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    MICHIGAN HAS A GIF AND THAT'S A START

    DOES MICHIGAN HAVE A COACH? No. But they do have this aspirational and inspirational GIF.

    HarbaughComin

    So you've got that, Michigan, and for now that'll have to be enough. (Because there's nothing else right now, save these denials of any interest or contact by both Les Miles and Dan Mullen.)

    WELL LOOK AT THAT, A HIRE.

    Finally, someone else to help McElwain on the recruiting trail to bring up Florida from what is currently the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the state. (What can we say other than that Florida Atlantic is just a really, really good football program.)

    Collins is also an artist, if you've forgotten.

    WE'RE A BALLERS NOW, FLORIDA. Feels so good to be back already.

    FURTHER SHUFFLING OF COACHING ASSETS TO COME. If and when Paul Chryst goes to Wisconsin from Pitt, he's expected to take a few assistants including his current defensive coordinator Matt House, who would go in "a different capacity" because it's assumed that lauded Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is someone you'd want to stay around. This means telling someone "You're good enough to be Pitt's defensive coordinator, but that's not like, a real thing or anything, and please just take this honorary title and pay raise to do something else. Please take this money I am trying to hand you."

    IN CASE YOU WEREN'T READY TO LET THE UAB ANGER GO. You can go read Vice Sports' interview of UAB players who now, in their own words ,play football for "the biggest JuCo in the world" right now.

    ESPN OFFICIALLY HATES EVERYONE. Thanks to Corn Nation, it's now a matter of science that ESPN hates your team.

    ETC: Gonna have to read this before the holidays, if only to get in the right frame of mind for family time. Typography is an art, and be careful which artists you choose to do it.


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  • 12/16/14--07:53: Stuff I wrote in 2014
  • Because sometimes you forget what you did for the past 365 days

    I wrote the following stuff this year that I didn't totally hate.

    1. Consider the Villain, or 24 Hours at Florida State. I checked into the hotel for this game and no one was there for ten minutes or so: no one, like, no one in the whole building, or outside, or visible in the parking lot. There was an abandoned restaurant with rotting cypress panels on the left, and nothing to the right but live oaks, and just a TV playing a screensaver of waves rolling beneath a computer moon, and I really thought "Shit, I finally did it. I finally ended up in a video game about an abandoned world I have to decode through elaborate puzzle work." Then the clerk showed up, checked me in, and unsolicited told me that a reporter from the New York Times was staying there, too. I've never been to a town where I felt less at ease the entire time, or more watched.
    2. Pantsform: Jim Harbaugh's pants, reviewed. They were, as it turned out, really bad pants.
    3. What it's like to die at the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl is just stunning and death-y and perfect, basically.
    4. Cross-country Skiing, or why you'll never be a secret Scandinavian.
    5. Flying the world's fastest plane: Behind the stick of the SR-71. Probably the most fun I had this year because at the end you're left with the conclusion that this man got to fly a plane indistinguishable from a god.
    6. Arian Foster hates Caillou, and you should, too. A cause I'm still pretty passionate about. Fuck Caillou.
    7. The Istanbul Derby. Dylan Lathrop did the illustrations for this, and they're better than any of the writing. It's a really superdramatic, self-serious thing to say "this thing haunts me." But yeah: Istanbul's haunting as hell, even if you never try to write about it or its soccer fans setting off fireworks on the subway.
    8. Mile High Baseball. For the record: I did not expense the weed.
    9. Derrick Brooks made it look easy. Mostly because I just really like writing about defensive players as skill players, and because Derrick Brooks is so damn cool.
    10. Outkast, at last. This was really just a shortcut excuse to write about "B.O.B.", which feels less like a song than a thesis on how to exist at this point.

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    HELLO JACKSONVILLE

    TURN UP JACKSONVILLE

    What doe this have to do with college football right now, you ask? Our hangover. That's how this has anything to do with college football, and the meetings we're sitting through today in lieu of dicking around on the internet all day. Also this provides us with a reminder that Georgia lost to Florida this year and lost very badly to a very bad team. They lost. The Bulldogs. In football. Aspirin.

    THE GAWD BO PELINI. The best way to exit a job is the Pelini way, forever, and make sure someone tapes it.

    WE MAY BE APPROACHING THE GRUDEN ENVELOPE. Michigan appears to be so overleveraged in the direction of Jim Harbaugh that we may be at that Gruden point of where he's a.) either really coming, and just ironing out the details, b.) isn't coming, and is just getting numbers out there to get a raise for his next NFL job, or c.) absurd and possibly delusional aspiration only made plausible because sometimes, yes, Nick Saban says he's not leaving the Dolphins and leaves the Dolphins anyway. Nothing is real, hope is a lie, and no one can disprove the existence of your Harbaugh-bearing bank fairies until they don't appear.

    DJ HUMPHRIES HAS NOT DECIDED, PER DJ HUMPHRIES

    Questionable source, IMHO.

    A STEP CLOSER TO FSU WINNING THE NATIONAL TITLE BY A FIELD GOAL AND TIPPED BALL CAUGHT FOR A FLUKE TD. This is just edging closer towards a bitter, bitter inevitability.

    ETC: Alexis Sanchez is an erotic angel and his thighs are the pride of Chile.


