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Articles on this Page
- 12/02/14--07:23: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 12/03/14--10:49: _PAUL JOHNSON TAKES ...
- 12/03/14--14:57: _SUBSTITUTES FOR JIM...
- 12/04/14--06:41: _SHUTDOWN FULLCAST 2...
- 12/04/14--07:35: _A Florida owner's m...
- 12/04/14--10:30: _MIKE RILEY TAKES A ...
- 12/04/14--14:04: _THE SEC CHAMPIONSHI...
- 12/05/14--07:45: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 12/07/14--13:05: _The College Footbal...
- 12/08/14--13:15: _LET'S ALL PACE OURS...
- 12/09/14--06:41: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 12/09/14--09:39: _MISSISSIPPI STATE U...
- 12/10/14--05:41: _Read this and be de...
- 12/10/14--09:57: _A QUICK GLOSSARY AB...
- 12/10/14--14:25: _YOU SHOULD PROBABLY...
- 12/10/14--15:15: _OREGON STATE HIRES ...
- 12/11/14--10:34: _SHUTDOWN FULLCAST 2...
- 12/12/14--07:31: _THE CURIOUS INDEX, ...
- 12/15/14--12:53: _WISCONSIN, IT'S NOT...
- 12/15/14--13:54: _DOES MICHIGAN HAVE ...
- 12/02/14--07:23: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/2/2014
- 12/03/14--10:49: PAUL JOHNSON TAKES QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
- 12/03/14--14:57: SUBSTITUTES FOR JIM MCELWAIN'S BUYOUT
- 12/04/14--06:41: SHUTDOWN FULLCAST 2.14: THE FIERCE PUNCH EPISODE
- Why it's not easy to be Brady Hoke
- How you can fly all the way to Colorado and not really understand how a buyout works
- The part where Michigan will reach for a Harbaugh apple and pull down an Addazio persimmon
- Why no sane person should take the Nebraska job, ever
- The moment when Jason demands people JUST FUCKING FIX THINGS
- A proposal for UNLV to grant joint custody of the program to Houston Nutt and Ed Orgeron
- Scooby Wright for Heisman
- A description of the Georgia Tech offense as FIERCE PUNCH/FIERCE PUNCH/FIERCE PUNCH
- The part where we forget to talk about the #B1G championship, and then notice how the Big Ten Championship Game Trophy definitely doesn't look like a football sitting on a trash can.
- 12/04/14--07:35: A Florida owner's manual for new head coach Jim McElwain
- 12/04/14--10:30: MIKE RILEY TAKES A LONG BIKE RIDE
- 12/04/14--14:04: THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY: A THREE ACT PLAY
- 12/05/14--07:45: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/5/2014
- 12/08/14--13:15: LET'S ALL PACE OURSELVES FOR OHIO STATE V. ALABAMA
- 12/09/14--06:41: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/9/2014
- 12/09/14--09:39: MISSISSIPPI STATE UNDERSTANDS MIAMI TELEVISION
- 12/10/14--05:41: Read this and be delighted by Verne Lundquist
- 12/10/14--09:57: A QUICK GLOSSARY ABOUT THAT ONGOING COACHING SEARCH
- 12/10/14--14:25: YOU SHOULD PROBABLY GO TO WORK FOR LES MILES
- The low man on the salary pole at LSU still makes $310K a year. Cam Cameron, the offensive coordinator, is paid $1.3 million; so is defensive coordinator John Chavis. LSU's staff is the most expensive in the nation, and that's why Les Miles is the greatest boss ever and you should carrier pigeon your resume to him immediately. (Les Miles only accepts correspondence via carrier pigeon or pinned to the wall with a throwing knife.)
- If you can't get on an Alabama, LSU, or an Ohio State type payroll, considering sneaking onto the Virginia Tech coaching roster. Have you tried faking blood ties to Bud Foster or Frank Beamer? It would be worth it, even with the risk of being thrown down a mine shaft when you're inevitably exposed. (And you're gonna be exposed and thrown down a mine shaft.) VT's shockingly high on the overall list with the 8th priciest staff in the nation.
- Florida's total staff payroll was good for 8th in the SEC. Will Muschamp was a bad time, but he was a cheap bad time. (Kurt Roper still got that $700K, though, and that's as part of a three year deal guaranteed.)
- If the Mississippi schools doing as well as they did this year isn't shocking to you, go back and revise that opinion by looking at the total payrolls of their coaches.
- 17 of the top 100 highest paid assistants came from the Big Ten. By comparison: 38 came from the SEC, 14 from the ACC, 13 for the Big 12, and 18 for the Pac-12. So you can say "the Big Ten doesn't pay their assistants like the SEC," and you would be right. You may also say "no one pays their assistants like the SEC," because that's more accurate without just picking on the Big Ten. (There are so many better things to pick on . Other conferences have a habit of rolling around nickels like hubcaps, too.
- The Zombie Big East, the AAC, has zero assistant salaries in the top 100.
- 12/10/14--15:15: OREGON STATE HIRES GARY ANDERSEN. THAT GARY.
- how Wisconsin no longer has a coach but still has a jolly old Santa figure who leaves Barry Alvarez statues everywhere
- Michigan not having a football coach until the spring thaw
- the madness of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl and your last chance to watch Central Michigan this year, which yeah, who's gonna pass THAT up
- the bowl game that once had as many as 7200 people in the stands at the same time!
- 12/12/14--07:31: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/12/2014
- 12/15/14--12:53: WISCONSIN, IT'S NOT TOO LATE
- 12/15/14--13:54: DOES MICHIGAN HAVE A HEAD COACH YET?
UAB FOOTBALL IS RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE GOVERNOR'S LIST ALONG WITH MALARIA AND POVERTY LOL
Q: DOES BRADY HOKE STILL HAVE A JOB? A: Yes, but maybe not for long.
Brady Hoke &#Michigan interim AD Jim Hackett are expected to meet today at noon ET per source.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 2, 2014
The coaching poachin' season is fun, but when Michigan AND Florida are both fully open? Oh, that's when someone drops a sparkler into the bag of fireworks in the backseat of the car on the way down the interstate.
HOW'S FLORIDA? Living without a Freeze warning thanks to Ole Miss banking up and giving their coach a new $4 million deal, and thus pushing the Florida job search forward to such exciting candidates as Josh McDaniels, a useless NFL assistant despised by his co-workers with little college football coaching experience. SOUNDS PERFECT LET'S GIVE HIM MILLIONS.
WE THOUGHT WE CAME OFF PRETTY WELL HERE. The man who snitched on Gurley talks, and shockingly it's not us.
WE'LL LOOK INTO THIS URGENT PROBLEM AS SOON AS WE FIX EVERY OTHER SERIOUS ISSUE IN ALABAMA. In other words, the governor of Alabama will fix the UAB football situation if he can, which given his powers as the head of a state that can barely pave its own roads, means UAB is as good as dead. (Which is exactly what everyone on the BOT has always wanted anyway.)
THIS IS AGAINST SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE GEORGIA CONSTITUTION. UGA strength coach Joe Tereshinski resigned, leaving the Bulldogs without a Tereshinski in the organization for the first time in 70 years.
[WHISTLES PAST THE GRAVEYARD] Well sure, let's just not change football in any way whatsoever.
