Category Archives: Big Ten

The Approach to Ann Arbor

My life for the past year or so has been essentially summarized by a Scotsman.

For those of you who are not familiar: I drove more than 17,000 miles across 30 states for 90 consecutive days to watch 25 live college football games in 2007. I’ve explained this bit to many people. It’s become an easy way for my friends to introduce me to others: “He went on this crazy college football road trip last year. He got arrested in Texas. He dropped a bit of acid in New Orleans. Barbeque was involved. Etc.,” but it is rare that anything is actually communicated. Most nod and acquiesce to the vaguely epic feel of the tale; very few grab my hand a second time and shake firmly. Those who do have a certain look in their eyes.

The plot is as follows: a man, the incredulous and fugitive student whom we already know, falls among people of the vilest class and adjusts himself to them, in a kind of contest of infamy. All at once – with the miraculous consternation of Robinson Crusoe faced with the human footprint in the sand – he perceives some mitigation in this infamy: a tenderness, an exaltation, a silence in one of the abhorrent men. “It was as if a more complex interlocutor had joined the dialogue.” He knows that the vile man conversing with him is incapable of this momentaneous decorum; from this fact he concludes that the other, for the moment, is the reflection of a friend, or of the friend of a friend. Rethinking the problem he arrives at a mysterious conviction: some place in the world there is a man from whom this clarity emanates; some place in the world there is a man who is this clarity. The student resolves to dedicate his life to finding him.

The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim (1936), Jorge Luis Borges

I’m not Al-Mu’tasim, the origin of clarity and beauty. I’m not even his direct antecedent, who is in fact a fat and happy Parisian bookseller. I’m pretty far down the rung, but probably somewhere above Trev Alberts. I’ve seen more live college football games in one season than anyone, I think, and the kind of people who find that important light up when they hear about my travels. It must be, for them, like a cross between meeting Charlie Lindbergh and the Bearded Lady and her Lobster Lad. Both parties represent something extraordinary in humanity, the very limits of our physical and spiritual expectations. They dwell in opposite ends of fame: one a hero and the others freaks. By comparing ourselves to these examples of distortion and improbability we reach conclusions about what is normal and what is acceptable – but in some mysterious way, just by knowing of these people, we still extend into that otherworldly realm where weird shit happens that shouldn’t, and thus the boundaries are pushed back a little more.

Which is to say: if you plan on living in your car for three straight months, bring a fan with an independent energy source. Only a freak(ishly idiotic person) like me would realize that somewhere near Tennessee, and not, say, California.

I don’t think I need to tell Alex Massie, the Scotsman mentioned above, any of this. I’d probably only need to lay out the metrics – 17,000, 30, 25, 90 – and he’d get that look in his eye and shake my hand again, firmly. Read his article. He calls American sports teams “sides”, which is amusing to someone who had to call tenderloins “fillets” for several years, and he didn’t mention anything about the dark, monstrous emotions lifelong college football fans know as their blood type – it’s only a matter of time, certainly not perseverance – but he strikes the nail and he strikes it true: there is no other sport in America as American as college football.

One can sense this Scotsman is a searcher. Like me, and like the law student in the fictional book Borges “reviews” above, he senses there must be some central source of divinity that has left its mark on others, who in turn have passed on their share and created a whole nation of people endowed with a shard of the immutable properties of the universe, i.e. the 4th quarter comeback. He need only ask Colorado fans who remember 1994, or Boston College fans who remember 1984, or college football fans who remember 2007, and he will have met someone who also believes that this game offers a view into something highly Other. He probably wonders what the hell Conference USA is, and is likely intrigued by this East Carolina University prodigy despite its evident abnormality. He is undoubtedly very sensitive to the tidal change in Ann Arbor and, if he were a student of the classics, would compare it to Zeus and his war with Cronus, except that would also mean imagining Rich Rod killing Lloyd Carr in a necessary act of patricide. As a foreigner he might sense the terrifying, absolute beauty of this game, and reading anything intimating such is unreasonably gratifying for me.

I have no doubt that college football will continue to be the epitome of American sports, but it’s nice to have new converts. Clarity implies the seer and the seen, after all, so one more crazy fan is always welcome.

(HT: MGoBlog)

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Filed under Big Ten, One CFB Road Trip to rule them all

I do not recommend speaking to me the next two weeks

Much like the euro-to-dollar rate, my thought processes since Signing Day in February featured a long inevitable exponential: a steadily rising exchange rate of anticipation leading up to September 13, with a single blip on August 30 representing both the University of Virginia and the NYSE spike caused by the dollar-boosting announcement that we’d be converting our national currency to the euro.

Essentially: yesterday’s 52-7 tune up can now be safely described as what it was, a tune up. One game at a time, we have a tough opponent ahead of us, they won an NCAA record five games by two points last year, Chris Long has a sandwich named after him, blah blah blah.

