Thursday, August 31, 2006

First Undefeated Team in Football

Congratulations to the Boston College Eagles, who at 8:29PM CT became the first undefeated team in college football. Would one of my knowledgeable readers please, please tell me what the hell the idea behind the "Swinging Gate" is?

The Swinging Gate: Less flashy than Communism, but equally impractical.

Friday Night Lites - Kickoff Classic Edition

Awwwwwwwwwww, shiiit. It's time for some Friday Night Lites, bitches! As I qualify in my intro, I've been battling the cold this week, so I've been on a strict regimen of cold medicine, NyQuil, sleep depravation, and good old germ-killing booze. Suffice to say, my voice is all over the map, especially since some of these segments were recorded on different days with varying degrees of sinus infection.

But no worries, because this is the bombest Friday Night Lites ever. The man, the myth, the legend, Orson Freaking Swindle from EDSBS is in the house shooting the breeze about Notre Dame - Georgia Tech, tailgating, and his bizarre personal fetishes. And to top it off, Jay from Blue-Gray Sky phones in and we talk about some seroius Irish football.

Also, you might notice the new segment on the show: The Lightning Round. Seven questions in rapid succession while Zombie Nation plays in the background. Both of my guests fared admirably, but left some room for improvement. The updated leaderboard:

Lightning Round Leaderboard
Jay (Blue-Gray Sky)
Orson (EDSBS)

And just for kicks, some Thursday game liveblogging:
  • Miami(OH) and Northwestern is a freaking taffy pull. Dropped screen passes, two yard scrambles, aimless offense. Thank god for special teams, otherwise we'd be staring down a 0-0 tie in 36 overtimes.
  • How cool is it that Northwestern has a quarterback named Kafka? A perfect name for a Kafkaesque game (seriously, read that link).
  • Central Michigan scores on fourth down, and they are now covering the spread. What a fantastic turn of events! Oh, they also have a chance to tie it if they stop BC here. Go Directional Michigan!
  • Some guy named Smelley is playing quarterback for South Carolina.
Allright, enough of that. I'm going drinking. Enjoy the podcast.

(subscribe to Friday Night Lites on iTunes)

The Pitch: The House Rock Built's Viewer's Guide

So, apparently, there is more than one college football game being played this Saturday. I discovered this recently and was a bit shocked, particularly since I hardly had any time to prepare for this. Since I will be in Atlanta drinking, tailgating, and trying hard to pry my eyes away from the train wreck that will be Orson Swindle break-dancing in his Dungeons & Dragons costume, there's a pretty good chance I'll miss out on too much live action for the rest of the league. Ergo, I will be setting up the DVR at home to grab the tastiest morsels of football so they will be waiting for me when I come home, allowing me to spend Labor Day surveying the competition, replacing lost bodily fluids, and booking travel for my appearances in Atlanta Municipal Court for weekend-related shennanigans. So here's my schedule, and how the game is being pitched to me:

Vanderbilt at Michigan. One of the more curious and novel games of this kickoff weekend. While most big-time teams scurried around and found sickly programs with one or more direction in their name for their league-mandated 12th game, Michigan picked up Vandy, which makes me think about a senior prom where the leggy blonde who got dumped by her date strolls over to the punch bowl and asks the most-pimplefaced nerd in the circle of nerds for the last dance. To extend the analogy to its natural absurd extreme, Vandy's chances of winning might be about the same as the dork scoring with Molly Ringwald, but god knows we'll all be cheering him on.

On a more serious note, it's cool to see a Big 10-SEC showdown this early in the year, and while Jay Cutler is currently tearing apart preseason NFL defenses, Vandy is a spunky team that plays with enough gumption to keep this possibly interesting for a few quarters.

The Pitch: Down-on-its luck powerhouse invites a nerdy whipping boy from the south to play. I smell a reality series!

Akron at Penn State. Mostly to scout out the Irish's next opponent, as this appears on its face to be your standard MACC preseason bloodletting at State College. But hey, the Zips are the defending MACC champs and, true to their conference's motto, fling the piggy around with reckless abandon, accumulating big points on offense and hemorrhaging points on the opposite side. With the huge turnover in personnel for the Nittany Lions this year, this game might give us an indication if Paterno's lads are primed to build on last year's success or if they will obey history and revert to their mediocre selves after a winning season.

The Pitch: Another thrilling chapter in the eternal war between zombies and kangaroos. This time, it's personal.

California at Tennessee. Call it the Phil Steele bowl, for teams that have been given big preseason love by the pundits despite coming off of a lackluster season. The storylines are numerous: Will Cal find a compotent athlete capable of throwing a five yard pass? Can Tennessee recover mentally from last year's soul-crushing stinkfest? Can Phil Fulmer eat 58 hot dogs at halftime?

The Pitch: Watch for a fierce mascot battle on the sidelines, as Dooger, the drug-addled peacenik and Junior and Lulu, the moonshine-swilling hillbillies carry the torch for one of the sport's greatest traditions.

UAB at Oklahoma. Normally, watching a top ten team squaring off against a Conference USA squad in week one is like watching Chuck Norris sneaking into a beginner's karate class and whooping ass with a twisted smile on his face, but I found a place on my DVR schedule to squeeze this bad boy in. Last year, Oklahoma fell flat on its face with a season-opening crapfest against Tulsa. While the Sooners pulled their act together and saved some face, this offseason's quarterback turmoil might very well distract Stoops' lads enough to push this typically rigamarole affair into a highly-entertaining comedy of errors.

The Pitch: Will the corn-fed frontrunners from Oklahoma start their title run, or are they setting themselves up for a Bomarring?

Notre Dame at Georgia Tech. Duh.

USC at Arkansas. Everyone seems to be in love with Arkansas this year, and I'm still not quite sure why. This is the Arkansas team that sludged through the lower trough of the SEC. But, hey, I'll give them a shot, especially since I made a wager with the readers that if Arkansas ends up in the top 10 this year, I will post a compromising photo of myself in Razorbacks apparel. Suffice to say, I have no intention of losing this bet, and I think a 70-point drubbing at the hands of the Trojans will put me well on my way to winning.

More importantly, though, this will likely be the most innuendo-laden football game of the year, nay, perhaps even the century. Dick & Johnson, Nutt, the Trojans wrapping up the Hogs, a man named Booty, and maybe, just maybe, the college football debut of my favorite blue-chip recruit, Rusty Cocklord. The mind boggles at the limitless dirty headline potential.

The Pitch: Hogs' Nutt, on the strength of Dick & Johnson, blast through Trojans and ravage Booty!

Danger, Will Robinson! Innuendo overload!

BYU at Arizona. Don't know, it's on at 4:30 AM and I'm not recording anything else. I've been hearing that Arizona is supposed to be improved and it's sometimes entertaining watching BYU's 3-3-5 stack and gunslinging offense. I'll probably fast forward to crowd shots, as there's usually a plethora of fine looking ultra-suntanned ladies in the stands in Tucson.

The Pitch: Jesus loves you, it's all explained in this pamphlet

Washington State at Auburn. Another 4:30 special, so why the hell not? I ranked Auburn #1 in my blogpoll more or less sight unseen, mostly because I'm a scared and confused midwesterner and I know that they're returning a pretty solid team. It'll be good to take a gander at the team I have invested so much of my reputation in, and hopefully they won't disappoint as the Sunday Morning QB believes they will.

The Pitch: The centuries-old blood feud between Alabama and rural Washington will finally be settled on the field!