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    JIM HARBAUGH IS A REAL LIVE CRAZY PERSON

    WELL, HELL, TOMORROW THERE ARE BOWL GAMES AND WE WILL WATCH THEM. NO REALLY WE ARE DEEPLY UNPREPARED FOR ALL THE MEDIOCRE FOOTBALL WE WILL HAVE TO WATCH AND BILL C HAS A GUIDE OF SORTS BUT WE'RE GONNA TURN AROUND TOMORROW AND BE LIKE WHOA SLOW DOWN BOWL SEASON WE'RE NOT READY TO WATCH WEIRD TEAMS PLAY ON BLUE TURF JUST YET

    JIM HARBAUGH IS A CRAZY PERSON. Besides the photo of Harbaugh doing pushups with a walrus, this article does a good job of outlining why any job search with Jim Harbaugh is difficult: because he is a legitimate crazy person, and no one knows what he is going to do at any time.

    THE EXODUS BEGINS. Jake Ganus, UAB's leading tackler and eligible to transfer immediately, will end up in Athens in a rare reversal of the usual career trajectory of transfers between the states of Georgia and Alabama. Fuck the Board of Trustees of the state of Alabama for a lot of reasons, but especially for UAB. Oh, speaking of:

    COACH OF DEFUNCT PROGRAM RECOGNIZED FOR WINNING SO MANY GAMES IT KILLED THE PROGRAM. Bill Clark won the CUSA coach of the year for being just a little too successful at UAB.

    GOOD BULL HUNTING ARE THE FIRST PEOPLE TO EVER ASK PERMISSION TO GET INTO THE LIBERTY BOWL. They got a tour and everything.

    ETC: Chimp mom expression, worth every minute on the internet ever; Joe Jamail, the greatest living American attorney who uses the word "fuck" a lot.


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    The Rams safety tried to defend Odell Beckham, Jr., and now he must wander the earth forever.

    Mark Barron must lie on his back on the field, and hold a microwave burrito in his hands until it warms to a semi-edible consistency. Then, he's got to eat it in front of everyone while saying "You know, it's not that bad, really."

    Mark Barron should keep running the wrong direction and throw his helmet through the nearest wormhole he can find and see if it comes back from that parallel universe as a trucker hat that didn't just have its soul destroyed on a football field.

    Mark Barron has to go to his home village and sacrifice a water buffalo with a machete and split the meats among the households equally on the vernal equinox.

    Mark Barron has to go to Jared. When he gets there, he has to slap Jared as hard as he can. Fuck Jared.

    Mark Barron has to lay down in the middle of the field and start paying his bills like your grandmother does. He will bring out a card table with wobbly aluminum legs and a folding chair with a wheezy built-in cushion. He will take every bill and spread them out on the table and tab up the month on an old Texas Instruments calculator. No, not the kind you could play Snake on. Like, an old calculator. He will pay them all with checks, frowning and knitting his brow, and he will mail all of them with stamps. This will take about an hour. He may bring out a standard-def TV to watch Wheel of Fortune on the field while he does it, probably off a dangerously overloaded power strip.

    Mark Barron has to put everything he owns in a shopping cart and wander through a nuclear winter until he rediscovers the nature of struggle and existence.

    Mark Barron must give up his roster spot to Marc Maron, who plays zone coverage by pacing around the backfield and muttering, "what's wrong with me? Fuck!"

    Mark Barron's got to lay on that field until the stadium disintegrates and the earth around him erodes and he's left perched on a mountaintop like a tired condor.

    Mark Barron's got to roll off that field and into the tunnels under Dallas and ask for forgiveness from the giant cowboy worm that really rules the state of Texas. His name is Marty, and he saw that play even though worms don't have true compound eyes. A crime to the soul like that is felt by all creatures great and small.

    Mark Barron has to upload his face into NBA 2K15 and let Beno Udrih dunk on him every play for a whole game.

    Mark Barron has to spray paint his name on a snowy mountainside and then watch it slide away in an avalanche and think about what that all means.

    Mark Barron has to write his darkest secrets on a piece of paper and put that paper in a bottle and throw it in the Gulf of Mexico and when a nude and surprisingly hydrodynamic Jerry Jones surfaces with it clenched in his teeth like an otter with a fish he can't tell anyone about what happened.

    Mark Barron has to go on International House Hunters and refuse all three houses, not even the attractive 3/2 condo in Kowloon that would have been perfect for him in his family in their new life in Hong Kong. Like the wind or sorrow, he no longer has or understands the concept of home.

    Mark Barron has to find ODB's car in the parking lot. Then he has to pop the hood and pee into the engine block until his bladder is empty. Then he's gotta take out seven or eight large reverse mortgages in ODB's name. He's got to ruin Beckham's credit and pee in his car's engine to make this right. He has to.


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    OUR RECRUITING CLASS IS THIIIIIIIIIIS BIG

    It's so good to not be Michigan, because Michigan fans have another week until Jim Harbaugh is their coach or not. In the interim, Michigan fans will discover the miracles of time dilation, i.e. the principle governing all human experience that dictates that fun times will pass with the blip of the fast-forward button, and that unenjoyable, tedious experiences will take approximately fourteen times as long as normal ones.

