Daily Archives: August 8, 2007

Stewart Mandel and the Rule of Holes

Stewart, stop digging.

Mandel, in his previous Mail Bag, labelled Florida an elite school in D-1 football and dismissed Georgia as a “regional power”. For some unknown reason on my part, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed that there was some analytical basis for his characterizations.

Well, as my mom used to say, you know what happens when you assume.

In this case, we get another Mail Bag. And Mandel decides to let us in on his analysis. It’s very simple, really.

Suppose we went to, say, Montana. And suppose we found 100 “average” college football fans (not necessarily message-board crazies, but not twice-a-year viewers, either) and put them in a room. If I held up a Michigan helmet, my guess is all 100 would know exactly what it was. If I held up a picture of the USC song girls, all 100 would know who they were. If I happened to bring Joe Paterno along with me, all 100 would say, “Hey, look, it’s Joe Paterno!”

So in the end, it’s not about flagship schools, or talent rich states. It’s not about wins and losses, either:

By any quantitative standard, Georgia has been a far better program than Penn State for some time now. Heck, the Nittany Lions have had four losing seasons this decade, while the Dawgs haven’t won less than eight games in a season. And yet, I would tell you without a moment’s hesitation that Penn State is a national power while Georgia is not.

Because of 100 people in Montana. Seriously.

Here’s his list of national powers: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee*, Texas and USC. See that asterisk after Tennessee? The Vols were a “no-brainer” ten years ago, but have fallen off the map since then “a bit”. But they’re saved because of “Rocky Top”.

This is so lame, it’s not worth challenging. Except for one point.

Mandel says that Georgia isn’t a national power, because

… if I held up a Georgia “G” helmet, how many of them do you think would be able to identify it off the top of their head? And with all due respect to Mark Richt, if we secretly inserted him into a police lineup, how many of them would actually say, “Hey, look, it’s Mark Richt!”

My only question is do you think those 100 Montanans (Montaners? Montananites?) would recognize this fellow if you paraded him in front of them?

Do you know me? I’m the mascot for a regional power.


UPDATE: Michael Elkon, as usual, has some choice thoughts about Mr. Mandel’s latest.



Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

Pundit pontification

Ooh, baby – an Experts (yeah, that’s with a capital “E”) Roundtable on CFN with such luminaries as Dennis Dodd and Stewart Mandel (evidently, Tom Dienhart couldn’t escape from the Zooker’s basement in time) participating in a wide ranging discussion about college football could be a recipe for disaster, but actually doesn’t come off badly at all.

A few of the highlights and lowlights that caught my eye:

  • ESPN’s Joe Schad drives me crazy when he argues for a four team playoff. Again, it’s not the proposal itself that upsets me, it’s the breezy assurance that it’ll all work out because we’re all reasonable people, even the ones who gave Nick Saban a $4 million per year contract: “I respect the value of preserving the importance of college football’s unique regular season. But this will not dilute the significance of it. Delany and others believe opening the gate with a four team postseason would inevitably lead to an 8 and then 16 team playoff. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think most reasonable people believe at the end of any given season, only four teams deserve a true shot at a national championship.”
  • CFN’s Pete Fiutak’s shopping list of how to improve the BCS is good. Really good: “First, I’d make strength of schedule a huge, huge factor. That would put the pressure on the better teams to play better non-conference games. Second, I’d diminish the importance of the human polls. More on that later. Third, I’d make a rule that only conference champions can play for the national title. I can’t believe I have to fight so many people on the fact that if you’re not good enough to win your conference, technically, you shouldn’t deserve to win the national title. It’s a surprisingly tough concept to grab for our playoff-loving nation. Fourth, I’d eliminate the automatic bids. If you’re in the top ten, you’re in. And finally, to keep this in the realm of the realistic (as opposed to a full-blown playoff system that won’t happen for the foreseeable future), I’d go with the plus-one format. If you want a big playoff so badly, then cancel the regular season, come up with one big playoff, and then you have what you really want. Outside of the NFL, to a lesser extent, no other sport has a regular season that matters. College football has to preserve that, but it also needs a better way of coming up with a champion.”
  • Fiutak also nails the problem with the polls: “The polls. I can’t stress this point enough; the coaches have no clue about the ins and outs of college football beyond their own conferences. How many ACC coaches can name three Oregon State Beavers? Who’s the starting quarterback for Boise State? How good is the Georgia Tech linebacking corps compared to the Texas Tech corps? The coaches are too busy to know the answers to any of these questions, yet it’s their poll, along with the Harris Poll, that’s basically deciding the national championship.During the season, forget about it. The coaches don’t have time to watch any games outside of their own. Do you really believe Bobby Bowden sits down to watch that big TCU – BYU game after his Noles play? Like Jeff Tedford spends the morning of gameday analyzing all the ACC showdowns. College football needs to set up a committee, like the one that puts together the NCAA basketball tournament pairings, to do nothing but watch, debate, and analyze the teams on a full-time basis, and then have them rank accordingly…”
  • Stewart Mandel’s suggestion for the one on the field change that needs to be made doesn’t exactly rock my world. Eliminate, or, at the very least, loosen up the excessive-celebration rule on touchdowns.”
  • The entire panel makes good points about what they consider to be the most overrated aspect of college football, but the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein gets off the best one liner: “Well, after seeing Michigan and Ohio State get spanked in their bowl games, the Big Ten has to wear it.”
  • Mandel, of all people (although Fiu echoes him), gets one thing very right. In talking about the most underrated aspect of college football, he’s got this to say: “The regular season. With all the time and energy spent every year debating the BCS and postseason format, I don’t think we appreciate nearly enough just how unique and dramatic those 12 or 13 weeks really are…”
  • Greenstein, in answer to where the game will be in ten years, gets off the Roundtable’s second best one liner, too: “Nick Saban, who will have left Alabama to return to LSU only to go to Auburn, will make $12 million a year…”
  • The low point comes with the responses to the last question, an invitation to critique the fans. They all come off as condescending, even when they’re making a fair point.


Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

What is it with some people? Why is having a good thing never quite enough?

First, this incredible diatribe from Clay Travis (h/t DawgsOnline):

For about a month I can forget that the relationship between college football’s power structure and their fans is broken more than any sport in America. That college football fans are going to turn out by the millions to root on their favored teams even though we know all along that each week is more like a trip to the dentist for a root canal than an actual enjoyable football experience.

What game has he been going to? Five conferences set attendance records in 2006. As for “broken relationships” between sports power structures and fans, get back with me when they cancel a college football season over a labor dispute, dipshit.

All of this leads to some exciting proposal he’s got (actually, it’s just something he’s borrowing from college basketball) about playing conference matchup games to spark the beginning of the season, but after a paragraph like that, he could suggest free football and I wouldn’t care. Truly asinine.

On a totally unrelated front, what do you do when you’ve got one of the most beautiful stadiums in college football in a unique setting that seats 60,000 fans and it’s filling up to about 80% of capacity (putting you 42nd nationally in attendance) ? Well, if you didn’t guess listen to a first year head coach – who had no previous relationship with your school other than to bring in an opponent to play you – push for an expansion of your stadium, you’d be wrong, sporto.

Butch Davis, who became Carolina’s coach in December, expressed excitement over the possibilities that the project would cost $100 million and would start within 18 months.

“We would like to get it going as soon as we can,” Kirschner said. “But the details? We’re not there yet. (Davis) threw out numbers and a time frame, and they may end up being what it is, but now it’s in the early stages of the process. But this is clearly a process we would like to get done.”

The stadium holds 60,000. University officials are talking about adding seats but haven’t decided how many or even if they will expand seating capacity.

They don’t know the cost. They don’t know the time frame. They don’t know how many seats to add. Or even if they will add. But, by God, they want to get ‘er goin’!

All of this is probably a metaphor for something. When I figure out what, I’ll let you know.

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Filed under General Idiocy

Wildcattin’ around

In case you were thinking that, with a change of offensive coordinators at Arkansas, a certain mutant formation might go by the wayside there, a couple of photos from yesterday’s practice posted at Razorbloggers ought to put that thought to bed:

I believe there are Tennessee defensive players that still wake up with McFadden nightmares from their game last year.

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Filed under SEC Football

Fashion is not a sense.

The Wizard of Odds scores with two tremendous photos that show how little taste has to do with being a successful college football player.

First, we learn that Darren McFadden was a serial cross dresser in high school:

McFadden’s the one on the left.


Then, he lets us in on the troubles facing Arizona defensive end Louis Holmes and his impressive ‘do:

For Mr. Holmes, every day is a bad hair day.


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Filed under General Idiocy, The Blogosphere

Competitive thuddery

I always like it when a coach gets all technical and starts spouting off in jargonese. Here’s something from David Ching’s blog that Mark Richt said yesterday:

“… we’re allowed to be in full pads tomorrow, but we’ll put ’em in shells tomorrow, but we’ll start to engage in the thud aspect of the game and be a bit more competitive.”

Yeah, the “thud” aspect of the game… at some schools that might have been a misprint.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Hell hath no fury

Mr. Chris Rix Senior pens a letter to the Miami Herald.

A combination of religious references, bitterness and cluelessness, it’s worth a read.

He may be a legend to some people, but not to me. From the little I know, Christianity is based on God laying down His Son’s life for others, not sacrificing other peoples’ sons for your own. It’s not about dissing the 1st Commandment and having a statue built of yourself, and then, like Aaron, saying, ”the boosters made me do it.” Maybe, If God is watching, a 7-6 season is His way of polishing up the message “don’t have no graven images before Me.”

The clueless part?

Like that great recruiting line as we sat in his office in Jan. of 1999 and he said: ”I’ll treat your son just like my own son. . . .”

Hey, Mr. Rix, the joke’s on you. He did.

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Filed under College Football, General Idiocy

Recruiting factoid

Bet you didn’t know department: 84 percent of the recruits in Steve Spurrier’s first three classes at South Carolina were special admits.

No wonder he got so upset the other day.

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Filed under The Evil Genius