HE'LL KILL YOU ALL IF HE HAS TO
Q: Coach, how do you feel about your team's general health going into the ACC Championship with Florida State?
A: They've got it. That's what I'll say.
Q: Is it good or could it stand improvement at this point, is what I'm asking?
A: It's there. It'll be there Saturday.
Q: Where, coach?
A: Charlotte. I don't have to tell you where the game is.
Q: No, you don't, Coach.
A: I know that. I'm not asking. I'm telling you. You can find out where the game is yourself. I'm not a map.
Q: Never said you were a map, coach.
A: Yes you did. You see Burlap Skank, North Carolina anywhere on my face? The place where my uncle drank transmission fluid to cure his diabetes?
Q: Did that work?
A: Yup. Not that it's any of your business. But it's like our offense. No one believes in it but it works all the same. Haven't changed a thing here and they won't change a thing up in Burlap Skank, neither.
Q: How did it work?
A: He died. Solved the problem.
Q: Coach Johnson--
A: Just call me Paul.
A: I'd prefer Coach, if you would.
Q: Okay Coach--
A: You got a question?
Q: I'm trying--
A: We're all trying. Plenty try. Not many do. Just an observation. You might wanna try harder.
Q: You won't let me finish--
A: No one "lets" anyone finish. You think Florida State's gonna just let us finish? You think Georgia was just gonna let us finish? You think someone just lets you rob a feed store?
Q: No, Coach, I--
A: It's Paul. PAUL. You're not a child. The way you rob a feed store isn't with kindness. You count the number of cashiers. You wait until just after lunch, because everyone's sleepy and they haven't made the day's deposits yet. Get lucky and maybe they didn't get yesterday's in, because Luther's just sloppy like that and doesn't think someone's been watching him from the parking lot of the Citgo across the street all day. You do it unarmed but holding a knife. Remember: guns make 'em run, but knives take lives.
Q: What do you think the big challenge for the defense will be going up against Jameis Winston?
A: Same as every other game we play.
Q: And that is?
A: What defenses do.
Q: Doesn't Jameis Winston present a unique challenge?
A: I don't know. We haven't played him yet. Ask me afterwards.
Q: But you've watched tape of them.
A: How do you know what I'm watching?
A: You in my house? Watching what I do? You want to watch me? What kind of sick--
Q: That's not what this question is about.
A: Don't cut me off. You wanna come and watch me in my house you try it. I'll kill the first man who walks into my house.
Q: Coach, I don't think that's--
A: IT'S PAUL YOU CRAPSNACK POSSUMHUMPER. I'll pin him to the wall with a frog gig and skin him with a vegetable peeler. I'll roundhouse kick his dick until it spins like a compass and points him toward the wall I throw him through. Then I'll send the bastard a bill for the drywall. I will make you hurt if you're watching me in the privacy of my home even if it teaches you how to please a woman for the first time in your life.
Y'all got any other questions?
Q: About the Georgia game.
A: What game? That's in the past. The past is a lie your mind tells you to quiet death whispering into the mind's ear. Anything else?
Q: No, we're good, coach
A: I'll kill you all. Go Jackets.
FLORIDA OWES COLORADO STATE 7.5 MIL OF SOMETHING. HERE'S HOW TO PAY IT.
1. 12 guaranteed transfers of players who get arrested for bringing lit fireworks into a grocery store. "Surely that won't happen more than twice," you protest. Oh, son. It's Florida. We make bad decisions by the gross.
2. Florida will send someone to cut your lawn every week for the price of $20 a cut for the next 375,000 weeks…FOR FREE. (Don't worry, Ron Zook brings his own iced tea and won't ask to use your bathroom.)
3. The City of Waldo, and then $7 million US.
4. $7.5 million in Stittcoin, recognized as legal tender in the city of Golden, Colorado and on some corners of college football Twitter.
5. Whatever's in this box Ed Orgeron sent us last Christmas. It smells terrible and it is definitely alive.
6. "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee" by Rembrandt. Nobody's ever asked what Steve Spurrier did the offseason before he took the Florida job, because nobody wants to know.
7. A road game for Florida in Denver against Colorado State, west of the Mississippi and AHAAHAHAAHAHAAA NOPE--
8. Respect, because it's priceless.
9. Seven and a half Bun B clones, working on the basis of his "Million Dollar Mack Theory" of personal valuation from "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)".
10. $ 7.5 million, payable by check or wire transfer to Colorado State University. That'd probably be easiest and most effective, actually. We should probably just do that.
BRADY HOKE CAN'T STAND TO FLY
The Shutdown Fullcast returns for hiring season and championship week with:
As always, subscribe on iTunes under sports podcasts/football, download directly here, or listen in the Soundcloud widget below.
You're walking into a very good situation. Relatively. Here's what you'll need to know.
Hi. You're our new coach? Good. You've got some cool stuff to mess with around here.
Your roster, despite the record, is pretty good on paper. From 2012 forward, Florida had top-10 recruiting classes stocked with the hyper-agile freaks the state is known for producing. These are mostly on the defensive side of the ball, but more on that in a bit. Just know that there's produce in the fridge, and your shopping list isn't as long as it might have been other places.
It's a good spot for talent shopping, by the way. The Gators can pull from a slew of great recruiting grounds in a talent-stuffed state, and thanks to brand, reach, and budget can often pull recruits from territories well beyond the usual haunts. You'll have to compete with Florida State and Miami for that talent, but that's part of the deal. By the way, you're starting off losing to Jimbo Fisher on that front, and losing badly. Might want to do something about it, like, yesterday.
There are plenty of other perks and niceties, too. It's an SEC job, so you'll be on TV all the time whether you like it or not. (Hell, you've got your own network with ESPN now.) There's money, something you already know. If there weren't, Florida couldn't have worked out your massive buyout at Colorado State.
There's an expectation of success, but that's a good thing. You wouldn't want to be anywhere where they didn't want to win, and thus didn't go to the trouble of paying you all that money you're about to earn. And you are about to earn that money, aren't you?
You're also walking into a real-life situation, meaning it's never as simple as it sounds. Your boosters? They want results now because the loudest and least satisfied wing of the Florida booster community happens to be the newest, youngest group, the ones who started writing checks after the 2006 and 2008 championships. They're not real patient and would have happily canned Will Muschamp after the 2013 season were it not for the intervention of the athletics director and old-money boosters. They won't be patient with you, either, or with the aging AD who hired you, Ron Zook, and Muschamp.
Oh, about that AD, Jeremy Foley. He's loyal if he likes you, so much so he got Muschamp a fourth year and probably could have kept him if Florida had beaten South Carolina. He may also have some -- suggestions about your staff. He definitely has an office very close to yours, and likes to pop into the film room from time to time. He's your boss, and you'll have to consider how to deal with him, too.
Those facilities, by the wy, are fine and recently upgraded. You'll hear people say how they're inferior, but that's not really the right word. They're adequate, but the recent flood of SEC TV money allowed for some truly palatial facilities to bloom in expected places like Alabama and less-anticipated spots like Starkville. Foley's not wrong. Florida's facilities are good. They are also not the airplane hangar-sized behemoths you see at Michigan, Oklahoma State, Florida State, or pretty much any other power-conference school on the planet or in the SEC. Again: someone recruiting against you will point this out, fair or not.*
*You getting these facilities might be even more remote a possibility after that large buyout goes onto the books, and that's before looking at the real estate available around campus.