Florida State at Miami.
The Pitch: First one to ten points wins!.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

So Much for Ernesto

Well, the great Hurricane Ernetso scare seems to have come to a conclusion, as the latest word is that it has lost its power and will seen be heading out to sea. Ernesto is no longer a hurricane, but a Tropical Depression, which means instead of roaring across costal areas and unleashing watery hell on levees and dykes, it will be mostly bumming out with iPod headphones in its ears, gently bobbing its head to the anguished sounds of Morrissey and The Smiths.

Having grown up in Denver and spending my adulthood years in South Bend and Chicago, I'm what you would call a dyed-in-the-wool landlubber. Ernesto was the first time my personal life was ever directly threatened by a hurricane, and I'm thankful that things turned out well. I'm so thankful, in fact, that I made a shirt to commemorate the event, and I invite you Midwesterners to join in and celebrate:

We'll all remember where we were when we lived through the menace of Ernesto. Well, those of us who are completely landlocked will.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday Night Quickies

Where have I been today? Knocked on my ass by this charming little fellow on your right here, the common cold virus. I've been jacked up on cold medicine all day, had a few beers after work, and just downed a double dose of NyQuil, so apologies if I begin to sound like Marco tonight. I'll try to keep my rambling brief and topical. The plan is to rock myself with a wide variety of drugs so that I will be a functional human being when I hop on the plane for Atlanta.

  • Two great interviews went into the can tonight. Friday Night Lites will be up at its standard time.
  • The House is getting some pub from the newspapers. Those of you who subscribe to the Lexington Herald-Ledger (and why wouldn't you) can see sportswriter John Clay give a nod to the House Rock Built as one of "five fun blogs" to read this college football season. Totally freaking sweet! If any of you actually have a copy of this paper, shoot me an e-mail and let me know if you can clip me the article and mail it over. A miniature liquor bottle lies in your future as a reward if you can!
  • I added a couple shirts to the store. Some Paterno-loves-brains hilarity for the upcoming PSU game, and a House Rock Built jersey for your favorite player: Jeff SAMARDJZIXARZIKYZKA.

    Shop, consume, fight the Communist menace!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The House Rock Built takes on Talk Radio

So I swung by Sports Bloggers Live today and chatted with the fellas over there about Notre Dame and the upcoming season (they bumped Bob Costas so they could talk to me). Okay, so Costas is coming on next week, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Anyway, it's a quick five minute piece with your standard questions about Notre Dame. Hopefully I represented the Notre Dame fanbase well. You can link up the podcast via iTunes here (I'm guessing it'll go online later tonight), or you can wait around and listen to it on the SBL site, if you're so inclined. My biggest beef? They were interviewing me as part of their "Non-BCS school preview", while, you know, Notre Dame is a charter member of the BCS.

UPDATE: You can go directly to the audio from my interview by clicking here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

RIP, Damen Avenue Grille

Some tragic news for the editors of the House Rock Built this week. Typically, I try to keep my blogging life and my personal life separate, but when your favorite bar in the world is shut down and repossessed, well, things are just going to spill over, dammit. This place was a second home to me, and now that it's gone, I feel like a piece of me is gone too.

Any of you readers have a favorite bar in the world? If you do, I'd imagine you can relate to what I'm going through. Take a minute to drop a comment and let me know what your favorite bar is and why it's so memorable to you.

Tell 'em how I'm feeling, Bluto:

ESPN Classic Theater: 1993 Boston College at Notre Dame

Yeah fucking right. Like I'm going to watch this travesty again.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Depth Chart is Here!

The opening day depth chart has just been made public. Pretty interesting stuff. Freshman phenom Sam Young is your starting Right Tackle, Gioa is kicking field goals, Renkes is doing kickoffs. Mitchell Thomas won out the CLJLB spot. Ronald Talley starting at DE. A proper amount of obsessive-compulsiveness will be posted tomorrow. Must sleep now.

Friday Night Lites - Golden Tornado, Fire Mark May, Mascots, and Man Fun!

The second episode is alive, hallelujah! I'm getting a bit swifter at the technological aspect, so I think you'll see a bit more candidness in the interviews. This week's esteemed guests are Nathan from Golden Tornado and the Irish Outsider from Fire Mark May. Still undecided on if you should listen? Well, here are some of the highlights:

  • We tap into Nathan's practically infinite knowledge of mascots. Find out who would win in a fight between a leprechaun and a bee.
  • I might or might not say something ambiguously gay, then try to backtrack out of it. Revel in my humiliation.
  • Snakes on a plane.
  • I say "prodcast". Yeah, I know it's not called a "prodcast", wiseass. But my only other option was to re-record the last ten minutes of the show. Viva prodcast!
  • The Zbikowski joke in the opening refers to the hulaballoo from last week where some muckraking journalists tried to pin NCAA violation accusations on Notre Dame for an innocuous series of promos for a sports talk show in South Bend. BGS and The Rock have the breakdown if you want to hear the full ridiculous story.

(subscribe to the Friday Night Lites podcast)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Two Hundred Thousand

Cervezas for everyone! The House Rock Built has hit another milestone in our brief yet fairly successful existence, as the odometer rolled over 200,000 hits. Since firing up this bad boy midseason last year, it has been nothing but fun watching this humble blog gradually gain popularity. We've had some laughs, we've shed some tears, Maurice Clarett almost shot a bunch of people, and the college football world moves on. I hope you readers have had half as much fun viewing this as I have had making it. Here's to another great year of football!

Our 200,000th visitor punched in this afternoon on his or her own volition (that is to say, he or she didn't get redirected her while doing a Google image search for pornography), and spent an amazing 17 minutes checking out the digs, undoubtedly to the vexation of his or her boss. Thanks for risking your job to spend the afternoon with us to help reach this milestone. If you happen to come back, please send an e-mail to the HRB (see the e-mail link on the bottom of the page) so we can thank you properly. Please also include your favorite brand of miniature liquor bottle (like the ones you find in the hotel mini-bar) in your e-mail.

I'm putting the finishing touches on the latest podcast, so that should be up soon for your enjoyment.

Podcast Tonight

Sorry for not posting, I've been indisposed at work. Friday Night Lites episode two is going into the can tonight for your edification. Nathan from Golden Tornado will check in, the Irish Outsider from Fire Mark May will stop by, and maybe some mystery guests. Also, a couple of posts are going up tonight to make up for today's blackout.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

You're dead to me, CSTV

So CSTV has overhauled their All-Access technology into a snazzy new, state-of-the-art online media player. Kudos to them, drinks are on Trev Alberts tonight.

Oh, as a side note, if you're a Macintosh user, help yourself to a comlimentary kick in the groin from big Trev. But hey, don't worry. All you have to do is throw away your current Mac and toss down a couple grand for a new Intel Mac, then run a beta version of virtual Windows and reboot your computer to get that free streaming media.

Thanks for upgrading your site, CSTV. To show my appreciation, enjoy a free one-way canoe trip. You broke my heart.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Blogpoll Wrapup 2.1

A hearty thanks to all the bloggers who took a moment to answer the first roundtable question for the new season. As my duty for for hosting round one, I sifted through your responses and put together this highlight reel. Brian wanted the roundtable to focus on how to improve the blogpoll, and I think there's a good deal of input on that. Also, there's a lot of fun namecalling and Quantum Leap scenarios which, while less substantive, are very salacious and worthy of some airplay here. So here goes:

1. What's the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that's offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter's bad pick (hey, we're all adults here, we can handle it).