This game was pretty much decided the moment Jemell Sewell bowed out of that whole school thing. Everything since then has been lip service to Al Groh and Virginia, two institutions that have a long history of being serviceable but not the kind of specters that make an entire off season tingly in all the right places.

For that, you need Ohio State in a night game at the Coliseum. I am indeed all-a-tingle, and take that how you will. (Given that the vast majority of people reading this site arrive through Google searches involving “Kirk Herbstreit wife cheater” and “Mark Richt ass lover” I can assume all interpretations will involve BDSM of some kind.) (And God bless you all.)

So. For approximately half a year I’ve been going through the motions of life, doing things like waking up and showering and working and occasionally imbibing delicious alcoholic beverages and pretending to myself that this is normality. But is it possible to pretend to yourself when that very same self is sitting quietly in a corner hunched over Phil Steele’s 2008 College Football Preview, gently rocking back and forth humming Tribute to Troy and mouthing the same words Robert Oppenheimer spoke at Trinity, New Mexico, “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds”? Oppenheimer needed a 2,500 year old Sanskrit text to describe the awful majesty of mankind’s mastery of the atom, but the old warhorse never had to go through an off season thinking about the second ranked Buckeyes and their Heisman candidate showing up in Los Angeles for the game of the year. This is actually important stuff, and it irks me that someone else got to quote that Bhagavad Gita passage for something as inconsequential as the first detonation of a nuclear device in the last year of the greatest war humanity has ever inflicted upon itself.

The son of Animal is coming, people, and I need deeply religious visions of Apocalypse to reference.

Which is why no one ought to speak to me for two weeks. I will still be going through those motions: wake, shower, work, drink. That will not change. But my interiors will be harnessed for something other, something greater, something necessary. I’m thinking now of a certain kind of ascetic that’s found in almost every major religion. Some mysterious inclination leads men to spend years sequestered and bent over paper, papyrus, brass or keyboard, writing out the many names of God in the belief that a summation of the totality of the Word will one day lead to revelation. Some chant it, some inscribe it on their own flesh with whip and blade, and some merely think it over and over but their effect is the same: a wholesale dedication to a monumental task. This isn’t exactly a bad approach in that it has the same probability of success as anything else. It’s certainly illustrative of one thing: men are capable of commiting their lives and energy to any venture so long as they can believe their work will affect the universe.

So you may see me going about my business as normal for the next fortnight, but be not fooled: inside, I am chanting – in all the languages of life – the myriad names of Winged Victory. They are legion, and they are always sweet. Bring on The Ohio State University.

And don’t mention a thing about Beanie Wells’ foot. If you’ve ever seen this guy run you understand, like I do, he’ll play two Saturdays from now. No. 28 knows you only get two shots at Ragnarok, and he isn’t waiting for the second half of the home-and-home to show up.

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Filed under Big Ten, This game might be slightly important, USC

Columbus man saddened, overjoyed by wife’s affair with Kirk Herbstreit

COLUMBUS, OHIO - Police officer Jerry Dunlaw, 39, described the process of divorcing his wife of nine years Tracy Dunlaw (née Winters) on the grounds of adultery as “almost unbearably sad,” noting that it was only her affair with ESPN College GameDay analyst and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit that “made things bearable during a difficult time.”


Herbstreit.

“No one can understand the sadness of a marriage that seems to be going strong only to be suddenly dissolved. You have to experience it first,” said Dunlaw. “I was ignorant about a lot of things. Maybe I was even too innocent. I believed this [marriage] would last forever.”

“Hey, check this out,” the 14-year veteran of the Columbus Narcotics Bureau added as he leafed through the former couple’s financial paperwork. “It’s a Varsity Club receipt signed by Kirk Herbstreit! How cool is that?”

Dunlaw then sobbed quietly for several minutes, making sure to keep the receipt dry and uncrumpled.

The Varsity Club, a local favorite for almost half a century, was one of several bars infrequently visited by Winters and Herbstreit over a period of “at least four years, but probably five,” according to Jack Stanislaw, a private detective hired by Dunlaw in July to investigate his then wife’s “suspicious behavior.”

Stanislaw said that Winters, 33, and Herbstreit, 38, first met in 2002 following a September 14 GameDay appearance in Columbus for a matchup between eventual national champion Ohio State and eleventh ranked Washington State.

Dunlaw recalled the incident.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. That was a good Wazzu team. We were so drunk after the win, and then we saw Herbie at the Varsity. I asked him to sign her [chest],” said Dunlaw. “It was pretty sweet.”

Winters and Dunlaw have agreed to joint custody of their two children, with each parent alternating weeks. The two also agreed that holidays will be spent together “or with Kirk Herbstreit, if possible.”

“There’s a lot about this situation that’s pretty messed up, obviously,” said Dunlaw. “But we’ve got kids and they’ve got to come first. Even though we don’t agree with each other, we could at least agree on that. Making sure the children can lead normal lives was the first priority. Plus, you know, they really love Herbstreit. So that was pretty simple.”

