Archive for the ‘The Wide World of Sports’ Category

Michigan’s Sweetheart

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

No, I don’t mean Hillary Clinton, but Skunkbear head coach Dick Rodriguez:

Newly hired Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed Tuesday night that receivers Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington and quarterback Ryan Mallett are no longer with the team.

Rodriguez confirmed the news in an impromptu briefing with the media at halftime of the men’s basketball game against Indiana.

“Obviously, with Mario and Adrian, they made a decision they thought would help them professionally and decided to come out early,” Rodriguez said. “We wish them well and that’s all I have to say about that.”

As for Mallett, Rodriguez declined to give many details. But when pressed on the freshman’s status, he replied: “I don’t care. He’s not playing for Michigan. I’m concerned with who’s playing for Michigan.”

My, oh my. What a doll. A match made in Ann Arbor, indeed.

Chris Donald: Academic superstar

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Remember Chris Donald, the Tennessee linebacker who was one of ND’s primary recruiting targets last year, and whose recruitment was rumored to have involved numerous silent verbals to multiple institutions, only to culminate in his picking up a UT cap at the Army All-American game? Remember the drama, the agony, the disappointment?

Well, it turns out your frustration wasn’t half that of the poor suckers who ended up with him in the classroom:

The Vols’ leading receiver, Lucas Taylor, is ineligible to play against Wisconsin on Jan. 1 as well as reserve receiver Kenny O’Neal, reserve defensive back Ricardo Kemp and freshman linebacker Chris Donald. ESPN.com reported on Thursday that defensive starters Demonte Bolden and Rico McCoy failed to meet the necessary academic requirements to play in the Outback Bowl, too.

Now, THAT’S impressive. One semester as a college student, zero minutes of playing time, one disqualification for failing to make it to class:

“We have every resource available through our academic center for academic success by our athletes in all of our sports,” [head coach Phillip] Fulmer said in a statement. “In most of these cases, it was simply the student-athlete not being accountable and doing their work. … One bright spot is the fact that all of these athletes will be in school spring semester.”

Well, isn’t that good to hear.

Really, there’s nothing quite so hilarious about the college bowl season as watching the disqualifications roll in as soon as final grades are handed out. It’s a shame the NCAA doesn’t take a look at how players are doing on their midterms …

(HT: “Ebeling,” on the IRT shout box.)

Urban Meyer to the Falcons?

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

(Or the Dolphins?) You monger those rumors, domer.mq. And I’ll monger them right along with you. And we will celebrate if we’re right, and laugh if we’re wrong.

Somebody please explain to me how this is an improvement on the old system

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

So far as I can figure it out, if we were still living in the pre-BCS days, the slate of major bowl games would have looked something like this:

  • Rose Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State
  • Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. Oklahoma
  • Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia
  • Fiesta Bowl: Pick two from Hawaii, Illinois, Florida, Mizzou/Kansas, or Arizona State
  • Cotton Bowl: Mizzou or Kansas vs. Georgia

Maybe I’m just a traditionalist, but doesn’t that seem a hell of a lot better than this mess? Just let all the good teams play each other for one more week, see how things shake out, and THEN let the polls do their best at crowning a national champion. I’m as opposed to a playoff as anybody, but it seems to me that the old system was a hell of a lot closer to it than the current one. And at least it had history on its side. Blech.

Vote or die.

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Over at ESPN.com there’s a poll going to determine the “greatest college football coach of all time,” the winner of which will be announced during the Rose Bowl. At present, a staggering 88% of the vote is divided between Bear Bryant and Tom Osborne, with the legendary Knute Rockne (102-12-5, with six national titles, in 13 seasons as a head coach) polling at a mere 2%. No doubt this is the product of frenetic get-out-the-vote campaigns among the Alabama and Nebraska netroots (not much going on out there, eh?), but now it’s time for the Irish nation to do their part. So get up off your butt - or stay sitting on it, actually - and cast a vote for Knute. Or die.

The buck stops … where?

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

I know I’ve already gone after him once today, but I just can’t help it. Via Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, here’s an account of what’s been going on at the University of Washington as the Huskies have lost five straight games following their 2-0 start:

For the past two weeks, Ty Willingham and his staff have been — and it pains me to even write this — blaming players for the team’s shortcomings.

This a 2-6 team whose two wins are against a horrible Syracuse team and Boise State — before new quarterback Taylor Tharp got comfortable.

Washington has given up 1,719 yards and 147 points in the last three games, and these are some of Ty’s remarks:

After a loss to Oregon, Ty said the Huskies “need more bullets” in their gun to compete. Of Southern Cal — which isn’t part of the last three losses — Ty told the Seattle Times, “How many of our starters, when we lined up against USC that night, would’ve started for them?”

