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Tag: "NCAA football"

Go Ducks!

[ 30 ] November 3, 2012 |

I would like to withdraw any suggestion/implication that Darron Thomas may have been better in any way than Marcus Mariota in critical road games.

By the way, Kenjon Barner is pretty goddamn obviously the Heisman Trophy favorite at this point.


Der Tag

[ 34 ] November 3, 2012 |

Today is the day that was supposed to set the terms on which Pac-12 and the SEC would be decided. The SEC has mostly held serve; if LSU wins at home they’ll likely knock Alabama out of the SEC championship game, and (probably) out of national title contention. Not so much in the Pac-12, where USC’s losses to Stanford and Arizona mean that the Ducks will probably host the Pac-12 championship game regardless of today’s outcome.  Still, USC could effectively end the Ducks national championship hopes, so it remains a pretty important day.

Were I a betting man I would probably take the Ducks -8.5, but I wouldn’t give much more than that. Marcus Mariota has played well, but I wouldn’t say at this point that I’d rather have Mariota running the offense against USC than Darron Thomas. Mariota appears to be more talented than Thomas, but holding it together in a critical game against an excellent opponent on the road is a thing, and Thomas had that as part of his skill set. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mariota turns out to be brilliant, but he has demonstrated a tendency to try to force passes into triple coverage, which won’t play against the Trojans.

Then again, the Trojans lost 39-36 to a team that the Ducks beat 49-0, so it’s hard to be bullish on their chances.  Even in the wins they haven’t looked great.  Barkley has demonstrated a surprising tendency to make significant mistakes, and I don’t like his chances against the Oregon secondary.  That said, USC is sufficiently talented to pull it together for a single game and beat anyone in the country, so there remain grounds for concern.

I’ll also say that the Ducks defense has been even better than I expected.  The 2010 defense was deeply underrated, mostly because surprisingly few people could make the connection that even an excellent defense will give up a lot of points in Chip Kelly’s scheme.  But this is really a fabulous defense; shutting out Arizona (which scored 39 against USC), and holding ASU and UW to seven each in the first half are genuine accomplishments.  USC probably has the best offense the Ducks has faced so far (although Arizona is close), but I’d be pretty surprised if they put up the same 38 that they did last year.

As for the other game, Alabama looks really, really good, and LSU has struggled in a couple of victories.  I think that the nine point spread is fair, in that it would leave me sorely tempted to bet on LSU.  I hope that LSU wins, as that’ll make it less likely that the Ducks will get pushed out of the national championship game in favor of one of the other undefeateds. Incidentally, Kansas State was scheduled to play at Autzen this year, before they opted out; coulda been a great game, but serves to demonstrate the disincentives that elite teams have for playing one another in the preseason.

…[EL] Here’s a great story about the nation’s best running backs coach, Oregon’s Gary Campbell. The underrated reason Oregon is so dominant is an amazing assistant coaching staff, especially at the running backs and offensive line. I’ve followed Oregon football for 30 years, almost the exact same amount of time Campbell has been there. I don’t think they’ve ever had a year with a bad running game.

Today’s Twenty-Six Seconds Hate

[ 33 ] October 6, 2012 |

It’s been eighteen years; we’ve won eight games in a row, each by 17 points or more; the coaches of both teams now explicitly play down the rivalry. Isn’t it time to retire this clip?

The answer is no. See you at 10:30pm, Huskies fans; it’s so much better when you have hope.

Maybe Shoulda Thought NFL Maybe…

[ 32 ] September 15, 2012 |

It’s always sad hilarious to watch a young man’s Heisman and National Championship aspirations vanish in so much smoke. The narrative for November 3 just became: “Can USC derail Oregon’s national title hopes?”


