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    TIME TO MARRY MY FIRST LOVE, GUN

    We're going to Texas tomorrow for the title game in Dallas. Frisco, Texas to be specific, since the REAL game is happening there, the FCS Championship between North Dakota State and Illinois State. Illinois State has one of the most delightful things in football, a 5'9" running back who weighs two hundred pounds, and who has rushed for over 2,000 yards this season: Marshaun Coprich. Have you hugged your local turbodwarf today? You should

    Whatever subnode of the Dallas neurocluster you care to claim, it's home for college football this weekend, and it's rolled out the finest it has to offer: minor earthquakes (a few of 'em!), patches of ice on the road, and the shitty weather everyone forgets Dallas spends avoiding most of winter. The greatest and most abundant crop in the middle of our country from the top to the bottom in winter is the easily harvested jackknifed semi-trailer, and Dallas grows them without effort or thought.

    Anyway, we need your help to play a game of Texas bingo, i.e. definitive Texan things one could accomplish in a day of scavenger hunting. A few we have already:

    • Buying a gun in like ten minutes
    • Whataburger something something
    • Marry gun
    • Throw DVD of second season of Friday Night Lights into abandoned mine shaft
    • Find access road next to access road next to access road

    So as awesome as that list is, we need help. Suggest your Texan things to do in a single day, and we may do them on video in Dallas.


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  • 01/09/15--09:35: REMEMBER WHEN THAT HAPPENED
  • <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/4fNQfYFbY-g" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe>

    Ah, that was great, that thing that happened nine days ago. Was it nine days ago? It still smells so fresh, like the smell of hot turnovers straight out of the oven. HE'S STILL RIGHT NEXT TO YOU DUDE.


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    It seems like a curious choice to hold the first College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Jerry's World. Spencer Hall explains.

    Watch on YouTube | Subscribe to SB Nation on YouTube


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  • 01/11/15--06:52: How to do Texas right
  • With Oregon and Ohio State set to square off in the Lone Star State, Spencer Hall fully embraces everything that is Texas culture.

    Watch on YouTube | Subscribe to SB Nation on YouTube


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    HOWDY, WE FOUND TWO ANDREW LUCKS

    SHUTDOWN FULLCAST BACK. For the first time all three of us are in the same room AND actually guest-edited by Ty from the Solid Verbal, so if we sound even more mellifluous than usual it's because of superior production, not any appreciable incrase in talent, planning, or execution. (Those remain haphazard as always.) The topics for the week include:

    • Ryan and Jason doing duelling Andrew Luck imitations for four minutes
    • Why everyone is always polite at a gun range
    • Did you hear that Florida State lost by 39 points #talkinboutthenoles
    • New reader questions, including setting up the best possible fights between teams for the 2015 season
    • Actual title game talk, if you happen to make it all the way to the 35 minute mark

    As always, listen in the Soundcloud player below, subscribe on iTunes, or download directly here.

    PREVIOUS


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    You can see everything on that bigass screen, but that doesn't make you any smarter. That's the fun part.

    1. Texas is SuperAmerica, or at least America Plus. For instance, JerryWorld's got a lot of amenities. There is a car display on the third tier of one end zone sponsored by Ford, a display case for Mustangs, Fiestas, Fusions, and Focuses (Foci?) stacked in the rafters like a gigantic child's playthings. There's a pond with a fountain in the middle of it; an F-150 sits at the water's edge, silently contemplating its own mortality. It begs for a hug, or at least an understanding pat on the fender.

    2. Moët & Chandon champagne is available at the concession stand. It pairs surprisingly well with a barbecue sandwich.

    3. JerryWorld also has the infamous JerryTron, a TV so stonking big it borders on being its own reality. Watching the game, even the first College Football Playoff National Championship, is an effort. Like, a deliberate effort, in which you have to remember to look down at the people on the field playing the actual game, and not at the SCREAMING DIGITAL GOD'S EYE BECKONING ALL IN ITS PRESENCE TO BOW, BOW BEFORE THE JERRYTRON. Cardale Jones, Ohio State's roaming Borg-cube of a quarterback, appears to be almost mortal from section 329. On the JerryTron, he is a jaeger seconds away from punching through the earth's crust for fun.

    Kevin C. Cox, Getty

    4. Things look bigger and much, much clearer on the JerryTron than they do in real life. On replay, yes, Jones' knee was down, something the entire stadium can see at once, and nod in agreement thoughtfully. Ezekiel Elliott's runs through Oregon's arm tackles looked careless on the field. On the JerryTron, Elliott's 246 yards and four touchdowns looked like he was running through the world's longest, least effective turnstile.

    (GIF via ESPN.)

    Marcus Mariota would take a punishing hit on the field from Joey Bosa in the fourth quarter. On the field it looked bad, but on replay -- with Bosa's whole body weight falling onto Mariota's shoulder -- the crowd winced and imagined out loud the various injuries Mariota had sustained, coming to a consensus that he had a separated shoulder and/or a broken collarbone. The JerryTron is so big it will make you believe you are a doctor, and not a very good one. Mariota missed one play, and then came back in without any wincing or fuss.

    5. Objects may appear larger than they actually are on the JerryTron. After watching Ohio State smash Oregon to bits, you might be tempted to say that Ohio State doesn't have an obvious loss on the schedule for the next five years. You might really want to say that after watching this. No one would blame you. The Buckeyes defense turned a Heisman Trophy winner into a largely harmless irrelevance with nice numbers and zero danger, and the Buckeyes offense made a consistently excellent Oregon defense blow basic gap assignments it hadn't missed since 2013.

    They're deep, loaded with talent, and just won a national title with their third-string quarterback. Go back and watch their offensive line if you don't believe that, because they carried Oregon's d-line around like squawling infants who don't want to go in their car seats.

    6. Did I mention JerryWorld has an AT&T store in it, mezzanines with $20 sandwiches for sale, and four choke points each capable of creating some pretty nasty stampede-type conditions? And that the thing pushing out into the flow of traffic is the VIP buffet? Meaning you'd die, probably while being watched nonchalantly by some dude from the corporate office eating a plate of chicken fingers? That Jerry might have made it this way? I mean, definitely made it this way?

    7. Distortion is inevitable here, not just because of the JerryTron. Ohio State made their stretch run look so good, so final, so complete, that any real estimate of how good this team was becomes impossible. A month ago, Jones was third on the depth chart, something you might have heard. After the win, he was tweeting out hello to his haters and coyly hedging on entering the NFL Draft.

    Everything -- the redemption of Urban Meyer after bombing out of coaching in 2010, the return of the Big Ten to prominence, the success of the Playoff -- everything's exaggerated by the supergravity of the Playoff. It did what it was supposed to do, as evidenced by ratings and the three decks and two mezzanine levels of fans (AMERRRRRRRIIIIICAAAAA) who made it to Dallas.

