UNGOOD THINGS. Speaking of supremely fired: Michigan's red zone travails will induce PTSD in anyone who watched Michigan in like, you know, 2013.

    THE ONLY BIT OF UNCONDITIONALLY GOOD NEWS IN THIS ENTIRE THING: ESPN basically just made the pilot for "Wives of the SEC," which is the television show we have waited our entire lives for.

    ETC: ANDRE 3000 COVER STORY WRITTEN BY ATLIEN LANG WHITAKER GO READ NOW. Adam Jacobi, we have your dance partner.

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    Iowa at Purdue

    Fat titties turn to teardrops as fat ass turns to flab

    Sores that was open wounds eventually turn to scab

    --"13th Floor/Growing Old," Outkast

    Minnesota at Michigan

    Sometimes I wonder how I get over

    The weight of everything is tearing up my soul but

    Shit is heavy like the world on my shoulder

    People telling me be strong like a soldier

    But I suffer tremendous damage

    --"Tremendous Damage", Big Boi

    Tennessee at Georgia

    One to da two, da three, da four

    Dem dirty Red Dogs done hit the door

    And they got everybody on they hands and knees

    And they ain't gonna leave until they find them keys

    --"Dirty South, Goodie Mob and Outkast

    Temple at UConn

    Kim: But girl...

    Cookie: What?

    Kim: Dick so short!


    --"Kim and Cookie (Interlude)" Outkast

    Baylor at Iowa State

    No drugs or alcohol

    so I can get the signal clear as day

    Put my Glock away I got a stronger weapon

    That never runs out of ammunition

    so I'm ready for war okay

    --"ATLiens," Outkast

    Duke at Miami


    Cause the whole, world, loves it when you don't get down

    (Bah bah-da, bah bah bah-da da)

    And the whole, world, loves it when you make that sound

    (Bah bah-da, bah bah bah-da da)

    And the whole, world, loves it when you're in the news (Bah bah-da, bah bah bah-da da)

    And the whole, world, loves it when you sang the blues (Bah bah-da, bah bah bah-da da)

    --"The Whole World," Outkast

    Florida State at NC State

    'Cause they know where you live and they've seen what ya drive

    And they say they gonna put one in your helmet

    'Cause you brag 'bout that watch, and all them things that you got

    Them dirty boys turn your poundcake to red velvet

    --"Red Velvet", Outkast

    Louisiana Tech at Auburn

    Livin by the grace of God

    At the pace of the Devil life is hard, we speedballin

    With no time to waste

    The treble tends to weeble wobble over the bass, we speedballin

    Nose wanna blow out steam

    So make some fuckin noise if you know what I mean, we speedballin

    --"Speedballin'," Outkast

    Texas at Kansas

    I met a gypsy and she hipped me to some life game

    To stimulate then activate the left and right brain

    Said baby boy you only funky as your last cut

    You focus on the past your ass'll be a has what

    --"Rosa Parks," Outkast

    Florida (bye week)

    '96 gon' be that year that all y'all playa haters can bite me,

    I'm out this bitch

    --"Elevators (Me and You)", Outkast

    Mizzou at South Carolina


    Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts and Monte Carlos And El Dorados

    I'm waking up out of my slumber feeling like Ralo

    So follow it's showtime at the Apollo Minus the Kiki Shepard

    What about a ho in a leopard-print

    Teddy Pendergrass cooler than Freddie Jackson Sippin a milkshake in a snowstorm

    Left my throat warm in the dorm room at the AU

    We blew hay too, athletes might take you

    But you must have me mistaken with them statements that you make


    Ain't nobody dope as me

    I'm just so fresh and clean

    (So fresh and so clean clean)

    --"So Fresh and So Clean", Outkast

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    All of the SEC West is mentioned here in one way or another, along with the country's other top contenders for the first College Football Playoff.

    An instantaneous survey of five teams in the best position for the College Football Playoff's four spots at this very moment, plus the biggest threats looming for each. Be advised: these have nothing to do with the Top 25 polls. If you get mad about this, you will be pointed to the previous sentence.


    You're never sure what someone does against the bye week. Rest assured that whatever it was for Marcus Mariota, it was stunning, balletic, and missed by half the sportswriters in America. He did it after their bedtimes on the East Coast. Why are our sportswriters so sleepy despite having to perform literally no manual labor during the day? Is there a chronic fatigue syndrome associated with their work?

    Can it be correlated with all of them watching the degenerative disease known as Michigan football during the day? It's definitely that. Stop watching Michigan football, sportswriters, and start watching Pac-12 football, even if it's late in the day. It's why they make unregulated liquid stimulants you can purchase in bulk at any store in America and put in your stupid face. It's so you can watch Oregon and note how well their existing key victories (Michigan State and Washington State) have held up as foundational building blocks for their strength of schedule.

    Threats: Stanford (November 1) remains capable of sucking the life out of any team. But the next two games should shoot mild terror directly into the veins of Oregon fans: a tricky Thursday game against Arizona followed by a road game against UCLA. That UCLA, the one with pieces of Arizona State still stuck in its teeth.

    Texas A&M

    I have a friend whose grandmother often offered to fight men in her family, rolling up her sleeves, assuming the stance of a Gilded Age boxer and announcing "You might win, but YOU'RE GONNA BLEED." That insane old lady is Arkansas in the SEC West: physical, brutal, and capable of making you feel like you lost even when you win.

    Texas A&M struggled to stop Arkansas, yes, and had to wrestle every last ounce of the Razorbacks' 50,000-pound offensive line for 60 minutes just to get the chance to survive, much less win.

    But the Aggies survived, and not just against your average, fairly amped division rival. It's a testament to the monsoon of hammers and misery that is the SEC West that Arkansas has improved dramatically, become the most punishing team in the division, and will likely finish no better than third in the final standings behind the Aggies and Alabama. That's so not fair, just like nothing is fair about the way Texas A&M can lay low for the better part of three and a half quarters before jolting to life and winning a game with both offense and a timely appearance by the defense.

    You won, Texas A&M. But you bled.

    Threats: Mississippi State this coming week, now that the Aggies have all those bruises from playing Arkansas. Oh, and the rest of their heinously deep SEC West schedule, including Alabama, Auburn, and LSU.