  • Notre Dame at No. 5? For all the reasons outlined by Sunday Morning Quarterback, I ain't buying it. How many quality losses will it take to get the Irish all the way up to No. 1? – dawgsports
    Thanks for opsitng that picture of the Bush push. If you're looking for me, check the bottom of a bottle of gin.
  • Brian from mgoblog put Iowa at #2 which is either going to turn out brilliantly or terribly. I'm voting for 'terribly' right now. -offtackle
  • I have to say that Ohio St. getting 20 first place votes is about 19 too many. They might very well be the best team, but I think there is going to be a drop off in leadership rather than a drop off in talent on defense that is going to hurt. -mountainlair
  • Apparently there is this kid that has a Tulane blog that gets a vote. (Tulane? That is weaksauce.) And he puts LSU 20th and doesn't rank Louisville -thecollegegame
  • [T]he Hawkeye fan over at The Bemusement Park who left Georgia off his preseason ballot entirely. He better find someone to start his car for him in the morning. But everyone else is safe for the time being. -heyjennyslater
    Let that serve as a warning to you all.
  • Virginia Tech. They're at 17--which is way, way too high. I'm not sure they belong in the top 25. They do have a bunch of future convicts on the roster though. -illinireport
  • I’ve said this before, but I think the most overrated team in the Blogpoll is Auburn. I was on the Auburn bandwagon for much of the offseason, but they now seem to me to be a team that is overrated by virtue of the fact that they played their best football at the end of last season. -bravesandbirds
  • I still can't figure out how Duke got two votes for #25 and Oregon State didn't. Maybe that's my fault... -buildingthedam
  • One thing that does irk me just a tad, ok more then a tad, is Orson’s childish imitation of The ‘Ol Ball Coach with his 25th pick. -pitchright
    The pitchforks are out for the two clowns who thought it would be cool to vote for Duke. Let's kick their asses.
  • If Penn State auccessfully replaces its fifth-place Heisman Trophy-finishing quarterback and four suddenly solid senior offensive linemen and a first-round draft pick and two other very productive starters on the dominant defensive line and three veteran secondary starters, maybe it can compete for a New Year's Day game. Otherwise, SMQ is thinking Alamo. Think of 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004 as the mean, to which they shall return. -SMQ
  • I think both Bama and PSU have been jobbed by the system, dropping 16 spots from their previous ranking. -50yardlion
  • Notre Dame is overrated. Teams that don't play defense shouldn't be in the top five. -bruceciskie
  • Miami. #9? ... This is partially my fault for dumping them in the low teens for no other reason than "it's Miami." No it isn't, not anymore. -mgoblog
  • West Virginia is not a top five team, and I'm not sure it is a top ten team either. Fifty-one of 59 voters ranked the Mountaineers in the top fifteen; I was one of the eight who didn't. -sectionsix
    Hide your couches, my friend.

2. What shold a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team's schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?

  • My #1 team is Texas. I think they would have the best shot to beat each team ranked under them at least 51% of the time. My #2 is USC, etc., etc. And, as always, I'm right. So you should pattern your own poll after mine...I'm joking...mostly. - imarealist
  • I'm part of the group that looks at preseason polls as a prediction of where a team will end up. Sure it's fun to put sexy teams at the top but if you don't think they will truly finish as an undefeated or 1-loss team why would you waste your time. -tamu-and-baseball
  • Preseason polls should measure what voters think the poll is going to look like at the end of the season. Once the season starts, they should measure performance (in practice, this means wild swings week to week), but there is no way to do this beforehand. There's nothing to measure but last year, and last year's not relevant anymore. -SMQ
  • Jason Whitlock’s preseason ballot is an example of a) why the Blogpoll is necessary and b) the exact wrong way to fill out a ballot. Look, I know I’m not breaking any new ground here by pointing out that Whitlock’s an idiot. But to pick West Virginia number one based on their schedule, then pick Notre Dame number two while pointing out their difficult schedule…what kind of sense does that make? -thedjlzone
  • I'd propose the following measure for preseason polling:
    (Overall talent/coaching/etc.) + (surrounding hype) +/- (schedule*) = School's Rank
    *[if a hard schedule they can win its a plus/if a hard schedule they can lose its a minus/if a easy schedule they can win its a minus)
    Math? Logic? Formulas? He's a witch, burn him!
  • Like many, I don't care who a team plays. That, to me, is Phil Steele's biggest flaw. He weighs schedules too much in his otherwise pristine analysis. -bruceciskie
  • A preseason poll should measure the aggregate opinion of a bunch of truly sanguine thinking about which teams are adequately prepared to compete in their conferences. But it usually measures popularity of coaches, recruiting classes, and traditions. -thebemusementpark
  • Put the gremlins of outrageous fortune, injury, and unheralded recruits who evolve overnight into world-beating assassins on the field, and trying to give birth to the perfect end-of-season poll becomes an act of science fiction. We feel like most people–ourselves included–are essentially regurgitating everything seen over the last six games of 2005 and projecting them into an arbitrary order. -EDSBS

3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?

  • Did I mention that I put Cal #1? While I'm still not wild about the Bears on top, I haven't yet found an overwhelming choice to replace them. As a result of this wide-openness, I'm as excited for this season as any in recent memory. -offtackle
  • I am one of the voters who put Virginia Tech in my top ten and I’ll defend that decision any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Tech is the reverse of Auburn, in that they lose their quarterback and running back from last year, but return a significant amount of talent on both lines. Then, let’s add in the fact that Tech was better than Auburn last year and has a better coach. -bravesandbirds
  • [T]he early returns suggest that the teams getting the most buyer’s remorse among BlogPollers are California, Iowa, and Clemson. - viewfromrockytop
  • Louisville. I am falling for the Louisville hype again. I like their high powered offense a lot and love the job Coach Petrino has done with the program. But I have this feeling they are not worthy of a top-10 ranking. -bruinsnation
  • I put Clemson in my Top 25, primarily because Tribble Reese sent me a message on Facebook telling me I had to for the embarassment I caused him since posting about his nipple fetish. -boifromtroy
    Just as we all suspected. Thanks to BFT for that very, um, honest and excessively informative response.
  • [W]e picked FSU [as #1] because it seemed just as logical (or illogical) as any other pick. Having said that, I think we might look mighty stupid about this pick by the end of the year (or after the first weekend). -michiganzone
  • Northern Illinois. Unfortunately, that’s just because they may get the MAC stigma that comes along with things. They’ve got the talent to be a very, very good team, unfortunately, in the MAC, that means getting out to an 8-0, 7-1 type start, and one more loss gives it all back. I still think they’ll dent most polls at some point this year. -haveyoumettony
  • That’s easy, since everyone has told me the answer. Oregon at #10. -pittblather
  • I’m well aware that some people are honked that I left Georgia off my initial ballot. I don’t know what to say, other than that last year I left Louisville off my initial ballot, and it turned out I was basically right. -thebemusementpark

4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.