    The current adjusted rate for Michigan time to regular time is now something like this:

    Michigan Time

    That's also a graph for the dollar against the ruble over the past year, which is an inaccurate comparison because it compares the unit of value for a volatile, once great empire against shit nevermind

    There's one good thing about having a coach, and that's having one. Then again, in the month of December there's also the downside of asking this: "What is he doing?" He's the coach at Florida, so he's...he's probably recruiting, right? That's probably what he's doing. He's probably out there recruiting. Maybe eating a turkey wrap in between stops. Coaches love turkey wraps. Predictable, steady execution with low fat and a definite calorie count. Maybe a cookie every day or two? Let the man have a cookie, he's got a hard job and a long way to---

    FloridaRecruiting

    --PUT THE FUCKING COOKIE DOWN MCELWAIN. THROW THE TURKEY WRAP INTO THE NEAREST DUMPSTER AND THEN GO GET IT AND WHILE YOU'RE AT IT GO GET OUR RECRUITING CLASS IS BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE WILL MUSCHAMP LEFT IT. HE LEFT IT IN A DUMPSTER BECAUSE HE THOUGHT IT WAS A BANK BECAUSE IN THE FLATCRAP CLETUS WORLD WHERE MUSCHAMP IS FROM EVERY IMPORTANT PUBLIC BUILDING LOOKS LIKE AND IS A DUMPSTER AND and

    Whoa, whoa hold on, it's just December 22nd. This isn't over yet. There's still plenty of time, and he's working hard, and this is just the usual insanity settling in early. No new coach has any real results until Signing Day, and even then you have to remember that he's just bought the groceries, and could still set the whole kitchen on fire while trying to make the meal. It's all so early, and inconclusive, and in McElwain's case coming from a point so far behind standing coaches.

    We mean, for comparison, just zoom out a little bit and look who's below Florida.

    MichiganFloridaRecruiting

    ON SECOND THOUGHT, CHRISTMAS IS CANCELLED AND ALL TURKEY WRAPS WITHELD UNTIL FUTURE NOTICE. ONLY 948 HOURS UNTIL NEXT MONDAY, MICHIGAN.


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  • 12/23/14--09:44: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 12/23/14
  • BRING US YOUR HARBAUGHS

    THE THIRST IS SO REAL

    The Michigan Twitter account is funny and cruel. We're inviting them to Christmas dinner, where we may also be celebrating Harbaugh's hire as Michigan's new coach. MGoBlog has been covering this like a hostage situation, which it sort of is, but one interesting note day-to-day: how NFL beat reporters have gone from being utterly certain Harbaugh was going to stay in the league to "Well there's like a 70% chance of this happening." We're fine with that, btw, because that's how developing situations work. They develop, change, and make everyone look stupid. (Even the people being hired.)

    EVERYTHING'S COMING UP MICHIGAN. Wolverine-torturer and professional menace-maker Pat Narduzzi, the defensive coordinator at Michigan State, is taking the interim head coaching position at Pitt. The interim is our addition, because Narduzzi will undoubtedly leave Pitt in the end just like everyone else does. Just call Pitt Angel of the Morning and touch their cheek before taking the next job, Pat. It's the tender, country music thing to do.

    BOBO. BOBO BOBO. BOBO! Mike Bobo will no longer be around to torch SEC defenses or take the brunt of the blame for Georgia's shortcomings, though UGA expats will probably show up in the stands in Fort Collins and yell "FIRE BOBO" just for old times' sake. Remember: your offensive coordinator is screwing it up, and always does.

    THE PLATINUM CHOICE OF THE BOWL SEASON THUS FAR. Bill C is not lying when he says that the Miami Beach Bowl was the greatest bowl game of all time (of the past week) and that's not just because it featured a truly horrendous postgame brawl that involved Memphis and BYU.  In addition to the brawl, a last-minute 4th down TD throw, and a game-saving 55 yard field goal that would have been good from Valdosta, the game led to some of the best shade you will ever see an official school website throw.

    JOIN THE MOVEMENT. EL TRACTORCITO ES EL NOMBRE MEJOR.

    ETC: Nah? Nah.


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    ONLY THE SPICIEST LATERALS MADE OUR HOLIDAY BRIGHT

    CLEARLY IT'S ALREADY THE BEST BOWL GAME EVER.

    Put your hand over your heart, indeed.

    ALL THE BOWL GAMES TODAY ARE AWFUL. You'll watch them, though. Even the one with the really bad cryptocurrency mascot.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS, HERE'S A NON-CRITICAL BULLET WOUND. Florida cornerback J.C. Jackson is fine after being grazed by a bullet in a shooting in his hometown of Immokalee over the holiday. Jackson was in a car with WVU receiver Jacky Marcellus when a man walked up to the car and just started firing, hitting Marcellus' brother Jackinson in the face and sending him to the hospital in critical condition.

    IF TELEVISING ANYTHING AND SELLING ADS AGAINST IT WORKS FOR MLB AS A BUSINESS MODEL, COLLEGE FOOTBALL SHOULD BE FINE. No one is showing up for games like the Bahamas Bowl, and it doesn't matter at all.

    RUN THE DAMN BALLLLL, NUSSSSS. Nussmeier over the years has been pretty good with decent talent, and very good with exceptional talent just like most people handed the keys to the Alabama blue chip nacho pile of excellence. It'll still be McElwain's offense at heart, though, and anyone expecting a carbon copy of Bama's 2012 offense will be sorely disappointed because coordinators never, ever stop being coordinators.

