Stewart Mandel has made me his Pavlov’s dog.

It’s a matter of instinct, it’s a matter of conditioning,
It’s a matter of fact.
You can call me Pavlov’s dog.
Ring a bell and I’ll salivate. How’d you like that?

— “Brian Wilson”, Barenaked Ladies

I confess.  I can’t help it – Mandel posts something and I’ve got to take a look, to wade through the banal observations in the hopes of striking gold with some point he makes that defies logic or common sense.

Fortunately, he tends not to disappoint.

And there’s pressure, too, because Michael Elkon has become as sadly conditioned as I am.  It’s become a race to see who’s first with the mockery.   So in all fairness, you should probably check out his latest, um, reaction to Mandel’s piece from yesterday before reading further, since he did beat me out of the gate.  Plus, it’s a tasty savaging.

I did have a couple of thoughts of my own to add, though, as Michael’s gone with more of a macro approach to his ridicule while I want to smack some specific points Mandel raised in his mailbag.

First of all, the idea that the counter-cyclical nature of college offenses is something that just popped into Mandel’s head is either laughable – it’s a concept that’s been openly and intelligently discussed in a number of blogs from Heisman Pundit to Matt Hinton’s old Sunday Morning Quarterback site – or an indication of how little Sports Illustrated’s college football sage actually thinks about the sport he’s responsible for covering.  (Although, to be fair, Mandel does have to spend a fair amount of time pondering which B-list starlet he and his faithful readers are going to drool over in his mailbag each season.)

But the dumb part that really caught my eye with his analysis of the spread and pro-set offenses was this – on the one hand he notes that there are fewer programs that run “traditional” offenses these days because

… there are only a handful of programs fit to run that type of offense. There’s a reason teams like USC, LSU, Georgia and Ohio State continue to be successful with traditional offenses: They have the best players. To run a productive, I-formation offense, a team needs big, bulky linemen, a true tight end, a couple of power runners and, preferably, a 6-foot-5 drop-back quarterback — all of which are becoming increasingly scarce at the high-school level…

but then goes on to pose the musical question

What, then, can a mid-level team do now to gain back that “edge?” Why not go back to a power offense?

With whose players?  I mean, if mid-level programs got away from I-formation football because getting the proper personnel to run it successfully was a hopeless task, what’s changed exactly?

Mandel doesn’t say, of course.  And the example he chooses to illustrate his point – “Keep an eye on Bobby Petrino at Arkansas” – isn’t exactly what most folks from Montana would call a mid-level school.  (Nor is Petrino being paid like a mid-level coach, for that matter.)   Further, it’s not the case that Petrino is changing his offense out of contrarian concerns, or out of any concerns at all; he’s doing the same stuff at Arkansas he was running at Louisville.

A stronger argument would be one that asserts that the schools who have continued to run pro-set offenses may find themselves in an even stronger position to exploit defenses that are constructed to stop the spread because of personnel mismatches.  But that’s not Mandel’s point.

Until next time… it’s back to the Crush, Stewart.


Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Strategery And Mechanics, The Blogosphere

3 responses to “Stewart Mandel has made me his Pavlov’s dog.

  1. It’s also worth noting that Mandel finds a way (albeit subtly), to take his obligatory shot at UGA:

    Keep the Crush. Screw the ones that don’t like it. They can skip over it in the Mailbag, just like I do when Mailbag questions turn to Big East football.
    — David D, Athens, Ga.
    Still bitter over that West Virginia Sugar Bowl? C’mon David, it was nearly four years ago.

    Sadly, I noticed this because, like you, I just can’t look away from the regularly published nonsense.


  2. Dog in Fla

    Evangline Lilly a B-list starlet?

    I think not and her very own Wikipedia proves it:

    “Lilly was once married to Canadian hockey player Murray Hone.[8] Since 2004 she has dated her Lost co-star, Dominic Monaghan. Her fellow Lost actor Josh Holloway also calls her “Freckles”, sharing the nickname his on-screen character Sawyer gave her. She is also known on set for being a tomboy, her Christian faith, and for having a “potty mouth”.[9]

    Lilly has stated that she “live[s] in a bubble”, specifying that she is not familiar with popular culture and does not watch television or own a TV set. She has also said that she would not appear in a nude scene or perform in sexual scenes that she would consider “gratuitous”.[1]

    On the May 9, 2007, Episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, Evangeline Lilly described her deep need to leave her home town after her high school graduation. She did much travelling at this point in her life, moving from town to town approximately every six months. She stated that in each town she took on a persona; for example, she would decide in one town to take on the role of a “nerdy bookworm” and in another, a ditzy “cheerleader” type. She has jokingly stated that, as such, she would frequently date different men.”

    Tomboy, good Christian girl with a potty mouth, who lives in a bubble, would not appear nekkid or doing the sex thing if she thought it was ‘gratuitous,’ (am unsure whether that means she gives or gets a tip), stays in no place any longer than six months, schizophrenic or witness protection program and joking stated that she would frequently date different men, which can only mean that she dated lots and lots of men who were different.

    She certainly seems to have all and more of the qualifications needed to be a Get The Picture Dream Girl especially when she plays the role of head cheerleader.


  3. Alex

    You see, what you fail to understand is that in a power or spread offense, your players can totally suck and you’ll still win! It’s kinda like that classic early 90s movie, Unnecessary Roughness – get a geriatic qb, a girl that can kick field goals and an offensive line compromised of overweight Hawaiian fire-breathers and voila – you have the raw materials of undefeated national title winning team….

    How could we be so misled to question Stewie’s judgment?