Leigh Ann’s Curse on the Illini is Broken

When I moved to Illinois in the fall 2001, the Illini, led by QB Kurt Kittner (who evidently retired from football after winning the World Bowl MVP and is doing real estate and color commentary for Illini radio), when 10-1 before losing to LSU in a BCS bowl.

Then, Leigh Ann moved to Champaign.

June 2002, while a great month for me, was a dark day for Illini football. After Leigh Ann came, the Illini went 13-45 over the next 5 years and were only remotely in the running for a bowl game once (2002). Their average record during Leigh Ann’s stint there was 2.6 wins and 9 losses.

Of course, this past winter we moved away in what proved to be a joyous occasion for Illini football fans. With their 27-20 win over #21 Penn State today, they are now 4-1 and most likely going to enter the Top 25 this week! Now, if they can only beat Michigan (their one regular season loss in the 2001 season).

And interesting side note is that the Triangle teams down here in North Carolina (UNC, NC State, and Duke) are a cumulative 3-11 this year. Not that any of them were BCS teams last year, but I think it’s worth hypothesizing that the Leigh Ann curse may now be in effect here.

In other news, the bar for “Ugliest Uniform” has just dropped a couple of notches last weekend with the Philly Eagles’ throwback uniforms. They look like a Tar Heel jersey mated with the Tour de France leader jersey.

One more rant, what’s up with the stores like Lowe’s that make you tell them the last 4 digits on your credit card after you swipe it? As far as I can tell, the only purpose in this is to (1) make me dig back in my wallet after I just put it away and (2) let everyone standing in line hear the 4 digits of your credit card. I don’t see how this gives you any extra security and is rather annoying.

The Unbearable Joy of Taxes

Ah, the opportunity to reflect on how craptacular our tax system is. Because of my stipend in grad school, there was no withholding, so we had to send in quarterly estimated taxes. Our Illinois state tax was always pretty close (last year it was only a $37 refund…that’s about as good as you can get). Illinois also has a flat tax system (3%) that’s pretty simple if you’re not a farmer (if there’s one special interest group that political folk in Illinois love, it’s farmers….deductions all over the place. You could even buy a Hummer in state with no sales tax because it qualified as a “farm vehicle”). Federal income tax…not so much. I’d always fill out their worksheet at the beginning of the tax year and then proceed to be hundreds of dollars of when I filed taxes the next year. This year we had to pay well over a thousand dollars. This tells me that the fed tax code is so freakin’ complicated that they can’t even tell people how to estimate how their final bill will turn out.

Humor me for a second while I go on my usual rant about why can’t we just have a single tax rate with an exemption on, say, the first $30,000 of income per person and no other exemptions or credits. I mean none…none for retirement, dependents, mortgage interest, income earned from commercial fishing operations, etc…none. So if an individual made $50K per year and the tax rate was 20%, you’d pay $4000 (0.2 * (50K – 30K)). If you make less than $30K or a married couple makes less than $60K, then they’d pay nothing. Not rocket science.

  • In other news, congrats to the Illini for their win over Indiana! Take that Eric Gordon and thug-a-rific Kelvin Sampson. Doubt they can beat Wisconsin today, but hopefully this is enough to get them off the bubble and into the tournament. I got my Dee Brown headband on today.
  • I stumbled across this awesome site while trying to find an Internet stream for Illini basketball (if you’re into Bit Torrent). They have the Chief’s Last Dance and a DVD-playable copy of the Illini’s miracle comeback against Arizona (the latter takes about a day to download since there’s not many seeds for the 4GB file). I think one of the commenters on the Arizona torrent put it best:

    i cried when i saw the dvd menu. this is outstanding!

    By the way, if anyone knows of any radio stations with audio streams that let you listen to Illini basketball live, please do share.