    ETC: The AJC can't stop doing amazing work. We will acquire this t-shirt immediately. Dad's already got the drone stuck to the dog.


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    TWO TEAMS, ONE PLAY, TWO TURNOVERS, ZAXBYS

    Bowl season is eating a bag of movie popcorn in reverse. You start with the unpopped greasy kernels at the top, and work down into the mantle layer of sorta-popped kernels, and then through the middling middle of semi-burnt and undersized grease-blossoms until you arrive at the fluffy, perfectly detonated angel's ears of popcorn perfection.

    What we're saying is that we'd like some movie popcorn. What we're saying is that the Championship Game, Rose, and Sugar Bowls will be delightful, and the substrata of the Peach Bowl and company will also be very tasty, and that right now you gotta eat this Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl to get to it. Then you're going to have to get through the Bitcoin Bowl tonight, and the Quick Lane Bowl before that, and eat this popcorn because it's all you're getting for a long time.

    P.S. That is the Louisiana Tech kicker falling down on the opening kickoff of the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, where Illinois has literally done everything football-wrong in the span of three quarters and yet still only trails by three points. Tim Beckman is a wizard you can pay in chicken fingers.*

    *THIS IS PROBABLY NOT A GOOD INDICATOR OF WIZARDING QUALITY IF YOU CAN PAY IN DEFROSTED BREADED POULTRY. ALSO THIS BOWL GAME JUST HAD TWO TURNOVERS ON ONE PLAY.**

    **We'll be doing open threads until Monday. God bless, and keep working your way down to the good layers of bowl season.


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    ALL HAIL PERCOCET

    WELL HELLO FROM PROMETHAZINE LAND. If the Percocet don't get you, the anti-nausea meds will, and that is not an exaggeration. Writing on painkillers and promethazine feels like every DJ Screw tape, which in translation equals "totally fucking fantastic." We encourage it if you happen to be laid up on the couch with a face full of holes where teeth once stood.

    Oh and look, a New Year's Eve surprise visit from the coaching staff fairy:

    Yay! That's almost as good as these instant mashed potatoes, which really are about as good as the real thing when you stuff them full of garlic, butter, and salt. That's really true of any food, but this is about the food you have for your gummed-up, gauze-leaking face hole like the one we have at the moment. Shuttle foods are the best, especially when you're committed to a gummy, no-chew diet for a few days.

    Anyway, this is how we're doing the bowls for a bit, barring serious diversions into actual point-by-point content. Relax, ignore your calls, and just hang out in the comment section waiting for a football player to slap another in the balls. The first up is the Peach Bowl, restored to its original nominal greatness, and featuring several things you'll want to see:

    • Dr. Bo's last unlicensed operation
    • TCU playing a team that can play defense
    • Ole Miss playing at all, a forever unpredictable thing
    • TCU's offense, which got "real as shit" this offseason
    • The sideline preening and huffing of one Gary Patterson, Ryan's real biological father

    All that happening in one game AND this ice cream in our bowl? Happy New Year's Eve to us, and we suppose to you, too.


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    PLAY THEM ALL AT ONCE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT

    NO REALLY PLAY THEM ALL AT ONCE AND HEAR THE SOUND OF THE UNIVERSE IN HARMONY


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    All of the following things just happened in a very short span of time.

    SB Nation 2014 College Football Guide

    1. Florida State completely collapsed. You know what they say about pressure: it bursts pipes or creates diamonds. Or sometimes, when Oregon is running you to the limit of your football credit, it takes your diamonds, flushes them down the world's biggest pipes, and then stuffs you into the great sucking drain of history.

    That is what happened when Florida State lost, 59-20, New Year's Day. It feels like a kind of duty to note, out of sportsmanship, just how monumental a thing ended in the Rose Bowl. The Seminoles had won 29 in a row, won two ACC titles and one national title, and garnered a Heisman Trophy for Jameis Winston. That all happened, and nothing can ever take that away from Florida State. Look, it's in a book and in the records and everything.

    2. But that -- is that how you want it to end? The suspicions all along for the Seminoles this year were that they were skating along in a weak conference, aided and abetted by the longest string of fortuitous bounces and tips ever, and bailed out in key situations by the holy triumverate of Jameis, Nick O'Leary, and Rashad Greene. And it should have been so easy to call their bluff, and yet no one could, not Louisville, not Notre Dame, not Florida, not even Miami playing at home.

    3. They were going to steal a title, and you were going to haaaaaaate how they did it.

    4. Even at the half, you thought it was going to happen. FSU only trailed, 18-13, and was in prime position to do the dastardly thing it'd done all year long. The Seminoles were going to steal the train. They were going to run into the sunset with your horses and your children, and then Dalvin Cook fumbled, and Oregon scored. But there, at 25-13, right there, that's when Florida State would do that thing, and throw a few passes and get this back to a one-score game, and that's what they did, but then another Cook fumble.

    5. Then Jameis Winston scrambled his way into his personal disaster meme.

    Winston could try to do that a thousand times and fail to duplicate it. It is a piece of failure so perfect it is its own achievement. It is a spastic piece of randomness unlike any other in the entire scope of human history. And all joking aside, this is when you knew the game was over at 45-20: not because of the score, but because no one recovers from a line in the script like this.