There are attendance problems, meaning you'll have to win and be exciting. The school is one of two in the SEC to be a member of the AAU, along with Vanderbilt, so you'll have slightly higher academic strictures than you had at, say, Alabama [Correction:Mizzou and Texas A&M are also AAU member institutions. Blame ignorance and persistent refusal to remember they're in the SEC now for the error.]. The fans will hate it if you don't win by double digits, and you'll have to try to do that with LSU locked in as your permanent cross-divisional rival out of the SEC West.
Oh, and FSU is your out-of-conference rival every year, too. If you try to buffer any of that by scheduling cake-y FCS teams, everyone will justifiably leap down your throat for wasting home games on meaningless scrimmages-for-cash.Try to push your luck and schedule a few hard out-of-conference games, and your athletic director will object. If Florida is the king of anything besides the balanced budget, it's the blatant stuffing of schedules with teams like Eastern Kentucky. (The last time Florida went north? A game at Syracuse in 1991 that Florida lost, 38-21.)
And if you get through that schedule unscathed after somehow inventing a quarterback and an offense around that newly conjured quarterback, you'll still have to play a championship game against an SEC West team. That division's been better than the East for the better part of six years now. If that team is Alabama, you stand a good chance of being pasted to the ceiling of the Georgia Dome as an example for others.
That's if you get there. There's so much that could happen along the way: a long tradition of players being arrested for the misdemeanor-grade recreations of Alachua County, fans moaning about you not beating teams by 20 points, the large subsection of Gator fans who will never love you because you are not this former coach or that one -- it's all there, all the time. Gainesville is just small enough to invite all the intrusions of small-town life, and yet big enough as a program to bring the pressures of a professional team to bear on the shoulders of you, the wealthy-but-soon-to-be-miserable bastard who takes this paycheck.
The last three coach departures from Florida went, in order: got into an altercation with a fraternity and lost to Mississippi State; burnout/breakdown; and fired after ignominious loss at home to program legend.
It's an all-consuming, highly lucrative, and soul-destroying timesuck of a college football head coaching position. It'll come close to destroying your mind in exchange for a degree of success no one will ever be happy with, and all for just a few million a year after taxes.
And here's the funniest part: this is one of the best jobs around. Good luck.
NEXT STOP, CORN!
Where ya goin' Mike?Oh, Lincoln, Nebraska.How long's a ride like that, Coach? Oh, it's about 1600 miles and change, if you believe this GPS. How long would that take ya, Coach? Who knows, but as long as I'm there before signing day I should be good.
Where you gonna sleep, Coach Riley? Not gonna. When I get tired, I'll just think about how it'd be better if I keep going. Won't your body just shut down, Coach? Son, I've coached in Corvallis without breaking into tears every day. If that hasn't done it by now, then nothing ever will.
IN THE WORDS OF THE MEN WHO LIVED IT
Honestly, what the heck am I supposed to do? It’s not like he’s coming at me in the open field and I’m saying, "huh, what if I just torpedo myself into his groin?" Half his body’s above me and out of reach, and if, somehow, I decide in the split second I have to make this tackle to hit him in the thighs, there’s a good chance I miss altogether.
You gonna give me a trophy for that? We awarding All-American spots based on missed tackles due to genital consideration? Penis-dodging some sort of new Combine event I’m unaware of?
I’m taking on a blocker AND the ball carrier, and that means somebody else missed an assignment. Nobody mentions that part. It’s always about my helmet and his dick. And I’m sick of it. When you put on the pads in this conference, you know you’re gonna get hit. Might shred your knee. Might break a finger. Might get your testicles smushed. Nobody wants it to happen, but we accept that it’s the cost of doing business.
Oh, and my neck’s fine. Not that you asked, asshole.
News from the front indicates we may run the ball soon again. Lest I run out of time to send one last missive, I feel compelled to set these words down in haste, so that it might fly into your door and carry my words to your heart once more before the final tackle.
I have no doubts about the justness of our fight here. We owe a firm effort to those who played in these colors before us, and to those scamps, rapscallions, and soused simpaticos to the old school ties who watch the battle lovingly from afar. We shall earn our first ladle of water in months in the next quarter from our coaches. I feel it in my bones.
Sara, my love for you has no sideline, and no endzone. It follows no rulebook the world may flag. And yet my love of team keeps me here, between these chalk lines, bound to these men with the taut twine of brotherhood.
Know that the happiest days of my life, the breaths least wasted in worry, the caresses of your cheek upon mine--these, Sara, bid me home and away from this contested grasspatch with the pull of a holding lineman. If I should expire off tackle, or meet the eternal footman on a chop block, know this Sara: know that I shall find you in the gentle wave of the wildflowers across the prairie, or in the wave of the flags atop a stadium you know I so dearly loved.
P.S. The only thing I couldn't stand happening would be a death by helmet to the dick. I want this very clear: That is my worst fear, and has been since I was a child: death by my dick exploding via a fierce impact with a football helmet. ESPECIALLY if I was in mid-air. That'd be the worst. UGH. Just thinking about it makes my dick hurt. I gotta run a play now.
THE GUY WHIFFING ON HIS BLOCK, CAUGHT IN A LOOP OF HISTORY HE IS DOOMED TO EXPERIENCE FOREVER
I have run this play thousands upon thousands of times; I cannot remember running anything else. And I have tried everything to change the outcome; blocking from different angles, trying to distract the defender, committing flagrant penalties. In one instance, I even took off my own helmet and swung it at Daryl's dick myself, hoping that would change the course of events and prove that I was not prisoner to this destiny.
It changed nothing. And it'll change nothing tomorrow, which is today, which is also yesterday. I'm doomed to miss and hear Daryl get hit in the dick for all eternity. That awful sound; the tears; and then, walking back to the locker room, the thoughts coursing through my mind like ungrounded voltage through a drunk electrician. Always the same nightmare, and alwaaa--
OH SHIT CHICK-FIL-A POSTGAAAAAAAAAAME---
[This SEC championship trophy drama brought to you by the official chicken sandwich of the SEC Championship Game, Chick-Fil-A.]
GEORGE O'LEARY'S HAPPINESS IS THE WORLD'S LOSS
DAMMIT, ECU. You don't just go and give George O'Leary a reason to display his hideous grin in public like that.
WELL LOOK AT THAT. That's a Tomahawk Nation article on Jim McElwain being a promising thing for Florida, which we assume is a red herring meant to distract us from the continued collapse of the program. If so? WE'RE BITING THAT HOOK TILL IT LODGES IN OUR NOSE, BUD.
C.O.P.S. TUSCALOOSA: Godfrey followed the cops who make the Iron Bowl something less than a sustained public riot for the weekend of the game. This is a sample:
A college-aged male in khaki shorts and a crimson polo hops into the median and begins what can best be described as a shuffling, leaning rendition of an Irish jig.
"GET OUT OF THE STREET!" a TPD officer yells.
"CAN I GET A ROLL TIDE?! I NEED A ROLL TIDE!" the kid yells back.
"ROLL FUCKING TIDE!" a driver in the opposite lane screams.
"FUCK AUBURN FOR FUCKING EVER!" a voice across the street replies
"GET OUT OF THE STREET, OR YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL," the officer yells.