  • On a less positive note, Clemson did completed yet another end of the season implosion by losing in the first round of the ACC tournament. After starting out 18-0, they finished like 3-10 and blew any chance of going to the NCAAs. Just like the football team falls about every year (sometimes in the beginning, usually in the end) or the baseball team ends up in the top 5 every year only to go two and out in the College World Series. Sigh.
  • Some great Mac parodies: The One thing PC users can do that Mac users can’t and The Onion reports on Apple Unveils New Product-Unveiling Product.
  • Is it just me or does anyone else who comes across Headline News wonder if someone would actually name their kid “Rally”?
  • The US Postal Service is actually doing something so unbelievably cool that I pledge not to complain about their next postage increase. If it’s going towards this kind of innovation, it’s worth it. I gotta find one of these R2D2 mailboxes and get a picture next to it!
  • We watched The Prestige last night. Great movie! Just the right amount of twists and turns without getting too convoluted. You do have to be willing to suspend reality for a little bit though :).
  • Leigh Ann was filling out a background check to volunteer with the Red Cross online this week and it was one of those deals where you have to use Internet Explorer. Presumably, they do this for security which is kind of ironic since IE and it’s Active-X self isn’t exactly known as the pinnacle of secure computing. Pretty much any time a site only works in IE, that should be considered a design flaw. Either the site designer was incompetent, lazy, or has a system to complex for a web app. From now on, anytime I see these sites, I’m going to submit bug reports to the webmaster.
  • Let’s say someone just started shooting bullets up in the air in a crowded area. While not intentionally aiming at anyone, there’s a pretty good chance a bullet could fall and kill an innocent bystander. The cops see this, ask the person so stop shooting repeatedly, and then fire a beanbag gun to subdue him when he doesn’t stop. Unfortunately, the beanbag hits the shooter just right and turns him into a quadriplegic. Should he be allowed to sue the police for the resulting injury? I say no. Duh. The Supreme Court is currently deciding just such a case but in the context of a high-speed car chase.
  • I’m probably just getting old, but is anyone else a little weirded out by all these kids that’ll be walking around and then all of a sudden wheels just sprout out of their shoes and they roll past you? Oh those whippersnappers.
  • I always suspected iTunes didn’t adhere to a uniform distribution when it came to its “random” selections. Looks like someone else agrees. They’re even more conspiracy minded…are some labels paying for better placement in the algorithm?

National Championship Post Mortem

It’s never a good sign when your team climaxes 16 seconds into the game like the Buckeyes did with Ted Ginn’s kickoff return. Never in a million years would I have guessed the football team would lose to Florida by more points (27) than the basketball team lost to Florida a couple of weeks ago (26).

I give the game ball to the Buckeyes’ halftime show coordinator: if your team is advertised as the unsinkable juggernaut, is it really the best idea to play the theme song from Titanic? Come to think of it, I don’t think My Heart Will Go On ever has a place in a football game.

On My Mind

  • illini_basketball.jpg

    Some of the things I’ll miss most about Champaign (other than friends, of course): the Central time zone (man, that extra hour is nice for sporting events), Curtis Orchard (pretty much the idyllic midwest experience), four way stops on four lane roads (never seen them elsewhere), my window-office at work (even though it’s shared, it’ll probably be at least a decade before I have a chance at one of these again), our ultimate frisbee group (just the right skill and competition level for us), the MTD (has to be one of the best public transit systems in a city of 100K), free network channels from a satellite feed (since there’s no way I’m paying for cable unless it’s available ala mode…we’re stuck with the joys of antenna reception from here on out), Papa Del’s and Za’s (the best thick-crust pizza and cheap Italian around), the University’s “hole-y” cows (some experiment where they cut holes in the side of living cows so they have a window to their stomach), the library (just a great system and inventory…because of them, I’ve probably only made two trips to Blockbuster in the past year), Chief Illiniwek (the only halftime show I actually stayed to watch…virtually always better than the actual game), Illini basketball (they’re just adored within the community…being here at the same time as Dee Brown, Luther Head, and Deron Williams was just a wonderful experience), and regional Big Ten college football coverage (it was pretty much like having a season pass for Ohio State football).

  • illiniwek_debate.jpg

    Some of the things I won’t miss about Champaign: the wind and cold (with the wind, it’s like Old Man Winter kicking you while you’re down), Illini football (after teasing me with a BCS bowl my first year here, they pretty much went off the deep end), the Chief debate (if only people were as passionate about, say, reducing the child illegitimacy rate), the political choices (other than Barack Obama and his successor, Peter Fitzgerald, Illinois seems turn out its politicians from The Factory of Craptacularity and Corruption), the potholes (it can be like maneuvering a landmine field in the winter), the smell from the South Farms (when the wind blows, it stinks), and the campus rec center (inconvenient parking and hours when school isn’t in session…some unnecessary and frivolous renovations).

  • Why in the heck does Adobe Reader require like three system reboots to upgrade itself? It’s for viewing freakin’ documents! Truly a software engineering marvel.
  • RockyXXXVIII.jpg

    “My hope is that people that have screened it have enjoyed it and say, ‘You know what? It’s not as bad as you think.’ “ That’s Sylvester Stallone on the new Rocky Balboa movie. What other job can you get paid millions and for your performance review say, “I hope my work wasn’t as bad as you expected.”