    Florida State

    Nothing much really changed from what you suspected were Florida State's strengths and weaknesses this week. Sure, it was jarring to see it illustrated so clearly against NC State: the rushing offense still didn't gain as many yards against NC State as Old Dominion did, the passing offense still seems to be Jameis Winston-to-Rashad Greene and then a guess as to the rest, and FSU's defense as a whole remains a cheerful, gullible friend to opposing offenses.

    As a team with the luxury of an ACC schedule, the Seminoles may have enough time to grow through the pains of becoming a well-rounded football team by the end of the season. Then again, this may be what they are: an uneven, offense-first team with a weak run game, a masterful passing game, and a defense that sometimes can't chase down a fart with a golf cart and a net. No, I don't know what that means, either, but you can bet that twangmaster Jimbo Fisher has said it very quickly at one point in his life.

    Threats: Notre Dame, Louisville, and ... um ... Boston College? Sure, we'll say that Boston College is a threat to Florida State's playoff chances, mostly because we believe in the Steve Addazio Theory Of Real Dudes.


    Based on what Ole Miss did against Memphis this weekend, it is safe to say that a.) Ole Miss next week will be the most serious defensive challenge for the Crimson Tide yet, and b.) quarterback Bo Wallace could undo all the seriousness of that solid defensive challenge with his often whimsical offensive decision-making.

    Threats: Texas A&M, Auburn, and for the first time in the Bielema era, Arkansas? Sure, let's assume it wouldn't be easy to get punched in the ribs for four quarters, even if you are Alabama.


    Our third winner of a triumphant blowout of the bye week. Well done, you genius Bob Stoops, you.

    Threats: Baylor and Oklahoma State and that's really it. The Big 12 backloads its schedules so hard that if Oklahoma does lose to someone like, say, Baylor, then it will be very hard to win back that voting momentum by winning against teams like Kansas and Texas Tech late in the season.

    Oklahoma should beat Baylor in a football game on November 8, and that's the kind of expert advice you simply can't get anywhere else.




    Baylor, leaving a crater on the field in Ames where Iowa State once stood.

    UCLA, which is so very close to the top five but just misses it due to Arizona State being a serious accomplice in its own demise. (Also, we can't quite shake Memphis almost beating the Bruins at home, which is really more of an emotional problem with us than with UCLA.)

    Auburn, which just screams "9-3 with a loss to Alabama" thanks to subpar run blocking throughout the year and a still-questionable defense.

    Notre Dame? No really, we're not trying to get them killed in a New Year's Day game, or at least we would never admit that out loud.


    Ole Miss and Mississippi State, because both are undefeated and that still feels so very strange at this point in the football season.

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    Brady Hoke's next job will involve a giant novelty sign, the Charlie Weis retirement plan is one we should all try, and Tennessee will beat Florida in a just universe. It's the big college football weekend notebook.


    Ed Cunningham cut Brady Hoke to ribbons for the entire thing on-air, and deservedly so.

    Incompetence is always a better explanation than designed malice. If Brady Hoke deliberately kept quarterback Shane Morris in the football game against Minnesota despite an obvious head injury, then he should be fired. The primary threat to football as a sport is head injury and the violence that causes it, and for Hoke to jeopardize the health of a player for a game would be an appalling, amoral decision highlighting everything not just currently wrong with Michigan, but with football as we know it.

    If this were demonstrably and evidently the case, then set up a trebuchet and pitch him into Lake Erie with great force.

    Yet this isn't what happened. What actually happened may be even worse, by degree of neglect. Hoke famously doesn't wear a headset. He is and always has been a delegator. The people on the field responsible for injury calls are the same everywhere: the trainers, the ones who know something about torn ACLs, dislocated shoulders, and all the other impact-based injuries football brings. The failure in not taking Morris off the field begins with the medical staff not recognizing (or possibly ignoring) players waving for the QB to come off the field. It continues with Morris being sent back in by the staff, something Cunningham was irate about on the TV call.

    That failure spreads up the chain to Hoke, the delegator whose delegations would be fine if they didn't roll downhill with the aim and care of randomly tossed airplane wreckage. Michigan, despite decent-to-good recruiting, is now a one-way portal to obscurity for incoming talentAttendance has cratered despite corporate sleight-of-hand with ticket sales. The coaching staff appears to have lost any ability to direct players in any coordinated fashion. And at the end, even the basic safety of the players seems to be an issue.

    For some reason, it's important for people to note that Hoke is likable, and I'm not sure why. You can like someone and yet not put him in charge of an ER. You can hate someone and still allow him to operate on your brain because, well, he's a neurosurgeon, and asshole or not, there simply aren't a lot of those around. You don't have to say how likable a failure Hoke is every time the issue of his incompetence comes up. It's as evident as his inability to do the job.

    Furthermore: if you are one of the 10 people whose primary beef is to claim it's irresponsible to say that Morris had a concussion, you have internalized the language of the law, reaching insane abstraction in defense of the indefensible. Morris took the crown of a helmet to his chin, then was visibly disoriented while having serious difficulty standing. An MMA ref would have stopped this fight cold. That's how bad this looked: an MMA event would have taken better care of Morris than a collegiate athletics staff did on Saturday.

    But sure, point to the man on fire. Tell someone you don't know that man's on fire. You did spy the application of gasoline. You did see the striking of a match and the ignition of a flame on a person's body. But you don't know the fire was what did the damage, do you? Did you establish this with medical personnel? Did you obtain a record of that? Fire's done a lot for us as a species; indeed, we would be long dead without it. Don't just slander fire like that. And who can say the person applying the match knew what he was doing, for sure? Did you ask them if they have an understanding of gasoline/fire relations, chemically speaking? Prove these things, or say nothing.

    You beggar that down however you choose, and believe the devolution of facts into what will be primarily an inhuman and mostly legal-ish response from the University of Michigan. There is a tired and vile playbook for engaging in advantageous public dialogue as a liable institution, which changes nothing about Michigan rolling a woozy Morris back onto the field. Michigan did that. The rest is teaching the controversy in the name of naked self-defense.

    Oh, and the Big Ten crew should have ejected Theiren Cockran for the hit, which is against the rules that should prevent this from happening in the first place.


    Home department of Rene Descartes, the creator of the extremely useful Cartesian graph. After watching Texas A&M rope-a-dope much of its game against Arkansas and then bail itself out with two late bombs, one canny overtime play on offense, and some randomly excellent run defense out of nowhere, the question came to mind: how on earth do you characterize A&M versus Arkansas, two teams diametrically opposed in approach, and yet still both pretty effective in what they do?