    6. Be clear on this, too: Oregon beat FSU off that pedestal. It's fun to imagine the Seminoles playing a game of solitaire with fate and losing badly, but Oregon did things to Florida State no team could survive for 60 minutes. The Ducks had perimeter blockers rolling Seminole DBs like tumbleweeds on screens. Thomas Tyner and Evan Baylis were pure cruelty with the ball in their hands, particularly Tyner, who towards the end of the game wandered between the tackles lonely and untouched.

    You have to revise a lot of things after today, not the least of which might be the idea that Oregon runs anything involving the word "finesse." You shouldn't have thought this anyway, but if it takes the debris field of what used to be Florida State to convince you, then fine. Be convinced.

    7. Then, after all that, you had to watch AN ENTIRE OTHER STUNNING FOOTBALL GAME AFTER THAT STUNNING HISTORICAL REVERSAL.

    8. AND THAT MERCILESS GAME DID NOT TAKE IT EASY ON YOU. It tried, at first. Alabama took an easy lead off turnovers, first-time Ohio State starting quarterback Cardale Jones looked shaky, and Alabama slipped into a warm bath of fulfilled expectations. Then Ezekiel Elliott started running the ball, and Jones ...

    9. A word about Cardale Jones. Jones ran his way out of a potential game-killing safety with, like, three Alabama defenders on his back. He threw balls 50 yards with a sniffy little flick of his wrist. He ran like a piece of warehouse machinery that broke away driverless from its handlers.

    Jones is the third-string quarterback for the Buckeyes and played a better game than the starting quarterback for Alabama. I'm still not sure how he did it, or how anyone ever beat him out for the starting job. He appears to be something large and metal and controlled by wires, and it was immense fun watching him play football with humans.

    10. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 230 yards on a Nick Saban defense. The Buckeyes defense bracketed Amari Cooper successfully. Like, they actually did it, unlike everyone else who tried to defend him this year. The Buckeyes defensive line forced Blake Sims into ghastly throws and ghastlier INTs. Darron Lee made, by my estimates, something like 80 shoestring tackles. That number may not be exact, but it feels right.

    All of these things happened that don't ever happen to Alabama, and Ohio State did all of them on the same night.

    11. The score lies to you, because the scary thing for Alabama was that it wasn't as close as 42-35 on the stat sheet. Ohio State outgained Alabama by 130 yards. The Buckeyes controlled the tempo, so much so that Ohio State threw with a lead and the clock running because ... well, because they wanted to, dammit.  They threw the ball and stopped the clock with their third-string quarterback in because they could.

    12. This was an asskicking delivered after an asskicking, even if the score was closer than it appeared. The SEC West was a rotten log, and Ohio State delivered the final kick shattering its reputation into so much musty termite food.

    13. This all happened in the same day, and let's never do this any differently, college football.


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    PAUL, WHAT DO WE GOTTA DO TO GET LANE KIFFIN A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

    The blue monkey-demon thing popped up on the screen when the kids were playing Skylanders: Trap Team yesterday, and we thought a few things, like yes, it's odd to call a video game "Trap Team" without the involvement of Gucci Mane or Jeezy at any stage in its development. We also thought how weird it was that, on the day when the SEC was to summon its worst demons and allow each of them to feast in turn on its most sensitive body parts, this would pop up as the familiar for the day without anyone even inviting him to the party.

    Finally, it's weird that someone made a villain in a children's video game look exactly like Paul Finebaum. But hey, being a terrible parent has its benefits. Sometimes you get a little more peace and quiet than other parents while they rot their brains with digital entertainment, and sometimes you let them loose without supervision and amazing things happen. Like look: Urban Meyer let the kids out in the yard, and they came back with Nick Saban's wallet!

    What this adds up to is that we're going to listen to the Paul Finebaum Show, and as a community savor the anguish of Alabama and Auburn fans, both out of sympathy and in the interest of pure schadenfreude. You should be able to listen here, or watch live on the SEC Network if you're like us and blessed with the TV-friendly couchlifestyle.


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    There's a thing in dramas where, in order to humanize an invincible character, the writers take away the primary thing the character does. The character then turns to something else, something they are generally bad at, thus making them appear mortal, and at times even pitiable. Think of Hank in Breaking Bad when he's holed up after his shooting with his minerals, or maybe the time Ben in Parks and Recreation decides to try stop-motion animation.

    This is that moment for Drew Brees. He's not in the playoffs. He's clearly just knocking around the house: bored, aimless, staring at a pantry full of Advocare products, and wondering what there is to do in life besides throw a ball for money. He makes breakfast, and then -- like a post pattern over the rush of a cover 0 blitz, inspiration:

    It's possible Drew Brees doesn't know what a sandwich is: that is clearly a pancake topped with a few lonely strips of turkey bacon. The banana isn't even cut; It's torn in chunks like a toddler ripped it to pieces on their high chair tray. If a serial killer Instagrammed their breakfasts, this is what they would look like. Look, I made a sandwich! I hear the goat-headed one in the night, and we speak conversations only the acolytes of the damned hear. Thinking of putting Nutella on it for extra kick. #Thrive

    Even the SB Nation staff couldn't agree on what they were looking at.