Later, Ty had to “clarify” his comments, and came up with this jewel: “We need to put (players) in the best position possible, that’s the job of a coach. And at the same time, your players have to make the plays. It’s always a combination, it’s never just one.”

So this is what respected Washington president Mark Emmert — a UW alum who loves football and has been through the meat grinder as chancellor at LSU — is paying millions for? Let me explain something here; it’s a very simple process:

1. Staff recruits players.
2. Staff coaches players.
3. Players perform how they are coached.

That’s it, people. If Washington is struggling, it’s coaching. Willingham has three recruiting seasons under him — more than enough time to start a turnaround or at least become a respectable team that can beat the Arizonas of the world.

If it weren’t for [Jake] Locker, this team would be winless. Instead, the staff is spineless.

If this team is lacking “bullets” as Ty says, it’s his fault. It’s like the classic Seinfeld episode where George rebuffs a date because she’s bald. Elaine so eloquently says — hands coned around her mouth — “You’re bald!”

So Ty’s players aren’t good enough?

You’re the guy recruiting them!

Somewhere, wacko Notre Dame fans have to be smiling.

“Smiling” isn’t quite right, since I do actually feel for all the members of the Husky faithful who’ve been taken in by this loser, and who’ll have to wait at least another half-decade to undo the harm he’s doing to their program. But yeah, that pretty much hits things on the nose. (The Seinfeld reference is especially well-placed; one imagines a disgruntled UW alum tossing Willingham’s headset out of an apartment window, and Ty leaning halfway out as it falls to the street.)

It’s worth comparing Willingham’s explanation of his team’s suckitude with the Charlie Weis’s answer to a reporter who asked him about the factors that led to Notre Dame’s 1-7 start (I quoted this earlier in the week):

Well, first of all, let’s start with coaching, because what you just did in your question is gave me about 15 different excuses for us being 1 and 7, so why don’t we just start with 1 probably, with the transition that we’ve had from last year to this year, have not done the best job of having the team ready to go on a week in and week out basis, and we probably should leave it at that one because if you are looking for me to give you a whole dossier of problems that have happened this year, there would be too many things. If you want good fodder, let’s just throw me out there, okay. … I think that if you start with the head coach doing a better job, then you’d probably have a better record.

And there you have it, folks. Weis is willing to recognize what Willingham is not: that excuses don’t count for anything when you put a poor product on the field.

To be more precise, the real point is this: OF COURSE the circumstances in which both Weis and Willingham have found themselves this season have been less than conducive to winning. But that doesn’t change the fact that those circumstances are in part their own responsibility, nor does it make it okay for them to shift the blame to their PLAYERS, of all people. When you’re a third-year head coach, explanations of your team’s failures start and end with you.

Hayes deserves some serious kudos for calling Willingham out for this bullcrap. I’ll be dollars to donuts we don’t see Pat Forde or Jon Chait doing the same thing any time soon …

(HT: stonebreaker22.)

Quote of the week

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Ty is a damn joke, the domers were right.

- From an unidentified commenter on a post at Wizard of Odds about the anger among Washington football fans at the spectacular job Tyrone Willingham and his staff are doing at running yet another once-proud program into the ground. See here for some very funny stuff up the same alley. (HT: Rakes and domer.mq, respectively.)

But we all knew that. The real question is whether Jon Chait is right about Charlie Weis. Tune in Saturday to find out …

Pitch right … and left, and right, and left, and right, and …

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I’ve already noted that Navy’s defense has been nothing short of horrendous this year. The Middies do their best to make up for that, though, with a rushing game that ranks first in the nation - and by a huge margin - at 342.88 yards per game, which puts their total offense at #16 nationally and their scoring offense at #19.

What makes the Midshipmen offense so dynamic, you ask? The answer, of course, is their crazy option offense. This year, though, they seem to have kicked it up a notch from years past, as this footage makes clear:

That’s right, it’s the quindecuple-option, coming soon to a Michiana stadium near you. Fear the Kaheaku-Enhada Explosion, Irish fans … fear it.

(HT: IrishDodger.)

Rage against the (hype) machine

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

I know I’ve already been over this, but after watching tonight’s tOSU-tPSU game I can’t help bringing it up again:

  • Todd Boeckman, @ PSU, 2007: 19/26, 253 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
  • Troy Smith, vs. PSU, 2006: 12/22, 115 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT

And here, for the junkies, are the season-long numbers once again (italicized stats are projected to a 13-game season):

Boeckman is the starting quarterback for the #1 team in the nation. He made some throws tonight that Smith couldn’t have completed in his wildest dreams. But unless I missed something, there was NO discussion of the possibility that he might be a Heisman candidate this year. Which just goes to show you what preseason hype, or the lack thereof, can do to you.

