Archives for May 2008

Once a Buckeye

I wanted to highlight a couple articles that have piqued my interested lately.

The first is a little bit old, but it was ESPN’s first mock draft for the NBA that had the Cavaliers somehow ending up with Kosta Koufos (h/t The Sports Diva Magazine). I think Kosta will eventually become a solid NBA performer but he needs to get mean first. He needs to get to the free throw line a little more frequently for a big man. But the Cavs have a need to start developing the next Zydrunas and he could fit that bill nicely. Another part of the article mentioned the possibility of the Bucks wanting to trade Michael Redd away in their efforts to rebuild. I know it’s a long shot and pipe dream, but I would love to see Redd in the Wine and Gold.

One can dream.

The other is about a MotSaG hero, our favorite #10, Troy Smith (h/t The Silver Bullet):

With a big arm and even bigger chip on his shoulder, Smith has outplayed the other quarterbacks during this spring’s minicamps, backing up his claim there is “no doubt” he can go from a fifth-round pick to a starting quarterback in one season.

Everyone in Buckeye Nation wants to see Troy prove all the non-believers wrong. Even if he is a Raven, we are all rooting for him to take over his team and succeed.

The coaching staff, though, has been just as impressed with Smith off the field as on it. He has perfect attendance in the weight room and the classroom.

This is what four years under Jim Tressel will do. When Smith was a freshman, a quote like this would have surprised me. Four years later, not so much.

He proved himself to the team when he showed poise despite being pushed into starting the final two games last season. It seems veterans respond to Smith more than the other quarterbacks.

Looks like the Ravens are starting to see what Buckeye fans saw at the end of the 2004 season and the beginning of 2005. The Buckeyes just played better when Troy came in. It was a noticeable difference in the way the other players responded when he came into the huddle. It was his team and everyone played that way.

So good luck, Troy. Just not when you play the Browns.

There’s always next …

I started a post on Friday during the Cavs/Celtics game, when the Cavs were down, saying how I was actually going to feel relieved if the Cavs lost Game Six. I wouldn’t have to go through the pain and agony of a close Game Seven.

Of course, I’m a fan of a Cleveland team, which means I am doomed to suffer the maximum amount of pain. This fact accounts for the close game, up until the very bitter end, this afternoon. LeBron provided an LeBronian effort, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough.

In the end, I guess I can take a bit of bittersweet solace that Kevin Garnett has proven, yet again, that he can not win the big game. For all his mean-face, chest-thumping bravado, he faded like he always does. And that makes me happy. This was all Paul Pierce. Turns out the “Big Three” is really “Paul Pierce and that really skinny guy who can’t win the big one and that dude who was in that movie with Denzel”. Hopefully we can put talk of “The Big Three” to rest. It isn’t even the “Big Two Featuring Ray Allen“.

So now it’s total boredom for the next three months. Great. I’m going back to GTA IV.

What we’ve been up to

I know we have been slacking in the updates department around these parts, but we have legitimate excuses. They come in the form of little 12 cm discs of gaming goodness. To pass the boredom of the off-season, the Monkey and I turn to electronic entertainment to pass the time. Myself, I can’t drag myself away from Grand Theft Auto IV. You might have heard of it.

The Monkey and I also have been getting our Mario Kart Wii on. While it’s no GTA IV, it’s no slouch either.

We’ve also been Twittering away like the good Web 2.0 acolytes we are. Everyone should know what I had for breakfast, that’s my mantra.

If you’re interested in a different side of us bloggers, you can check out our Twitter feeds. You do Twitter, don’t you? Of course you do. How do we know? Lots of reasons. For one, you’re reading this blog. That says a lot about you. It says you’re savvy, you’re handsome/beautiful, and of course, due to your association with the Ohio State University, you’re well educated. So we’re sure you know all about Twitter. You can follow the Monkey here and el Kaiser here.

If you don’t know what Twitter is, let us know. We’ll be more than happy to explain.

We’ll be exploring other Web 2.0 fun stuff as we get closer to the season, but we’ll be going into full blogging mode as soon as we can shake the shackles of the real world. Niko isn’t going to take over Liberty City by himself, you know.

Witnessing once again

LeBron is rising up and, once again, we are witnesses.

Is there anyone less menacing than Kevin Garnett? He does his scary “I’m pumped up!” growl mean face and no one notices. I think when Garnett gets mean, an angel is given its wings and puppies giggle uncontrollably.