    8. The JerryDome also had helicopter service, a service that ran out of slots by the time I tried to get one some hour and a half after the bidding opened up on Uber. "Get Chopper" appearing on your phone is a sign that life is now the long-awaited edition of the video game Mercenaries 3.

    9. I do know this: the longer I went into this season, the less I knew. And that got fun real fast. It was fun watching Ohio State dare Oregon's linebackers to keep gap control. This was the season everyone switched masks. Alabama played like an old Michigan State team against the Buckeyes; Michigan State played like Baylor in order to beat, um, Baylor. Ole Miss played like three different teams; LSU was rendered in cartoon in live-action, like Roger Rabbit, something normally reserved solely for its coach. TCU went on that 300 diet and made a season-long gladiator movie. (Won't win any awards, but damn was it entertaining and spattered with blood.)

    10. Seriously,TCU could just drive over from Fort Worth and play Ohio State if they want to stay another week. There's a CiCi's Pizza across the street for team meals, if they don't feel like driving all the way back to TCU after practice. Arlington gives and gives, and all you can help but do is keep taking its charity.

    11. I also know that Ohio State hired the man who burnt their house down in 2006, the one who sort of started the downward spiral of the program into obsolescence in the first place, to rebuild them back into a national power. He did that, but college football remains the weirdest for being one of those sports where you say, Oh, that arsonist? Let's invite him in and hire him to redecorate our house.

    P.S. It works!

    12. In the Playoff's toboggan run to total ignorance, it should be enough to enjoy this. It has to be. This is college football. Every year is a house of cards built on the ability of late-stage teenagers to maintain focus for longer than six seconds at a time. I know nothing, and the Playoff erased the ability to make predictions even further.

    We are all dumber for having the Playoff, and that's a brilliant thing to be in an unscripted situation. With zero knowledge, you have no choice but to pay attention every step of the way.

    13. In front of me was a father and his son in Ohio State gear. The dad had the requisite scarlet Buckeye hoodie. The son had the Block O shaved into the back of his head and outlined in gray hair dye. When Ohio State scored its second TD and it became apparent that they were here to bust heads without ceasing and with no apologies, they both broke out in the Bobby Shmurda dance while Mom cut them legendary side-eye from her seat to their right.

    That's enough, right? For the moment I can forget about whether any of this means anything or greatness or positions or jockeying for power, and just remember a dude doing a passable dad-Shmurda dance with his son as his team finished the long climb out of the hole and back into the sunlight.


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    WHO LET HIM HAVE A SWORD

    GOOD MORNING.

    The former USC interim coach, D-line master, recruiting fiend, and noted Lousianan finally, finally comes home to Baton Rouge and oh, ohhhh there's so much to do already. Ed Orgeron's gonna roar into campus in an F-150 Raptor painted yellow and purple tossing cans of Red Bull at the heads of students as he passes. Ed Orgeron's gonna go kiss Mike the Tiger. Taking the lifeforce of the tiger is the first priority! Do that, and he'll curl up in your lap like a housecat every time, and you'll live life as an immortal.

    Cookie-dealin' Ed Orgeron returns to LSU along with Kevin Steele, the Alabama linebackers coach, former Baylor coach, and one-time Clemson defensive coordinator. That last turn resulted in the 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to Clemson, which only seems like a disaster if you don't think a score resulting in the Orange Bowl mascot puking in a trash can is a gift to all humankind. We never thanked you for that, Mr. Steele. Our apologies.

    Steele is also known for being the most documentedly down-ass coach in the history of college football.

    Tyrone Williams, a senior cornerback, was charged in March 1994 with two felonies--unlawful discharge of a firearm and use of a weapon to commit a felony--in connection with a Jan. 30, 1994, shooting. Police say that Williams fired two shots into a car occupied by former New York Jet safety Kevin Porter, who was in town visiting friends. Porter was not hit. After the shooting, but before Williams was charged, then-Nebraska assistant Kevin Steele was given Williams's .22 caliber revolver. Then Steele and Osborne locked the gun in a cabinet.

    Charlie Strong won't even let you have a gun, but at LSU? They have a coach who might even hold one for you after the police started investigating you on a felony firearms charge. If you think this won't actually pop up in recruiting along the border of the Sabine River, you would be horrendously naive about how college football recruiting works. Good morning, and welcome to the 280 days or so of offseason. It's off to a melodious start already.


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    There's only one car worth reviewing: your car.

    Bored and in need of entertainment on Twitter one day, I asked to review the cars of followers. The response was overwhelming; it turns out that not only do people enjoy talking about their cars, but they enjoy them no matter what they may be told about what makes a car "good" or "bad" or "currently on fire and spitting parts after crashing into a daycare."

    In that spirit, I asked for readers to send me their cars. Again, I got a whole fleet in my inbox before I could blink, because people love their cars, and seem to love them more the shittier and older they get. So the following reviews don't reflect any rational understanding of what you might consider to be quality. If anything, I'm reviewing these cars from a post-quality sense. Most of them run; most of them do so without exploding; and most, given time, become a sort of pet. You know what I mean: the pet that's supposed to drink antifreeze.

    The selected cars:

    From @cambroliving:

    CambroMG

    Here's a 1976 MG ... Midget I owned this year. Can you say midget still? It's a 1976 MG Little People.

    No, you cannot say "midget." My dad had one of these. He was working a catering gig and had a gargantuan tub of baked beans in the back when he whipped the whole thing around a corner, turning the infinitesimal backseat into a live well full of beans and stray pieces of golf equipment. He said it ruined the car but my dad has terrible taste for someone in the restaurant industry, and I for one would welcome a car rich with the fragrance of bacon-laced legume. I rode in the back of this car as a baby because it was the 1970s, and children were treated as cargo, and not particularly valuable cargo at that. (For the record, I estimate my own value as a child at somewhere around $57.82 adjusted for inflation, depreciating through adolescence and onward.)

    This MG Little Person is impractical, likely seconds away from burning down in an electrical fire, and would turn to metal confetti in a collision. Given a lingering smell of beans or other spilled food, it would be perfect.

    9/10

    From Joel:

    JoelsCar

    Significantly Rusty, ill running 318 V-8, smells of mouse droppings. Headliner falling down. B1G country -- come at me bro.

    OH JOEL THAT RUST. Look at it. It's the sediment at the bottom of an ancient and precious Burgundy. It's the streak of white hair on Emmylou Harris' head that somehow made her 150 times more majestic than any other person on the planet. It's not even rust: it's places where the car's badassness has scattered like pollen through the world, fertilizing budding flowers with tiny little '74 Chargerlets.