    The incomplete, unscientific answer Descartes has to be thrilled with: you make a Chaos Matrix.


    The formula is a special one. It is one made up entirely by me and based on:

    • Long plays from scrimmage, the ones that screw up steady, orderly matriculation down the field.
    • The simple but effective Havoc Rankings made by our own Bill Connelly.
    • A hefty dose of eyeballing, as in watching UConn play football and saying, "Hey, they'd really like to be out of here in three hours or less."

    As unscientific as this is, it is still fun to play with and see a lot of what you see on the field plotted out by team personality. Oklahoma's so far over to the right because, while they haven't been super explosive, they haven't really needed to be, instead relying on merciless productivity against everyone they've faced. South Carolina's two losses and defensive embolisms have then sinking below Florida, but the Gators sit even further out on the chaos axis, thanks to their secondary playing an innovative 4-3-0 defense against Alabama.

    If we could put plummeting arrows on Florida, we would. Let's just do that right now, shall we?


    That feels more accurate.

    Other shocking things; Virginia Tech has been very disruptive despite being ineffective overall, Iowa has been unremarkable in somehow going 3-1, and Baylor is even more capable of short-circuiting normal football than you even thought. Also, if you want to see Lane Kiffin's influence visualized, finding Alabama on the left side of the chaos divide thanks to its greedy passing game does it pretty neatly.

    That bottle of Fireball is Wazzu, college football's Bomberman (in any game they play, it is only a matter of time before something blows up for someone, Wazzu or the opponent) Notre Dame and BYU are disciplined and systematic, Nebraska's more explosive than you might realize, and FSU's trending away from steady production and more and more into "let me pull six or seven passes out of my ass and win this game" territory.

    Don't look at the lower right quadrant. Just don't. At least UConn is polite about intruding on your football and excuses itself quickly while taking the express elevator to the ground. We'll just be punting and getting on our way here, ma'am. Sorry for the bother.

    Oh, Baylor and Kansas, at opposite corners of the universe? They play each other on November 1, because college football is still that open stage in the history of the UFC when they let dudes from bars fight arm-breaking Shaolin masters.

    P.S. Arkansas held A&M to 4-of-13 on third down, held the ball for 37 minutes, ran for 285 yards, and still lost in overtime, because ... well, just look at the graph right there. They're in the group of teams capable of reanimating at any time in the game without much warning. The Hogs are so much better than we imagined they'd be, and they've already lost two games. The SEC West is a booby-trapped house of knives and pain.

    P.P.S. It's a nice consolation prize, at least: Arkansas linemen are Kobe beef cows now, massaged with first-class seats on football flights, fed only the finest fodder, and probably set to sleep with the gentlest and finest sonatas from the classical canon.


    David Pollack getting angry with Rece Davis and Jesse Palmer for using eighth-grade vocabulary words is my favorite new broadcasting gag. Palmer used the phrase "amuse-bouche" in a lull Thursday night, and you could hear the jock-rage boiling as Pollack instinctively looked around for someone to shove in a locker. It was nearly as entertaining as listening to him contain his former defensive player outrage when Texas Tech kept trying to snap the ball before the officials were ready. (Related: I would bet Pollack has opinions on home run celebrations and rap music.)


    As in the shaving cream even plastic mascots need to keep their skin smooth and soft.


    Via ESPN

    "He was a good customer. Quiet. Polite. Same thing, every week: shave with a warm towel, no haircut. Never took the hat off, actually. REAL intense-lookin' dude. Tipped over 20 percent. Carried a few guns with him, but that's not real unusual here in Stillwater, so we didn't mind. Seemed like he just needed the company, but that's a lot of our customers. Sometimes a body just needs a body to listen, or maybe just be there while they forget the troubles of the day. Nice guy. Made of plastic, sure, but the heart? Just as troubled and real and made of flesh and blood like the rest of us, friend."


    As in Pickens, the progenitor of the Oklahoma State football program and namesake to its stadium, where the Cowboys and Red Raiders paid disservice to football and the notion of efficiency this past Thursday.Texas Tech-Oklahoma State was a clusterfuck in all directions for four quarters: 26 penalties for 287 yards, with the majority of that yardage belonging to Texas Tech, the nation's leader in penalties per game. The Red Raiders also sit towards the bottom in turnover margin. Texas Tech is not a very good football team right now, for the most boring and reliable of reasons: they don't do procedure, at all, in any sense of the word.

    Going into this week, only one school could claim a top-15 spot in both the positive side of turnover margin and penalties: UTEP, a 2-2 Conference USA team that nearly beat Texas Tech in El Paso in Week 2. UTEP pays its bills on time and has neat handwriting, and sometimes that's enough to get you pretty far in both C-USA and life.


    As in the license taken here to produce the not-inaccurate ways of describing poor Jalen Hurd's day against Georgia in a Tennessee loss:

    • Jalen Hurd ran like he got the last PS4 in the store on the day after Thanksgiving.
    • Jalen Hurd ran with so little daylight he should have been wearing a headlamp.
    • Jalen Hurd ran with more men on his back than video game Greg Jennings.
    • Jalen Hurd moved more weight by himself than Pusha T says he does on three albums combined.
    • Jalen Hurd ran like Oldboy with a hammer down a crowded hallway.
    • Jalen Hurd staged a community theater presentation of "Tremors" as the giant worm. Georgia defenders played the dirt.

    Todd Gurley will get most of the pub (and not undeservedly), but please note that Hurd gained 119 of the toughest, least-blocked-for yards in college football Saturday, doing it mostly by running directly into the facemasks of UGA defenders and starting negotiations from somewhere eight inches or so off the offensive line. If he and Tennessee beat Florida for the first time since 2004 this coming week, they would deserve it.

    Football is not fair. If it were, Tennessee would have beaten Georgia, and for a lot of reasons. UGA's linebackers are a screaming, flammable liability in pass coverage. Mike Bobo called the kind of game that, prior to Aaron Murray's arrival, had Bulldog fans demanding his headset. (Five straight pass calls to open the second half, including an INT by Hutson Mason, will do that when Gurley and Nick Chubb are in your backfield). If Tennessee hadn't had enough sorrow in close losses, they can also take some comfort from losing in a novel way: a game-saving punt stop by Damian Swann put the Vols on their own one-yard line, leading to a Justin Worley fumble for the decisive late TD.