  • The fact that they're subject to favoritism, prejudice, ego-tripping and everything else under the sun that shouldn't determine the champion of a sport is their biggest flaw. - rollbamaroll
  • Voters in the AP poll and the Harris poll have an agenda... They even gave a bunch of computer nerds who don't know a thing about the sport a say because they would be "unbiased" and yet even that was messed up. -myopiniononsports
  • As far as the blogpoll goes, I like how Brian points out the biased homers, but I would be interested to see if people punish their rivals in the rankings. -blackshoediaries
    Now that's a pretty solid idea. Call it the "Spurrier Award" for abjectly punishing teams based on petty prejudices. What say you, Brian?
  • I think the biggest flaw is the inclusion of computers. Everyone who reads this regularly knows that we here are no fans of technology, in fact we don't even own a computer. We write all of this on a telegram then hand it to a serf who tills our backyard, and then he takes it to someone with a computer in God knows where, and then that person posts what we've written. -thecardreport
  • Too many idiots are given votes that matter. Having 113-some-odd people vote doesn't really make sense. Get a generous handful of people who know what they're doing, make them sit around a table, and discuss it until they come to a group decision. -buildingthedam
  • A point-dispersal ranking format. That is, you'd have, say, 100 points to distribute across the poll in any combination you'd like. So voters can give teams they feel are even the same number of points rather than have to guess which one should be first in line, and overload teams they feel very strongly about -SMQ
    Whoa, Nellie. Fuhgettaboutit. That's way beyond my mental ability. Shit, I have trouble economizing my "recruiting points" in NCAA 2007 (which is why I have 20 five star lineman and a walkon at quarterback).
  • Polling is and always will be integral because of the lack of a central organizing authority with any real power. It’s a sport consisting of regional duchies of varying power and financial pull who negotiate for prime spots in season-ending exhibitions. -EDSBS

5. You're Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to "Quantum Leap" back in time and change any single moment in your team's history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school's founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?

  • Major Harris screwing up his hip in the '89 Fiesta Bowl. That was a really good team, but without Major at 100%, it was hard to watch. ND was pretty good too. -mountainlair
  • I guess I'd probably go down to Miami in June or July of 1944 and leave a big box of extra-strength condoms on the bedside table of the Rev. J. Graham Spurrier. -heyjennyslater
    Congratulations, Hey Jenny Slater, you are the winner of the funniest remark in this roundtable. Think about a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger materializing in the Spurrier household armed with his trusty box of rubbers. Come with me if you want to live.
  • I don't know the exact date, but whenever the Illini decided to copy the New York Giants and adopt that goofy helmet logo we have. Hopefully, in addition to Ron Zook bringing in a top 25 recruiting class, he'll move on from this logo, too. -illinireport
  • November 6, 2004. With the clock winding down late in the first half and the team backed up in its own territory, the offensive coaching staff opted to call a pass play instead of simply running out the clock. Quarterback Erik Ainge, who was enjoying a fine freshman season, had to chase down an errant snap. Instead of simply falling on the ball for a loss, Ainge opted to pick it up and try to make something happen. What happened was that he was sacked and awkwardly landed on his throwing shoulder -viewfromrockytop
    Ah, treasured memories. That snapping of bone sounded like sweet music to me.
  • Yes, had those fucking zebras from on the night of December 5, 1998, made the obvious right call, and called Bruin flanker Brad Melsby down, instead of calling the fumble, the history of college football in the following years would be different. UCLA would have continued to dominate the scene of college football in LA. -bruinsnation
  • [L]et's replay that goal line series against Alabama in the 1979 Sugar Bowl -50yardlion
    Was there a game that day? All the intelligent football fans were watching the Chicken Soup Bowl
  • Pretty sure we'd be heading back to January 4th of this year. But in all honesty, if we could time travel back to any game/USC team moment, we'd probably just suck it up, take the L to Texas, and breeze back to last October in Notre Dame. We could spend the rest of our lives reliving that final drive, and it still wouldn't be enough. -trojanwire
    You. Son. Of a Bitch.

Thanks, fellas. Catch you next roundtable.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Georgia Tech Roundtable

It's important to know your enemy well, and in the interest of gathering data and extending an olive branch across the blogosphere, I reached out to Jeff from Ramblin Racket and Nathan from Golden Tornado to shoot the shit about Georgia Tech and learn a little bit more about our pocket protector-wearing bretheren from Ted Turnerville. Both of them amazed me by shooting back well-thought and candid responses within hours of me sending them the e-mail. Hopefully you'll find some enlightening information to get you prepared for the tilt at Bobby Dodd in a few weeks. Again, guys, thanks a lot for being so prompt, insightful, and candid. It's going to make it that much harder for me to gloat when we wipe the field with your sorry asses {insert winking emoticon}. Enjoy!

Thanks for coming out guys. Well, first thing's first. Who the hell are you, and why blogging?

Jeff: I was born and raised a Tech Man, as four of my uncles (three on one side, one on the other), my sister, her husband and my cousin all attended GT before me. I started blogging early this summer partly to avoid going crazy over the off-season, but mainly to add another GT voice to the Internet. Also, I wanted an outlet to vent my opinions about Tech athletics, traditions, etc.

Nathan: My name is Nathan – and I was a student at Georgia Tech in the late ‘90’s watching little Joe throw the pigskin around. I took up blogging because I was driving my wife nuts ranting about sports around the house.

So who is your mortal enemy?
Jeff: Like most Yellow Jackets, I have a very strong dislike for the Georgia Bulldogs. One of the frustrating things about being a Georgia Tech fan is that Atlanta is not a “Tech town.” Being in the cultural and economic hub of the Southeast, most college football fans move here with existing allegiances, many of them from Athens. Therefore, you see more of the rival’s crap in the home team’s town than you would for nearly any other rivalry (excluding intra-city rivalries).

Nathan: Mortal enemy? Mostly anyone wearing a red hat with a G on the front.

Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!

Okay, so every single preseason publication I own is predicting a 7 win season for Georgia Tech. Obviously, this is a very logical and safe bet considering their track record, but is this a fair assessment of the team? Put another way, is this a different Georgia Tech team than what the media and outsiders alike have come to expect year in and year out?
Nathan: This is the most talented team Gailey has had, and there’s a depth and experience level we have not had in several years. The problem for years has been an inability to get those big horses on the lines in enough numbers to really compete, but both the o-line (and especially) the d-line are very, very good going into this season. As a matter of fact, you could make a pretty solid case for GT’s d-line being the best that ND will face all season, especially at the tackles. With a senior QB, a solid o-line and running backs, one of the 3-4 best players in all of college football at WR and a front 7 that is athletic, experienced and extremely well coached … this team should win 8-9 games.

Jeff: As you said, there is no reason based on history to expect anything more or less than seven wins from a Chan Gailey-coached Georgia Tech team. I do expect more from Tech this year, though. We’re not yet a week into preseason practice and nearly every starter is set (excluding one CB, TE, and RG). This is an experienced team with vocal leadership on both offense and defense.

The specific change I expect in results this year is the lack of an inexplicable loss. Obviously games like ND, Miami, and Georgia are not guaranteed wins, but this team should not lose a UNC/Duke-type game. Given that the Jackets usually pull at least one major “upset,” I expect no less than nine wins.

Tell me something about Reggie Ball that I haven't heard a million times by the talking heads (i.e., don't use the word “inconsistent”). It seems like the media has already written him off as talented yet ultimately frustratingly mediocre. Should we believe everything we hear about him or is there another side of the story that we need to hear?
Nathan: I honestly don’t think Reggie is as “talented” as some people keep saying. He’s enormously competitive and he’s athletic, but he’s also short and clearly struggles to read defense schemes at times. He’s somewhat erratic as a thrower, though he has a strong arm. All in all, I think a lot of people’s expectations for Reggie over his career haven’t meshed with his talent (i.e – too much expected). I don’t know if I’d use the word inconsistent, I think he’s been very consistent (consistently mediocre). Reggie reminds me a lot of Penn State’s Michael Robinson, a fiery competitor who really struggled to play QB effectively. Of course Robinson had a huge senior season, I’m hoping Reggie can end his career playing well.