    The real charm in the Charger (or a lot of other original muscle cars) that you can't see in the photo lies in the steering. That is: there isn't any. The steering wheel is this great, grippy leather suggestion box. You tug to the right, and if you're driving a 100 percent bonafide American muscle car, there will be two or three inches of gap that simply does nothing at all, and then another two or three radial inches of gentle nudging. Driving one of these is like being at the helm of an oil tanker that can go 90 miles per hour on the water: you'll want to turn early, and will need several hundred yards just to begin stopping. Horses are more obedient, far more fuel-efficient, and safer when they start going sideways.

    Contra to that point: unlike the '74 Charger, horses will not make you feel like you're wrestling with the iron arms of the electric devil himself.

    The mouse droppings are a bonus, though the geography works against a super high score. If you were from the Southwest, I would have awarded extra points for the casual daily risk of Hantavirus. This car looks like Wisconsin's soul. You don't even need to see the trunk open to hear the beer cans rolling around the bare metal of the trunk.

    10/10

    From Matt:

    1997 Isuzu Rodeo

    Acquired on 16th bday in 2000

    5 speed manual transmission (very rare)

    4 cylinder grill guard (for vehicle with 2 wheel drive and zero off-road capability)

    paint cancer on hood

    Folding back seat leaves perfect amount of sleeping space

    radio still works

    dent on front left earned when backing into tree (with door wide open (idiot)) in 2002

    The Rodeo in another form was sold as the "Isuzu Wizard," another point to people who believe that everyone overseas gets everything cooler in the car world. Say it out loud to yourself: "I DRIVE AN ISUZU WIZARD." Bad names kill potentially successful cars every year regardless of their overall quality, which is why the Pontiac Aztek would have been way more successful if they'd just gone hard and called it "THE PONTIAC GRUNT." Shit, if it's already obviously a bomb rolling off the assembly line -- "Sure, that car with a built-in tent is gonna kill, Ted" -- then go ahead and try to sell it as the giant trash-can sandwich everyone knows it is.

    Paint cancer is a strong pitch. When you move to Florida you learn a lot of things, like that people will still voluntarily live in a place so brutal and unfit for human habitation that the paint on their cars is blasted clean off by salt and the fiery radiation of the sun itself. It requires a belief system that includes the statement: If I eat enough Checkers apple pie bites, that surely won't happen to my fleshy, non-metal skin. Then again, this description also includes "can sleep in this car" as a resume line. You probably already live in Florida.

    Also this is an Isuzu, joining the ranks of Saab and Oldsmobile in the list of cars you automatically like because their companies imploded or simply stopped making cars. They're the raptured souls of the car world, wandering the earth without their makers. From an existentialist point alone, I respect the hell out of that.

    7/10

    From Mastin:

    How about a station wagon with a supercharged corvette engine?

    MastinsCar

    I had to take my whole family to a wedding in California last year. If you've never flown cross-country with young children, it is really not the claustrophobic torture experience most people make it out to be. Most kids like to look out the window, watch iPads until their brains ooze out of their ears, and play with the seat tray in front of them. That part's easy.

    The crux comes when you land. At that point, with the fun flying over huge cities and mountains over with, your children have exited the orbit of "YAYYYYY WE'RE ON A PLAAAANE" and are firmly in the grip of a fiery re-entry into being their normal, needy selves. Edit: their normal, needy selves who have just awakened on the left side of the continent on an entirely different schedule, and likely in need of food. Everyone starts crying simultaneously; your spouse gets the kind of thousand-yard stare usually only found in veterans of intense combat.

    The point is that I might have gone straight to the Hertz Gold line and said GIVE ME WHATEVER YOU HAVE I WILL PAY IT, and gotten a Cadillac SRX for slightly less than four hundred dollars more than I would have paid otherwise. Like everything Cadillac makes now it was stupidly plush, had a gigantic planet-choking engine, handled like a butter snowman butt-surfing down a greased teflon ski-slope, and made me feel every mistake I had made in life by not being the kind of person willing to pay more than $20K for a car. Crying children will make you do things. Terrible, luxurious things.

    This is a fantastic and perfect car, and my score reflects my immature hater-ish envy of you.

    5/10

    p.s. Cadillac now makes a 600 hp sedan. The past was shit and we should never mourn it.

    From Ben:

    BensVan

    Frankenstein? Check. Ozzie seat cover? Check. Minnesota plates even though it has been in Austin, Tex., for at least 2 years? Check.

    I bet there are three other vans exactly like this in Austin. Windowless vans get a bad rap for being synonymous with crime, but in reality they're mostly used for the most mundane things on Earth: utility work, mobile pornography, failed bands, and low-level breaking and entering cases. The humble workhorses of our economy's most important activities get zero respect, and all just because Marv and Harry drove one in Home Alone.*

    *Ohhh, but Ted Bundy drove one, buddy. Stop. Home Alone is the basis for all modern epistemology, and no one remembers anything before 1999.

    The outdated plates, Ozzie seat covers, and tasteful rust patches give it a patina of trash livin' I can't deny, but you know what really ladles on the charm-gravy? That black shit speckled all over the roof. It's lived outside like a dingy dog of the flock, shepherding you back and forth to failed band practice without a complaint, only to be left out in the cold where it's happy. This van is the dog you pet even though you know you're going to have to wash your hands afterwards.

    8/10

    From Jacob in Atlanta:

    JacobsCar

    It's got 178,000 or so on it. Needs a new wheel bearing. But it gets me 42 mpg and the interior pleases me.

    I cannot emphasize how important "the interior pleases me" is. I had a Ford Escort Station Wagon with a plush interior in Florida. This meant a torrent of ass sweat the instant you sat in it, followed by subsequent sauna conditions for the rest of the ride. It was like driving a kiln, even before the air-conditioner failed, and the ventilation system began blowing black mold from the air vents.

    It looked like the embodied soul of a fax machine to start with, which I could have pardoned if it was super comfortable, but that's kind of the point here. You have to drive with your butt, and if your butt isn't happy sitting in a car, then go get another car. The ass is the most important evaluator in driving a car, and you need to treat yours as well as possible. You've done well, Jacob.

    8/10

    From [CLASSIFIED]:

    WarlordCar

    My driver was security for Sein Lwin. Apparently it was gifted to him. I'd prefer not to have my name on this as hiring ex-Burmese special ops to drive one around is a bit flossy.

    [CLASSIFIED] did not want his name on this, but he wrote back and confirmed that this is not just the former head of security for one of Burma's most evil dudes ever's car, but was a gift from strongman Ne Win himself. If you don't know who Ne Win is, we will help you with a sort of relevant passage from his very long and very taxing Wikipedia entry:

    Ne Win was well known for his penchant for numerology and yadaya (cabalistic rituals and spells performed in order to ward off misfortune).[10] When his soothsayer warned him that there might be a bloodbath, he would stand in front of a mirror and trample on meat to simulate the blood then shoot himself in the mirror to avert the possibility of an assassination attempt.