An elderly man also tries to fight the police. It's real fun.
MIKE RILEY IS A 61 YEAR OLD MOUSE WHO CANNOT STOP STACKING CHEESE. People freaked out for a lot of reasons when Mike Riley was hired at Nebraska yesterday, but one was this: Riley's contract at Oregon State extended until his retirement, basically, something very few people would just throw aside on a whim. Nebraska solved that problem by offering him a contract through 2020, and also by paying him $2.7 million a year.
MIKE RILEY'S FIRST BIT OF BUSINESS: The important issue of resolving the conflict between Nebraska football players and local raccoons.
CHAMPIONSHIPNESS THINGS: If Mizzou's gonna do it, here's how they beat Alabama. They're probably not beating Alabama, because life denies us the most hilarious things possible.
ETC: Just go watch the Christopher Walken clips.
The selection committee didn't do a perfect job, nor did it do anything bold. Everything worked out in the end.
1. Maybe the road to TCU and Baylor getting snubbed from the first College Football Playoff started well before last week's power poll. Maybe it started on June 10th, 2010, when the Pac-10 announced the addition of Colorado as a member institution. (The Buffs bailed out just a day before Nebraska followed suit and announced their move to the Big Ten on June 11th.)
Maybe it began even earlier, when Texas decided to spin the lesser planets of their solar system around however it pleased, handing out less money from conference contracts to smaller schools before completing the insult by starting its own network.
Whatever the starting point, the Big 12's demise in the Playoff started long before TCU fell from No. 3 to No. 6 in the committee's final rankings. It began with a fractious and fractured conference deciding to survive without a conference championship game, gambling on the schedule to do the work for them.
It might have worked if the committee hadn't done what people inevitably do at the end of the season: give the present too much weight and overload a single weekend with too much rhetorical significance.
2. The committee overloaded championship weekend.
Remember that, per its own statements, the committee could do whatever it wanted. It could make up a phantom stat like "game control;" it could drop and pull teams into and out of the top four as it liked; it could issue a week-to-week poll without considering previous positioning of teams. They were clear about this from the start.
So to say they were inconsistent at any point is to ignore the basic fiat system they were working with anyway. It's clear that having a championship game mattered, even if they didn't say it would. It would matter in the end because these are people, and they're susceptible to the appeal of more: one more game as evidence, even if it only takes the data set from 12 to 13. They have a weakness for recency, as in forgiving a team like Ohio State for losing a game to Virginia Tech back in the early stretches of the season, as long as that team went on an impressive late pillage through the rest of its schedule.
They made the same mistakes pollsters had been making for years, and struggled with the same issues pollsters never really worked out that well. They only made one better decision, and that was the refusal to be loyal to the previous week's poll altogether.
3. Most importantly, people -- especially when making decisions in groups -- will default toward the easiest choice in order to reach consensus. The easiest case anyone presented, oddly enough, was Florida State. It won every regular season game and finished with a championship game win. That's making things easy, even if you have to cringe while writing the Seminoles' name in with pen on the final bracket.
The committee leaned towards easy cases in the other three choices, too. Alabama finished with one road loss, but won out and finished with a conference title. Oregon lost to Arizona at home, but then cinched up the only hole in any argument against it by destroying Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship. Ohio State's loss to VT was disastrous, but the Buckeyes rebounded to make a formality out of the rest of their slate.
4. Ohio State also wisely won a conference title game. This is not a value judgment on the committee, but only pointing out the correlations between the teams who got in and their common attributes. All four ultimately made easy cases that leaned on being able to say they won more games, did so with greater recency, and got to display a shiny badge at the end of the season that says Conference Championship Game Winner.
You're dealing with a room full of people who love shiny administrative badges given out by bureaucratic organizations. They're not going to buy creative arguments. They're not going to display bravery. They're not going to make bold decisions based on advanced stats. They are going to make the easy choice 100 times out of 100 times, which is precisely what they did in choosing four Goliaths with conference titles and no more than one loss to play in the first playoff.
5. That said: there is a four-team tourney involving Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon, and it could be freaking incredible. Joey Bosa is going to get to try and tackle Derrick Henry as Urban Meyer and Nick Saban face off for the first time since 2010. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will play in the Rose Bowl as a play-in game on the same field where Florida State won its 2013 title.
There is no permutation of this arrangement that doesn't produce compelling matchups all around, with no obvious blowouts on the horizon. (No really: Ohio State presents some serious problems for Alabama, no matter what your persistent case of SEC Bias Influenza is telling you.)
6. The committee acted as a nearsighted, deeply unbold custodian that made a slew of mistakes in year one and fell prey to some of the weakest tendencies of groupthink. And yet despite every attempt to screw it up, they failed and made something pretty interesting.
THERE ARE A LOT OF HOT TAKES OUT THERE. LET'S NOT STUFF THEM INTO THE CONTENT MICROWAVE ALL AT ONCE.
How long did that take oh we were just kidding WAIT SHIT SOMEONE ALREADY DID IT--
Guhhh, just going ahead and blowing a prime fake storyline before we even get out of the shadow of championship weekend. You've got to pace yourself, dammit. There's almost a month until the game, and we're going to have to set this straight before we go poisoning any more quality mock-content wells.
Okay, let's just establish a few rules for how this is going to go from the start. We're not going to assume Saban has mindpowers capable of killing opposing coaches. If this were true he would have exploded Les Miles' heart three or four times over, something Miles has avoided because Saban has no superpowers. Or maybe he does, and Les Miles' obsession with "chest" and chestiness is all to develop a sufficiently thick sternum and pectoral casing capable of repelling Saban's avada kedavra skills.* Okay, maybe Nick Saban really did hit Urban Meyer with a dim mak strike. The scoreboard reads: Alabama 1, reason and logic -293889282777.
*Les Miles is like Link at the end of Zelda: he has fifteen hearts, and sometimes sets shrubs on fire because "there might be a staircase under there or something."
Second, let's try treating Ohio State like a team capable of winning football games. No really, try it, it makes this much more fun when, rather than pointing to the horizon and yelling "Bamaaaaa," you step back and start pointing at the sore spots in Alabama's otherwise bulletproof carapace. Devin Smith averages a swimming pool length every catch, and will be working against the Crimson Tide's corners, aka the matches that burn every time you strike them. Sure, Cardale Jones will have no idea what he's doing, but Stephen Garcia beat Bama once, so don't tell us experience and thinking does a whole lot against Nick Saban defenses. Just throw that shit up there, run a little bit, and hope the team with the better turnover margin wins. For the record, that would be Ohio State, not Alabama.
Third, you have over three weeks to chew the scenery over this game, so let's just give you the blueprint ahead of time for both sides.
For Alabama fans, there's the "Nick Saban gave Urban Meyer a baboon heart" theory, which is already spent. So you've got to go further now, and reach for the dim, backhanded compliments of "Ohio State's recruiting speed now" (like every football team besides Minnesota doesn't), or perhaps "You know, Ohio State really does do things like an SEC team would." A panicked respect is just going to help you get through this month, is what we're saying. If at any point you flag and get fatigued, just whisper "Utah and Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl" to yourself and you'll perk right back up.