Jeff: I would say, yes believe everything you hear. Because the pundits always say “unless…” and it’s those ‘unless’es that will make or break the season. Word out of preseason practice reports is Reggie has matured. He is zipping out accurate passes, and (more importantly) is going through his progression and throwing to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th options. Reggie will never be an NFL talent, but a few extra completions and Tech can progress. Without those extras, there is no “other side of the story.”

Everyone tells me Calvin Johnson is one of, if not the best receiver in the game. Having not seen too many Tech games, what does he do that makes him so dynamic? Is he a legitimate Heisman darkhorse, as some preseason pundits are saying, or just another talented freak?
Jeff: What makes Calvin incredible is how many improbable catches he makes. The most notable was his “Spider-Man” catch against NC State in ’04. A ball was thrown 3-4 feet behind CJ’s route, but Johnson stopped on a dime and reached way behind himself for the ball.

A video is worth a thousand words, my friend.

Nathan: He doesn’t return kicks, he won’t win the Heisman – it’s as simple as that. While CJ is 10x the WR that Ginn Jr. is … he won’t have the flash and “game changing” impact that kick returns seem to give the impression of. CJ is dynamic because he’s huge and he has tremendous body control and hands. He makes more twisting, leaning, leaping catches in traffic than anyone I’ve ever seen, he seems to have some supernatural sense for where the ball is in the air. He’s fast (very fast) but he doesn’t run perfect routes – there’s not quite as much separation as you’d expect from someone with his physical gifts. It’s the leaping, the strength and the body control those … you can’t teach those. I’d expect somewhere between 50-60 catches for around 1,000-1,200 yards and 10 TD’s or so for the season. That won’t get him to NY unless GT wins the ACC, but it will make him one of the first 3 picks in the NFL draft whenever he decides to leave.

The secondary. Need I say any more? Already decimated with graduation, the news has been nothing but bad in the offseason. What is going to be out there and is there any optimism for their ability to contain pass-happy teams like the Irish?
Nathan: The starting 4 are good, and Kenny Scott is very good at one of the corners. This is a big athletic secondary, and the two safeties can bring the wood. Depth though? Yikes. I honestly am not sure how much nickel we are even going to play, with a true freshman and a converted WR looking like they will be battling it out for the 5th DB spot. I’m going to be praying to Touchdown Jesus or something if any of the 4 starters get hurt. Tenuta will continue to defend the pass the way he always has, lots and lots of zone blitzes. Both KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler are excellent coverage backers capable of dropping back into the deep middle or sniffing out short routes in traffic, and the d-line is good enough to bring a lot of pressure without needing the blitz packages GT so loves. This year’s pass defense will be won or lost on the line of scrimmage.

I know Chan Gailey just re-upped for a long-term deal, but is that truly indicative of his job security? As a follow-up question, what is the reaction to his decision to hand over most of the playcalling responsibility?
Nathan: As for job security? Gailey isn’t going anywhere, he goes to bowl games, the team competes, he wins some big games from time to time and his players for the most part stay out of trouble and in class. You have to remember that two the schools Tech most closely resembles are MIT and CalTech, and while athletics are a big part of the Institute’s tradition, somebody like O’Leary was almost “edgy” for us in a way. Gailey is nice and safe, and while he’s a bit boring (and 7-5 every year is monotonous), he’s someone “The Hill” seems very comfortable with.

Pointing with the best of them, seven times a year.

Jeff: Most fans seem very pleased with OC Patrick Nix taking over playcalling, largely because that’s helped free Gailey’s time to recruit. Nix has done well as the QB coach, has experience winning (he QB’d an undefeated season at Auburn), and seems more willing to open up the offense than Gailey was.

Allright lads, hit me with a prediction.
Jeff: The Georgia Tech offense leans heavily on Calvin Johnson, lining him up at QB for at least 3 plays including a TD pass and two sprints out of the backfield. Reggie throws 2 TDs, 1 INT. Notre Dame disrupts Tech on offense, limiting the rush, but is also disrupted itself. Quinn throws for 3 TDs. I’m saying Tech 38 – Irish 27.

Nathan: 24-21 Tech with my gold and white colored glasses on. Oh, did I mention we are busting out the navy blue jerseys from the 1990 national championship team? Should be quite a scene.

Oh, by the way, you left your gold and white glasses at the office. They're quite fetching.

From my research, the two most famous GT alumni are Jimmy Carter and Jeff Foxworthy. Is there anyone that I missed that you can actually be proud of?
Nathan: Many “famous” GT alumni won’t be known much in the realm of common public knowledge, mostly due to the fields they are in (quick, name a famous M.I.T alumn either). GT has had more astronauts than any other D1 university (actually, might be more than any other US school period), so that gets us cool points. John Young commanded the first ever space shuttle, and Richard Truly was the head of NASA, for example.

Suck it Michigan, you also-rans!

So... is it true what they say about Georgia Tech women? Are they really as homely as they're made out to be, or is this a misperception?
Jeff: The consensus opinion of me and my buddies is, GT has a fairly normal percentage of pretty hot girls. The problem is, it’s a percentage of a very small number. Tech has around 11,000 undergrads, only about 33% women. By no means is Tech a hotbed of beauties like Ole Miss or UGA, but we’ve got our fair share of bangable Southern belles.

Nathan: Um yeah, it’s true. Even worse, there aren’t many of them and they are far too smart to fall for what most college guys are offering. God bless places like Agnes Scott, they got me through school (and I might have made a trip or two to Athens, but I’m not proud to admit it).

Got the hots for ultrageek Sandra Bullock in Love Potion No. 9? Well, here's a college brochure, my friend.

So, do Cumberland University alumni still hold a grudge against you?
Nathan: Best line from that game (222-0) was “you dropped it, you pick it up” from one Cumberland player to another after a fumble. Heisman was the Spurrier of his day, he LOVED to run the score up. Think about that the next time they talk about the character and sportsmanship of the players receiving the trophy given in his name.

Thanks, fellas! Good luck this year!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

ESPN Classic Theater: The Chicken Soup Bowl

The 1979 Cotton Bowl has earned its own special place in Notre Dame folklore, when a skinny little kid with a violent case of the flu strapped on a helmet in sub-zero weather and propeled the Irish to a 22 point fourth quarter comeback. So, naturally, I was delighted to see it on the upcoming slate on ESPN Classic. The game aired on Saturday at 7 AM, which was about the time I was staggering home down Claremont Avenue and ringing all the buzzers. Luckily, the DVR picked it up and I was able to enjoy the game with my mid-afternoon meal of aspirin and several tall glasses of water.

It's January 1, 1979, and the Irish are squared up against the Houston Cougars, the recent powerhouse from the Southwestern Conference with a high-octane option attack and, true to the spirit of the late '70's, a finely-developed appreciation for your good old fashioned afro. Notre Dame was returning to the site of their 38-10 drubbing of Texas the year before, a game that clinched the Irish their tenth national championship. The situation is a little bit different this year, as the Irish are saddled with three disappointing losses and out of title contention, which was quite the rarity for that decade.