    There is zero chance Jim Harbaugh does not begin every morning doing the exact same thing.

    Check the body panels for stowaway heroin bricks and T-Bills, and appreciate how every Mercedes ages into a burly, wheezing aristocrat of a car. The very engine noise itself sounds like complaints about capital gains tax and selfie sticks! Normally this is like a 7/10 because Mercedes just doesn't move me at all, buuuuuut "certified warlord car in gold" has to count for something in this life.

    8/10


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  • 01/16/15--14:03: OFFSEASON RE-ENTRY TIPS
  • GO EASY TO PREVENT INJURY

    1. Don't stand up too quickly. Picture an astronaut fresh from re-entry after an extremely long stay in space. That's you right now after five months spent largely on the couch. Ask for help; send for an ox-cart if necessary. (If you do not have a local ox-cart dealer, call Barry Switzer and he'll get you set up with one immediately.)

    2. Drink a glass of water. Then have a second. You're flushing your body of all the salt, saturated fat, and gristle you ingested while watching football games. Remember how you were going to incorporate more vegetables into your fall diet? Yeah. Yeah.

    3. Start conversations with non-sports people slowly. Think of things from current events you can discuss without inviting too much controversy or negativity, like—

    [reviews last six months of headlines]

    —the weather. Maybe you should just talk about the weather.

    4. You may be overwhelmed by the everyday tasks that piled up while you were slumbering in your football chrysalis. Don't be! Just make a list, and start working through the items one by one. Start with doing your taxes. The ones from 2012.

    5. Children are named many things. Backdate them by age, and try calling them whatever names were popular in the date of their birth. Ex: Put down that kerosene tank, 2livecrew! Get over here right now, Chingy!

    6. READ, and read Something BeNeficiAl To your braIn, sOul, aNd spirit.

    7. Flip your mattress. You never know what you might find under there, like SHIT IT'S WILL MUSCHAMP RUNNNNN--

    8. Measles/mumps booster. It's a long story, but that's the last time we go to the Independence Bowl.


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    JUST IMAGINE THAT HOODED SCOWL AT A DECEMBER BOWL GAME

    The home visits would astonish. No, mom, he's not a vagrant. That's the coach. The one that was supposed to come by today. No, he's not a mendicant priest, either. He's the greatest coach of a generation even if he's wearing horrifying cutoff sweatshorts and sporting a heinous dickprint while sitting on our couch and eating meatloaf with his hands. He's eating with his hands because he forgot our society and abandoned it to achieve monastic football perfection, and thus forgot all things unrelated to the game.

    He would like more; that's what it means when he slams his bowl against the wall.

    It's not a sign of disrespect if he has forgotten all courtesy, mom---it's what happens when you replace that part of the brain with exotic blitz schemes and the phone numbers of lonely Harvard Square divorcees. He's going to sleep here tonight, okay? He's very tired, and he says there's a spot right under the dryer vent outside that looks like it'll do. There's like, a zillion giant nugget rings on the table that look like Super Bowl rings. He says we can pawn them because gold is one of the rarest elements in the galaxy, and he wouldn't cherish something this bastard of a universe would consider precious.

    If he wins, he will flood college football with his lesser flunkies. Romeo Crennel, you get that South Carolina job. Eric Mangini, welcome to UVA. (Eric Mangini would SO end up coaching at UVA.) Jim Schwartz, you're all over that damn Michigan State job when Mark Dantonio moves on. Josh McDaniels was a candidate for the Florida job this offseason, and that wasn't even the realm of sports fantasy, where you'd have to make up a character insane enough to hire him simply because he'd coached with Bill Belichick! Because surely that person doesn't exist, and isn't in charge of a major athletic department! Never!

    This would be nothing but good news for you if Belichick were your coach, because he would lose very few games if he salted his own division with them.

    He will lose a game to someone 1/10th as smart as he is. Not to say that he hasn't already done this: granted that the average IQ of a coach stays pretty constant over football in general, the shakeout of a schedule ensures that once in a while in the grind of a season there will be a hiccup against a very dumb opponent.

    Example! Bill Belichick lost a football game against Chan Gailey once. The NFL admits it happened and everything.

    Mark Richt never even did that, Bill, and he lost to a Will Muschamp-coached Florida team this past year. Belichick is also 5-4 lifetime against Dave Wannstedt as a head coach. He's more than ready to run off nearly perfect seasons marred with a loss to a Terry Bowden Akron team, or maybe a disastrous noon home game against Houston Nutt. (Coaching Auburn, of course, because of the Inevitable Houston Nutt Coaches Every SEC West Team Eventually Theorem.)

    He can cheat to his heart's content. Here's the trick: there is no shield to protect here. Putting Belichick in the fence-free environment of college football would be dropping a hungry jackal in the heart of a lamb orphanage. It's sooo much easier to pull shady shit like taping opponent practices and fucking with footballs in college, too. By the time the NCAA starts an investigation, you've already had a three month head start to pay off all the witnesses. If you don't cooperate with an NFL investigation, you can get fired. If you don't cooperate with an NCAA investigation, you can get a plaque at the next booster club luncheon.

    The man cannot pretend to care. The NFL works for Bill Belichick because he only has two modes - coaching a game that matters, or preparing for coaching a game that matters. If Bill Belichick had been on the sidelines when Bane blew up half the field, his postgame response would have been "we're just focused on preparing for Sub Diego." So now imagine Bill Belichick forced to go through all the press conferences and events associated with a non-championship bowl game. You think the man won't show up to the Russell Athletic Bowl team dinner with a sleeping mask and Tevas?

    Watching the media reaction would be the bworst experience imaginable. Oh, just imagine the hoary brows of the New England/NFL Industrial Complex vamping for this, just tripping all over their pleated Haggars to praise BILL BELICHICK BRINGING THE PATRIOT WAY TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL AND TEACHING THESE BOASTFUL CHILDREN WHAT'S WHAT. A season of recruiting might have turned up a crop of three stars, but HE WINS WITH THREE STAR PLAYERS BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT GEORGE WASHINGTON WOULD HAVE DONE OH GOD I'M CLIMAXING.

    Dan Shaughnessy would throw up that "Belichick was nothing without Tom Brady" column before he even knew what he was doing. He'd just chuck it up like a hairball.


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    THAT THING YOU DID, IT'S BEEN DONE BY A MUMBLING OFFENSIVE GENIUS

    As usual, the derivative, wholly unimaginative NFL cannot even invent its own scandals without stealing wholesale from college football. If you're unclear on the rule, then a review is in order: Lane Kiffin did it first.