[ 10 ] September 1, 2012 |

Links as I struggle to stay awake for the Ducks…

  • Vote! Unless you plan to vote for the wrong sequels, in which case you should just stay home. The Final Four are certainly solid, but I think the choices moving forward are quite obvious.
  • Last night I was on Huffington Post Live, talking about the Iraq withdrawal two years on.  Good discussion for reminding us that US withdrawal was deeply unpopular with some factions of Iraqi society.
  • Latest in a long set of not very good days for the Penn St. football program. Go Bobcats!
  • Speaking of which, not a great day so far for the Pac-12…
  • I’m looking at this, and I can’t figure out the Jules-Fabienne connection.  Am I misrecollecting?
  • If you need another debunking of Niall Ferguson, this will do.


[ 19 ] August 24, 2012 |

This young man is exceedingly likely to begin his college career 8-0:

Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota has won the job as starting quarterback for No. 5 Oregon.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly announced Friday that Mariota earned the position over sophomore Bryan Bennett, who was Darron Thomas’ backup last season. Thomas left school early to declare his eligibility for the NFL draft.

Oregon went 12-2 last season and defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks open this season at home against Arkansas State on Sept. 1.

Mariota is the first freshman to start in an opener for Oregon since Danny O’Neil in 1991

Due to a very weak non-conference schedule and a backloaded Pac-12 schedule, the Ducks will very likely run the table until November 3, when they play at USC. Incidentally, that’s the same day as the LSU-Alabama game; I’m hoping that my hangover settles by Election Day. The eight game weak streak gives Mariota a lot of time to settle into the job, but obviously leaves him untested.

Should be interesting…

Brief Sandusky Thought

[ 34 ] July 5, 2012 |

Talking about the case with Scott the other day, I started to wonder why Sandusky-as-coaching-candidate didn’t merit more consistent mention after his retirement in 1999.  An excellent defensive coordinator for a big school with a renowned head coach should excite a great deal of interest from coaches, athletic directors, and sports journalists, yet I have trouble remembering many mentions of Sandusky in the context of openings at major football programs. Journalists, especially, don’t tend to credit the “but I’m retired from coaching” claim with any consistency. To be sure I may be misremembering, and perhaps Sandusky was mentioned more often than I recall.  I have to wonder, though, whether and how some word of Sandusky’s toxicity spread from Penn State through the coaching fraternity and the sports journalist worlds.  Beyond that, I have to wonder about the precise nature of the understanding of his toxicity; did ADs and major journalists simply credit rumors that he was unreliable (or perhaps gay?) and move on? Or, following the 1998 investigation, did word of his actual potential offenses spread through these communities, perhaps propelled by JoePa and others associated with the Penn State football program?

What’s at stake here? Seems to me it’s possible that knowledge of Sandusky’s “problem” wasn’t limited to the Penn State community. Probably not any details, but people may have known enough to know not to ask. I’d be quite curious to know what ADs, head coaches, and journalists covering college football were saying in private about Sandusky post-1999 (and especially post-2001).

Football Players in Eugene Smoke Marijuana? Who Knew!

[ 29 ] April 18, 2012 |

It’s almost too easy for ESPN to go to Eugene for this story.

This is Why Alabama Can’t Have Nice Things

[ 42 ] April 17, 2012 |

This would never happen at Oregon:

A piece of history from the University of Alabama’s championship run was shattered on Saturday afternoon following the Crimson Tide’s annual A-Day scrimmage.

Alabama’s $30,000 crystal BCS trophy shattered into little pieces on Saturday when a player’s father tripped on a rug and knocked over the display table.
The Coaches’ Trophy from this season’s BCS national title was accidentally knocked off its podium and shattered by a player’s father whose foot got caught on a rug that sits beneath the trophy display. The Waterford crystal trophy was on display in the Mal Moore Athletic Facility halls, home to coach Nick Saban’s office and other athletic personnel.

Turn the trophy into a bong? Maybe. Let someone knock it over and break it? Never.

Grades Go Down, But OOH SHINY

[ 10 ] December 28, 2011 |


A team of University of Oregon economists probes one of life’s age-old questions: Is there a relationship between academic gender gaps and a university’s football team’s performance?