    DrewBreesPancakeDisaster

    Nevermind that this isn't even a sandwich, or that a pancake sandwich is just begging for an insulin-cratering sugar crash within 30 minutes. There are a few hard and fast rules in life. You never order pancakes, and instead let someone else order them. If you see a wide receiver who's even, he's leavin', and you should throw the ball immediately. And if you have a football player in your kitchen who did not make the playoffs, make him a sandwich before he puts a cry for help like this on social media.

    P.S. If the "humbled hero does something badly" storyline holds firm, this pitiful attempt at a sandwich indicates that the Saints making at least the NFC Championship Game next year when Brees rebounds. In the meantime, someone please take Drew Brees to Audubon Park and throw him a Frisbee or something.


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    Sometimes it doesn't work out, and sometimes things go badly, and then sometimes you trip over a pebble and into the Grand Canyon. And then, sometimes you have Jeff Driskel's career at Florida. an event beyond all three of those categories, and you just have to just deal with it and transfer to Louisiana Tech. We hope that goes well, since Driskel has dealt with all the horseshit of his Florida career as well as any horseshit-dealer has ever dealt with said horseshit. Best of luck, and enjoy Ruston, which is basically the Cincinnati of North Louisiana.


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    AND NOW WE JUDGE HIS COACHNESS BY THE SHALLOWEST MEASURES IMAGINABLE

    Accent: An SEC coach needs an accent, and McElwain has one. It's not a Southern accent of any sort, which is a minor crime, but he does have a Westerner's roll to the way he says things. Like, it's not something you can hear saying SHITFIRE I GOT TO SEE THAT DONKEY KICK, but it's definitely an accent you can hear speaking comfortably about horses, cars, and and firearms. PASS.

    Name: This is an automated test like a Captcha to see if you have hired any of the following:

    • Skip Holtz
    • Houston Nutt
    • Derek Dooley
    • Josh McDaniels
    • Lane Kiffin
    • Dick Jauron
    • Dennis Erickson
    • Billy Donovan

    In case this had to be verified

    McElwainCaptcha

    You think a major program like Florida wouldn't have to verify a hire via Captcha, but if you doubt it then you clearly haven't watched the last half-decade of Florida football. Enter the name, Jeremy. The computer can see if you're lying, or if you accidentally hired McElwain when Siri misunderstood your request for the nearest Quiche Lorraine. (If this is what happened, that's fine because it might work out. Embrace life's accidents, we say.) PASS

    Teeth: Big, capped magnificence. Those are flawless football teeth right there, the kind most Americans save for the cynical coastal elites believe in wholeheartedly as an indicator of great integrity and confidence. Could a great white shark sell cars effectively in Topeka, were he to just smile? Damn right he could, and if he coached on the Saban staff he'd fit right in because all Saban staffers know that recruiting is just like selling a car. You need to make sure you have teeth, make the person buy into the product you're selling, and that in four years when the warranty runs out you'll be so deeply un-liable for anything that happened to that car in the interim. PASS.

    Hair:

    Let's not mince words you do not hire a coach for his hair and that's a good thing for McElwain because his hair is very, very, very bad. It is Jim Bob Duggar bad. It actually looks exactly like Jim Bob Duggar's hair, as a thousand people on the internet have already pointed out. We'd argue that any indication of your coach cutting corners in his life in order to focus on more football represents a positive indicator about your program, like when Jim Harbaugh pays ten bucks for pants or Nick Saban eats the same thing for lunch every day. You want your coach using a Flowbee or letting a goat chew on his hair instead of paying for lengthy salon visits, because there was only one man who could exude excellence while sitting in a barber's chair and that man has been dead since 2006.

    Also, Jim Bob Duggar has a thousand children, and none of them are as orphaned as the Florida offense since the year 2009. So like, how's that supposed to be bad, hater?  PASS

    Hand gestures:

    He's got Process-Hands, so clearly a Saban acolyte. NO GRADE AWARDED PENDING SABAN COACHING TREE AND ITS DEEPLY MIXED RESULTS, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT COMES TO FLORIDA FOOTBALL

    Khakis: Almost always wrinkled as shit in the upper thigh/crotch reason, the sign of a man who took the time to iron the pant legs but "can't figure how to get the rest on the dang ironing board." Pleat level seems to have come down drastically from his Colorado State wardrobe. You could lose a sandwich in those fabric folds, dude. PASS

    Windbreaker: Check. He joins Bill Snyder, Mark Dantonio, and Nick Saban in the windbreaker club, coaches all united by their desire to just put something publicly presentable on and get out the door and onto the practice field. Bill Snyders are made of oilcloth he pulled off corpses at Shiloh, but you don't get coordinating experience any other way but to just go and do it. Grant ran a hell of a Wing-T. PASS


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    MIKE STOOPS PLEASE STEP INTO THE MOON DOOR

    BOB STOOPS CRIMSON AND CREAM WEDDING CONTINUES

    The Summer of Bob was brief; it started with the seed of a wintry win over Alabama, and then blossomed into the heat of so many pithy snaps in the media. Bob was raging with the fire-light of a man whose sun had risen twice, and in that Indian Summer he ran as fast as legs could until the fall came, and with it the inevitabilities of all men: the shortening days, the last smear of androgel in the tub, and things like losing 48-14 to Baylor. The rest would be the winters of an old king, dazed by life's infernal winds and resorting to the final comforts of beheading his subordinates, and perhaps watching some CSI.