    It won't help too much, but relief is on the way for Tennessee, if Will Muschamp gets the Florida Gators to the stadium. He might not, as getting to Knoxville involves going to the air and then completing a few passes on the interstate.



    Via ESPNews

    It was a special week for special teams all around: UNC's punter got an unnecessary roughness penalty, Ole Miss had a kicker ejected for fighting, and an Australian punter named Sam Irwin-Hill for Arkansas avenged his countryman Brad Wing's classic fake punt run for a TD against Florida by running for one that counted against Texas A&M.

    Special teams are the scary drugs of college football, and the people who voluntarily coach and participate in them are unstable people. They are the demolition men of the sport. Stay away from them if at all possible.


    An Ohio State coach pulling out The Rock's finishing move on a random stranger for cause is the dream that the entire, angry state of Ohio dreams at once: an excuse to kick the shit out of someone in public without repercussion.

    Boat shoes and a visor also make the victim pretty SECish, so yes, this all fits perfectly.

    "But hey, that's a harder hit than anyone in the Ohio State secondary's made in two years," he said, alone in his room and only to himself, and definitely not to a sullen and agitated group of Ohio State fans in a crowded bar.


    Making a football team is like making a fine whisky.

    You start with pure ingredients, combine them in a calibrated cooking process, and then you place the result in barrels. Then the distillery catches on fire because a worker has stolen a barrel, consumed too much of the booze inside of it, and fell asleep smoking in the corner with some old rags. The whole thing burns down, and you use your insurance money to start again with something less capital-intensive, like an income tax preparation business. This is how Brady Hoke ends up waving at traffic in an Uncle Sam outfit with a spinning sign on a roadside outside of Ypsilanti.

    Maybe we need to start over with Arizona State, for instance. The Sun Devils had to replace nine defensive starters, including face-painted goblin-monster Will SuttonNo, it's cool, because they're good, because they were good last year. They'll be fine. They faced a UCLA team with a healthy Brett Hundley at quarterback and had to start their backup quarterback after starter Taylor Kelly injured his foot against Colorado.

    In retrospect, this was an inevitable disaster, the kind young teams fall face-first into all the time. ASU's Mike Bercovici played brilliantly for what he is: a QB making his first start playing a live UCLA team. His defense gave up 580 yards, his offense coughed up four turnovers, and that's how you end up surrendering record numbers of points at home. It's a debacle, yes, but always look up your variety of debacling, which in this case is your "Juvenile Pac-12 Team Incurs Pac-12-sized Point Differential In Loss."* It's a disaster, but it's not one that's irredeemable.

    It also helps to have Ishmael Adams, UCLA's defensive back/kick returner, putting up 201 yards of kick returns and a 95-yard INT return for 14 free points. We told you this was a disaster you had to put in context, and a good chunk of that context comes in making the mistake of ever letting Adams touch your football.

    * Remember: when it's not your team, it's an informative case study. And when it's your team, it's a total farce and everyone should be fired.


    Boise lost badly to Air Force, but the innovation never stopped. Wide out Thomas Sperbeck executes the first play-action fake on a catch I've ever seen.


    As in the floor, to readers' Twitter questions:

    Mack Brown has like 28 houses that are all nicer than yours and the penthouse in the tallest building in Austin and makes money with a microphone, so he's Ric Flair now and never needs to coach again.

    A very real idea: Dennis Franchione, who flirted with the Kansas job when he was at Alabama (no, this really happened) and is currently at Texas State. He'll be cheap and is pretty adept at program revival by this point. This is not a glamorous suggestion, but getting a young, up-and-coming talent to take a job like Kansas is a no-go until another coach who is an established retread eats a few years of rebuilding and clean-up.

    There is no documented reason to believe Charlie Weis can coach at the college level, so no. No one should ever give him a college job or a dollar again, and no one needs to, after he's bilked three schools out of outrageous sums of money. I hope to do this same thing one day, but in the legal profession. (I am not a lawyer, but dream of being prosecuted for impersonating one and then beating the rap ... BY REPRESENTING MYSELF.)


    The honest answer besides "neither team has a defense" is: I have no clue. Colorado had 39 first downs and lost a football game. Mike MacIntyre could have taken his shoes off on the field and refused to leave and no one in the stadium would have blamed him. Both quarterbacks threw seven touchdowns. This box score is the only kind of literature that should be banned from our schools.

    The final four will likely feature the SEC champion and the team that comes out of the Big 12 with one loss or none, and that leaves two spots. If the Pac-12 has a one-loss team, it gets a spot, and that leaves a choice between either an ACC team (including, for ease's sake, Notre Dame) or a Big Ten spot. And if that last spot is an undefeated Florida State, then no, Nebraska does not get in, because of the Big Ten's horrendous decade of post-season performance.

    That is not fair, but it is what will happen even if Nebraska wins the rest of their games. On the upside: undefeated and shunned is still better than the usual 9-4.


    The metric amount of football to watch this week, which contains the following: Arizona at Oregon on Thursday night, Alabama at Ole Miss, Baylor at Texas, Florida at Tennessee, Stanford at Notre Dame, Miami at Georgia Tech, Nebraska at Michigan State, and Oklahoma at TCU.

    There is not enough eyeball or brain in your head or room in your stomach to finish it all, but you are an American. You'll try to devour it all anyway, and should. Gluttony is a sin, but it remains a five-touchdown favorite over starvation.


    As in SMU's quarterback play.

    Just let gravity do the work, SMU, and don't be afraid to take a knee if things get too bad out there.

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  • 09/30/14--07:14: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 9/30/2014


    When will this get old nope never never never stop remixing the Kick Six, ever.

    THAT'S NOT HOW YOU DO ANYTHING. If it takes two days to issue a statement, it's time to just admit you can make jokes about the Michigan athletic department being too dignified to use a telegraph, much less do anything at the speed of even the 20th century, much less the 21st. Remember that they let Brady Hoke have a press conference yesterday, and then issued a statement that looks really bad when contrasted with Hoke's remarks during that presser? That was probably a bad idea. A lot of things are probably a bad idea for Michigan right now. The full stream is here; it'll get bigger and worse before this is over.