Anybody who has spent any time in east Texas understands that New Years is usually a warm, festive holiday involving flip flops, coolers of beer on your back porch, and dangerous inebriated usage of shotguns. However, 1979 brought the Dallas region the worst cold snap in recollection, as an ice storm and freezing winds plunged the thermometer below zero (with wind chill) as the teams lined up to play. It was hell on earth, and, as you can see, a large majority of the ticketholders elected to catch the game on television rather than risk frostbite. To make matters worse, young Joe Montana was battling with a particularly virulent strain of flu which was only exacerbated by the bone-chilling weather.

As you would expect, the execution of the game was a comedy of errors. Botched snaps, blocked punts, wobbly interceptions, careless fumbles, and ill-advised bouncing incompletions were the norm. Hey, you try doing something physically and mentally demanding (like, say, solving a Rubik's cube while riding on a unicycle), then try to do it while locked in a meat freezer. It's visible on the faces of all the players that the cold is so overpoweringly intense that it's nearly impossible to concentrate on anything. This becomes a problem, as it takes great discipline and awareness to defend a complex read-option attack like the one Houston ran.

After jumping to a quick lead, the Irish offense collapsed upon itself. Viewers at home can visibly see Joe Montana get sicklier and more frail as the game goes on, and a slew of costly turnovers and confused defense turns the tide in favor of Houston rapidly. The Cougars pile up 34 points, most of which were on short drives off of turnovers, and it looks like it's just about garbage time in Dallas. Even worse is that when the Irish run out their offense to start the second half, Joe Montana is nowhere to be seen. Reports are he has hypothermia and his body temperature has dropped dangerously low. With the backup in, the offense is even more inept. A ray of hope hits the Irish faithful when Joe, with a belly full of chicken soup, comes back into the game, but it quickly evaporates when number three scrambles out of the pocket and heaves up an ugly interception on his first possession. I'll take over liveblogging at this point.

  • 1:20: There is a gasp of live for the Irish when the special teams takes control of the game and blocks a Houston punt. After recovering the punt and assessing a personal foul on Houston, Joe Montana is inside the 20 with a chance to keep this game close. Instead, things turn even bleaker when Montana is nearly sacked and ends up grounding the ball on 4th and 15. The spark has been dashed.
  • 1:24: Notre Dame's defense holds tough and forces another punt from Houston. Same song, second verse, the Irish bowl through the line and block the punt. This time, Steve Cichey snatches the ball out of mid-air and takes it the distance for a touchdown. The freshman, who also pulls double duty as the kickoff specialist, hails from Fargo, ND, so he probably feels like he's in a tropical paradise right now.
  • 1:28: Quoth the announcers:
    Well, two series ago, if Notre Dame could have put some points on the board, this might have turned into an interesting last five or six minutes.
    Chuckles. Little do you know...
  • 1:36: Houston successfully punts the ball!
  • 1:36: Finally, Montana looks like Montana. Two big time completions and a pass interference call, and the Irish are inside the five. Now it's third and goal, and Dan Devine calls a daring option to the left. The scrappy, yet not terribly fleet-footed Montana skitters out into the flat and bulls his way into the end zone. For his efforts, Montana receives an incredibly brutal punishment by getting leveled by four Houston defenders. The whole play kind of reminded me of this one in its boldness of call as well as the sheer heart that was demonstrated by these quarterbacks laying down their very lives for the team.

    Joe got his bell rung, but eventually climbs back onto his feet and rushes over to score a two-point conversion on the exact same play (only this time, he wisely throws it). With 4:15 left, it's now 34-28.
  • 1:43: Another huge defensive stand and Houston is forced to punt the ball away deep in their own territory. A bad snap forces a high, short punt, which Notre Dame fields at the Houston 45. Suddenly, it's a ballgame.
  • 1:46: Joe Montana's stat line today? 10 for 30, 131 yards. Not so good.
  • 1:47: Montana steps up in the pocket and takes off running downfield, carrying the ball loosely in his right hand like it's a loaf of bread. A defender on his blindside clips his upper arm, and the ball squirts out onto the turf. Houston dives on the ball and reclaims possession. 1:45 left.

    Game. Over.
  • 1:50: Houston is playing it conservatively and have run three straight plays up the middle to chew up as much clock as possible. The Irish burn through all their timeouts, and have a paltry 46 seconds when the Cougars finally line up to punt.
  • 1:53: Another shanked punt puts the Irish at the Houston 45, but wait, there's a flag. Offsides, Notre Dame. So what do you do if you're Houston?
    • Take the short kick and be thankful it wasn't blocked. Play defense to win.
    • Accept the penalty and rekick from 5 yards further downfield, risking another catastrophic special teams play.
    • Accept the penalty and go for it on 4th and 1.
    Houston makes the gutsy call and goes for it. Wrong call. The d-line gives a huge push and stuffs the fullback in the backfield.
  • 1:54: 1979 rules dictate that the clock starts after a change in possession once the ball is spotted, not when it is snapped. As a result, it is a mad dash for both teams to get to the line after the fourth down stop. I mention this because they are changing the rules this year to revert back to the way it was in '79. It's something coaches definitely need to be aware of, and thankfully Devine was. A coach this year who lazily sends out his team after a big stop might inadvertantly burn precious time and cost the team a game. There are 28 seconds on the clock, the ball is on the 30.
  • 1:54: Once again, Montana scrambles while carelessly dangling the ball out with one hand. He mercifully manages to hang on to the pigskin, but is knocked down before he can get out of bounds. Thankfully, he got the first down, so the clock stops for them to set the ball.
  • 1:55: Montana hits a streaking Haines on the sideline, who steps out of bounds and puts a punishing hit on the Houston cornerback, who falls to the turf like a ragdoll. Six seconds. Eight yards.
  • 1:56: Incomplete pass. Three seconds left.
  • 1:57: This is ballgame, folks. A strong blitz blows through the middle of the line and Montana darts out to his right to buy some time. While sidestepping the pressure, he heaves one into the front right corner of the endzone. Three bodies topple in the corner, and the camera picks up nothing over the heads of the media personnel on the sidelines. Torturous seconds pass by with no ruling. It... is... a...? TOUCHDOWN! Only about a dozen people in the world actually saw what happened, but I'm guessing the ball somehow ended up in the hands of a Notre Dame receiver in the end zone. Probably.
  • 1:59: Time to celebrate! The extra point is up and good, and Notre Dame has won it, 35-34! The sidelines clear, the final score graphic goes up, drive safely everybody, and goodnight!
  • 2:00: Wait. Wait, wait. Something is going on. What is that? A flag? Yes, a flag for false start on the Irish. Everyone is cleared off the field and we have one more play (man, why does that sound familiar?) This time, however, it works out for the Irish, and the next kick sails through the uprights unharrassed. That's game, folks, one of the best comebacks in Irish history. Now, I'm off to go have some chicken soup.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Night Lites is Live!

In anticipation of what should be an exciting and busy football season, the House Rock Built is taking the great leap forward and going high-tech. The payoff? A weekly podcast called Friday Night Lites (link goes to xml feed). The plan is to come out with a weekly show with interviews of college football bloggers. Hopefully, we'll be able to get some interchange of opinions, some informative analysis, and some chuckles.

Allright, so as the graphic shows, the name is a little double entendre (and triple-copyright violatoin to boot), basically insinuating that you can listen to it on Friday to get yourself amped up about Saturday's games, all the while enjoying some frosty Lite beers (and, just maybe, your host will be enjoying some too).