The only point of contention revolves around their Ohio State season tickets.

“We’ve got four of them,” said Winters. “Obviously the kids get two, but what about the other two? Jerry wants them both. I think that’s unreasonable.”

“I’m sure Kirk can get her in,” Dunlaw responded.

He paused.

“Speaking of which, I wonder if he can get me extras for the [Ohio State-Michigan] game? I’ll have to get Tracy to call him and ask.”

Though Herbstreit occasionally expressed regret regarding the affair, specifically its secretive nature and the guilt over cheating on his own wife of nine years, he was always “willing to sign memorabilia after our lovemaking,” according to Winters.

“Kirk’s so generous. It’s one of the things that really attracted me to him, I think. He’s got so much to do but he takes his time to interact with a fan like me. I knew Jerry would love stuff like signed footballs and jerseys. He [Jerry] always used to ask me how I got them, and I would just wink and smile and say ‘I think you’ve got a secret Santa somewhere,’” said Winters. “He’s just a great guy. We’re all so proud he’s a Buckeye.”

Dunlaw agreed.

“Kirk’s a Buckeye through and through. He’s always been there for us, for the school and the team. He just does everything right. He represents himself and the university well. He always knows what to say and how to say it.”

Added Dunlaw: “I wish he was here right now. I think he’d know how to help me pick up the pieces of my life.”

This isn’t the first time Dunlaw has crossed paths with Herbstreit. The two were both undergraduates at Ohio State at the same time. In fact, Dunlaw regulary sat “two or three” rows behind” Herbstreit during a shared business class.

“I saw him at a couple of parties, too. We kinda hung out with the same people, and he dated one of my best friends, Janine,” Dunlaw recalled.

“Well, ‘dated’ isn’t the right word for it. They hooked up a couple of times after I introduced them. Man, she was great. Easy to talk to, funny, smart, beautiful. Just the perfect girl. She even liked football! Loved it, actually, which is probably why she and Kirk ended up in the bathroom at parties. I wonder what she’s up to now?”

Mike Knox, Dunlaw’s best friend and a detective for the Columbus narcotics unit, was Dunlaw’s roommate at Ohio State.

“He was in love with [Janine],” said Knox. “Everyone knew it. He was pretty devastated when she first hooked up with Herbie. The only thing that got Jerry through it was the [13-13] tie with Michigan [in 1992].”

“Great game,” said Dunlaw. “[Michigan was] really good that year. I think Kirk set a passing record against them. Something like 28 or 29 completions against a team with Ty Law and Corwin Brown. Herbie really deserved that MVP award.”

“[Screw] Michigan,” he added.

Dunlaw has sought counseling for his grief but says psychiatrists have not helped so far.

“They’ve kinda helped me understand the situation. Coping with it is something entirely different,” the police officer said. “The pain’s still there. I don’t know if it’ll ever truly be gone. I think it’ll get less and less worse until maybe one day I’ll wake up and it’s not there anymore – but that day is still far away.”

Dunlaw’s watch alarm then went off, reminding the Ohio State alumnus ESPN’s SportsCenter was coming on.

“The GameDay crew’s breaking down the BCS situation today,” he said excitedly.

As the nightly program wound through several non-college football segments, Dunlaw reflected on the surreal nature of his situation: “I still can’t believe Herbie’s sleeping with my Tracy. It’s so unreal. I feel like I should be texting Knox right now. Y’know, something like, ‘Oh my god. You won’t believe this! This is amazing!’”

Dunlaw’s eyes settled on his wedding picture still mounted on the wall above his television.

“I asked Tracy to marry me after the ’98 Michigan game. We had finally beat those [guys], and I dropped to my knee right there and then. I was the happiest man alive when she said ‘yes’. Now I just feel like a shadow.”

“There he is!” Dunlaw exclaimed, pointing at Herbstreit’s televised face. “My wife totally slept with him!”

“Ex-wife,” Dunlaw corrected.

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Filed under Big Ten, Fake news, The Media

Week one: CU 31, CSU 28 (OT), magic mushrooms, Appalachia

No intro, let’s just dive in. I am currently sitting at the University of Oklahoma’s Bizzell Library wondering, in no particular order:

1) Why is the University of Oklahoma’s football team wearing helmets that say “OU”?

2) Where can I get mosquito proof mesh to line my car windows with?

3) How can I acquire my own Appalachian State t-shirt?

Each of these questions are linked, inextricably, with my current odyssey: a 14 week, 25 state (plus District of Columbia!), 22 game (or so) road trip that will take me to stadiums involving all six BCS conferences and a number of mid-majors – the first being Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee State, where I will witness the awesome power that Satantic amounts of money will bring to the Miltonian conglomerate that is the SBC. I expect gold plated shitters. Anything less and I will head back to my yak farm in the heady tofu climes of California’s Central Valley.