For Ohio State, it's got to be about how Urban's done this the right way, preferably while subtly hinting at oversigning and roster manipulation by Alabama. It's got to be about how Urban might have learned the lessons of the SEC, but combined them with the virtues of the Big Ten.* Throw in a good debate about Big Ten Network revenues besting the SEC's, toss in a few barbs about the out-of-conference schedules of the SEC (ignore Alabama's robust scheduling in that department), and then finish by rightly poking at Alabama's difficulties defending spread offenses. That makes Alabama fans twice as mad because the spread's an affront not only to their defensive stats, but to Jesus. (Jesus ran the I-formation, and will judge those who use the zone read with great vengeance.)
*Whatever those are, outside of this. Which is fucking awesome.
OLE MISS IS TELLING YOUR SCHOOL TO GET BETTER VIDEO PEOPLE
WE MEAN, IT'S BEEN PRETTY SPECTACULAR. It's a hype video so the editing is everything, but to consider that all this happened in a single season of football at Ole Miss (Ole Miss! The schizophrenic cousin of the SEC!) is to start thinking about Hugh Freeze as something pretty unique in the history of the program.
Oh, and just skip to the last minute and see what they finish with as a last image.
GOOD PEOPLE JUST GET THEIR REWARDS IN THIS LIFE. If a longtime sportswriter is retracting his announcement that Lane Kiffin has won the Broyles Award for being the best assistant coach in college football, it can only mean that Lane Kiffin will win the Broyles Award when it is announced at 12:30 p.m. later today. Congratulations to Lane Kiffin on finding Amari Cooper on the field every other play.
A PLEASANT AND RELAXING START TO HIS CAREER. Jim McElwain, in one of his first major challenges at Florida, gets to try and salvage a recruiting class with exactly seven standing recruits. That's one less than they had at the start of the week as OL commit George Brown, Jr., he of the baby alligator announcement, announced he was going to LSU. WHEEE THIS IS ALREADY SO MUCH FUN.
RIP, ADORABLE BAPTIST BEAR. The only time it's really okay to use Family Guy in discussing anything. BTW, Big 12 coaches put an extension on that middle finger in the final coaches poll, though Jimbo Fisher doubled down on that by not putting Georgia in at all. (Which is totally justifiable for any school that lost to this year's Florida team.) Bret Bielema also shat upon Kansas State because evidently they don't sell the right flavor of Hamm's in Manhattan.
MONDAY WAS A QUIET DAY AT THE OFFICE. Willie Taggart using the Werewolf Escape Plan here: it's not whether you're faster than the werewolf, it's whether your friends are slower than you, and thus become its food before you do.
WAIT, DAMMIT, THIS ISN'T THE MEETING ROOM-- Kansas' new head coach David Beaty had their team first meeting in the weight room either to send a message, or because he was confused. Either one's possible, and now we'll wonder why Kansas had to hire the non-weird Air Raid guy. (DON'T HIRE THE NON-WEIRD AIR RAID GUY, EVER.)
TONY SANCHEZ TAKES THE UNLV JOB. The really interesting part in UNLV hiring a legendary local high school coach is finding out that UFC's owners are prominent boosters there. Sadly, the dream of Houston Nutt, coach by day and croupier by night, is now dead.
ETC: Sure, we'll attend a church if the wings are free. Did you know they used to kidnap people in the VT/VMI rivalry? From time to time we will link Boring As Heck's Banksy notebook because it is one of the greatest things ever put on the internet. Brian Cox does not give a fuck about anything or anyone.
ALL HAIL DOROTHY ZBORNAK, THE ORIGINAL NICK SABAN
Mississippi State will meet Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, which is in Miami, and which once had a show called Miami Vice set in it. You should know this about Miami Vice: it was the first show to eschew dialogue and character development, and instead substitute long, sexy shots of fast cars roaring down empty highways late at night along with many scenes of the two protagonists brooding in expensive clothing. In other words, it fixed what had been boring about scripted drama for years. You're welcome. Love, Michael Mann.
For some reason, Miss State opted for a show about drugs, violence, and sex, but when you think about it Miami Vice really is the safest, least disturbing option for a promo parody for your bowl appearance. Nip/Tuck and Dexter got too terrifying to consider, Burn Notice and CSI: Miami were too dumb even for an SEC school to consider palatable fare, and Empty Nest was too obscure. I see you Silk Stalkings, but there were mountains in the background so we know you followed the tax credits and lower production costs and shot that shit in Vancouver without thinking we'd notice.
What about Golden Girls? That's the most obvious one of all to refute, since no one on the entire Mississippi State football team or staff has half the hard-bitten charisma to pull off even a half-assed version of Dorothy Zbornak, the Nick Saban of retirement heroes. Respect for understanding that from the start, Mississippi State.
CBS' beloved voice of college football, college basketball, and golf mostly just misses calling Olympic figure skating.
Spencer Hall: You've never seen an ending like the 2013 Iron Bowl, right?
Verne Lundquist: No. Laettner, perhaps, but that was at the end of a very interesting, fascinating basketball game that lasted two and a half hours.
When I talk about the coming together of the instances in that fourth quarter [in Alabama-Auburn]?
First of all, it was 21-21 at the end of three, and AJ McCarron hits a 99-yard touchdown pass to break the tie. If you think back about that game, in my mind, you really had to remember what happened. Sammie Coates catches a touchdown pass with 37 seconds left to tie it again at 28, and then we all remember thefinish: the craziness of whether Yeldon did or did not get out of bounds with one second left or not, and the time it took for the replay official to determine if there was one second to put back on the clock in the first place. More than anything, Nick [Saban]'s decisions, because he was disgusted with his senior field goal kicker to put a redshirt freshman from Poland out on the field to try a 56-yard field goal. The kid hit it pretty well.
I think all those things that preceded the actual return by Chris Davis make it extremely unlikely that we'll ever have a finish like that again.
SH: People forget that the distance between you and the audience is pretty small in reality. In the case of something like the Iron Bowl, you have to get out in a crowd control situation where there's a lot going on, and it's not all totally controlled, right?
VL: I think that's fair to say. We don't have police security, but we have young men and a young woman who are employed by CBS. They meet us in the booth after a game. Gary [Danielson, Lundquist's football partner] has to do a postgame hit for CBSSports.com, I'm out first with my wife, Nancy, and with my spotter and statistician. We go down in the elevator, and they walk us to where our cars are. It's a precaution, because people can get a little crazy. Some people even poison 100-year-old oak trees down there.
SH: I mean, what's a human at that point, right?
VL: Exactly. It's a crazy scene.
SH: I wanted to ask about a spot earlier this year when Kenyan Drake was injured on the field during the Alabama-Ole Miss game. Social media got a very clear and disturbing close-up of the injury, but on-air, no one seemed to notice it immediately. What I thought had happened was that you and Gary didn't have a clear shot at it, because you're looking at the field, right?
VL: I was. I had no idea of the severity of the injury. Once the play starts, my view is on the field and very seldom just off the monitor, unless they're in goal-line situations. Then it's much more prudent for me to do it off the monitor, because I can see it so much better. I was watching the field, and I believe Gary was, too. It wasn't until we saw the replay that we realized the severity of the injury.
SH: I don't think most people realize that both of you are just watching the field to process things, and not the monitor. Like Gary, he's just picking out what he sees -- formations, plays, and tendencies -- live from the field view.
VL: And that's why he does it as well as he does. I'm jumping off topic here, but a shout out to Gary on that. I think he does that as well as anybody in the business.