  • Interesting story on how Bear Bryant’s son effectively vetoed a coaching hire that could have made UAB a potential in-state competitor to the Crimson Tide. In retrospect, I can’t help but think the Tide and their incompetent hiring system deserved the treatment they got from Mike Price and Coach Fran.
  • I’ll bet the new pickup line for China’s white dolphins is, “You know you’d better come back to my place tonight so we can try to the species to that we’re functionally extinct and all”.
  • Some great Office clips: (1) If Prison Mike doesn’t scare you straight, then there’s no hope for keeping you ou of prison. (2) If only we all had a Future Dwight for protection.

This and That

  • Will there be a rematch after #1 Ohio State beat #2 Michigan last weekend? I don’t think it will happen provided either USC or Florida (and possibly Arkansas) wins out. The result eliminates Notre Dame’s title hopes because there’s no way they can let a team that lost by 21 to Michigan at home in the title game over the team that beat them.

    I think it’s best to avoid a rematch if possible. Going into the game, I kind of viewed this as a semifinal game with the loser out because it would just create more controversy if, say, there was a rematch and Michigan won by one at a neutral site. Given those two results, it’s pretty much impossible to say the Wolverines should be the undisputed champions. It’s just like the NFL playoffs where the top ranked team got home field advantage and won to get into the Super Bowl.

    I think Michigan’s probably better than USC, Florida, or Arkansas…but I think it should be one of these three that get the championship shot provided at least one of them finishes with one loss. It’s just like in the Final Four or NFL playoffs when the two best teams sometimes just happen to meet in the semis instead of the final.

  • George Carlin had “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television”. Michael Richards’s new act is “One Word You Can Never Say To Hecklers”.
  • ron_zook_rocks

    The Illini finish the season 2-10 after a loss to Northwestern. Given that they’re not getting smashed by 50 points like they did last season, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t the result that the university had in mind when they hired him. In his first two seasons as coach, Zooker is 4-19. What was Ron Turner’s record in the two years before he was fired? Yep, it was 4-19.

  • And, what do those ingenious Republicans do after losing the House for the first time in 12 years? Re-elect the same House leadership that lead them to the defeat. Not to be outdone, the Democratic House leader incompetently tries to purge dissent by endorsing an ethically candidate against her former House leadership opponent. In other news, common sense, ethics, decency, and real change seen frantically running away from the Capital building.

What Happened to the Buckeyes?

That’s what we were wondering after going to see the Buckeyes and Illini play. In case you missed it, the Buckeyes made it out of Champaign with a 17-10 victory. The only answer we could come up with was that Ohio State was trying to avoid injury and limiting their play calling to avoid showing their hand to Michigan as it were.

The first half was about what you’d expect with the Buckeyes winning 17-0 and gaining about 200 yards; the second half, not so much. Jim Tressel must have given quite possibly the worst halftime speech ever because, in the second half, the Buckeyes only gained about 25 total yards on offense.


Looking back at the box score and having watched the game, they basically just stopped passing the ball in the second half. Troy Smith only had 23 attempts in the game and probably a third of those were screens. They probably only had 2-3 (unsuccessful) attempts for long passes. Their longest play from scrimmage for the game was only 17 yards.

This wouldn’t be so bad if their running game was working, but Antonio Pittman only averaged 1.8 yards per carry on 32 carries and Chris Wells got taken out of the game in the first half because of a terrible fumble where no one even touched him. That the Buckeyes’s running game couldn’t handle the Illini defense is not a good sign considering Michigan has the top run defense in the country.

Despite all this, the game really wasn’t as close as the score showed. It was still 17-0 for most of the second half until about halfway through the fourth quarter. Pretty much the only tense moment in the game was when the Illini kicked an onside kick with a couple minutes left after scoring their tenth point. It was a great kick by the Illini, but the Buckeyes got it and ran out the clock.

Luckily, they picked a pretty good week to have their worst game of the season since Michigan barely escaped Ball State, Florida had trouble with Vanderbilt, and West Virginia lost to Louisville.

It was nice to have my mom come over from Columbus to watch the game as well as one of our friends from Chicago. Our picture album for the event it now up in our gallery.

Thoughts on College Football

An eclectic mix of thoughts as Leigh Ann and I get ready to head to Memorial Stadium to watch the number one Buckeyes take on the non-so-number-one Illini this Saturday with my mom and some friends. Last time we saw the Buckeyes play here, they won the National Championship (2002)…hopefully history repeats this year :).