    (P.S. There's a brother involved! This is totally some sad King Lear-in-Oklahoma shit.)

    STARKVILLE: SO NICE HE WENT THERE TWICE. Manny Diaz turned his comeback tour at Louisiana Tech into a second swing through Starkville, as the 2010 defensive coordinator for the Bulldogs will be the 2015 defensive coordinator for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

    POINT #2 IS BASICALLY OLE MISS'S ENTIRE SEASON. The SEC West was one big floating balloon waiting to be popped, but in Ole Miss's case that second point of getting weaker as the season went on is so, so true. (And walking face-first into TCU's full wave of holy anger in the Peach Bowl helped a lot, too.)

    THE NOTORIOUS T.O.B. IS OUT. He retired quietly to focus on his real first love of moving that dope.

    YOUR TRAINER, HE MIGHT NOT KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING. Vice has the details of Armond Armstead's lawsuit against USC for overadminstering Toradol, and you know what, maybe there's something wrong with a sport where you have to take Toradol to keep your job and make it onto the field?

    ETC: Who boondoggles like the state of Alabama well Alex the answer is NO ONE. If you're not familiar with the badassery of Adrian Carton de Wiart, well it's time to fix that. Give Charlie a credential or he will write exactly what going to your stadium is actually like, Jerry.


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  • 01/07/15--06:42: THE CURIOUS INDEX, 1/7/2015
  • BRUTUS IS FORCE CHOKING YOU AS HARD AS HE CAN

    AND THAT'S HOW THE OHIO STATE JEDI ORDER WORKS.

    Watch out for that Rule of Two, though. It's a bitch and oh god this explains the Braxton Miller/JT Barrett/Cardale injury cycle doesn't it --

    [/force choked by Urban Meyer, who is more machine than man at this point]

    OR YOU COULD JUST PAY THEM. Travel assistance is nice, though it is definitely not payment for services, which would be the easier way to do things instead of the ever-expanding and nonsensical series of chits, allotments, and company store coupons doled out to cover the expenses athletes incur in the course of the jobs they do as college football players.

    NEVER MIND WHOSE TROPHY IT IS. The Heisman Trophy stolen from USC's trophy case in 1994 has been found, and returned to the university.

    IN RECRUITING NEVER TELL THE TRUTH, EPISODE 458,093. South Carolina's recruiting class continues to hemorrhage recruits following Steve Spurrier saying the truth publicly, i.e. that he'll probably only be at Carolina for a few more years. Never, ever, ever say an accurate thing during recruiting. (To be fair: This goes for prospects, too.)

    LIKE THEY'D RECOGNIZE YOUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. "Win the Day" is a registered trademark of the Oregon athletic department, something they have to show Ole Miss fans every now and then because Hugh Freeze created everything on the first day, and on the sixth lost by 39 to TCU.

    FAREWELL, BRAWLY BEAR. Gerald Willis is off the Gators after "yet another altercation". We wish him luck, though his legacy at Florida is a good one: he liked to fight, and fight, and fight and fight and fight. Fight fight fight; fight fight fight.

    "A DICK MOVE." Stephen White says stop that shit, Bill Snyder, it's Schiano-level bullshit.

    ETC: Obscure quarterback makes media announcement.


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    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YES VERY FUNNY SMELLING TOAST NOW

    SOMEONE SENT US THIS IN THE MAIL TODAY.

    WHY DO WE EVEN HAVE LAWS IF PEOPLE CAN JUST SEND YOU PTSD THROUGH THE MAIL

    WE GOTTA BE HONEST WE'RE REALLY NOT SURE HE'S NOT STILL COACHING OUR TEAM AND THE MCELWAIN HIRE WAS AN ELABORATE RUSE


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    Rob Gronkowski is a weightless thing. Not literally: if he's in shape, he's right at 266 pounds or so. And because he is in shape, Rob Gronkowski weighs exactly 266 pounds right now, give or take a massive, three-pound banana-and-avocado protein shake in transit through his gigantic digestive system.

    He is weightless. His weightlessness means a lot more in the NFL than it would in most other sports because more than anything, at every level but especially in the NFL, the rule is gravity. Players must fit in systems. These systems are run to conclusions. Leads are managed, clocks are bled, and risks are averted. At its highest level in the NFL, the league runs less like a sports franchise, and more like its organizational peer: the American investment company, right down to the valuations against life expectancy, its cloaked actuarial tables, and the periodic threat of indictment for its owners and executives.*

    *Real, actual actuarial tables are something the NFL has an actual horrifying need for after the past few years.

    It is what pilots would label a high G environment in every sense of the word. Prospects who floated through college like immortal dervishes hit ground with a thud. (Hi, Vince Young). Coaches who can maintain a 52 percent win percentage are considered job-worthy if they can maintain something just over break-even. (Related to last parenthetical: hello, Jeff Fisher).  Even if someone thrives, injuries can end careers in seconds, and incrementally transform a first-rank talent into a gimpy role player. Entropy is the rule, and gradients of individual success are sketched out against some grim, grim math and even grimmer specialized verbiage: game manager. Spot back. Situational corner.