    To wit:

    Inflating or deflating balls to gain a marginal competitive advantage? Lane Kiffin did it first. Getting hired via family connections, a la Jim Harbaugh hiring his son Jay to coach at Michigan even though he's only 25? Lane Kiffin did it first, and then went a step further by getting his dad a giant contract at both Tennessee AND USC. (Your salsa of nepotism doesn't even begin to tingle the taste buds on Lane's tongue, Jim.) Staying on Harbaugh, that whole "going back to college after a stint in the Bay Area that ended after a rift with management?" Lane Kiffin did it first, too, and did it way, way more spectacularly.

    It continues. Getting tiffy with Urban Meyer? Lane Kiffin did it first. Losing heinously to Virginia Tech? Lane Kiffin did that first, too, Urban. Take every story you care to about NFL coaches leaving in cold fashion, and flush them all because Lane Kiffin hightailed it out of Knoxville with a speed Doug Marrone would describe as impersonal. He was even fired in a more outlandish way than you could imagine, with USC's brass leaving him at LAX at an undisclosed location somewhere along the arrivals pickup lane. Someday, we vow, we will mark this spot with a tiny placard bearing his name and the words "USC: Trojans never leave a man behind unless he just gave up 62 points to Arizona State."

    By the time he finishes his coaching career, Lane Kiffin will have done everything, and likely done it before someone in the NFL did it, even if that person is Lane Kiffin. This posits the existence of a second Raiders tenure for Kiffin, which oh ho ho ho, you know you want to happen. If anyone can be the first man to be fired by two generations of an ownership family, that man is Lane Kiffin.


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    THE DUMBEST GAME BOTH OF THESE TEAMS HAS EVER PLAYED

    Erase This Game is a new offseason feature in which we, merciless jerks that we are, find the dumbest football game ever played by one school. We start with this year's Wake Forest 6, Virginia Tech 3 overtime gas station tuna salad lunch, which has the benefit of being the dumbest game for both the Demon Deacons and the Hokies.

    I.

    wake1

    Virginia Tech's first drive ends with a punt from the Wake Forest 36 yard line on 4th and 10. It's boring-ass football cowardice, but it becomes tragicomic given that Frank Beamer is so clearly unprepared for what is to come. In this game, a possession inside the opponent's 40 yard line is like owning an original Cézanne. And this punt is Virginia Tech letting their homeowner's insurance lapse the day before a hurricane hits.

    II.

    wake2

    There are highlights of this game on the ACC Digital Network because when one child gets a lollipop every child gets a lollipop, even if they are the child who set the curtains on fire with a magnifying glass. This is the link; you have been warned, and we cannot protect you from yourselves and the terrible decisions you make. .

    We've already watched them, and therefore it is too late for us. We can only hope to redeem the damage by passing along the few lessons to be learned from this atrocity. For example: if the corner is pointing madly at the endzone pre-snap, your ball is already intercepted.

    CornerPoint

    The corner is pointing to the exact spot where he picks the ball off. This is the 2014's "What are you gonna do, stab me?" moment.

    III.

    wake3

    Wake Forest called a timeout before this play.

    Let me expand on that: Wake Forest, who had, to this point, beaten only Army and Gardner-Webb, and who had one week earlier been blown out by NC State, and who had absolutely nothing to lose in this game, called a timeout before a third down, and RAN THE BALL FOR ONE YARD.

    You deserve to eat mediocre sandwiches for the rest of your lunches.

    IV.

    wake4

    One time I cried because of futility. It was putting together a child's toy car, the Little Tykes Kozy Koupe Roadster SUV edition. It was blue and yellow, and my son would adore it like nothing else if only his stupid father could snap the simple plastic tabs together in the right order, which I did and...nothing. It still didn't fit. I took the whole thing apart again and failed at exactly the same spot, and yet took it apart again to see where I'd misaligned something. I hadn't missed a thing: the fucking piece of muleshit just didn't fit together right.

    This took two hours to figure out before I got a hacksaw and started cutting the fucker into the right shape. Before that, though, I'd walked away, cried, taken a ten minute walk, terrified my family, and declared war on the right of inanimate objects to exist. There are two lessons here. The first is that Mike Weaver should have taken a saw to the goalposts in revenge, because inanimate objects are the biggest enemy I have as a human, and I need strong allies in my war against them. You can't judge his field goals, goalpost. You're just a stupid fucking chunk of metal.

    The second is that I seriously want all inanimate objects that frustrate me destroyed immediately. Fuck inanimate objects.

    V.

    wake5

    The play-by-play description doesn't really reveal what happened on this play. Virginia Tech threw a swing pass to the slot receiver; said slot receiver was immediately decked before completing the catch. The officials ruled this a backwards throw, however, and a fumble recovered by Wake Forest.

    See that player on the right? The one who looks like he's about to go down a Crocodile Mile? Yeah, he missed a block. Badly. Even relatively low risk, low reward shit like a pass to someone six yards behind the line of scrimmage turned into complete disaster for you, Virginia Tech's offense. You are inspiring people to become shut-ins, because outside is where the bad and hurty things happen.

    VI.

    wake6

    It's right to the cornerback in stride with not a single Virginia Tech receiver near him. A perfect seam route, really. If Virginia Tech Scot Loeffler was not screaming "GO HOME TO YOUR FAMILIES AND BE WITH THEM WHILE YOU STILL HAVE TIME" to everyone around him, he should have been as a favor to those watching his slaughterwork. This game is so desolate a giraffe should have wandered onto the field while a lonely child pondered its meaning.

    VII.

    wake7

    I'd be mad that Wake didn't end this at regulation, but without that miss, we don't get this frightening proof that there is no afterlife:

    DEATH IS THE ONLY FINAL WHISTLE GOBBLE GOBBLE

    VIII.

    wake8

    The winning drive in this game: three plays, negative six yards. Wake Forest didn't even push the plunger; they were wounded, and won by falling on the detonator by accident.


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    IT'S DEFINITELY ART IF THERE'S POOP IN IT

    Folk art is so close to Cracker Barrel art that it's hard to acknowledge a border between the two, and where a giant painting with a bunch of obviously amateur typography becomes an inspirational tapestry you got just three hundred yards off I-75 one desperate afternoon. Let us propose one easy, clear-cut rule: if your piece of folk art contains a football player's poop-soiled pants, it is definitely folk art.

    That painting is by former Florida linebacker James Bates, the one who is now a Fox Sports commentator, and who once wore a pumpkin on his head for the entirety of an interview prior to the Georgia/Florida game. He's also known for his spectacular Steve Spurrier impression, and for falling off a stool during a broadcast once.  His art is here, and it is spectacular, and we will have a piece of it on our walls before our spouse can say no. (Probably "Lawrence Wright used to call me Cracker Bates," if we can track it down.)

    P.S. Yes we're going to commission either a Switzer or Schnelly painting from him. Maybe a Holgo, too.


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    There are a number of people and things associated with the NFL worthy of your contempt. Bill Belichick shouldn't be one of them.