  • The Most Unlikely Contenders: Given they haven’t had that great of a schedule, but could it be possible for Rutgers to throw themselves into the national title picture? They’re sitting at 8-0 right now and even though it’s expected that they’ll get whooped by Louisville and WVU, you have to wonder what if. Louisville will be coming down off their biggest game of the season next Thursday when they play Rutgers. And, it’s in New Jersey on a Thursday night (road teams have a horrendous record on Thursday night). If they were to somehow pull off that upset, beat Syracuse and Cincinnati, that would set up a winner takes all match with WVU for the Big East title. Again, the Mountaineers would be heavy favorites at home, but when it comes down to one game, there’s always a chance that the Scarlet Knights could pull off the upset. I’m just saying…
  • Reality Check: I’m a USC hater, but you’ve gotta admit it’s amazing that their 2-point loss to Oregon State was their first regular season loss since since September 27, 2003 (thereby avoiding a repeat of the real headline Trojans Come From Behind Against Beavers). Over three years since they lost that game to Cal. Perhaps even more amazing, they still haven’t lost any game by more than a touchdown since a 27-16 loss to Notre Dame on October 20, 2001. That’s nearly five years and counting! That’s the most dominant dynasty since I’ve been following college football.
  • A Tough Nut to Crack: Everyone seems to think Michigan’s defense is the best in all the land, but Ohio State’s is pretty darned good. They’ve only had one game (Iowa) where the opposing team scored more than one TD (they scored two). Their closest game has been 17 point win against then number two Texas on the road.
  • At Least the 60-0 Losses Are Gone: I still don’t think hiring Ron Zook was the right decision for the Illini, but I have to admit they’ve gotten better this season even if their record doesn’t show it. At least they’re losing games by a touchdown or two in the second half rather than being down by 40 at half time like last year.
  • Clemson Brought Their D Game to Virginia Tech: Man, we were so stoked for this Thursday night game. We even went with some friends to BW3 to watch the game since we’re cable-less. All the excitement was squashed by the Tigers’s 24-7 loss where they looked totally lethargic. Other than their one TD drive, it seemed like Clemson barely even got a first down. At least our table did pretty well in trivia :?.
  • Hoosier Daddy: There’s a chance that Indiana, the perennial doormats of the Big Ten could make their first bowl since 1993. They have five wins with three games left, so the only need to win one to become bowl eligible. Unfortunately for them, though, their game against Minnesota this weekend is pretty much their only good shot. After that, they play an undefeated Michigan and a Purdue team also fighting for bowl eligibility. So, as close as they’ve come, if they can’t close the deal against the Gophers this weekend, then the bowl-less streak will probably be extended. I’ll be they wish they had back those early season losses to UConn and I-AA Southern Illinois.

Pigskin Pick’Em

OK, after a few busy weekends, let’s try to pick some college football games again and see how I do.

  • Illinois at Penn St.: (Line is Penn St. by 18.5) The Illini seem to have done better on the road. But, the Illini are just in shambles. Do I give them the line or not? Naw. Penn St. 28, Illini 7
  • Indiana at Ohio St.: (Line is Ohio St. by 31) This is a Hoosier team with the most momentum that the program’s had in over a decade after wins at Illinois and against a ranked Iowa team. Unfortunately for them, this is the best Buckeyes team since about 1998. You have to go back to 1988 for the last time the Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes and they’d have to pull the biggest upset in their programs history (by about 2 orders of magnitude) to break that streak this year. Ohio St. 38, Indiana 14
  • Texas at Nebraska: (Line is Texas by 6) All of a sudden, the sports writers seem to be lauding what a great rookie QB Colt McCoy is…which is something I pointed out weeks ago. Even though Nebraska is better, I still don’t think they have the horses to compete with the Longhorns right now. Texas 31, Nebraska 10
  • UCLA at Notre Dame: (Line is ND by 13.5) Notre Dame will use this as a statement game since the Bruins are an extremely weak 4-2 right now (as Pac-10 teams usually are). ND 34, UCLA 7
  • Iowa at Michigan: (Line is Michigan by 13.5) The biggest loser in last week’s Indiana upset of Iowa was Michigan. Now, instead having the chance to beat a top 15 team to move up in the eyes of the pollsters, they’re playing the laughingstock of the Big Ten in a game that a blowout is expected. The Buckeyes were much luckier that they got to beat this weak Hawkeye team when everyone still thought they were pretty good. Michigan 38 Iowa 14
  • Alabama at Tennessee: (Line is Tennessee by 11) I’ve got a feeling that this has the makings of an upset. The SEC teams seem to just continue cannibalizing each other and Tennessee hasn’t had a beatdown laid on them in several weeks since the Florida game. So, for no logical reason whatsoever, I’ll say: Alabama 21, Tennessee 20
  • Boston College at Florida St.: (Line is Florida St. by 7) I was really surprised that the Seminoles were favored in this game even though it’s at home. Last I checked, Florida St. was still plagued by injuries and an incompetent offensive coordinator. BC 28, Florida St. 24
  • Rutgers at Pittsburgh: (Line is Pittsburgh by 6.5) Who had this game circled at the beginning of the season, where we now have an undefeated Rutgers team playing a one-loss Pittsburgh team? Too bad we couldn’t see what these teams’ records would be if they were in the SEC instead of Big East. Pitt has the top rated QB in the nation, so you’ve gotta go with them at home. Pitt 21, Rutgers 17
  • Georgia Tech at Clemson: (Line is Clemson at 7) If there’s one game Clemson has to prove that they’re not going to fall in their typical pattern of underachieving about this time of year, this is it. Can they shut down WR Calvin Johnson of the Jackets? Let’s hope or else this could be ugly. Don’t make me look stupid, Tigers. Clemson 38 Georgia Tech 28