    SAY IT FASTER, DAVE, JIMBO ONLY UNDERSTANDS 140 WORDS A MINUTE OR FASTER. The NC State coach apologizes for saying that the Seminoles faked injuries during their win over the Wolfpack this past Saturday.

    YES LET'S DO THAT AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Jeff Driskel would like to forget everything that happened against Alabama, which means he is just like you and me, buddy.

    HUEYTOWN IS ASHAMED. We dunno, there's always someone to talk shit about you in a small town, man.

    MIKE LEACH REMAINS A TROGLODYTE. It'd be so much fun to show him Tinder.

    TRANSFER RULES REMAIN THE DUMBNESS. Why Kliff Kingsbury was even hassling a transfer request is beyond us-- they wanna go, just let them go like any other worker-- but it did lead to a father calling the coach "a scoundrel," so it's not entirely without dividend here. P.S. Transfer rules are the stupidest.

    YOU CAN SAY ANYTHING YOU WANT IN A CIVIL SUIT. So don't assume George O'Leary would be the kind of insane racist capable of saying shit you hadn't heard growing up in the lower intestine of the American South, because that would be unfair and not based on any evidence anyone is presenting besides testimony and other forms of hearsay. Furthermore, it's presented by a former assistant coach trying to file a lawsuit over a firing he says was not for cause. So don't just assume you know George O'Leary, who is generally known as a good coach with a real way with people.

    ETC: 'Sup.

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    OH IT'S SHUTDOWN FULLCAST TIME. Some of us were drinking during the entiRetY of lAst Night's podcast, so this got out of hand and went a full 56 minutes plus. So we'll help you out and provide useful time marks for savvy listening:

    • Opening: we discuss the Michigan riots, which were extreme but in no way involved canceling Economist subscriptions
    • 16:00: We introduce the concept of Florida as David Lynch's Road House, and how Will Muschamp will beat himself up in front of horrified reporters.
    • 19:00 or so: Jason ranks every SEC Team by rappers. Spoiler: Kristi Malzahn is Auburn's rapper, and this is South Carolina's choice by immense margins.
    • 28:45: A discussion of how SMU might really be the worst FBS football team of the modern era, and a review of the other legendarily bad teams of yore. YOU BET TEMPLE'S INVOLVED.
    • 44:00: The game's week's reviewed! Dr. Bo can't be caught by the FDA or the Bama defense.

    Listen directly here, on iTunes, or in the Soundcloud bar below.

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  • 10/01/14--13:50: Outkast, at last
  • Outkast played what might be their last shows ever this weekend. This is what it was like one of those nights.

    1. Centennial Park in Atlanta is the Olympic Park, so there is a statue of Pierre de Coubertin, half-stepping onto a set of steps and looking through Greek pillars and out to the east across the park. For three nights of shows, Pierre stared directly at the Outkast stage. He was draped with every manner of Atlantan at one point or another: men smoking weed in the open wearing old Braves jerseys, bearded East Atlanta bartenders in trucker hats holding tall boys of Heineken, what appeared to be a very, very intoxicated Jugalette in an Ed Hardy shirt and half of grown, folk-aged East Point on dates with their wives, leaning out and taking properly tagged Instagram selfies they hoped would end up on the big screens set up around the quad.

    2. Some people got babysitters for Outkast. Some didn't even bother. A man pushing a stroller had his baby at the show. I looked in casually while walking by for a beer: the child was sound asleep. He bobbed up and down next to the stroller and stayed for the entire show. Some didn't need babysitters at all, like the two older ladies in country club gear next to me who appeared to have mistakenly wandered over from the Garth show. They had not, and knew most of the words to "Elevators."

    3. So when 2 Chainz was through playing on Friday -- as it turns out, there is not a person in the city who doesn't want to shout out the line, "She got a big booty so I call her BIG BOOTY"-- Andre and Big Boi came on and opened with "B.O.B," a song I heard for the first time working at a restaurant with a huge porch, a place in Midtown where nearly every staffer was gay save for me and Joel. We would have prep hour, watching Magnum PI reruns on the porch, rolling silverware and filling salt shakers and pretending to work, all while the radio pumped through the speakers. When B.O.B. came on for the first time that morning, and this is not an exaggeration, everything just ... stopped. Nick, a male stripper who worked as a server on dayshift, stopped his morning Backstreet Boys routine on the steps and just listened. Oscar, the middle-aged host who beat a rude customer bloody with his fists in the middle of Piedmont one night, cocked his head while wiping menus and looked utterly befuddled. Ron, who'd ditch everything and become a chocolatier with his life partner, had a giant befuddled grin on his face behind the bar. I don't remember my expression. I was dead fucking broke and lucky to still be married or loved or alive, and all I could hear was this song that sounded like the entire city piped downhill through a speaker playing in the rising heat of a September morning. You couldn't get it out of your face. No one could. It wasn't just merely brilliant. "B.O.B." was so good it bordered on confusing.

    4. Andre Benjamin may be the best live-patterer ever. It's mostly his voice, but also the sheer lack of fuckititude in changing his lyrics to "Do something out of the ordinary/ like catch a Jimi Hendrix movie or something/ no reason/ I think I'm in loooooooooooooooove agaaiiiiiiiin/ y'all know that opens this weekend..." Also he told the crowd we were stanky, and giggled through it like a 14-year-old boy while wearing a gray wig and a full jumpsuit and sunglasses.

    5. They also played "Elevators," off ATLiens, maybe the angriest, saddest and oldest album ever produced by a pair of 20-year-olds ever. It opens with an intro called "You May Die" and ends with "13th Floor/Growing Old" and sounds like the two had been listening to massive amounts of murky Wu-Tang during the recording. It just sounds like it was recorded at 3 a.m., and not in a particularly good mood about anything. I heard that for the first time working in an unairconditioned warehouse in Gainesville, Florida in the summer, with someone playing "Wheelz of Steel" over and over again for some reason. No one minded; ATLiens is discontented and hot, the perfect soundtrack for four months when the money ran out and you were splitting a deplorable student apartment with someone for the summer and living off tomato sandwiches because they were the cheapest way to prevent scurvy. "Elevators" still sounds like Atlanta in the depths of the early morning: slow, a little ruined, chain link fences and and empty parking lots lit by the wasted lights of downtown.