SH: That first five seconds of Gary Danielson can be disturbingly accurate.
VL: I try not to gloat about him on the air, because he can handle that himself. But I do think he's brilliant at his understanding of tendencies, if that makes any sense. That's a product of years of playing and more significantly his ability to forecast plays is a product of a lot of film study during the week and his basic understanding of what might work in a circumstance.
SH: Most people don't realize you're not a Vernon, but are a Merton Laverne.
VL: Thank you very much. There's a story there. I was Merton Laverne Lundquist, Jr. I still am. My dad went by Merton. I went by Laverne all the way through college. To this day, I'll have people call my home in Steamboat Springs, and if they ask, "Is Laverne there?" I'll know it's a high school friend or colleague. My mother called me Laverne til the day she passed away.
There's a story as to how the name change came about. I don't know if you're old enough to remember Johnny Cash and "A Boy Named Sue," but I was a boy named Laverne. That led to certain brushes in the hallway with folks in high school. I got teased about it a lot.
My first full-time job in radio was at WOC in Davenport, Iowa, in the fall of 1962 and spring of '63, while I spent one year of school in the Lutheran School of Theology in Rock Island, Ill. This was a year after I graduated. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life, and my dad was a Lutheran minister.
So I applied for a job just to help myself get through school and pay some bills, and the program director was named Bob Gifford. He called me in his office and said, "I'd like for you to do the radio show from 9 to midnight, and you can be the disk jockey, but listen there's no way I'm putting you on the air as 'Laverne.'
He had some stage name he wanted me to use, and I was proud of my family and didn't want to embarrass my mother and dad, and so we compromised. I did not accept his stage name offer, which by the way was "Jerry Lund," and the compromise was I compromise the "La-" off my name.
SH: That's 1963. When do you end up in Dallas?
VL: Well, I did spend one year in theological school. I have six hours of Greek, which has not been particularly helpful in my career. I got a summer job after that one year at WOC down in my hometown of Austin at KTVC AM/FM/TV, owned by President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson. I was there for three years as the sports director, went to San Antonio and did news for one year. I just took a break, and realized how much I missed actually being involved in sports, and got lucky. I got a job at WFAA in Dallas in September of 1967, and that was the third time I'd applied for that job. I'd been turned down twice, but got it the third time.
SH: One other little known fact: in that span of time, you were also the announcer for the Dallas edition of Bowling for Dollars.
VL: Thanks for bringing that up. [he laughs]
SH: Was this one of those things where the boss said, "By the way, we don't have anyone to do Bowling for Dollars, so ..."
VL: Well, here's how it happened. They came to me and said there's this franchise quasi-sports game show that's been a big hit in access time around the country. It's called Bowling for Dollars, and it's on in New York, in Chicago, in Boston, in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles.
Access time was a big emphasis in the '70s. The FCC wanted original programming back then in that slot. It was produced by a company in Baltimore named Claster Productions. They had two franchises: Bowling for Dollars and Romper Room.
I told them I wasn't doing this. They gave me the number of a rather prominent sportscaster named Chick Hearn, who hosted the show.
SH: The Lakers longtime announcer, right?
VL: Yes. They said, "He's expecting your call." So I called him, and he said, "We tape every Monday, and we tape six half-hour shows so that each week, we can take a week off. It airs Monday through Friday in L.A. at 5." I asked him how does it do, and he said, "Oh my gosh, we kill Huntley/Brinkley. We destroy Cronkite. We obliterate whatever ABC puts up against us."
SH: You're telling me that some of the most important newscasts of the past century were all blown away in the ratings by Bowling for Dollars?
VL: Yes. I pumped myself up a little bit and asked Chick, "You're the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers. Do you worry about your dignity and reputation in being the host of a bowling show?" And he got real sarcastic and said, "Son, you need to understand something. Everybody who watches this show has no idea that I do the Los Angeles Lakers."
SH: Did you guys kill the competition in ratings in Dallas, too?
VL: Oh my God, yeah. I didn't like doing it. I was embarrassed by it. But now, honest to God, it's been 39 years and every month, maybe once a week, I'll be in a public place like a grocery store or an airport, and if there's someone from Dallas they'll say, "I grew up watching you in Dallas." And I know what comes next, every time: "I grew up watching you on Bowling For Dollars. It's been 40 years."
SH: I'd like to shift gears.
SH: You're known for brevity. The primary influence you've cited on that has been Ray Scott, the old Green Bay Packers announcer who was very concise in his calls. Is that something you still consciously think about, or is that just a reflex at this point? And if you have a call, is it a matter of forethought, or do you just make it up as it comes to you?
VL: I try to say less. I think football lends itself to saying less, though not quite like golf. I think that's where you should really practice the art of the layout. Basketball is a little more difficult because the action is so continuous. Ray Scott was a great influence on me when I was very young in this business. I was lucky enough to know him quite well. He and his wife Bonnie actually visited us in Steamboat six months before he died. He was a role model for me.
I think Pat Summerall was the greatest counter-puncher that we ever had in this sport. I couldn't pay him a bigger compliment. He saw his role, especially with Madden, as a setup guy. That's how I see my presence in a broadcast booth.
I don't take stances very often, because I feel that's the role of the analyst. A lot of people disagree with me on that: "Why don't you weigh in?" etc. I just don't see that as my role. The other part of it is that I don't think I've ever made a call that made its mark pre-scripted. I know I never have. Any comment that I've made during a broadcast has been spontaneous.
SH: You say that you rarely take stances, but the time I wanted to ask about was the 2009 call in the LSU-Ole Miss game. Facing something like fourth-and-26, Jordan Jefferson throws the ball close to the goal line in a situation where they end up with no time outs and needing a field goal with the clock showing 1 second. Your call on this was: "What are they doing?!??"
That's all just reaction, right?
VL: Absolutely. I can remember one other circumstance similar to that, in Auburn-Georgia early in my years in the SEC. Mark Richt forgot he didn't have any timeouts left, and he signaled from the sideline in a goal-line situation for David Greene to kill the clock. I just reacted like people at home did, which was to say "Inexplicable."
SH: You are a classical music fan.
VL: I have some on right now. I'm sitting at the computer, and if I'm home during the day, I have on either Colorado Public Radio out of Denver, or Minnesota Public Radio out of Minneapolis. It's a big part of our lives, Nancy's and mine. She was a voice major at the University of Texas. I got to do the commencement speech at my alma mater in May of 2014, and I told them that of all the courses I took there, the most life-altering for me was my involvement in the college choir. That has given me more benefit than any specific course I took while I was there.
I'm not strictly a classical person. I sang in a rock 'n' roll band when I was in high school.
VL: See, I'm peeling back the onion for you.
SH: What was the name of the band?
VL: We weren't really a band, we were a quartet, and we sang folk music and rock 'n' roll. We were called The Flat Tops.
SH: What part did you sing?
VL: I was a doo-wah guy. We had four of us, and we had a manager. We used to sing at what we called teen canteens, Friday night sock-hops and that kind of stuff. We had one guy who could really carry a tune. The rest of us were backups. We were nowhere near as good as other groups back then, but we had this one guy who could really carry a tune, and the rest of us sang, "Dooo-waaah, dooo-wahhh." I was the background guy.
SH: The background guy still gets a boat if they hit it big.