The answer looks to be yes. In a National Bureau of Economic Research paper this month, economists Jason Lindo, Issac Swenson and Glen Waddell tracked how much female students at the University of Oregon were outperforming male students on grade point averages. They then mapped that against the number of wins the school’s football team had that season. And they found that, when the Oregon Ducks did better, the male students did worse.

Done? Then allow me to retort.

On broadly the same topic, here are the Bowl Mania standings to date:

1 Dyon1Go00ose 165 96.6
2 aintthatprettyracobeen 153 93.5
2 Drunken Warthogssde1015 153 93.5
4 ADDFTAVII 152 93.1
4 Memphis Jayjshinola 152 93.1
6 No, the other Spartansehlimbach 149 92.2
6 You Shumockcjcarr 149 92.2
6 UnleashtheFurycabotgk 149 92.2
9 Lexington Bearded Ducksfarls0 145 90.8
10 Lafayette’s FinestUKEvan 144 90.4
10 Fighting Red Frozensahsarmiento 144 90.4

This year the system allows you to adjust “confidence” rankings for unplayed games up and down until game time. Good to know if you suddenly get a strange feeling about the UCLA-Illinois game…

The Well-Functioning Bowl System

[ 60 ] December 20, 2011 |

The college football bowl system, a cabal controlling the sport, sure does function effectively. Take the Hawaii Bowl, played on Christmas Eve and this year featuring Nevada and Southern Mississippi:

As of Thursday afternoon, Nevada had sold just 10 tickets through phone sales, but had distributed about 600 because pass-list tickets count in tickets distributed. The Hawaii Bowl, mostly because of its annual Christmas Eve date, has historically not been a well-attended game by fans of mainland teams. In 2009, there were about 150-200 Wolf Pack fans at the Hawaii Bowl.

10 tickets sold!!!!!!!!!!!

Surely fans of the Golden Eagles are ready to fly to paradise to see their team play the Wolfpack:

Brandon’s Rick Deaton said he had at least 16 friends ready to make the trip had the Golden Eagles been headed to bowl games in Dallas or Memphis.

“I think it was the wrong choice with all the positive momentum the program had going. Twenty thousand-plus (fans) would have gone to Dallas, but only a couple hundred are going to Hawaii,” he said.

Teresa Smith of Pro Travel Agency in Hattiesburg said last week that only a handful of flights have been booked through her agency.

“We’ve been receiving a lot of phone calls from people interested in going,” she said. “We’ve made reservations for a handful because the price of an airline flight ranges from $1,500 to $2,000 alone.”

Only $1500 before the game ticket and hotel and food. What a great deal!

Remind me why this game exists again. Teams going to the big bowl games make some money on it. Mid-tier bowl teams more or less break even. At this level though, the schools usually lose money on the game. I think it’s important to reward teams with winning records, but sending them 5,000 miles away and ensuring that no one watches the game and the schools get fleeced for their trouble, well, why?

I’m a huge proponent of the playoff system. In fact, I’d like to see a 32 team playoff. That is a lot of extra games for the winning teams, but you could make up for some of that by returning to the 11 game season. Seed the teams 1-32 and higher seed gets the home game until the final. Imagine the excitement this would create. It would be as big as March Madness.

Of course, teams like Nevada and Southern Mississippi aren’t often going to get to the final 32 unless they win their conference. Though this year, Southern Miss might have edged in. But it’s better for all involved to get these teams a reward that makes sense for the school and its fans. Maybe some sort of NIT-like tournament involving 8 or 12 teams that couldn’t quite make the cut. Maybe keep some sort of bowl game but ensure that it is close enough to the school so fans can attend.

The system as it stands though is completely ridiculous.

Via SB Nation

Bowl Mania Reminder

[ 4 ] December 15, 2011 |

The first bowl games (titanic matchups include Temple vs. Wyoming, San Diego State vs. LA-Lafayette, and of course the Ohio Bobcats vs. the Utah State Aggies in the Idaho Potato Bowl) will begin on Saturday. Fortunately, there’s still time to join the LGM Bowl Mania league:

League: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Password: zevon

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