Here is my schedule:

ALL TIMES EASTERN
Saturday, September 1st
Colorado State at Colorado (Denver, CO, Mile High Stadium); 10:00 AM

Saturday, September 8th
Miami (Fla) at Oklahoma (Norman, OK); 12:00 PM

Saturday, September 15th
USC at Nebraska (Lincoln, NE); 8:00 PM

Thursday, September 20th
Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee State (Murfreesboro, TN); 7:00 PM

Saturday, September 22nd
Georgia at Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL); TBA

Saturday, September 29th
Auburn at Florida (Gainesville, FL); TBA

Thursday, October 4
Kentucky at South Carolina (Columbia, SC); 7:30 PM

Saturday, October 6
Virginia Tech at Clemson, (Clemson, SC); TBA

Wednesday, October 10
Navy at Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA); 8:00 PM

Saturday, October 13
Wisconsin at Penn State (State College, PA); 3:30 PM

Saturday, October 20
USC at Notre Dame (South Bend, IN); 3:30 PM

Thursday, October 25
Boston College at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA); 7:30 PM

Saturday, October 27
West Virginia at Rutgers (New Brunswick, NJ); TBA
OR

South Carolina at Tennessee (Knoxville, TN); TBA

Saturday, November 3
Wisconsin at Ohio State (Columbus, OH); TBA

Tuesday, November 6
Central Michigan at Western Michigan (Kalamazoo, MI); 7:30 PM

Wednesday, November 7
Ohio at Akron (Akron, OH); 7:30 PM

Thursday, November 8
Louisville at West Virginia (Morgantown, WV); 7:30 PM

Saturday, November 10
Auburn at Georgia (Athens, GA); TBA
OR

Florida State at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA); TBA

Saturday, November 17
Ohio State at Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI); TBA

Thursday, November 22
USC at Arizona State (Tempe, AZ); 8:00 PM

Saturday, November 24
Notre Dame at Stanford (Palo Alto, CA); TBA

Saturday, December 1
UCLA at USC (Los Angeles, CA); 4:30 PM

States covered:
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia

I revel in thy jealousy.

Don’t worry, th0ugh, because so far this trip has turned out exactly as I envisioned it: smelly, cramped, uncomfortably hovering around $3.00 per gallon, sustained only by CLIF Bars, my Nalgene bottle and no less than three Johnny Cash albums. I have a Garmin 330c GPS unit I have nicknamed Henry due to my summers spent in his seafaring base. (Will my Garmin unit eventually be surpassed by Spain, France and England in terms of world prestige? Yeah, probably. But it’ll still beat the Brits in penalty kicks.) My car is a 1996 Nissan Maxima that so far has no name but seems to be discussing, in closed sessions, the moniker “Joppy” as in, “Who the fuck would drive that jalopy? That thing doesn’t even deserve three syllables.” My bed is the back seat, or else both the driver’s seat and the back seat in a diagonal accomplished by lowering the former, or else an uncomfortable pea soup-like atmosphere in which my organic marginalia slowly dampen, ripen and wither away like so much paper based material brought to the not-un-wet tropics of the Philippines. I am missing toes and fingers here, people. As Neal Stephenson once wrote, I can feel the incipient malaria, and it is hot. Chicks dig my organic look, probably because women love the idea of fertility and there is nothing more fertile than having a week’s worth of grime caked into your pores because Joppy won’t lower its windows due to the thousands of mosquitoes swarming outside its already thoroughly compromised barriers, and is that wheat growing out of your collar?

Yes, it is. I’d make a fine hefeweizen, thank you. And this trip has already lived up to its promise in game one: Colorado 31, Colorado State 28. Overtime, baby. God, your check is in the mail. It’s postdated, so, like, call me before you cash. Actually, text me. I have a pay-as-you-go-phone.

I left Los Angeles at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Thursday. My goal was to arrive in Denver by 9 or 10 p.m the next day. I accomplished the 1,000 mile plus journey by compressing much of my trip into a two hour long nightmare session through the Rockies, racing down US-70 at a downhill grade of at least six percent, one hand on the steering wheel, one hand frantically texting the foolish female who would (once she picked up the phone) agree to house me, one (ghost) hand reaching back towards the trunk where, Grail like in its warm, life sustaining glow, a handle of Mr. Jack Daniel’s finest pulsed gently in the dark. Before I knew it I was in the Highland Park area of Denver drinking a dark bitter and trying not to look goofy as I adjusted to speaking at elevations in excess of pretty much everything else I’ve ever dealt with, aka, that hill on US-101 between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo, aka, Not Very High Up. I was a total failure at non-goofiness, but everyone seemed measurably stoned so it didn’t matter.

Game day: I normally make it my business to arrive at least two hours before kickoff. Kickoff was at 10 a.m. I didn’t go to sleep until 3 p.m. Do your own math.