Illini Madness

Last night, we went to Illini Madness, Illinois basketball’s annual kick-off event. It was kind of sad not to see Dee Brown there since he’s been around pretty much my whole time at UIUC (he’s with the Utah Jazz now). Unfortunately, there were no surprise appearances by Dee or Deron Williams or Luther Head. But, the did have the Flying Illini from the ’89 Final Four team there. The highlight for us, though, was that Jeremy Piven from Entourage was there. We couldn’t get down to the floor, but we did get several pictures of him from fairly close by.

Here’s the link to the album for the event.



Ethan Albright vs. John Madden

This is quite possibly the funniest thing that I’ve read all year. It’s a fictitious letter by Redskins long-snapper Ethan Albright to John Madden concerning the fact that Albright is the lowest overall rated player in the Madden 07 video game.

I have received the impression that you feel that I am lacking in the agility category. I should consider a walk through my living room where I don’t crash trough a wall or kick over furniture a resounding success. My agility rating on your game is 33. It makes it sound like I just topple over if I start walking too fast. Ted Washington is rated a 40 in agility. He is listed at 365 pounds. If Ted Washington tied a white lady up and made her wear a metal bikini, he’d look just like Jabba the Hut.


I was rated with a throwing power of 17 and accuracy of 16. Orlando Pace is has a 22 power and 17 accuracy rating. Did someone at EA really put time into figuring out that Orlando Pace edges out Ethan Albright in both throwing power and accuracy? I will challenge him any day. My horrible passer ratings are of greatest misfortune to my son, Red Beard Jr. The poor boy is not only hideously ugly and covered by freakishly large freckles. He also has to suffer through playing catch with me and my senile-elderly-woman-type passer ratings. A session of tossing the pigskin usually consists of me missing my son by thirty yards in sporadic directions.

The Illini Get Screwed


Well, Midnight Madness was bittersweet tonight (photos to come shortly). There was definitely a lot more spirit than the football homecoming pep rally last week and we got to see Jeremy Piven (a.k.a. Ari Gold from Entourage) judge the Illini’s slam dunk contest. But the biggest news of the day is undoubtedly that the Hoosier’s new coach, Kelvin Sampson, screwed the Illini every which way to Sunday by getting prized recruit Eric Gordon to break his verbal commitment to Illinois and join Indiana. Yep, Samson, who bolted Oklahoma after leaving it in a recruiting mess, is already bringing his lack of recruiting integrity to the Big Ten by actively pursuing a recruit who already verballed to another school.

Your 80s Moment of Zen

As we were watching the Ohio State-Iowa game, it came to the mine and a friend’s attention that Leigh Ann didn’t know who Jim McMahon was. As one might expect, the conversation quickly digressed to the Bears’ Super Bowl Shuffle.

That led us to this gem on YouTube. Wow. All the cheesiness of the 80s encapsulated in one video. White guys that have no business rapping (probably paving the way for Vanilla Ice). Amazingly bad choreography. A referee whistle to beep out profanity. Admittedly, I hadn’t thought about this video in well over a decade, but this is five minutes of pure gold.

Not to be outdone, the 86 Raiders made their own contribution to the rap world which features performances from Fox Pregame’s Howie Long and Detriot Lions’ GM Matt Millen. Now, if only I could find a video of the Ickey Shuffle, my 80s NFL stroll down memory lane would be complete :).

Five Thoughts on the Weekend in College Football

  • I’m Slightly Better than Random in Picking Games: How’d my picks do? I went 6-4…slightly better than the 5-5 you would expect if you just picked a winner at random.
    • OSU did about as I predicted against Cincy even if they were a little sluggish (and, surprisingly, they did when by exactly 30).
    • brasic_syracuse

      I was right about Syracuse beating the Illini, but even I was surprised at how bad a Big East bottom dweller would spank them. I thought it was a mistake to hire Ron Zook and it’s looking more and more wrong each game. The Illini are getting worse if that’s possible.