    6. Those two older ladies I mentioned were very nice, since I fell on them jumping around during "Kryptonite."

    7. I guess the first point to any of this is that Atlanta is still a racially divided and confusing city, and that one of the few moments when there can be anything like a unified theory of the city is in the music and presence of Outkast.

    That music is, in a lot of cases, really, really troubled, even when it's over a karaoke keyboard beat like "Humble Mumble" or as jaunty as "The Whole World." (No, on Friday, Killer Mike did not come out for his verse.) Big Boi and Andre have been rapping about diapers and kids and poverty and stress since they were way too young to know what that should all mean. On "Spottieottiedopalicious," Big Boi talks about getting rejected for a UPS job. It's hard to be less glamorous than that, or end up somewhere more logical than "Rosa Parks," a song recorded at Outkast's peak that's introed with two dudes at a record shop talking about how they were already done with the group. It's got a hoedown harmonica break, an otherworldly radar-ping beat, an acoustic guitar riff and a titular nod to the defining historical event in the city's history, the civil rights movement. It should not work at all, and yet it does.

    What I'm trying to say is thatOutkast, more than anyone else -- more than any TV show, more than any novelist could ever hope to claim, more than any humorist or standup comedian or professional local ever has -- did what is so hard to do about Atlanta: they explained each corner by name, and defined what this city actually looks and sounds like. Outkast wrote this character, and its audience turned out to be anyone who could get in the gates of Centennial Park: black, white, broke, rich, weird, and probably wearing some carefully chosen local sports gear to indicate depth, range and cross-demographic precision in taste. (See: the black dude wearing an Atlanta Thrashers Blueland shirt, and the skinny white kid from what had to be Cobb County wearing an Alge Crumpler Falcons jersey.) If I have any idea of what Atlanta might be, it starts and ends with Outkast.

    8. I've never seen more people meeting people they haven't seen in years. Sudden cries and quick hugs and all that family reunion stuff you joke about. I saw someone I hadn't seen in 10 years, my wife saw some old co-workers she hadn't seen in forever and I think I saw a mini-family reunion up by the Olympic fountains. Slimm Calhoun showed up for the encore. (SLIMM CALHOUN, ALIVE AND RAPPING IN THE YEAR 2014.) People ran into far too many ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends, including Andre 3000 himself. Erykah Badu showed up for the last night, and like every other pair of exes I saw at the show on Friday they reportedly got along brilliantly.

    9. Bun B made only the second-most important cameo of the night. The first was Pimp C rolling his verse on "International Players Anthem" out on video, the video where he's wearing a white fur coat and hat, and rapping from the pew at Andre 3000's wedding. They let him carry his verse, and when they did, something electrifying happened: the crowd got louder and more emphatic and threw up hands harder and just generally lost their shit to an incredibly intense degree because ... well, because Pimp C wasn't dead. It's been five days since the show, and it still kind of raises the hairs on the back of my neck thinking about it not because Pimp C shouldn't be dead, or because that was the last Outkast show I'll probably ever see, but because if anything, seeing the duo for the last time letting a dead man take his verse to the house reinforced the entire point: that Outkast's music has always been about having one foot in the grave and one on the grass, about being half one emotion and half another entirely different feeling all at the same time.

    Anywhere else it might have been morbid, but "Da Art of Storytellin' (Pt.1) has two verses: one about getting some in a parking lot while you can, and another about finding out someone you really liked ended up dead with a needle in her arm. Big Boi's got a kid in college. Andre's making movies. Killer Mike owns a barber shop now; L.A. Reid, the man who signed Outkast, is 58 years old. Both of Andre's parents died in the past year, and when he says it now, it hurt a little to sing it along with him no matter how good the beat was: keep your heart, Three Stacks, keep your heart. There was Pimp C, who died, and Bun B, who lectures at Rice University now in his spare time. Big Boi was on the left and Andre was on the right, but Atlanta is not a place for nostalgia. If everyone was singing "I Choose You," it wasn't tribute or goodbye. It was because at 10:48 p.m. ET or so that night, it felt too impossibly good not to sing along.

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  • 10/02/14--06:35: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 10/2/2014

    LOOK AT IT. Just look at all of this weekend's schedule and try not to remove your pants immediately.

    WHY DID YOU LET A MAN NAMED SANFORD LOVINGOOD HANDLE MONEY HE JUST SOUNDS LIKE OLD SOUTHERN CORRUPTION FLORIDA STATE. The FSU Seminoles Boosters let a dude named that touch their money,so maybe it's not so shocking that he appears to have departed the facility with somewhere between $500K and $750K of their money. Sanford Lovingood was their comptroller, and by definition not really supposed to do that. Given the history of investigations at Florida State, we expect Mr. Lovingood to miss a half of football or so and resume his duties.

    Also, one of FSU's largest boosters is Al Dunlap. THAT Al Dunlap, the one barred from ever being a CEO ever again. For balance, we should also disclose that Dale Jr. gives to the program, as well, so they're not entirely amoral, psychopathic evil. (Please make Jimbo wear a jumpsuit covered with sponsors he has to thank after games, because he could get through like 70 of them in 45 seconds or so.)

    EHHHHHH. Any news of an NCAA investigation of Ole Miss has to be tempered with the understanding that a.) no one cares and the NCAA is bullshit and b.) the cases are old and date back to the Houston Nutt era, which gives Ole Miss fans one more thing to blame on him. So they're pretty happy about that part, at least.

    IN SHOCKING NEWS, NERD STATS LOVE STANFORD. The latest round of F/+ rankings are up and what the hell is this why is Stanford up there so far and yeah we're looking at you, math. We've never trusted you, and never will.

    MORE AUDIO PESSIMISM. Tennessee fans are really, really optimistic about this weekend against Florida, and with like 30 minutes of a Florida fan bitching about how bad their football team is, well, why the hell wouldn't you be. Team Speed Kills listed all the ways Tennessee could beat Florida, and so many of them seem plausible at this point that the only real silver lining for Florida fans at this point would be winning, and then taunting with "you couldn't beat this team? THIS team?"

    ETC: Finally wrote about the Outkast show last week, if you're into ATLphilia. It's a layer cake of Louisiana richness, all this.

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    Okay, so Michigan chose Brady Hoke over Kevin Sumlin. We've all made mistakes in our choices in life.

    Ryan: Okay. I suspect you'll have me beat either because you made more bad choices or remember them better.

    Spencer: I left the country for work during our nation's biggest job boom.