Show number one is in the books, and it's available in the little player at the bottom of this post. The XML feed link is here, for you competer-literate folk, and the iTunes address will be up shortly (they're currently reviewing it). In a few days, iTunes users can search for "Friday Night Lites" in the podcast directory and add it to your feed there, if you choose to do so (UPDATE: The link is here. I'll add it to the sidebar as well). In my inagural show, Jeff from Ramblin Racket was kind enough to drop by and chat about the Yellow Jackets, nightlife in Atlanta, and why in God's name he ranked his home team so high in the blogpoll. Cell phone troubles notwithstanding, he gave a great interview, despite my frequently-distracting bungling incompetence at the controls. Since I'm currently on the lower asymptote of the learning curve, I will be the first to admit that my ability to work the computer, give an intelligent interview, and talk for thirty seconds without a stream of "uhs" and "ums" is a bit ragged, but I think I can pull it together as the season progresses.

Anyway, enjoy the show, and hopefully this will turn into a successful project. Some quick housekeeping notes:

  • I'm always looking for more filler, so if you want to leave me a voice mail with a quick-hitting "take" (a la Jim Rome show), you can drop one in the HRB's voice mail at 312-239-0841 (the same number as the Andy French Cup). Except for Thursday nights when I'm taping, that line always goes to an online voice mail, so you don't have to worry about waking anyone up. If I like what I hear, I'll give your take some airplay in the transitions on the next show.
  • The Andy French Cup is still wide open. The best call I've gotten so far is one from Samuel L. Jackson who demanded I go see "Snakes on a Plane" (asked and answered, good sir). Obviously, this will get some life when the season actually starts, but make sure you have the number saved in your cell phone in case you get drunk and angry.

Podcast 1 - Ramblin' Racket, Brian Fights With Technology

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Two Tidbits Too Ridiculous to Ignore

  • No matter who wins out the quarterback battle at USC, Trojan fans will take the transition in style, thanks to Boi from Troy. Whether the role is taken over by the junior John David Booty...

    ...or by redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez...

    ...the marketing folks will be pleased either way. I'd buy one, but I can't really pull off the pink junior ringer t-shirt look.

  • Okay, so I'll admit that I got bored tonight and accidentally watched this show "America's Got Talent". Hosted by distinguished Notre Dame alumnus Regis Philbin, I got to see your typical ridiculous Star Search-ripoff schlock. You know, guy tap dances with his hands while standing on his head, guy plays guitar with weedwacker, etc. At the end of the show, some yahoo whose talent is catching marshmallows in his mouth tells Regis to toss one to him. His words of encouragement for big Reg?
    Tonight, it will be Quinn to Samardzija. At least I hope.
    Regis proceeds to put one into the rafters. The ghost of Johnny Lujak weeps silently.

    I would have given Regis 15 and a loss of down for Intentional Grounding.

  • UPDATE: Super bonus links! Willie Williams gets the boot from... a community college. Poor guy, guess he couldn't handle that space-age technology. Tyrone Willingham pretends he wrote RJYH. And... signs people's books without their permission? Good gravy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable Numero Uno

Howdy, blogpollers! I know I have met/linked/run afoul of many of you, but for those I haven't, I'd like to extend a greeting from Notre Dame's most schizophrenic second-most schizophrenic blog on the internet* (sorry, Marco, forgot about you at first). My name is Brian, and I have been endowed with the dubious task of hosting the first blogpoll Roundtable by another chap named Brian, who runs the whole shebang over at mgoblog. The topic is polling, and how to improve it. Here are your questions and, I suppose in true schizophrenic fashion, my interview with myself.

Since it's the first roundtable, I've just tossed up a couple of easy questions. Nothing too hard-hitting, so you can leave that red practice jersey on when you fill it out. Just remember to drop me a link in the comments when you've completed the roundtable and posted it on your blog, as I have the task of wading through everyone's responses and picking out some gems for my "wrapup" post on the topic. Good luck and good blogging!

Blogpoll Roundtable 1

1. What's the biggest ripoff in this preseason poll? Either pick a team that's offensively over or underrated, or you can rag on a particular voter's bad pick (hey, we're all adults here, we can handle it).

Personally, I think that all of these people who voted Arkansas high in the poll (two people put them as high as 13!) are suckers that fell for a big joke that Phil Steele has played on the world. All of you overeducated dorks who bought and have ingested every word of Phil Steele's 2006 college football guide (hey, I'm guilty too) saw that Steele put the Hogs at #13 in his preseason poll, which I am convinced is either a typo or a prank to see how many bloggers he can fool.**

Oh, and Jeff at RR putting the Yellowjackets #7 (4 spots ahead of the Irish, no less!) cracks me up. I'm going to give him a chance to defend his position before I give him too much hell, but, yeah, I'll have what he's having.

2. What shold a preseason poll measure? Specifically, should it be a predictor of end-of-season standing (meaning that a team's schedule should be taken into account when determining a ranking), or should it merely be a barometer of talent/hype/expectations?

One of my major problems with polling (and not just in the preseason) is that there's no clear rules about what is supposed to be measured. I like how Brian has at least made an effort to put forward rules that schedules should not be taken into account, but, realistically, it seems like every individual voter goes by their own agenda. There was a similar experiment on NDNation last year to put together a poll, and one voter, I believe his handle was "The Tom", ranked all the teams with 0 losses in order of strength, then all the teams with one loss, then all the teams with two losses, etc. As a result, his wacky results skewed the entire poll. At midseason, a couple of overperforming mid-major teams were in the top ten, while two-loss Ohio State wallowed near the bottom half of the poll despite, you know, every logical argument in the world indicating otherwise. Looking at some coaches' ballots (like, for example, some guy named Spurrier), it's pretty clear that they're working on their own set of rules to the detriment of the integrity of the overall poll.

Rebel living by your own rules? Tell your story walking.

The way I see it, your ranking should be a measure of where you stand right here and right now, based solely on your accomplishments in the field. It perplexes me when a team falls in the polls in the middle of the season when word comes out that a player is injured, or when a team gets a bump in the ranking because they have three upcoming games against pathetic competition.

3. What is your biggest stretch in your preseason ballot? That is to say, which team has the best chance of making you look like an idiot for overrating them?

I played things pretty conservatively in my ballot, but I get the feeling that my pick of Auburn at #1 was less of an honest assessment of their abilities and more of what SMQ calls "a wack No. 1 pick an unfamiliar Midwesterner might fall for". Inexperienced receivers, losses at the meaty lineman positions, and an uncertain resoltuion to the visible weaknesses that Wisconsin and Georgia Tech were able to capitalize on last year all mean that Auburn could leave me with some blogpoll egg on my face pretty quickly.

4. What do you see as the biggest flaw in the polling system (both wire service and blogpolling)? Is polling an integral part of the great game of college football, or is it an outdated system that needs to be replaced? If you say the latter, enlighten us with your new plan.

The polls are an unreliable, antiquated, and, to be honest, inherently unfair system. That being said, I love them. It's part of what makes college football so great: a limitless supply of things to bicker and brag about. As it is so richly intertwined with the history of football, I would never advocate getting rid of them, and fully embrace them as an imperfect oddity of the sport. One recent addition that I dislike is the BCS poll utilizing a system of strange and twisted computer polls. As biased and evil as human voters are, I think that computers are even more flawed and biased in ranking the power of teams, plus they cannot be held accountable for their results the same way a human being can. The computer geeks cost college football a consensus champion in 2003, when USC, ranked #1 in both human polls, was shut out of the title game due to the inverse square of the aggregate loss percentage of their opponents' opponents or some damn thing like that. As a result, we have had to deal with petty bickering ever since. Rather than curing polling controversies, computers have only made things even more messy and controversial. I say get rid of them and let us deal with this headache the same way we always have.