I park and head to Invesco at approximately 9:15 a.m. It takes me thirty minutes to make it through the parking lots, which aren’t necessarily on the way but looked like a hell of a lot of fun. In that thirty minutes I was offered no fewer than four beer bongs contingent on my rooting for [insert team] or at least not rooting for [insert diametrically opposite team] and, in practice, amounted to me agreeing to high five people. I discuss this behavior with the local fauna and I discover that here, in Colorado, beer is a sentimentally favored drink that brings with it earthy aromas and rich, coppery tones that call to the hidden maniac within which, on this particular day, is not so much hidden as forcibly expectorated by the presence of the foulest, sweetest, most wonderful beer pooled money can buy. I bless them all with my censer (a copy of Phil Steele’s pre-season mag) and notice several Colorado shirts.

One of them is a golden rod yellow specimen bearing “It ain’t intramurals!” on the front and “It’s Division I football!” on the back. Already I am suffused with a mother’s instinct for its weak and vulnerable child, and I want to cradle Dan Hawkins and gently rock him to sleep. I suspect, suddenly, that four (plus?) beer bongs in thirty minutes will render me journalistically mute for at least the first half.

It does. I don’t have my notebook with me to verify, but I am constantly writing about direct snaps, CSU stiffening up, Hawkins the younger looking “steady”, the sun, the Rams fans around me, the sun, my poor choice of clothing (jeans), the sun, and, memorably, the nationally known phenomenon of key jangling. Here, in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, CSU fans do it during “key plays”. When no one’s key was out and noisome on a particularly important CU third and long, I question the Ram in front of me. “Oh, I guess we only do it during kickoffs,” and this rather sheepishly. Tradition has no logic.

The second half is much better thanks to the delightful Sonny Lubick and a fortuitous onside kick that has the ball rocket into the central wedge’s face/shoulder pad. I can only describe it as comical and am immediately reminded of the football specific idea of momentum: no other sport has such a palpable emotional pendulum, and you can literally feel the agricultural pride as thousands of “Staters” rise up against, in Colorado at least, their bourgeois rivals. Do I care that it was probably a squib kick and not an exquisitely aimed onside? Not in the least. Special teams play is the province of the foolish and the damned, and I am up to the task of both by not questioning and continuing to drink via a handy and neighborly flask proffered up by my suddenly jubilant green clad community. (I am sitting in the CSU rooting section, if you haven’t figured out by now.)

The second half is wonderful and ho-hum. CSU blows a lead and a hard fought game. The unforgivable crime of an interception during the first half of OT reminds me of Dante’s little known 26th circle of Hell, reserved entirely for quarterbacks-who-should-know-better, and idolaters. What strikes me most is the end of the game where Hawkins senior is presented with the Centennial Cup and, to an almost empty Invesco Stadium, yells, “This is for all the fans out there! We ain’t dead! Colorado is back! We’re back!” after an overtime win over what will probably be a middle of the pack Mountain West squad to a group of Colorado fans in the stands that can be termed, charitably, “in the teeming hundred”. Hawkins is visibly earnest and eager and hopeful and all in all very puppy-like, but, more than anything else, there is a sense of overwhelming desperation to return to the glories of the first half of the nineties. He wants it so badly it’s almost painful to listen to him Howard Dean his way through a polysyllabic “whooo!” so pure and boyish you can practically forget the overhanging specter of a 2-10 season. He wants his Camelot and his 2,000 yard rusher and his Big 12 North dominance and the type of program that churns out forgettable Rashaan Salaams like they were single mold Shrek dolls coming out of a Zhejiang factory.

I understand him. I suspect that the people wearing the numerous Kordell Stewart Hail Mary t-shirts understand him. There were a lot of older fans wearing these commemorative shirts, many of them reading “Where were you?” and each of them unsure as to the exact yardage Stewart threw on that last play to beat Michigan at home. (64? 73? Bazillion?) For Colorado fans that Hail Mary must occupy the same communal mental and spiritual space as the Battle of Agincourt does for the British. It is creation myth and national monument at the same time. It is the central fount from which Colorado-ness must necessarily stem, though in my opinion Colorado football at its best will always belong to the truly power teams of the Big XII in that the Buffs simply ran you over.

Henry V led England during the latter stages of the Hundred Years’ War (which lasted 116 years and is an early precedent for the Big Ten) at a time when Britain’s fortunes were waning. The two preeminent forces of Western Europe were locked over the fate of the western and northern coasts of Brittany. Henry, essentially, said “Fuck this” and marched on Harfleur, took it, and, wishing to up the ante with more bold forward thinking, marched on Calais with little thought to supply lines or even maneuvering. He and his army were forced into a fight with a French force outnumbering his own anywhere from 2-1 to 6-1 (5-1 is more likely). Improbably, Henry won – mainly due to the use of English longbowmen, whose vertigo inducing military parallax was similar to the introduction of semi-automatic weapons in the Civil War and World War I and the promulgation of encryption and decryption in World War II. To put it bluntly, Henry produced, from his ass, a victory of such monumental portions that the French noble fatalities were in triple figures, leaving the rest of Brittany ripe for England’s f/pl-ucking. He did so by utilizing missile weapons which could slay or irreparably maim foes from unheard of distances.