What nobody is saying about the playoff argument

Now that BCS conference commissioners have universally shot down a playoff system, the internets are full of bloggers offering their two Abe’s worth on the matter.

Some, of course, argue for some type, any type, of playoff. Plus one, four team, six team, eight team – it doesn’t matter as long as the BCS gets replaced. Others argue against a playoff, either by sticking with the BCS or moving back to the bowl alliances entirely.

But in all the arguments for and against, nobody has yet stated what the actual root problem in CFB is:

It’s the poll system that’s the problem, people.

It’s the poll system that’s broken. Unless the polls are fixed, any changes to CFB will be an exercise in futility.

The primary issue with the BCS is not that it’s unable to match up nos. 1 and 2 – it does that just fine. The problem is that it contains no institution to ensure that the teams ranked number 1 and 2 are in fact the two best teams in the country, as the BCS rankings themselves are compiled using a flawed poll system.

Playoff advocates bleat on about “settling it on the field,” but their own systems are just variations of the same flawed concept: “we’ll just seed the top X teams…”

Top ‘X?’

Whatever the ‘X’ is, what institution decides who those teams are? What decides exactly where those teams relatively lie in that list of four/six/eight/etc.? What if different polls have differences, e.g., USC at #1 in the AP, #2 in the Coaches’, #3 in the Harris, and #7 in the computers?

Most advocating for one of the three options (Playoff/BCS/Pre-BCS) are ignoring this most important issue.

For example, consider MGoBlog’s solution to worldwide peace:

“But I would like to argue that, conceptually, the right playoff is a net positive for college football in all ways. Arguments like “but it will soon be 16 teams” won’t be addressed; I am advocating my [MGoPlayoff] system, not other, stupid systems.”

Brian’s MGoPlayoff system (which, btw, was written right after OSU knocked UM out of contention for the 2006 title) is very typical of most playoff ideas, in that it doesn’t require nor ask for any changes to the poll system to be made. They’re largely just variations of the same flawed idea. It’s always assumed that playoff seeding will happen automagically, and that even if it’s imperfect,

“…just because a playoff is still a little broken does not mean that it is not a preferable option to something that is almost always broken”

“Still a little broken” is the elephant-in-the-room understatement, as it minimizes the reality of the CFB playoffs being a lot broken most of the time.

For the record, I am against a playoff. Mostly because of the damage it would do to the bowl system. No, I’m not arguing about “bowl tradition,” just the reality that the bowls serve a very good purpose, by financing schools’ athletic programs. Jeff Snook:

“Ohio State for example, fields 36 men and women’s sports. Most major programs have somewhere in the 20s. From women’s field hockey to lacrosse to synchronized swimming, etc. You know what helps pay for those women’s sports, etc.? That‘s right — bowl money.

“Frankly, my daughter is a pretty good fast-pitch softball player. I want her to go to college. I wouldn’t mind if she received an athletic scholarship. She has a better chance of getting one at a BCS school because they have the means to pay for it, because there are 32 bowls generating almost $200 million annually.”

El Kaiser disagrees with me, and would run over his grandmother to get a playoff. However, whichever side of the argument we advocate, the one thing we both agree on is that the problem with either solution lies in the CFB poll system.

Do I have an answer? No. I do have a few ideas, though:

Get rid of preseason polls entirely. In fact, forbid all polls until at least one month of CFB has passed.

I’d support a poll-less system until week six (or even eight) of the season. Even if the BCS was never changed again, this step alone would solve the majority of the problems with the system. Never again would the high spots be choked up with teams whose rankings were dropping because they were ‘failing to meet their preseason potential.’ Precious weeks are lost, and teams that start in the preseason ranked around 20 will often never have enough time to rise high enough to earn a title shot – no matter how good their season may be. Starting the polls later in the season, and perhaps limiting the number of “ranked” teams to 12 or so (instead of 25) will give a better picture of who is actually going to be competing for the title.

Yes, this will upset the networks who like to use the rankings to compete against each other, but we all know that ratings are not going to suffer. College football is getting more popular every year, and ratings are increasing accordingly. And besides, to heck with the networks, anyway.