    The thing living outside those rules is the naked football astronaut Rob Gronkowski, the giant baby-monster scattering systematic approaches to evaluation and planning. Did you think there is a way, in the 384-page defensive playbook to cover him? No, no there is not, because in zones he finds space and the ball finds him. Cover him one-on-one, and disturbing things start to happen to otherwise competent pass defenders. You'll get outrun, or walled off in the most literal sense of the word. When Gronk turns his back to a defender with inside position on a pass route, it is covering a possessed wardrobe with legs and telescoping arms running at a full sprint-lope down the field. Gronk may also push off, but even then the subtlety of the push-off is done with a feathery brute force. It's more of a nudge, or occasionally the kind of slap you'd use to paw off a dog trying to steal bacon from your pocket.*

    *If you have bacon in your pocket and you're not going to give it to the dog anyway, well, I admit this is a weird analogy. But you're giving the dog the bacon, unless Rob Gronkowski wants it.

    That's not the weightlessness, though. The immunity to gravity, or the laws of size and speed, is most apparent in the hands. Most tight ends appear to be dogs of unusual pedigree. Their mothers were linemen, their fathers were wide receivers, and they move and clank along even at their best as something in between. Tony Gonzalez was an enlarged wide receiver; Jason Witten, a player with a blocking tight end's body and a weird addiction for catching the ball. This doesn't mean they aren't great. It just means they look like tight ends, which is to say: a hybrid player, easily broken down into percentages of the other types of players they're made out of at the tight end scrap yard and assembly plant.

    In the most naive way possible, I don't know what position Rob Gronkowski is when he steps onto a football field. Saying that a tight end or wide receiver "played basketball in high school" is a cliche, but Gronkowski clearly looks like something you could put on the basketball court with great results because he has that reach, glide, and loping gait of a power forward. In fact he's already done that, in high school at least, averaging 21 ppg and 18 rpg as a senior, and dunking on hopelessly overmatched opponents with just the appropriate amount of dickery. (There's video of it and everything). His hands don't paw passes into the catch; rather, the ball seems to reel into his hands, like you've reversed footage of Gronk heave the ball backwards to Tom Brady.*

    *Ironically, it's kind of hard to write about Rob Gronkowski, the football player, without bordering on erotica.

    That weightlessness extends to the persistent gravities of the league's toll, too. Stolen by the Patriots in the draft by Bill Belichick after Gronkowski suffered a back injury and underwent surgery in his junior year, Gronkowski had the kind of wunderkind first act a lot of NFL talents have had: a promising first year, then the sophomore burst of 1,327 yards receiving, 17 TDs, 90 receptions, and the attendant party boy tailings and features straight from the Jeremy Shockey business plan. He posed nude on the cover of the ESPN Body Issue; he reinvented the Spanish language; he attained the kind of buoyancy only a second-year player in full defiance of the NFL's physics can have.

    A knee injury was supposed to force re-entry into something like a mortal reality for Gronkowski. For the better part of 2013 it did, but after the kind of ordeal no player is supposed to fully recover from Gronkowski ... did. There was a lot of work, yes, work that doesn't get as much attention as something like "Rob Gronkowski owns his own custom party bus," or whatever other broheim legend Gronkowski might be busy at this very second writing with his life. (The truth, as with a lot of seemingly bulletproof young athletes with zero fear display, is that they're athletic workaholics from the jump, and built much of what seems like effortless brilliance).

    Yet despite the injury, Gronkowski in motion still looks like someone immune to the traumas of the NFL. He catches touchdown passes like outlet passes, blocks like he's pawing off a lesser sumo, and bounds up from huge hits like a sheepdog colliding with a wayward lamb. He is AC/DC, fresh off Bon Scott's death, ripping into Back in Black with zero repentance or lessons learned. He plays like someone who has learned nothing from injuries or pain, and seeks to learn less in the future.

    There's still plenty of time for that horror to unfold. Gronkowski is 25, an age in football where things might not catch up as quickly as they should. Charitably speaking, we need to start thinking about football as a kind of radiation. You can only have so many exposures, so many snaps, and so many years before the little bar on your chest goes black, and you end up as another case for the forensic files. Whether you accept that or not is part of not only being a football player, but a fan. You are an accomplice or shareholder, depending on what you think of the sport's terrific (and not totally unique) costs.

    I don't know when that happens for Gronkowski, whatever role you think he happens to moonlight as on a football field. I do know what he could be universally. Rob Gronkowski could play handball and be a god in the Czech Republic. He could play significant minutes for a Turkish league team, line up in goal for a Korean soccer squad, or take a turn in the WWE, or heave a bobsled for the US Olympic team. Put him on an Aussie Rules team, or let him bat at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Oil him up for Mongolian wrestling, and he'll not only let you take a picture, but will probably insist that you do.

    I know that as one of football's only truly weightless players, he seems like something too quicksilver and remarkable for the brutal science of the NFL. In a perfect world he floats free to serve as one of the world's all-time athletes, a cameo jock for the globe working in the world's hot spots by learning their sports, and thus ensuring the world sees America at its purest: huge, athletically gifted, and yelling out cheerful gibberish. Diplomacy started with a ping-pong ball once. There's no good reason it can't begin with a Gronk.


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