    There are two kinds of people in this world: those who like ornery, difficult, bastard type things, and those who don't. You either understand why you would love a dog who eats the bacon out of the fridge and turn your couch into a biohazard site, or you don't. Those people who don't understand this own Golden Retrievers, wear khakis and drive Altimas. There is nothing wrong with any of that because those are all good and fine things, and I hope you enjoy them.

    Then there are those of us who watch Bill Belichick stonewall an entire press conference after his team has been caught cheating and somehow come out of it liking him, and wanting to put on a hot bowl of coach-gruel for him as a sign of respect.*

    *Belichick probably only eats coach-gruel, a kind of protein-rich goo he can hork down from a bowl placed in front of him at eight-hour intervals. He eats it without hands, like a dog hopping on a bowl of gizzards. Do not think that coaches aren't thinking about mimicking this right now; they're probably ground-floor investors in Soylent, and heavy users.

    There's a kind of sick logic to this affection for Belichick and his complete refusal to work on the same page with the rest of humanity. Belichick cheats, albeit at the fringes of a sport whose rules allow for a lot of on-field and extracurricular edge-seeking. He speaks as few words as possible to the media, though he's more than capable of giving brilliant answers to football questions when he likes. He does not understand clothing, or what it does besides prevent the body from embarrassing public exposure. He is an adult who periodically sleeps in his office without shame, a practice which is really only acceptable if you're a lighthouse keeper or fireman.*

    *Someone please make sure Bill Belichick is not actually a lighthouse keeper, and that he does not actually live in the lighthouse built into Gillette Stadium.

    The greatest football coach of an era lives like a bridge troll who pays only the bare minimum of humanity taxes. And you either find that hilarious, or you don't. I do, because Bill Belichick is only paying the barest of lip services to society past the requirements of his job, and I admire the hell out of that. It's a pessimist's life goal, like living in a place where your nearest neighbor's house couldn't be hit by a well-placed gunshot from your front porch.

    And if Belichick makes things hard for reporters, then they're not being imaginative enough. You're getting a villain, a grumbly, mercurial villain so petty-villainous George R.R. Martin himself called the Patriots the "Lannisters of the NFL." Like Marshawn Lynch refusing to answer questions with anything but "yeah" and "I'm just thankful," he's making your work for you. Maybe someone's actually frustrated by this, but otherwise just enjoy turning this into kayfabe and thank your lucky stars people pay attention to your sport.

    A full disclosure here before we go any further: On its best days, I hope for the NFL to be sucked into a galactic sewer pipe. This is a business that terminates its workers at will after asking them to perform their jobs at great risk. They then market that risk, and sell it with the gruntiest, stupidest cliches imaginable about masculinity and toughness, and use the media to propagate that myth. The owners press taxpayers for subsidies and complain about lack of support while threatening to move franchises. Depending on the day or the motive, they are either socialists when it comes to revenue sharing and stadium financing, or the most cutthroat capitalists in the world when it comes to player contracts and concussion settlements.

    There is nothing fickle about the NFL's variety of "fickle:" name the day, and they will be reassembling their arguments into a different mound of gibberish to justify the pursuit of a higher profit at lower cost. It's a horrible, reductive, narrow-minded and deeply unimaginative business that takes its best ideas from elsewhere and stifles innovation in the name of profit and safety.

    Its focus on THE SHIELD at all costs is almost a form of integrity -- almost, but not quite. If Bill Belichick makes me howl with laughter when straight-faced denying he, a legendary control freak among control freaks, knew anything about ball pressures, it's because Bill Belichick might be one of the few pieces of total integrity in that room. He is going to win football games, and will do anything to win them even if it makes your job harder as a reporter, or you think he's a total dick. It's a schoolboy's motivation, but ultimately it's a childish one to want to win, an aspirational one that makes little sense in a league where a .501 winning percentage can keep you employed for decades.*

    *Hello, successful multimillionaire Jeff Fisher! You have more money than I will ever have; please give me some.

    And unlike the need to sell PSLs or maximize a contract or continue to deny that football might have to be rebuilt from the ground up as a sport, you can identify with that urge, yes? The abstract appeal to victory is one you can understand from a sentimental sense. Who doesn't like winning, and winner-y things? Victory's at least a human concept, a nod that we are playing a child's game, or at least a game.

    Worrying about Bill Belichick -- or Tom Brady, or a few pounds of air -- somehow infringing on the integrity of the NFL would be a mild form of real, live insanity. The NFL doesn't have much in the way of integrity to worry about in the first place. The league is well on its way to becoming what the sport of boxing is now, with college football just behind it thanks to the real risks posed by long-term exposure to the business' main ingredient, the game of football itself.

    If this somehow still bothers you after considering everything else you could be mad about as an NFL fan or observer, well you can't be helped. You could at the very least respect the consistency here. Accuse him of cheating, and Bill Belichick will tell you nothing all day in the most bored, half-annoyed manner imaginable. It's all he's ever done, and it might be the most honest thing you'll hear in the NFL all day.


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    ROLL TIDE

    1. To be a kinder, more mature person and football fan. They seemed benign enough: large, schlumpy, OTP residents headed to the zoo for the day dressed in head-to-toe FSU gear. The man's gigantic FSU hat was worn like old NASCAR drivers used to wear hats: fresh off the convenience store rack, and high enough off his head to hide a good-sized sandwich under. That sandwich would probably be, if we were betting on it, a Zaxby's Chicken Club. (Which, for the record, is delicious.)

    Before I could do anything the words "GO DUCKS" roared out of my mouth. They bypassed the amygdala completely, just shot straight up from the limbic system. We didn't even know they'd come out, or that our hands were raised over our head. If you think someone would just happily smile and nod, oh ho ho ho dear reader THAT WAS NOT THE CASE. Their faces turned cold; they stiffened and grew an inch taller. The woman clutched the stroller so hard her fingers turned white. Did I mention they were with their kids? They were. The man's lips disappeared in a scowl, and it looked like he was going to swing on me. (He was large and I would have died on contact.)

    My wife made komodo dragon noises behind me, and told my children I had embarrassed them. Did I mention I was with my kids? I was! This was accurate, and I would have apologized if I'd had any control over it whatsoever. I didn't. I want to say that I hope they had a good day at the zoo, and that this spoiled nothing. The person saying this is a liar, and I hope it ruined their whole fucking day by thirty-nine points worth of negative life experience because I am not far enough along on my walk with Jesus to be more mature.

    P.S. They took a really, really long time to figure out a comeback. Like a good thirty seconds or so. Noting that makes me a smaller person, and I acknowledge that, too.

    2. To be a better father. See above.

    3. To be a better husband. Refer again to point one.

    4. To eat better. Went to Texas. Holds stomach, presses "QUIT WITHOUT SAVING" over and over again.

    5. To be patient with Florida football. You see, Jim McElwain just took over and there's a lot to be done to roll back the ravages of the Muschamp era. It'll take time, and patience, and--

    Didn't even make it two weeks before we broke out the Windex Coladas. Not even two fucking weeks.