    • I don’t think even Lloyd Carr would have predicted the a 26-point road win over the Irish…I thought Notre Dame was over hyped and even I blew this pick. Who knew Henne would become Peyton Manning for a day?
    • Oklahoma should have beat Oregon, but apparently Stevie Wonder was hired as the instant replay reviewer for the game. See Oklahoma get screwed by the refs in all its YouTube glory.
    • Got the call for Louisville right, but I had no idea Miami would get trounced despite the Cardinals having their two first-round draft picks injured for an entire half.
    • Missed the LSU game, though they could have won it on the last play of the game, as it were..
    • Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought TCU would hold Texas Tech to three total points. Needless to say, I blew this game and underestimated the Horned Frogs’ defense by about two orders of magnitude.
    • Boy, was I wrong about Jad Dean’s redemption. If not for Clemson’s kicking team, this would have been a blow-out. The Tigers’ first extra point was blocked and returned for a safety and then their next field goal attempt was blocked and returned for a TD (recall that last week the Tigers had a PAT blocked to lose at Boston College). Lucky for the Tigers, Florida State is pitiful thanks to Bobby Bowden’s obstinate decision to stick with his son as offensive coordinator. Thanks, Bobby, the lack of offense will just send more Florida recruits up to Ohio State. Despite, this rant, I got the pick right.
    • Picked the Florida win over Tennessee. How quickly Phil Fulmer can go from being off the host seat to back on it after two less than stellar home performances.
    • USC won over Nebraska about as I expected them to. That naked bootleg that the Huskers did on fourth-and-goal at the one to get their touchdown was pretty sweet.
  • Rich Rodriguez is a Great Coach: He’s done amazing things in his five years at West Virginia. I always suspected he carried Tommy Bowden when Rich was Tommy’s offensive coordinator at Tulane and Clemson (2000 and 2001). Tommy’s never filled that void since Rich left…the Tigers have consistently underachieved since.
  • Three Coaches on Major Hot Seats: I think all three will be gone after this season, but I’ll rank them in order of likelihood that they’ll be fired before next season: (1) Chuck Amato (NC State), (2) Dennis Franchione (Texas A&M), (3) Larry Coker (Miami). As you can see, each already has the pink slip of the Internet age: a firecoach.com domain (evidently, there’s decent money in cyber-squatting these domains).
    • chuck_amato

      NC State got beat by Southern Miss a week after losing to Akron, which Amato followed by a bizarre rant about how NC State was at a disadvantage over MAC schools since they can’t accept academic non-qualifiers. Yea, Chuck, it’s amazing ACC schools are even able to compete against the likes of Ball State and Bowling Green. To add insult to injury, he has some of the most noticable man boobs in sports (probably second only to Phil Mickelson).

    • coach_fran

      Coach Fran has lead the Aggies to a 3-0 start with a cupcake schedule that would make Kansas State proud. But, uh, their last win on a goal-line stand against Army. For those of you that don’t follow college football much, Army has been perpetually among the nation’s worst for about the past two decades. Let’s face it, he’s not getting paid $2 million per year to make the Aggies the fourth-best team in the state of Texas (behind the Longhorns, Horned Frogs, and Red Raiders). I think Bear Bryant cursed Coach Fran for leaving Alabama when he did.

    • Larry Coker did a good job of finished off what Butch Davis started with a national championship and runner-up in his first two years (Butch Davis left one of the most loaded teams ever when he bolted for the NFL…you gotta respect that). But since then, it’s undeniable the U’s program has had a downward trajectory. I think the blowout by an injury-depleted Louisville team was the swan song for Coker. This season now becomes his farewell tour, me’s thinks.
  • Best Quotes from Deadspin Comments This Weekend:
    • I’ve played this season more than five times on NCAA ’07 and Mario Manningham has never ever played this well.
    • Syracuse radio: Matt Park: “Little bit of confusion on the extra point try.” Coach Mac: “They’re not used to it”
    • In the last five minutes of the Iowa-Iowa State game, both the lesbian and Grandpa Simpson have praised Drew Tate for making tackles after he throws interceptions. I know that’s what the NFL looks for in a quarterback.
    • charlie_weis
    • “There was a sign during Gameday this morning – “Charlie Weis: The Devil Lovechild of Jabba the Hut and Rosie O’Donnell.”
    • Did Illinois replace Temple in the Big East?
    • Rece Davis just called the Syracuse-Illinois game “The Big 6 Conference Pillow-Fight of the Week.”
    • In his weekly pick where he dresses up as the team he’s picking, Lee Corso put his Trojan helmet on… backwards. I’m wondering if a similar Trojan snafu led to the birth of one or more of his children.
    • Thus far, this Michigan State/Pitt game is like watching a PG-13 movie, you keep sitting around waiting for some action, but you know that you’re not going to see anything good.
  • Does Anyone Get that Nike High School Commercial?: Michael Vick and a bunch of NFL pros go up against a high school football team and need a last second play to win the game. I don’t get it.