Kordell Stewart threw the ball 73 yards in Michigan Stadium. No. 7 Colorado beat No. 4 Michigan 27-26 on the last play of the game. If Colorado has a Westminster Abbey, you can be sure their version of Elizabeth I’s tomb is nice and grand and that whatever amounts to their World War II memorial and Poet’s Corner is up to par, but make no mistake: Kordell gets the Henry V treatment, which is to say, “Alle ye futyre Kingf of Englande, here sharl yew be crown’d”. There’s a reason why St. Edward’s Chair is located in a nave underneath Henry’s tomb: even kings know who is sovereign. In Colorado (and select parts of Pittsburgh) Kordell is king.

Now a few years later a little lady named Joan of Arc tore a red line through England’s maps and the world’s idea of feminism (which, in my opinion, would have been greatly helped by armor and swords – suffragettes thus armed could nay be refused), but does that dim the memories of England? No, because “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” is the PR machine that does not end. Colorado’s sex scandal, Gary Barnett, 2-10, etc. have all come and gone and yet the warm glow of the memory of that day in Ann Arbor still fuels Buff fans. Out of pure despair they created a moment that, straight out of the Enûma Elish, gave birth to light, sound, water, forest and men. Everything before that Hail Mary might as well not have existed, including the 1990 championship season – and hell, that year was marred by the Fifth Down against Missouri. Everything after that Hail Mary is different, sub-atomically, and there’s no going back. As Heisenberg said, You cannot observe Michael Westbrook cradling the ball without being changed.

Hence: Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32. I didn’t see the game. Despite reading through the mangled 14 car pile up that is mgoblog’s defensive and offensive UFR, I’m not entirely sure what happened except “Aaaand Henne overthrows an open man” and cheetahs unleashed on Michigan’s deaf, dumb and blind defensive baby wildebeest formations. I will say this, though:

For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

On the Monday afterwards I found myself in Boulder watching a band named Meniskus. I am high as a kite thanks to chocolate covered shrooms. My companions are all in the same boat, and we spend the time watching the band (which is very good) and the dancers, who are all of them quintessential Boulder folk, i.e. incapable of being anything other than long haired, elastic band waisted, Green voting, who-cares-if-my-boner-is-showing?-I’m-still-gonna-commune-with-the-forces-of-Dance, gentle souls who like to rhythmize themselves to the beautiful colors of song, and if you wanna laugh, man, why, you go ahead and laugh. Because they’re vibing. And as we watch this incredible scene it occurs to me that the manager of the band, alternatively taking pictures of his charges and laughing at the crowd, is wearing an Appalachian Football shirt. Turns out he played linebacker for the ‘Neers and went on to play for Deutschland in NFL Europa. Turns out he managed to watch the game. Turns out he went home, dug through his closet, and vowed to wear that same shirt for the next week. If I were him I would’ve said a month, at least – but who am I to criticize a man on St. Crispin’s Day?

This day is called the Feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day and live t’old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian”:
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.
So here I am sitting in OU’s Bizzell Library, waiting for the Miami Hurricanes to play the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, and all I can think is: what an amazing first week. I’ve got a ticket to the game. Oklahoma girls are just like any other American co-ed, which is to say lovely. I haven’t died yet. Biggest upset in college football history. Plus, you know: shrooms.
States visited: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma.
Miles traveled: I dunno. 1,700? Sounds about right.
Times pulled over: One, but he was real nice. Gave me a warning and told me the Cozy Inn in Salina, Kansas has the original White Castle. If you’re ever in Cody, Wyoming, just ask for Wild Bob.
Games watched (at least partially): CU-CSU, Cal-Tennessee, Georgia-Oklahoma State, Auburn-Kansas State, Bowling Green-Minnesota, USC-Idaho (aaaaargh!), LSU-Mississippi State, Washington State-Wisconsin, Nevada-Nebraska, Florida State-Clemson, Missouri-Illinois.
Sunflower seeds consumed: Galactus amounts. If Galactus devoured sunflower seeds instead of worlds, that is.USC Panic-Meter: High. But I’ll wait til after Lincoln to panic/martyr myself/buy Nickleback albums.

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Filed under Big Ten, Big XII, MWC, One CFB Road Trip to rule them all, SBC

Paterno, Bowden to star in “zany” Uwe Boll adaptation of Half-Life

HOLLYWOOD – The two winningest coaches in college football history – Joe Paterno of Penn State and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden – are now set to star in what might be next year’s winningest movie: Uwe Boll’s adaptation of the best selling video game franchise Half-Life.

Boll – the director of critically acclaimed video game adaptations like Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne – has already begun filming in the Czech Republic and Tallahassee, Florida.

Half-Life (1998) and Half-Life 2 (2004) both garnered dozens of game of the year awards and are generally regarded as two of the finest PC games ever produced. The games are set in a not too distant Earth where research into teleportation causes an alien race to initiate an inter-dimensional invasion. A single scientist named Gordon Freeman is left to navigate the remains of the research facility in search of a solution to the incursion.