    6. To make a successful detective show on Fox. WILL NOTHING PLEASE YOU, SEPINWALL?

    7. To read more things that are not on the internet. This is written down on a piece of paper along with a bunch of other things and when we remember how to read our handwriting we will get right on that.

    8. To rewatch games that might be interesting now. The only one we've rewatched was Wake Forest/Virginia Tech 2014, so yeah. That's how that's gone.

    9. Work on that book. Let's look in on that progress:

    Far Cry 4 is writing. It is. Yup.

    10. Buy pants. We actually did this. Success is the wind and we are flying the kite of our souls so very high up in its zephyrs already. First pants; then, the world.


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    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zT24XRMZEnM" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe>

    It's been 32 years to the day since Bear Bryant died, which means it's time to watch him talk about football under a huge Golden Flake banner. Not that he could have ever looked anything but old after sixty years, but in this video Bear Bryant is sixty, or three years younger than Nick Saban or Pete Carroll is right now. Chesterfields, vodka, and hard living will turn you into a talking oak tree so much faster than you could possibly imagine. (Thanks to Aubeng for pointing that out.)


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    ENJOY A DELICIOUS BRANDON MARSHALLADA ON US

    Q: Is this actually just a fighting pit that George O'Leary had designated as international territory like the UN to avoid criminal sanctions?

    A: That's absurd. This is just a fun place for fans to enjoy the s-KNIFE FIGHT GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL

    Q: Is there sand? That looks like painted concrete, which would be hot, and just make you hate everything and the decisions that led you to this point in life?

    A: Like most of Florida, it will be poured concrete. It will reflect an authentic Florida experience because it is paved, will be 120 degrees minimum in direct sunlight, and will immediately nurture a fine film of green mildewy mold no amount of bleach or pressure watching will kill. Its very color will scream "HUMANS SHOULD NOT BE HERE," and its feel beneath the soles of your feet will send hate through the soles of your shoes and into the bones of your legs. We believe this to be a truly authentic slice of the representative Florida experience.

    Q: How much are tickets for this area?

    A: Isn't a ticket just a fancy word for renting a seat? And why rent when you can buy! For a one time purchase fee of $28,000 (plus a small annual maintenance charge of $1,750), you'll own the opportunity to spend one week a year* enjoying our beachside area all to yourself! *Subject to availability; new members restricted to stays beginning on Wednesdays in July. You must attend and be stripped naked at our 18 hour workshop to be approved.

    Q: Won't that shiny statue of the UCF mascot get astonishingly bright and dangerously hot in the face-melting sun of a day game in Florida?

    A: As with our football coach George O'Leary, the statue will bear a sign informing children not to touch it at risk of injury. (Also, the statue will be "stolen" two days after it is appraised at an absurdly high value. Be cool and we'll give you a piece of the insurance money.)

    Q: Wait, why did I just see three nude Daunte Culpeppers staggering into the parking lot?

    A: That's not right. The regeneration process isn't supposed to be complete until 2017. Somebody call the containment team. AND YOU NEVER SAW ANY OF THIS.

    Q: Why is this a beach when Orlando has no coastline and no beaches?

    A: Why does Miami have "attendance?" The spirit is what matters for fans, and that's why we believe "every days' a beach" when you're a UCF Knight.

    Q: Isn't that apostrophe misplaced in "every days' a beach"?

    A: Don't think so.

    Q: Pretty sure it is.

    A: Agree to disagree.

    Q: What mixed drinks will be available?

    A: The Dark 'n Stormy Johnson; a series of Blake Bortles and James Wine Coolers; the Brandon Marshallada; the Shaqiri, served in surplus Reebok Shaq Attaq Pump Orlando Magic edition shoe; the Long Island Iced Tea, which George O'Leary invented; the Matt Praterinha; the Toshmopolitan; An Orlando Jack and Coke, where you get high and solicit a handjob at a miniature golf course.

    Q: Will there be water available?

    A: Water will not be available.


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    THE IMAGINARY MOBSTERS OF MISSISSIPPI AREN'T REAL OR OKAY MAYBE THEY ARE

    "THE NETWORK"

    /T͟Hēˈnetˌwərk/

    Proper noun

    1. The loose and mythical agglomeration of good ole boys, Dixie powerbrokers, pine barren barons, oil and gas billionaires, corrupt seersucker-donning legislative lizards, overstuffed pharma reps, and medical product salesmen high on their own supply who allegedly fund, arrange, and control the recruitment of football players to the University of Mississippi. These men (and they, with the exception of a fantastically imagined LeAnn Tuohy of The Blind Side fame,) dominate the state by sowing the system with cash, favors, connections, gifted jobs and sinecures, freebies including tickets, gear, and autographs, access to the rich and their boundless, catfish-scented coffers. This network functions without a trace, relying on handshakes and verbal agreements and untraceable burner phone communications.

    2. A hallucination largely contained to the SEC West that imagines Ole Miss to be capable of way, way more than they actually are as an organization, one that is completely unverified and unsupported by the Rebels' tumultuous history and inability to field a good team consistently for more than two or three years at a stretch. Really, this assumes Mississippi to be capable of organization and coordination in a manner that they are not in literally every other quarter of their existence. This is a preposterous assumption. That'd be like saying that a bunch of people from the state of Alabama could recruit whomever they liked through superior coordination and organization, which...

    3. Shit, I guess it's pretty much the same thing they have everywhere else to some degree in college football, really.

    4. Houston Nutt took the Ole Miss Rebels to back-to-back New Year's Day bowls and don't ever forget that.*

    *Contractually obligated Houston Nutt mention paid for by the Someone Please Employ Houston Nutt Committee, a subsidiary of Nutt Brothers Industrial Concern


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    THE MOMENT WHEN DEREK DOOLEY REALIZED HE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO DENTAL SCHOOL

    Erase This Game is a new offseason feature in which we, merciless jerks that we are, find the dumbest football game ever played by one school. We continue with November 26th, 2011, the day that the Tennessee Volunteers traveled to Lexington to play the Kentucky Wildcats in what would be the dumbest, most pointless game ever played between the two. Until the next year, we think. Don't start looking too hard. There are an unreasonable number of bodies in this mineshaft.

    I. 

    The first completion of Matt Roark's college career, and the longest of the game thanks to the other three receptions going for various sums equaling zero.  Matt Roark was a wide receiver, but with Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith sidelined with injuries Roark was asked to start and asked to run a super-simple veer. Matt Roark's performance here is kind of perfect in its own way. He came in, rushed for 124 yards, and won the game. He's undefeated as a starting quarterback for life in the SEC, because even wins over a Derek Dooley team that went 1-7 in the SEC and lost to Kentucky for the first time since 1981 count.