    Ryan: I took a semester of Arabic just because. Joakim Noah was in the class. For a day.

    Spencer: I took intensive Russian at eight in the morning five days a week as a freshman. I chose English as a major over anything else.

    Ryan: I also chose English as a major, and in one semester I had seminars on Philip Roth and Sylvia Plath. This is terrible for one's libido. I was studying for a final instead of watching the South Carolina-Florida game in 2006.

    Spencer: I worked at a warehouse in Gainesville instead of going to the 1996 national title game.

    Ryan: The Outback Bowl starts at noon on New Year's Day, which means you have to get up early, fight Tampa traffic, and then pretend like you're enjoying a stadium full of hungover Big Ten fans in baggy mock turtlenecks. It is the dumbest way to set the tone for your new year. I have been to two Outback Bowls.

    Spencer: I have been to the last three horrendous blowouts for Florida in Tuscaloosa.

    Ryan: I spent a summer working for Time Warner Cable.

    Spencer: I worked at Bennigan's. As an adult. After that, I decided to work in non-profits over "jobs that paid money"

    Ryan: Rather than pay for a hotel, I slept in a rural Italian train station. A homeless man insisted on talking to me about the Chicago Bulls. In Italian.

    Spencer: Ah! Rather than pay for an hotel, I slept in a rat-infested Taiwanese airport. They turn the AC off at 11 p.m. and it is below the Tropic of Cancer. WE WERE ALONE.

    Ryan: I wore a string tie to prom. Actually, that was a great choice. Fuck off, haters.

    Spencer: I had a choice between buying a Subaru WRX or a Mini Clubman. I took the Clubman because "it looked like a taxi"

    Ryan: I dated a woman who only owned books that fit into one of two categories: the "Shopaholic" series or "written by Ann Coulter."

    Ryan: (looks around) (crouches) (whispers) I wanted Florida to hire Ty Willingham in 2002.

    Spencer: I thought Will Muschamp wasn't a totally bad hire

    Spencer: I could have bought some stock in Apple when it was at nothing, and instead chose to take a trip to Paris. IN NOVEMBER.

    Spencer: I bought a Dreamcast, thinking "yeah, this shit is forever."

    Ryan: Miss u, Crazy Taxi.

    Spencer: I chose graduate school and applying to the CIA over, um, "good ideas."

    Ryan: Spencer.

    Spencer: No I'm not done I got an invitation to apply to Harvard and threw it in the garbage because "I don't want to be cold."

    Ryan: That's legit.

    Spencer: I had a chance to do an all-access piece in 2007 on a small team going to a big team's stadium to play a football game. I thought it was too expensive and didn't do it, since they weren't going to win anyway. That team was App State and the game was Michigan. I have made bad choices.

    Ryan: I was 22 and free to make my own choices. Nobody forced me or pressured me into it. But I did it all the same. I went to law school.

    Spencer: Fuck, you win.

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    The Factor Five pops a Ritalin and prepares for a 10:30 kick.


    Your bland statistical comparison really does favor Oregon. Arizona is slightly better at running the ball, and that should make sense after you remember Arizona's early slate included UNLV, UTSA (sad MEEP,) and Nevada. The Wildcats only conference game to this point was the clusterfuck, hell-for-first-downs, Hail Mary game against Cal. Arizona only ran for 107 yards against the Golden Bears, but either Cal is shockingly good against the run this year, or simply so bad offensive coordinators can't turn down free points through the air. It's confusing, but bear hold on and we'll get to something like a point here.

    That point is: Arizona will have to run the ball to control the game in any upset bid, and may be pretty capable of doing that. That may not matter in the least thanks to Oregon being able to score with terrifying ease, especially when Marcus Mariota is completing over 74% of his passes, has 13 TDs and zero INTs on the year, and can scramble receivers open deep against coverage. So your average, kick-the-ball-just-shy-of-midnight witching hour race to 40, you say? Yes, exactly this for four hours, most likely with Oregon finishing with the last shot at the endzone.

    p.s If Arizona QB Anu Solomon is 205 pounds then we're 185 and ripped like Jesus.




    Wilbur the Wildcat first appeared at an Arizona football game on November 7, 1959.


    The costume has changed over the years from its original design, including a look in the 1970s that included a vest, blue jeans, and cowboy boots.


    A female mascot, Wilma the Wildcat, was also added in 1986; the two renewed their vows on their 20th wedding anniversary against Arizona State.


    Truly, Wilbur and Wilma have added an exciting and spirited element to Arizona games, and we could not imagine Wildcat football without them.





    Autzen's really, really loud, and if they're playing Outkast there's no chance of victory for Arizona because that's basically science at this point.

    The Factor Five Five Factor Preview yawns, pops a Ritalin, and prepares for a 10:30 kick for Arizona/Oregon.





    Luca Bruno

    Sir Thomas Jackson

    Gerhard de Beer

    Layth Friekh

    T.D. Gross


    Stetzon Bair

    Hroniss Grasu

    Mattrell McGraw

    Ivan Faulhaber

    Pharaoh Brown

    Honestly didn’t know which way to go with this until I realized that "Layth Friekh" could also be what a drunk Lou Holtz says to proposition someone at the club. And now I may never sleep again.




    Oh, Oregon's shockingly due here after a 42-16 blindside upset in Tucson last year. Remember when Shaquille Richardson and Scooby Wright decided to play beach volleyball in the middle of a football game?

    That came on the Ducks' first play from scrimmage, confirming our theory that if your first offensive play is a total disaster, then the rest of your evening is going to be a shambles, as well. Oregon gave up three turnovers in last year's loss and Mariota never looked right thanks to a knee injury he was playing through, and that's probably not going to be the case either way tonight. Revenge games not involving Stanford are kind of a novel thing for Oregon, so enjoy playing against type tonight, Ducks. That's how you get that Oscar nomination, and probably still lose to Nick Saban in a close vote because Nick Saban is the Meryl Streep of our coaching era. (Before you ask: yes, we'd take Streep over Will Muschamp because we've seen one try to play the role of a head coach for going on four years, and would certainly trust her to pull off the job better even if she didn't know what a midline read was.)



    VERDICT: By a 5-0 blowout, Oregon is the Factor Five's choice as the winner tonight in a game we're going to go get some coffee to get through like, right now.