“I’m a big fan of the game,” Paterno said. “Let’s just say that [Half-Life offshoot] Counterstrike might’ve contributed to my [10-13 combined] record in 2000 and 2001. I had to drop out of college for a while and really collect myself. Now that I’ve had some perspective, it’s an honor to be attached to this film.”

Using technology from films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and X-Men: The Last Stand, Paterno will be transformed into a terrifying zombie and multiplied to fill the screen with digital clones of himself. The zombies are created when vicious “headcrabs” attack human beings and turn them into mindless manifestations of violence bent on devouring and multiplying.

“I feel like I was born to do this,” said Paterno.

A promotional t-shirt for the upcoming movie “Half-Life“, directed by Uwe Boll. (Graphic courtesy of: The House That Rock Built)

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Filed under ACC, Big Ten, Fake news

Seasonal Haiku: Post-bowl, pre-NLOI Day

I’m not the first to do a college football related haiku. There have been many, many others. I’m just the worst.

*****

It’s easy as pie
Ma Teresa would leave, too
I’m gonna get paid
-Adrian Peterson

Barely beat Wofford
And Augusta still no-go
Time for new visor?
-Steve Spurrier

Hot damn, beat ‘SC
It’s contract extension time
Cue seven more L’s
-Karl Dorrell

Good season, Satan
Planning almost completed
Last thing: Jade Monkey
-Myles Brand

RoJo to Gainesville?
The ledge is cold but soothing
Go Big Blue swan dive!
-My Michigan friend

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Filed under Big Ten, Big XII, NCAA, Pac-10, Seasonal Haiku, SEC, USC

SOS: Save Our Shitty-Home-Opener

That SOS can also stand for Strength of Schedule which, under Pete Carroll, has maintained a fairly steady balance between solid (2004) to BCS Death March (2002). SOS is no longer an official part of the BCS formula but it still figures into several of the computer components, and if you don’t have it in a close year it’ll force you to accept the world’s worst consolation prize. In Carroll’s six years the Trojans have played the following out of conference (OOC) games, with season end rankings listed:

2001
San Jose State, unranked
Kansas State, unranked
at Notre Dame, unranked
Utah (Las Vegas Bowl), unranked

2002
Auburn, 14th
at Colorado, 20th, Big XII North Division Champions
at Kansas State, 7th
Notre Dame, 17th
Iowa (Orange Bowl), 8th, Big Ten C0-Champions

2003
at Auburn, unranked
BYU, unranked
Hawai’i, unranked
at Notre Dame, unranked
Michigan (Rose Bowl), 6th, Big Ten Champions

2004
Virginia Tech (BCA Classic at FedEx Field, Maryland), 10th, ACC Champions
Colorado State, unranked
at BYU, unranked
Notre Dame, unranked
Oklahoma (Orange Bowl), 3rd, Big XII Champions

2005
at Hawai’i, unranked
Arkansas, unranked
at Notre Dame, 9th
Fresno State, unranked
Texas (Rose Bowl), 1st, BCS Champions

2006
at Arkansas, 15th, SEC West Division Champions
Nebraska, unranked, Big XII North Division Champions
Notre Dame, 17th
Michigan (Rose Bowl), 8th

If you’re counting, that’s a total of 7 non-BCS teams and 15 BCS teams scheduled in six years, with a 5-1 ratio of BCS-to-non-BCS in bowl games. That’s also 12 home games, 9 away games and one game at a neutral site (2004′s BCA Classic in Maryland). In 2006 the NCAA officially moved to a 12 game regular season; the Pac-10 went from an 8 game schedule to a true round robin with each team playing all nine conference opponents.

And now:

2007
Idaho
at Nebraska
at Notre Dame

Nebraska should be ranked in the twenties with the loss of Zach Taylor offset by former ASU quarterback Sam Keller. Notre Dame should be unranked. And Idaho? Idaho is a holdover from the period when Nick Holt, former linebackers coach and current defensive coordinator for USC, was the Vandals’ head coach. Idaho is filler material. Idaho is Idaho.

And now:

ESPN is brokering an arrangement in which the [Hawai'i] Warriors might open the season Sept. 1 at Southern California. In order for that to occur, USC would have to get out of its scheduled game against Idaho that day.

It’s from The Honolulu Advertiser, and it’s a blurb at the end of an article about a game between Washington and Hawai’i. As in the Hawai’i team featuring Brennan Colt. As in the guy who declared for the draft on the last day possible, then waited 72 hours to undeclare at the last possible minute. As in the guy who threw for 326 touchdowns in one season, 208 of those against Arizona State in the Hawai’i Bowl. As in the guy who’ll be an early season Heisman dark horse behind Darren McFadden, Steve Slaton, Henne/Hart, Brian Brohm, Desean Jackson and (YES) John David Booty.