VL: Oh yeah.
SH: Did you ever have a coach or a player have a problem with something you said in the booth?
VL: I've had a general manager get mad at me. What I'm thinking about were the 16 years I did the Dallas Cowboys radio broadcast. Tom Landry never, ever said a word to me. Never, in terms of being critical of what I did. Tex Schramm, though, took issue with many things I said. He was like a godfather to me. He was responsible for giving me the chance at my first play-by-play job at a football game. He told me many times, "I will never, ever argue with you if you are issuing an opinion. But if you're wrong on your facts, I'm gonna come after you." I was wrong on my facts enough that he came after me. We always got through it, and I loved him dearly. He's the one with whom I'd engage with some emotion.
I was in a room when Andre Waters and Dan Fouts got into it. That was about Dan, not me, though.
SH: You're not getting in between those two.
VL: No, no, no. I became an observer at that point.
SH: This isn't the first time you thought about ducking under a table, though, because you were next to me when a tornado hit the Georgia Dome in 2008 during the SEC basketball tournament.
VL: I never pass by downtown where I don't recall that night. A guy had just canned a three to send the game to overtime. Then we heard the train, and it does sound like a train. Do you remember the Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury took his child, grabbed him, and took his team off the court? Did you stay inside or outside?
SH: I was inside for a bit, but then rolled out to take pictures outside.
VL: They told us to stay where we were, so Raft [Bill Raftery, Lundquist's basketball partner] and I stayed on the court for an hour. Our producer and director went outside to see if the production truck was OK. It was, but the producer's rental car had a concrete beam fall on it and completely destroyed it. We took a golf cart to the Ritz Carlton and drove through a lot of the damage. When we got back, around 2:30 a.m., we had to take the stairs because they wouldn't let us use the elevators.
SH: Most everyone dove under tables. I wasn't smart enough to do that. You did the Olympics three times, doing figure skating almost exclusively.
VL: Yup. When we found out we were going to be able to do the Olympics it was a highlight for me. This was back in 1988, and I grew up admiring Jim McKay so much not only for the Wide World of Sports, but also for his genuine warmth as a host. So one of the things I always wanted to do was the Olympic Games, both summer and winter. It was my good fortune to do three in the winter.
When we got the call, I thought for sure they were going to tell me I was going to do the alpine events. I live in a ski resort year round, and Billy Kidd was our alpine expert, and he taught me to ski. I naturally thought I was going to go to Albertville and do skiing with him.
They said no, we're gonna put you on figure skating. And my initial reaction was, "Really?" Nancy was the one who said no, you're gonna love it because of the music, and because of your love of athletic competition. Scott Hamilton and I were partners.
SH: Is he as infectious in person?
VL: Absolutely. When I was lucky enough to be inducted into the Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame in '07, I had Scott present me. He flew from Los Angeles all the way to Charlotte at his own expense and presented me. By the way, when it came time for the introduction, he introduced me as Merton Laverne Lundquist, Jr. That's not totally been forgiven.
We hit it off right away. He's gone through some life-altering moments -- he's had two bouts with cancer, he married relatively late in life to a gorgeous and charming woman, and they are the parents to two lovely little boys. They live outside Nashville. He's one of my favorite people I've ever come across.
It's not only his infectious personality when he's doing an event, but it's his intelligence and his passion for his sport. He's sometimes the conscience of a sport that can't find its way, and I admire him for it.
When we did our first one in Albertville in '92, he was the first analyst for that sport since Dick Button in 1960. The two guys that preceded me were Al Michaels and Jim McKay. We had pretty lofty standards that we had to reach.
Scott knew his sport inside and out, but I didn't. I knew there were six jumps, but I couldn't tell you the difference between any of them. We worked this all out. We'd go to practice, and they give you what you call a jump sheet, and I'd have some sense of what was coming in the next four minutes or so. But just to make sure I didn't blunder my way into an egregious mistake, when something significant was about to take place, Scott would very quietly put his left hand on my right forearm. And I knew that meant, "Just shut up." And I did, and let him carry it through to the completion of that part of the skate.
And of course we were involved in the Tonya and Nancy thing in 1994. Which was the world's worst cartoon, or the most memorable Olympics, depending on which side you look at it from.
SH: You did three of these, and the one I remember most was Lillehammer, because it seemed like the only place that went completely and 100 percent bonkers for the event itself. I remember mad crowds, Bjørn Dæhlie, and everything just seeming so completely committed. Was it really that different if you were there?
VL: Absolutely it did. I think it was the best-hosted Olympics, and everything the Norwegian committee did seemed to hit the right notes. They were magnificent hosts, they were well-prepared, organized, and passionate about everything.
A quick example: Our guys, we were programming for prime-time. Now we, being the Americans, got off to a great start. There was Picabo Street and Tommy Moe, and we did great in the alpine events. We had the background of the Tonya and Nancy event, which built up every day.
But there was one event on what our guys called "Black Thursday," which was the 4x100 cross-country men's relay. Our people argued, without success, that the committee had to give us something other than cross-country. We could not put cross-country on prime-time in North America. They said no, it's our national sport, and this would be like your Super Bowl. It will be the prime event, and it will be one of the only events that day.
Well, God love our guys, they finally got with it. If that's the case, and we got no hockey and no figure skating and no alpine events, let's do this in a big-time fashion. And they did. Al Trautwig, I thought, was terrific as a commentator. We had Greg Gumbel hosting, Andrea Joyce reporting, and multiple cameras all on an event that gets very little coverage in this country. We drew a 25.6 rating that night.
SH: I remember doing this. It was pre-Internet, so you couldn't tell everyone on Twitter or Facebook, "Hey, go watch this." We called each other that night and said, "No, you have to go watch this." I think people forget that sometimes all people want is drama, even if it's cross-country skiing. They'll watch it.
VL: I so agree with that. I'm half-Norwegian, so I loved to see the whole thing. This is 40 kilometers, and four guys, and Bjørn Dæhlie is the anchor leg for Norway, and this Italian -- I think his name was Silvio Fauner -- edged him at the finish line by less than four inches at the tip of his ski. The next morning, the country was in shock because they were overwhelmingly favored to win. We had this young Norwegian who was driving us. I got into the car and said to the young man, "You must be heartbroken with the way the relay finished." He looked at me and said, "Yes, but didn't the Italians ski well?" I thought "Wow, you've never been to a bar in the Bronx."
I get asked a lot, "Is there anything you wished you could have done?" Not really. It's all about luck, and about what rights the company has. I'll never do a Super Bowl, but I'm fine with that. I'll probably never do a Final Four championship game, but I've done 31 tournaments in March Madness in a row. Augusta? How could I top what I've done there?
What surprises people, though? If I have to give one event to do again, I would choose doing figure skating at the Winter Olympics with Scott Hamilton. That's the one time I would go back and revisit it. That's the one event I'd do.
SH: Have you had everything on the menu at the Masters?
VL: Oh listen, that's the tradition unlike any other. If I don't have my two egg salad sandwiches before I climb into the tower at 16, something has gone amiss.
"No one has made any contact with anyone, even third parties, in this coaching search."
We talked with them directly after some initial contact with their agent.
"I'm very happy where I am, and look forward to building [PROGRAM X] for the future."
My defensive assistants all just got new pools because I just got them all raises.