...and one optional bonus question, not related to blogpolls at all...

5. You're Scott Bakula, and you have the opportunity to "Quantum Leap" back in time and change any single moment in your team's history. It can be a play on the field, a hiring decision, or your school's founders deciding to build the campus in Northern Indiana, of all godforsaken places. What do you do?

One of the very first posts I made on this blog was a thought experiment on this very subject. You can see my answers here (hmmm, might have to fix those broken image tags). I would be interested to hear what other moments stick in the craw of other teams' fans.

* This claim has not been evaluated by any licensed authority
** Uh, since I've gone on record saying that, I suppose I should take some accountability. I propose that if the Hogs end up ranked 13 or higher at the end of the season, I will post a picture of myself painted red wearing nothing but Razorbacks boxers.

Blogpoll Vox Pops

You ranked the Irish #1, why?

  • Eagle in Atlanta (Boston College)
    Regarding my ballot: I really do think Notre Dame will win it all. I think they've got the right coach and the right schedule and are peaking at the right time. I cannot wait to knock them off next year.
    Pesky little rodents, aren't they?

  • Pitch Right (Navy)
    The top 5 teams could of all been ranked at #1, but I happen to like Notre Dame the most out of those choices so went ahead and plugged the Irish in first. But trust me, I won't be the only one. This vote is more a testament to the faith I have in Coach Weis at improving that defense then anything else. I could sit here all day and talk about ND, Texas, USC, tOSU, and Miami, but then again you've probably read the arguments for and against each team a dozen times already.
  • Boi From Troy (USC)
    1. Notre Dame: Fighting Irish return the hottest trio in the sport to South Bend.
    Uh, like, we totally already know, BFT. But can they play football?

  • Frank McGrath (Tulane)
    Anyway, my opening salvo- can't stop the Irish!
    Testify, brother!

  • The DJL Zone (Bowling Green)
    Perhaps the best offense in the country, nine returning starters on defense. I know the defense wasn’t exactly great last year, but there’s no reason to think they won’t improve.
    I wish I had this kind of blind faith in the improvement of Notre Dame's D. It would help me sleep at night.

The Drizzle, The Bemusement Park, and The Sunday Morning Quarterback have, to this date, offered their picks without commentary. It looks like SMQ has a big post coming up soon that will explain his top ten, so I'm eagerly awaiting to see what comes out of that.

Update: Sunday Morning Quarterback has come clean with why he picked the Irish:
Basically, SMQ just thinks [Notre Dame's deficiencies] are more easily-overcome problems than Ohio State's emerging-from-the-crib defense, Auburn's size against the run and inexperienced O-line, Texas' pack of freshman quarterbacks, Florida's whimpering babes on the offensive line and in the secondary, SC's unavoidable succumbing to the Inviolable Laws of an Indifferent Universe and the lingering Jeff Bowden/Lloyd Carr problems at Florida State and Michigan. Notre Dame is flawed, but in SMQ's mind, the least flawed. Or the least fatally flawed. And that is the ringing endorsement.


The ballots are in, and it's time for the week one blogpoll!

If you want to look at more of the data, cruise over to mgoblog and dink around with the special features.

So eight bloggers out there are believers in the Irish (wasn't me, I had them sixth. I'm old school, like Mark May. You have to show me first). The Kool-Aid drinkers and their affililation:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Willie Williams Transfers to Space-Age Research Institute

The oft-hilaroius, beleageured Miami linebacker Willie Williams has finally found a new home for his college football playing days: he will be transferring to Pearl River Community College. Those of you unfamiliar with Williams and his antics are directed to this couplet from the Associated Press:

After Miami signed Williams in 2004, it was discovered he had been arrested 10 times as a juvenile.

He also pleaded no contest in 2004 for two separate episodes that occurred in Gainesville, Fla., during a recruiting visit. He faced a felony count of setting off fire extinguishers at his hotel, and a misdemeanor battery charge for hugging a woman without consent. Each plea resulted in a year's probation.
Anyway, best of luck to the newest member of the Pearl River CC Wildcats. As an unrelated hilarity, check out the banner on the top of the PRCC page:

Space... age... technologies? Really? Because it kind of looks like four drunk guys blowing up a water bottle with dry ice. I guess folk in Mississippi are lagging a little bit behind in this new technology wave. Another feature of their world-famous science facillity is a handheld portable cellular phone, weighing in at just under ten pounds.

Gather round, y'all, and enjoy this newfangled technology!

Monday, August 14, 2006

What You Missed in the Blogsphere

  • Jeff from Ramblin Racket put together a little tailgating primer for Atlanta on In Dodd We Trust before catching a rocket ride to superstardom on Sports Blog Nation. He was also cool enough to do a little Q&A I sent him about Georgia Tech, like, five seconds after I sent him the e-mail (does this guy ever sleep?) Anyway, it's chock full of useful information for those of you, like myself, who will be making their first trip to Atlanta and are in need of a good primer on how to have a fun time and stay out of a dirty Georgia prison. For you Atlanta resident bloggers out there (ahem, Orson), how about you help us out with a "What To Do" guide and perhaps a rundown on the local open container ordinances?

    My interview with Jeff and Nathan from Golden Tornado will be up a bit closer to gametime with GT, so keep your eyes out.

  • The thought had crossed my mind to do some superhero parodies of ESPN's newest weirdness, but Sean at Kelly Green is light years ahead of the game here. So far, he's got Jason Whitlock, Tyrone Willingham, and the obligatory Lloyd Carr has breasts joke (who saw that coming?) Those lovable little scamps.

  • I just got my copy of Here Come the Irish 2006, so I'm excitied to do some bedtime reading about the Irish by some great writers (except for that hack Jay Barry, who the hell invited him to write? {insert appropriate emoticon to convey good-natured joking}) Anyone on campus during the Penn State game is invited to stop by the meet-and-greet with the contributors at the Notre Dame bookstore from 9 to 11. I'll be there pressing the flesh and chatting about football with some of the other writers, so feel free to stop by. I guess technically it's a "book signing", but I can't really think of any reason anybody would want me to sign anything. However, if you ladies out there want me to sign your rack, I suppose I can be persuaded to do so.

  • Preseason NFL is an interesting diversion. I caught the Saints-Titans game on TiVo and watched Reggie Bush pull one of his patented "run around like a madman and suddenly appear fifty yards downfield" tricks. I didn't think he'd be able to get away with that at the NFL level, but damned if he didn't do it on his second carry from scrimmage. He's a freak. Vince Young looked pretty jittery but had a couple of decent plays. LenDale White was sidelined for "disciplinary reasons".

  • Today's practice video showed a lot of players doing their drills while wearing pink helmets. Anybody out there know why?

    UPDATE: Angel from Irish Eyes, God love her, clued me in on the meaning of the pink helmets. During special teams practices, players from both offense and defense are used. Instead of changing around jerseys, they put on snazzy pink helmets put pink slips over their helmets to differentiate the teams. If you haven't subscribed to Irish Eyes, what are you waiting for?