And, completely unrelated to college football:

  • Finding Egg Roll and Wonton Wrappers: If you’re ever planning on cooking homemade egg rolls and/or wontons (as I plan to do), you may think one would look in the international food aisle at one’s local grocery establishment. You would be wrong (at least in Champaign). You need to go to the chilled food section around the cream cheese to find them. Evidently you’ve got to keep them cool.

Weekend Pickoff

So, tomorrow’s college football brings us seven games between Top 25 teams, which is the most in one day since like 1993. I’m going to try my hand at picking the games so everyone can tell me how dumb my picks were after the fact. I’ll do those seven games along with Ohio State, Illinois, and Clemson.

  • Syracuse at Illinois: (Line is Illinois by 3) The most shocking part to me is that the Illini are actually favored in this game. Given that Syracuse lost last week when they couldn’t score on seven straight plays inside the two yard line. That’s pretty freakin’ lame. But Illinois couldn’t even cross midfield last week. This has to be one of the worst inter-conference games ever played by schools from BCS conferences. Syracuse 20, Illinois 13
  • Cincinnati at Ohio State: (Line is Ohio State by 29) I love the Buckeyes, but I’d take Cincy with that spread. Even as an offensive power house, I just don’t see a Tressel team winning by more than 30. Ohio State 31, Cincy 10
  • Michigan at Notre Dame: (Line is ND by 5.5) Weis is a prick, Brady Quinn is overrated, but Henne’s a tool and Michael Hart only has big games whenever I’m not watching. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, I’ll probably tune in for this one. Notre Dame 28, Michigan 17
  • Oklahoma at Oregon: (Line is Oregon by 5) Oklahoma’s looked pathetic this year, but Oregon is a Pac-10 team not named USC…that’s just too big of a hurdle to overcome. Oklahoma 24, Oregon 21
  • Miami at Louisville: (Line is Louisville by 4) If Miami loses, Larry Coker is pretty much fired, me’s thinks. Louisville’s got a great coach and they’ve got the horses to beat the Hurricanes this year (even without Michael Bush). Louisville 17, Miami 13
  • LSU at Auburn: (Line is Auburn by 3.5) LSU is one of those teams that is good every year but I couldn’t name you a single player on the team or tell you anything about them. All I know about Auburn is they have Kenny Irons and he’s awesome. LSU usually seems to rise to the occasion in big SEC games and then lose to about a 15-20 ranked team. So, I’ll go with my gut. LSU 28, Auburn 27
  • Texas Tech at TCU: (Line is Texas Tech by 2.5) When did Texas A&M become the fourth best team in the state of Texas? UTEP’s gunning to knock them off that pedestal now. I think the Red Raiders can end the Horned Frogs longest winning steak in the nation. Texas Tech 35, TCU 17
  • Clemson at Florida State: (Line is Florida State by 5) I think Clemson’s better than Troy and the Seminoles have totally lost their offensive mojo. Jad Dean redeems himself for last week’s missed extra point with five field goals. Clemson 15, Florida St. 10
  • Florida at Tennessee: (Line is Florida by 4) I still think the Cal game was a fluke for Eric Ainge and Tennessee. Chris Leak has to be the most over-hyped solid, but not spectacular QB since Chris Simms. Florida 28, Tennessee 20
  • Nebraska at USC: (Lines is USC by 17.5) Of all the games between ranked teams, ESPN Gameday picked this one to broadcast from? Pretty blatant that they’re always going to choice the ABC-televised game over the real games of the week. I’ve hoped USC would get upset so many times in the past and it never happens, so I’m just going to resign myself to reality and keep picking them until they lose or meet Ohio State. USC 38, Nebraska 14