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  • 10/03/14--07:56: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 10/3/2014

    PREVIOUS! If you were a sensible person and went to bed last night and missed Arizona/Oregon, you missed a lot of very dumb and entertaining things. A Pac-12 referee yelled the word PREVIOUS like it was his MC handle, and then said nothing else:

    PREVIOUS MOBBBBB ONLY ON GLASSES REF RECORDS; Y'ALL ALREADY KNOW. You missed an entire half of Pac-12 football ending in a 7-3 halftime score, Anu Solomon completing a pass to himself, a disgraceful enforcement of the already disgraceful celebration penalty on a gesture made a good thirty yards from the play, more baffling officiating, Oregon running on two crucial third downs late in the game and then not going for it on 4th down, and ultimately a 31-24 victory for the Wildcats proving Rich Rodriguez is a very good coach, Oregon has some serious issues, Pac-12 officials are an atrocity, and that Florida fans will spend the rest of the season flooding our Twitter timeline with "HEY THIS COACH IS PRETTY GOOD." (He is! The deals you can find just rummaging through Michigan's dumpsters are amazing.)

    LSU STARTS BRANDON HARRIS. Auburn/LSU is getting a bit lost in all the projected chaos of week six, but "Les Miles on the road with a freshman QB" sounds dangerous and ill-advised and LSU is totally winning this football game, aren't they?

    OLE MISS IS HERE TO SELL THINGS. Like itself, since Gameday and Alabama and a lofty ranking are probably as much about recruiting tomorrow as actually winning the football game. This marks a sign of progress, as Ole Miss fans are now working to claim never losing the party AND the recruiting pitch in lieu of any serious confidence about football outcomes.

    NOT REALLY THAT ODD. Where's UNC? It's not on this map at all, and okay maybe that's right now that we said it out loud like that.

    CONFIDENCE IS GOOD. When you have nothing else, Vandy, it's what you have to lean on, that confidence. [murmurs to self as you line up against Todd Gurley: "I'm not going to burst into flames right now. Probably."]

    "VICTORY SMELLS LIKE CARCINOGENS." SDSU and Fresno State play for an oil can. Like, a real, smelly-as-hell oil can.

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    If the season ended right now, half of college football's four-team field might be from one state. And not a state anybody would've expected.

    An instantaneous survey of four teams in the best position for the College Football Playoff's four spots at this very moment, plus the biggest threats looming for each. Be advised: these have nothing to do with the Top 25 polls. If you get mad about this, you will be pointed to the previous sentence.

    1. Florida State

    The Seminoles played Wake Forest and got three-deep into the bench by the fourth quarter in a 43-3 win over one of the least effectual teams in college football.

    Bob, you've never given us a reason to fire you.

    Jameis Winston did little to distinguish himself.

    You're not spectacular, Bob, I'll be honest. A pretty good employee, sure.

    Hell, Wake even led for one fleeting moment, and for a half seemed to genuinely frustrate Florida State.

    You're probably not the best man to head this firm.

    FSU did not lose, though.

    But every other partner just died in an avalanche on a company ski holiday.

    In a week when three of the top five teams in college football lost, this gives you the keys to the Playoff suite by default.

    You aren't dead, so you're in charge now. Congratulations, Bob.

    Threats: Notre Dame in Tallahassee on October 18, and literally nothing else.

    2. Mississippi State

    After six weeks of play and beating Texas A&M soundly, a 48-31 victory in Starkville, Mississippi State is the most complete team on both sides of the ball. That feels so wrong, but there was this point in European history at which people were like, "Wow, Portugal's really got their shit together, maybe we should be afraid of them," and now they're known for cork, legalized drugs, and having one perfectly hairless brilliant soccer player.

    Mississippi State's never been known for much, and now they're beating the brakes off people and have the best, most consistent quarterback in the nation, Dak Prescott. What I'm saying is that Mississippi State is about to colonize Brazil, and this year is already too weird for accurate historical comparisons. Enjoy the cowbells, Rio.

    Threats: Next week at home vs. Auburn, and the rest of the schedule, basically.

    3. Ole Miss

    Famously inconsistent team becomes shockingly consistent just in time to play four quarters of football against Alabama and win, 23-17. Bo Wallace threw stunning passes down the stretch and ran effectively. Ole Miss' receivers won crucial one-on-one matchups against Bama's corners. The Rebels defense held Alabama to 10 points after the Crimson Tide were hailed as the second coming of Lane Kiffin's 2005 USC offense. Ole Miss did all this after trailing, 14-3, at the half and generally looking dead in the water against a team known for its punishing second-half finishes.

    There are two Mississippi teams in the Playoff right now, and the Egg Bowl could conceivably determine which one stays at the end of the season. If you are just coming out of a coma, go back into it for a few months to let all of this sink in properly.

    Threats: Next week at Texas A&M, and yeah, also the rest of the schedule.

    4. Auburn

    Not that beating LSU by 41-7 this year is a huge achievement, but you'd rather be the ones continuing that deep devaluation than the ones giving Les Miles a second chance at life in the SEC West. Auburn is 5-0 and 2-0 in the SEC West, clocking a steady offensive work rate of 497 yards a game on offense. It let an LSU team starting a freshman QB do a proper amount of nothing on offense. If this sounds unimpressed, it should, because a.) LSU's been really, really disappointing this year, and b.) the SEC West will eat itself over the course of the year and break up this admittedly absurd logjam.


    Threats: Next week at Mississippi State, and everyone else on the schedule, save for Samford.


    Much to some teams' chagrin, no Playoff team of note.


    Notre Dame, who could be in that 4 spot if we didn't think Stanford's offense wasn't Florida Gators-grade badness.

    Baylor, who struggled a bit with Texas.

    TCU, who ... well, crap, they could probably be in that 4 spot, too. Let's agree to just put the winner of TCU-Baylor in next week and move out the loser of Auburn-Mississippi State. (See, the SEC West will eat itself, mostly out of boredom with lesser competition elsewhere.)

    Georgia Tech is undefeated, and we have no idea what that means at all, but still have to mention it.

    Ooh! So is Arizona, which is also weird but necessarily mentioned here. (The Wildcats beat Oregon! The Pac-12 is madness.)


    Alabama, Oklahoma, UCLA, Oregon, Texas A&M, and Nebraska.


    Poor BYU, who lost quarterback Taysom Hill to a broken leg on Friday night in a loss against Utah State.

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