Revamp which polls are used at the end of the season.
Value opinions that come from informed sources. Ergo, Coaches’ poll – out. AP poll – out. The former is comprised of votes cast with five minutes of scanning the ESPN win/loss column. (Even the Master Coaches’ Survey would be more accurate.) The AP rankings are largely derived from of ill-informed, uneducated, agenda-driven view of reality created in the head offices at SI and ESPN and driven into voters’ conscious with a style of brainwashing so effective it would excite George Orwell. Do we allow the music industry to tell us what music is the ‘best?’ Then why do we allow the sports industry to tell us which football teams are the ‘best?’

The argument goes like this: because these folks are ‘journalists,’ they know more about the sport than most others. Plus, there are some amount of internal ethics that require an unbiased viewpoint. Reality? BUNK. The primary audience reading this post knows the truth. How many times have you read a Stewart Mandel column and thought, “man, that cat has NO idea what he’s talking about.” Or maybe you’ve been puzzled on the numerous occasions when another writer would mention ‘so-and-so’ having a sub-par performance when that player had been out with injuries for weeks. Or maybe you’ve been wondering as to why it took the media so many years to stop pushing Notre Dame’s dominance down our throats, when the rest of us knew that ship sailed a long time ago.

The reality is that modern ‘journalists’ are so distracted by other matters (other sports, deadlines, being first with bad news, shiny things, etc.) that they often only have time to give superficial consideration to analysis. All that’s left is a rhetorical method that I call Sound-Byte Logic – phrasings and opinions that misinform and contain little accuracy but still manage to stick in collective subconsciousness because they sound witty.

For example, consider the ‘SEC Speed’ myth, or the current flavor-of-the-month of calling no-huddle, pro-set, and empty backfield offenses ‘Spread Offenses’ (whether or not it’s actually spread). All examples of Sound-Byte Logic.

Contrary to what appears logical, I think that using a biased source isn’t all that bad, so long as it’s balanced out. Ergo, BlogPoll – in. Especially if we keep the computer poll averages. BlogPoll voters are biased, of course, but for the most part cancel each other out. Also, sportsbloggers are extremely informed of the contextual realities and nuances of the sport – something that is not happening with most of the folks who are casting their votes in the other polls. The opposite is true of the computers, which don’t rely on subtle contextual cues at all – a good counterpoint to something like the BlogPoll.

Any other ideas on improving the poll system?

Penn State fans demand Sean Lee win the Butkus

Blog/site newsORLANDO, FL – Students from Penn State University entered their fourth day of protest outside the Downtown Athletic Club today, refusing to back down from their demand that Sean Lee, the school’s coveted linebacker, should win the 2008 Butkus Award.

“It’s not fair,” said Rufus Engolman, a freshman landscape architecture major. “They’re saying that just because he won’t play a down this year, he’s not eligible.”

Sean Lee broke his anterior cruciate ligament in practice on April 11, ending his chances of contributing this season. Fans say Lee’s status shouldn’t preclude him from being considered for the award, typically given to college football’s best linebacker.

Eighth-year senior Barney Slonicker agrees. “I mean, we’re Penn State, you know? Last year was the Laurinaitis travesty, and now this. Don’t even try to tell me there’s not a bias against us.”

In 2007, OSU’s James Laurinaitis won the Butkus over the favored PSU Linebacker Dan Connor. The consensus in the CFB community is that the award was given to make up for the snub that occurred the previous year, when PSU’s Paul Posluszny won the award over the future NFL Hall of Famer A.J. Hawk, an OSU graduate.

“Okay, maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to compromise on Lee actually winning the award. His nomination had better be a given, though. Or maybe they could create a new award for him, something like the ‘Lee’s Knees Memorial Award’ or something like that. Understand? We just want someone to listen to us. And do what we say.”

The Downtown Athletic Club disagrees with Slonicker and the other protesters. Two days ago, the organization sent its spokesperson out to the crowd to read a prepared statement: “While we respect the fact that Penn State has, on occasion, produced a quality linebacker, we are unable and unwilling to make an exception for a player that will not play a down this season. Thank you for your interest, and we wish all of you a very exciting college football season. We’ll see you in December.”

The statement was not received well by the protesters, who drowned out the company official with profanity-laden chants and then attacked her with a violent flurry of beer bottles.

Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney offered his own opinion on the events. “The sense of entitlement Nittany Lions fans have is shocking, and absolutely not representative of the rest of the Big 10 Conference. I’m starting to wonder how good of a decision it was to let them in. Our condolences go out to the victim’s family. We’re all praying for a speedy recovery.”