Six Thoughts from This Week in College Football

  • Ohio State is clearly number one: Their defense is still suspect, but the national champ now seems poised to be one of these five: OSU, USC, Notre Dame (though, I still think they’re over-hyped), West Virginia, and Auburn. There’s definitely no team as strong as 2004 USC or 2002 Miami in the bunch. Heck, even last year’s Texas and USC teams would be the run away front-runner this year. So even though the Buckeye’s defense isn’t great, there may not be another team with the total package necessary to beat them this season.
  • Anthony Gonzalez is a stud: He seems to have brought his A game this season since Santonio Holmes left. The Buckeye’s general strategy seems to be to send Ginn long each time, throw to him if he’s open, and otherwise hit Gonzalez in the 10-30 yard range. Somehow I still get this feeling that Tressel’s coaching staff has never really figured out how to use Ginn such that his full potential is reached.
  • Colt McCoy will be a heck of a QB in a year or two: I have to admit he was awesome for a freshman QB in such a big game. Other than his one interception, he didn’t make may rookie mistakes. In fact, his receivers screwed up a lot more than him. Barring injury, he’s got Heisman written all over him in a couple of years.
  • Troy Smith is not a mobile QB: I don’t know when this myth started, but he’s not Vince Young or Michael Vick. In two games this season, he has 8 rushes for negative 14 yards. Let’s just accept that he’s a good passing, pro-style QB and stop talking about his mobility (this probably helps his NFL draft status as pro-style QBs seem to be much preferred over dual-threat QBs).
  • Florida St. needed a fourth quarter comeback to beat Troy: The Seminoles were down 17-10 with about 6 minutes left in the game before scoring two TDs to win the game. As best we could tell, Troy seems to be a primarily online university (think University of Phoenix). This prompted one of our friends to observe that the football team probably practices by playing Madden over a network. Is Bobby Bowden going to start feeling a bit of heat?
  • Illinois Stinks: 33-0 loss to a Rutgers team that they beat last year. Guess Illini fans will have to wait until next decade.

And, one bonus thought…

  • How does Aunt Jemima still exist?: Totally unrelated to college football, but it struck me as odd that the Aunt Jemima brand of breakfast foods is still used. It must have just flown under the radar in a politically correct world given the stereotype it represents.

Ultimate Frisbee: The Sport for Smart People

Don’t you love it when you find that something you do anyway has some previously unknown positive aspects? Like when you start eating carrots and strawberries when your little and then find out later in life that these foods that you liked for taste are actually good for you.

Well, a new scientific study claims to show that participation in Ultimate Frisbee (our weekly past time) is a better predictor of academic success than either SAT scores or grades. ๐Ÿ™‚ I guess the fact that most of our fellow players are engineering grad students is good empirical evidence of this.


Five Thoughts on the Weekend in College Football

  • Biggest Shock: The trendy pick is Division I-AA Montana State beating Colorado 19-10 in Dan Hawkins coaching debut (how the value of the domain FireDanHawkins.com just increased). But, I have to go with Kansas State beating Division I-AA Illinois State by one (24-23) when they stopped a two point conversion! To put this in perspective, just three short years ago, Kansas State was in a BCS bowl after destroying undefeated Oklahoma while Illinois State lost by 27 to an Illinois team that went 1-11. Given that this was Ron Prince’s coashing debut for the Wildcats, I imagine FireRonPrince.com could soon become a hot commodity.
  • How Good is Garrett Wolfe?: The Ohio State offense was very impressive in their 35-12 win over Northern Illinois, but the game opened up a huge question make about the Buckeye defense. Are they that bad or is Northern Illinois running back Garrett Wolfe that good? Wolfe had 285 total yards! That’s the biggest individual performance I can remember against the Buckeyes since Tim Biakabutuka’s 313 rushing yards in 1995. I hope it was an anomaly that Tressel and company can fix, but let’s just say it didn’t comfort me in how well they can handle Texas’ offense next week.
  • Notre Dame Wasn’t a Top 10 Team This Weekend: A solid, but not spectacular Irish team beat a solid, but not spectacular, George Tech team 14-10. Even the most loyal Notre Dame fans have to admit there was nothing in their team’s performance to justify a number two ranking with such an effort against an unranked team. If Georgia Tech had a real coach, the probably would have won since the Irish defense had no answer for 6-5 receiver Calvin Johnson. Unless Charlie Weis is hiding something, I have a feeling that someone (e.g., Penn St., Michigan, Michigan St., USC) is going to thrash Notre Dame this season.
  • The Pac-10 Still Belongs to USC: Number 9 Cal, the great hope to dethrone the Trojans, laid an absolute egg in their 18-35 loss to a Tennessee team that shouldn’t have ranked. Arizona State struggled for three quarters against Division I-AA Northern Arizona. Oregon did crush Stanford, but beating Pac-10 teams not coached by Pete Carroll doesn’t count for much. Meanwhile, a USC team going through a “rebuilding” year beat what was supposed to be a decent Arkansas team by 36 on the road. Move along, nothing to see in the Pac-10 except a fifth straight USC title.
  • Oklahoma Stinks: Uh, beating UAB be a touchdown at home? Yea, good luck with Texas. Lucky for the Sooners, the Big-12 is weak enough that they can probably still finish the season ranked with a decent record. They’re definitely now a top 15 team, though.