"We are looking for someone with NFL experience."
We have no idea what we are doing, and have given up completely.
"We are very excited to welcome Coach Smith."
Coach Smith was our fourth choice.
"When someone said we needed a new coach, the first name I thought of was Coach Smith."
Coach Smith was definitely our fourth choice.
"I won't speculate about jobs elsewhere. I'm focused on getting this team ready for the bowl game."
The Athletic Director's going to give me a raise in three days.
"There's no truth to the rumor we have a frontrunner."
Our frontrunner is currently in negotiations and we're running to our boosters to get more money. His ex-wife has an incredible attorney.
"That's completely unfounded."
Dammit, is Barry running his mouth at the gym again? Fucking Barry. Just do your useless 20 minutes on the elliptical and go home.
"I have no comment on that or any other rumor."
What you said is basically accurate and I am going to fire my entire blabbing-ass staff immediately after this press conference.
"We're looking for someone who's going to represent the university well."
If we don't make a conference championship in the next four years, I will be drawn and quartered. It'll probably be sponsored.
"This is a special job for a special person."
You are competing against the ghost of your forebears and will be fired in three years.
"I'm confident he's the man to take this program to the next level."
Look, I know I said that about the last guy. All I'm doing here is guessing. Hiring a coach is just like playing a scratch-off game, except you act like you won no matter what.
"We know fans are impatient, but letting the process play out and picking the right person for our program no matter the timeline is the most important thing for this program."
We are going to end up hiring Houston Nutt.
THE HAT HOLDS OUT HIS HANDS TO SHOW YOU HOW WIDE HIS MONEY IS
USA Today has done a head coaches database for a while now, but the assistants one is where the real candy is. For instance: did you know that Chuck Amato is not only alive, but also likely makes more money than you as an assistant at Akron? He's pulling down $199K in a place with a cost of living of practically zero; assume his house is swamped in sunglasses, red shoes, and freshly spent chest expanders.
Gary Andersen is just stepping out for...something. He definitely forgot something, and needs to go get it. In Corvallis, Oregon. No, no, don't call. He'll be back but he'll be driving and you know how dangerous distracted driving can be.
LO, CHILDREN, LISTEN TO THE TALE OF WISCONSIN'S LEGENDARY BARRY FAIRY
On the fifteenth episode of season two of the Shutdown Fullcast, we discuss:
As always, subscribe on iTunes under Podcasts/Sports, download directly here, or listen in the Soundcloud player below.
PITT SHOULD HIRE SOMEONE THEY LIKE, LIKE DAVE WANNSTEDT
HAIL TO PITT. Thirty percent of all men in Pittsburgh look like this.
Pitt used to have a football coach that looked like that, too. He was perfect and had a mustache and was nine feet tall and had not changed his hairstyle since 1987. And after he won nine games a lot, they fired him and hired Todd Graham, and then Pitt fell into a trough not even three steady years of Paul Chryst could undo. And now, they're gonna need a new head coach because Wisconsin is reported to be bringing Chryst home, and remember that when bad things happen in college football everything flows down the drains and into Pitt's kitchen.
HE'S BORING FOR A PURPOSE. Marcus Mariota, who will probably win the Heisman Trophy this year, isn't necessarily the most compelling personality for profiles due to him having a resting pulse rate somewhere in the low 30s.
Then, in a spectacular setting -- Helfrich remembers Diamondhead glowing the background, blue skies and balmy weather -- he watched Mariota throw. It took approximately five minutes for him to call head coach Chip Kelly with an assessment. "
This guy’s unbelievable!" Helfrich said.
"Offer him," Kelly replied.
"Shortest evaluation conversation of all time," Helfrich says now.
We're guessing Chip Kelly has never spent longer than fifteen minutes shopping for anything, ever.
IT'S A SPORT FOR AMATEURS. The ratings for college football this year were higher than they have ever been before for ESPN, which is important because live sports are the only thing people watch on TV anymore, and also because we don't take that money and share it with the people who make it in the first place. The fun fact not in that report: in year one, per internal numbers, the SEC Network is the third most-watched network in the entire ESPN family.
SPEAKING OF THAT. Ooh, look! TV's about to die, too.
WHEN SOMEONE HAS A BETTER PLAN JUST DON'T MAKE ONE AT ALL. The only way anyone besides Auburn has beaten Alabama is by throwing on them and busting out no fewer than five or six total garbageball backyard football plays against them, so Ohio State should just let Cardale Jones diagram button hooks on his palms when the Buckeyes face Alabama. At least that's as good a plan as anyone besides Gus Malzahn's had, at least.
YOU HAVE THE TIME YOU HAVE. And what you do with it matters, even in something as silly as football. Go Bucks.
ETC: WE ARE ALL GOING TO THIS PARTY.
FIRE ONE UP FOR VICTORY, BADGERS
The rumors are all the same: that Paul Chryst, former Wisconsin offensive coordinator and current Pitt head coach, will jilt the Panthers and return home to his alma mater. And when you have the man who turned John Stocco into the starting quarterback for the Rhinos Milanos on speed dial, who are we to say you're not ready for the coaching search, Barry Alvarez?
The answer is: we're the internet, and our first move is this: you've already done something wrong, and we're about to yell at you about it.
That something wrong would be not going outside the proverbial box of your experience, Wisconsin, and reaching for the greatest manager/coach/sensei figure in all of sports currently NOT coaching football. He's a Big Ten man from Perrysburg, Ohio. He understands how to take a locker room from ashy to classy, or at least from ashy to classy and also kind of ashy. He has a championship since 1997, and is thus a better candidate than any Big Ten coach not named Jim Tressel. He's proven, he's experienced, and most importantly, he's available immediately.
So he hasn't coached college football before. Did vast college experience help Charlie Weis do anything, ever? He smokes, sure, but in a state like Wisconsin that can only help with recruiting. He doesn't have a college degree, something required by most universities in the job description, unless you count "College of Life, Minor League Bus Division Whereupon I Lived In The Same Two Jock Straps For Two Decades" counts. That institution has just as much academic integrity as Florida State University; it should be recognized accordingly.
The advantages are endless. Facing no-huddle offenses? Slow them down when Leyland walks onto the field to talk to his middle linebacker for minute at a time. You won't give him a delay of game penalty. No one without a gun would, and only SEC officials carry firearms onto the field. (Pac-12 officials carry taxidermed chickens they call "Baffo-Rays." No one is sure why, but they insist on their total importance.)
You want strategy? Baseball is literally the most complex game on the planet, per baseball fans, so managing eleven different variables on every single play should be child's play compared to [WHATEVER THE HELL A BASEBALL MANAGER DOES.] Player development? Jim Leyland got Bobby Bonilla paid twice. TWICE.
And he'll recruit the hell out of Florida. He and Urban Meyer both have a ring, but can Urban show you how to hide a body in a bus station so it won't be found for weeks? No, because that's something you only learn managing in the minor leagues.
Most importantly: Jim Leyland cannot die, and so money is meaningless to him. He does this only to pass the time as friends and lovers around him shuffle off this mortal coil. Jim Leyland was born a Visigoth warrior known as "Jim the Skull-Drinker." He hit .313 for the Visigoths before deciding to hang up his siege bat.
THE ANSWER AS OF THIS MOMENT IS:
No, Michigan doesn't have a head coach right now.