I say early season Heisman candidate because I am confident that Hawai’i would lose at the Coliseum on Sept. 1 if the game should happen, derailing Colt’s no doubt cute campaign as the kid-who-could-(throw-for-a-bajillion-TDs-against-you). The Warriors return pretty much all of the wide receivers who helped Colt become Division I-A’s single season touchdown leader (58 TDs in 14 games), and the same applies to the offensive line. (Not really: they lose two starters, but as a program heavily stocked in Pacific-Islanders I think we can rightly assume the Warriors will find a few large men to replace the departed.) Offensively, the biggest loss in my opinion is 5’9″ 240 lbs. “wide receiver” Nate Ilaoa, who looked like a svelte bowling ball every time he had the rock. I was a big fan of Ilaoa and his amusing status as a WR.

I am confident USC would beat Hawai’i because the Warriors were 93rd in total defense last season, 105th in pass defense. I’m not trying to pull those numbers out of my ass just to support my homerism. Hawai’i’s schedule was a big meh: it featured such offensive heavyweights as Alabama (65th in total offense), UNLV (84th), Utah State (114th) and, of course, Idaho (94th). It also featured the curious (New Mexico St. at 2nd in the nation in passing with 399 yards/game), the surprising (San Jose St. with 175 rushing yards a game, good for 20th in the nation and a good toss up as to why the Spartans came closer than any other team to beating Boise State) and the miraculous (the aforementioned Broncos of the Smurf Turf).

Numbers are nice, but I’ve seen Hawai’i play twice. In person. They’re losing their best defensive player (safety Leonard Peters, he of Troy Polamalu-ish hair style) and they’re notoriously undisciplined on the defensive side of the ball. In 2005 they held the ball pretty much the entire first quarter against USC and the Trojans scored 63 anyway. Yes, that was with Bush and Leinart and White and Jarrett. But with 2007′s defense I’ll take my chances against any one-dimensional team.

I may be exaggerating my confidence in USC beating Hawai’i. When you can throw for five touchdowns in one half like Colt did to the Sun Devils you should believe you’ll win any game. And the Warriors would be a wee bit excited to play USC, whom they’ve never beaten in six tries, in the Coliseum in front of a national audience – and since ESPN is pushing for it, it’ll be a national audience. Throw in the fact that the Warriors really would have a legit shot of being the first team in six years to beat USC at home and you’ll have a formula for good football watching. For the love of all that is good in this world please don’t make me watch Southern California-Idaho. Please.

And for any (hypothetical) Vandal fans, I’m not mocking you. I’m just stating the truth. This would be mocking you.

However, despite my taking the time to write the above the chances of this deal happening appear to be somewhat slim. Hawai’i-USC has been in the works for a long time now. Both Idaho and USC have been trying to get out of their “game” ever since Holt left Moscow to coach in Los Angeles, but the Trojans have had a hard time convincing teams to give them a single home game. The schedule is full until at least the next decade with Syracuse being added to the 2008 and 2010 seasons, thanks to former Trojan and current Orangemen athletic director Daryl Gross. (Don’t go by the official schedules at the USC athletic website; they haven’t been updated because the deal is a handshake one so far. I’d still say it’s a 90% chancer.) The Trojans don’t have much room to negotiate a true home-and-home and are looking for a one year thing at the Coliseum to balance out six games on the road in 2007. Under NCAA rules Hawai’i can schedule up to five non-conference games a season. The only thing I’ve found is a brief blurb here:

Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier said they [remaining non-conference games] will be Division I, and is leaning toward home games after Brennan announced Wednesday he will return for his senior season rather than go pro.

C’mon! First rule of athletic directors at mid-majors hoping to push a Heisman candidate: clever is nice, schedule is nicer. Sure, you can try putting together a DVD and sending free copies to all the voters. You could even erect a 100-ft. billboard in downtown New York – but then you’d be Joey Harrington, and no one wants that. Not even Joey Harrington. Heisman voters are stupid, archaic beings who belong to a silly group that hands out an overrated trophy… but they also pay attention to the schedule a candidate plays. If Frazier is worried Colt’s campaign needs a boost by adding home games, he’d do better by the former Mater Dei High quarterback if he asked himself what kind of boost Colt would get by beating the pre-season top ranked Trojans in Los Angeles. In a race featuring at least three or four candidates with better chances than him, a good game against USC is Colt’s best hope for a ticket to New York. Will any of that change what appears to be a foregone slaughter of (yawn) Idaho in the Coliseum? Probably not. Am I gonna get anything out of a couple thousand words advocating USC putting a Heisman candidate on the schedule in a season in which the Trojans have a good shot at the national championship? Probably not.

Boo.

This doesn’t really belong at the end of the post, but 2004 Auburn Tigers? I liked you. I really did. Still: HA-ha.

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Filed under ACC, BCS, Big East, Big Ten, Big XII, NCAA, Notre Dame, Pac-10, SEC, The Media, USC, WAC