    The quarterback for that 1981 win, by the way? The magnificent Randy Jenkins, he of the 2 TD/20 INT season in 1982. That's the kind of greatness Matt Roark is joining here. Derek Dooley didn't steal money at Tennessee, because that would imply he did anything on purpose, ever.

    II. 

    Tennessee's first trip across the 50. Look, I get what they were going for here, and, in a void, it's honestly not that dumb. In their SEC games prior to this, the Volunteers had scored as follows: 23, 12, 7, 6, 3, 7, 27. Both of the 20+ scores came against teams with a new head coach; the former was Will Muschamp's Florida team, and the latter was James Franklin and Vanderbilt.

    Touchdowns are like delicious, perfectly made sushi. You'd like to have as much of it as you can, but sometimes that isn't realistic given your circumstances. So you have to settle for the ramen cup of football, the field goal. And you can live on that, for a time at least. It's certainly better than going hungry. 2011 Tennessee couldn't afford sushi, or likely even identify where the nearest sushi restaurant was; accordingly, they went to Costco and bought a palate of ramen cups.

    On the very next drive, they tried to sell those ramen cups for sushi money.

    III. 

    Tennessee's second trip across the 50. Tyler Bray really did have the greatest arm ever, and not just in the "170 pound, 6' 6" dude who looks like a shooting guard from Bulgaria" way. His entire life at Tennessee was really just "My Side of the Mountain," but with a quarterback cast in the role of the despondent, desperate urban child. Maybe it's better to remember Tyler Bray that way, if we can: that he was left feral in Knoxville after a desolate, cold life growing up in the best boarding schools of the Northeast; that he discovered, while trying to knock pigeons off of the roof of the O'Charley's for food, an arm capable of putting pure electricity into the simplest toss; that he then simply walked on to the football team and ate their food until, like the wolves of the pack, they adopted him as their own. It also helps to assume that like wolves, the Tennessee coaching staff could not speak Tyler Bray's language, and that they communicated strictly through urine signals and carefully timed bites. It would explain so much about everything.

    Danny Trevathan was pretty great, and deserved none of this. (Derek Dooley is not a wolf in this story, but instead an aggrieved squirrel who refuses to move out of the hollowed-out tree Bray calls home for three years.)

    IV.

    IV. "Team rush, fumbled" is such a delightful bit of box score bullshittery. It is the passive voice of play by play, assigning blame to no one. The team rushed. There was a fumble. The fumble was recovered by Kentucky. Why should the details matter? When someone lobs a grenade into your house, you don't stop and ask for names and backstory. You just get blown up.

    Sure, technically Tennessee wasted a trip inside the Kentucky ten late in the game by calling a play with a wide receiver lined up in the shotgun. And technically the snap, which was a little high and a little wide, was the sort that your quarterback probably handles easily. And technically this was all just so goddamn stupid.

    But those are DETAILS. "Team rush, fumbled." That's all you need to know.

    V. 

    This keeps alive the only touchdown drive of the day for Kentucky. Tennessee gave up 3rd and 12 to a quarterback who attempted six passes the entire game, who was a converted wide receiver and who had no hope of completing a pass longer than 12 yards. He'd already done that. He spent that card early in the game, and ate that entire box of delicious candy before the movie'd really ever gotten underway. Tennessee still gave up a first down when everyone on the entire defense could have stood at the sticks and dared Roark to make something, anything like a pass downfield. Not everything in life is worth remembering, and most experience is empty space. Just like the 2011 Tennessee Volunteers. Just like them.

    VI.

    Every program has its own signature style of dumb. Iowa punts from the opponent's thirty yard line, USC doesn't realize that it's getting hit with the same exact punch over and over, Notre Dame always puts its trust in the wrong quarterback at that particular point in time. Tennessee's dumb specialty is looking like garbage on offense for most of the game, waiting until things are juuuuuust about out of reach, and then remembering it has that touchdown it packed for lunch.

    And then losing anyways. This is the drive that makes all the other three and outs and turnovers so maddening. It's not that they CAN'T do offense. You just usually fuck it up.

    VII.

    But then their last offensive series ends with this sequence. Remember calling Tyler Bray the stranded child alone in the wilderness? This is the scene where Derek Dooley, the squirrel, watches him set himself on fire with an old camp stove and a leaky bottle of propane he finds in an abandoned campsite. Bray's on fire, stumbling around the camp swatting himself and yelling for someone, anyone, to help him, to put out the flames. Derek Dooley senses something vaguely wrong, but can't do much about it because he's a squirrel with only a passing understanding of fire, harm, or relations with other animals or objects. Is it like orange, stingy rain? Does it work like that? That weird bear seems like he's in trouble, and I never liked him anyway. I'll just stay up here and eat nuts and chitter a while. That seems like the right thing to do.


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    THAT PICTURE? JUST ALABAMA'S HELICOPTER DROPPING OFF SPARE RECRUITS IN AKRON

    PINKELCOPTER. We trust Mizzou with a helicopter, since they're a fairly competent school in most areas even if their journalism school's core curriculum is easily 50% reminding people that Mizzou has a journalism school. "Reminding Others Mizzou Has A Journalism School 1001 ain't bad, but "Continuing to Remind Others That Mizzou Has a Good Journalism School 2002" has ended many aspiring journalists' careers. A fucking bear, that class.

    Some schools should absolutely not have a helicopter for any reason, however. Florida State would loan theirs out to the Tallahassee PD for operations, and no one wants to pay the kind of damages you'd have to pay when Jimbo Fisher puts a hunting arrow through the window of Potbelly's on a failed extraction of his quarterback from a bar fight. His ACC peer Paul Johnson would just use that thing Da Vinci rigged up, claiming no need for anything more advanced. He'd win somewhere between seven and ten games a year with it, too, because it's just like his offense: good enough for the fifteenth century, and good enough for Paul Johnson.

    Alabama's is rigged for parachutes, since those extra recruits on the roster aren't going to drop themselves into North Alabama by themselves. Auburn's is the same, but has an autopilot that only goes to Athens, Georgia.

    Ohio State really needs a Chinook: a thousand interchangeable parts, and it doesn't matter which one of them fails because that thing is still airborne and rolling. Oklahoma would be the one with Mike Stoops randomly slapping at the pedals while Bob Stoops screams at him to stop; Art Briles and Baylor's helicopter would be the fastest in the state of Texas, mostly because Art took the skids and landing gear off to maximize speed. They also share one landing pad with TCU, and are going to get there at exactly the same time with disastrous results. (TCU's is a purple cropduster that sprays the fields with horned frog blood. This may be a real thing Gary Patterson has, for all we know.)

    Florida's would be easy to find: it's the one that hasn't been off the ground since 2012. Good morning!


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