NEWS BULLETIN: Transitive Football Herpes spreads like wildfire across Big Ten; infects Pac-10 and MAC as well

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

The TFH VirusIndianapolis, Indiana: With disease-ridden UCLA’s victory over California this past Saturday, the Pac-10 conference has now seen its second member infected with a deadly strain of Transitive Football Herpes that has been casting an ominous cloud over the college football landscape since Div. I-AA Appalachian State’s opening-week victory over Michigan and Michigan’s subsequent victory over Notre Dame two weeks later, increasing its prominence from a mere two teams on the eve of the fourth week of the season to a robust fourteen as the schedule heads into week nine. The Bruins were infected in week six by the Fighting Irish, who thankfully have remained otherwise winless through the first two-thirds of their schedule.

The same has not been true for Michigan, as the resurgent Wolverines have been sowing their diseased oats throughout their own conference, with victories over previously-uninfected Penn State in week four, Northwestern in week five, and Purdue in week seven. Along the way, Michigan also managed in week six to pass the virus along to Eastern Michigan of the Mid-American Conference, a team that has thankfully remained winless in conference play since then and so has not yet managed to pass the condition along to any of its interim partners.

The MAC and the Pac-10 stand on the precipice of the sort of outbreak that has brought the Big Ten to its proverbial knees over the past month and a half: with the exception of Purdue, each of the teams infected by Michigan has won at least one game since contracting TFH, and several of the teams they infected have in their turn spread the disease to yet another vanquished foe. At present, ten of the Big Ten’s eleven [sic] members are carriers of the virus, with undefeated Ohio State the lone exception.

The following charts provide a graphical representation of the current scope of the damage (click to enlarge):

The first graphic details the overall spread of the virus, broken down by conference affiliation, while the chart on the right hand side chronicles the total number of teams infected with TFH at the end of each week of the season. As it makes clear, ten of the fourteen currently infected squads came down with the virus since the end of week five, though its spread tapered off a bit from weeks seven to eight once the infection rate in the Big Ten neared saturation.

Speaking to the media at an emergency press conference, NCAA spokeswoman Gail Dent expressed hope that the fact that the remainder of the season consists largely of intra-conference games will contain the TFH outbreak within the three conferences already infected, though she added that “if Notre Dame gets their sh*t together and takes out a few more teams before the end of the year, we could see several more conferences go down.”

“The only solution,” added NCAA president Myles Brand after Dent’s statement, is for the 105 uninfected teams to “STOP FREAKING LOSING TO TEAMS THAT HAVE LOST TO TEAMS THAT HAVE LOST TO TEAMS THAT HAVE LOST TO FREAKING MICHIGAN.” In response to a reporter’s question, Brand said that he too took “comfort” in the fact that most teams were playing primarily within-conference games now, so that perhaps the disease would restrict itself to “those select groups of morons who have already brought this plague upon themselves,” adding: “It’s kind of like back when I was in college, you know, before condoms and all, and we swingers would take care of ourselves by sectioning off into little groups and just hoping that nobody in our circle came down with something. Gotta keep it in the family, you know?”

Reached for comment via telephone, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt reiterated the Bush Administration’s official position that intervarsity abstinence is the best way to avoid TFH and other athletically-transmitted diseases, but remarked also that “if these idiots are going to keep whoring around on Saturday afternoons, the least they could do is use a bit of common sense and stop f**king losing.”

In the meantime, the non-fatal but still unpleasantly itchy counterpart to the TFH virus, Transitive Football Crabs with Backwards Causation, has been having an utter field day with the NCAA. Unlike TFH, TFCwBC is able to spread not only when a team loses to a team that is already infected, but can “backtrack,” and so infect any team that has suffered a loss to an infected team, even if the victorious squad becomes infected only later on. For example: although Cal did not lose to a TFH-infected team until last Saturday and so has not yet been able to pass that virus on to any other opponents, TFCwBC has already managed to seek out and infect Tennessee, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech, Arizona, and Oregon, all of whom lost to the Bears earlier in the season. While the NCAA does not maintain any official statistics on TFCwBC, information obtained by the Irish Roundup indicates that at present, the only BCS Subdivision teams not to have been infected by this condition are undefeated Boston College, Kansas, Ohio State, Arizona State, and Hawaii. But with the way the college football season has been going so far, each of these teams must be well aware that they are only a slip-up away from a bad case of crabs.

Stay tuned to the Irish Roundup for further TFH/TFCwBC updates.