MEH

Meh. That summarizes my feeling about college football this year. You can see my malaise by my lack of updates. You know things are bad when ESPN felt they had to spice up Gameday by holding it at the Masters last week. Look, Augusta is beautiful and all, but Golf versus Football? No contest.

I had hoped to catch the Navy SMU game on Halloween but I could not convince my wife to go with me. Normally, I would go solo to a game like that in a worst case scenario but Covid protocols fundamentally altered the economics of that game. I would have had to buy four tickets. The SMU Mustangs program is in a bit of a resurgence, but $150 to sit in a 3/4 empty stadium of a Group of Five team was not happening.

Today, Gameday is at Oklahoma for Bedlam. It is another grim reminder of what could have been. Bedlam was our big group game of the year. We had locked it in after the Va Tech – Notre Dame game last year. Alas, the original date was scrubbed and moved to this weekend. Either way, we weren’t going. MEH indeed.

This week’s games?

  • Bedlam – Ok State vs Oklahoma, I guess is the best game on the slate. Still don’t believe in OK State. They have to prove it to me.
  • App St vs Coastal Carolina – Hard to believe the Chanticleers are undefeated, but App State is the big dog in the Sun Belt. Time to earn your stripes Coastal
  • Indiana vs Ohio State. – I am hopeful the Hoosiers can hang. Unfortunately, I am also doubtful that they can run with the Buckeyes
  • Cincy vs UFC – Another Group of Five game that may be better than anything the ACC or SEC is highlighting this weekend.

Even the November SI Calendar is down on college football. Til next week, I guess.

Week Five

Week Four was only slightly better than Week Three. Despite all the fanfare about the SEC season kicking off, most of the games were fairly pedestrian. However, some matchups did not disappoint.

My random thoughts on the Good, Bad and Ugly of last week.

  • The Ole Miss – Florida game wasn’t as close as it seemed, but Lane Kiffen does seem to have Ole Miss playing better. I was a bit surprised to see Rebels spray painted on the end zone. I thought that moniker had gone the way of the Confederate War statues. 
  • What an exchange in Kentucky-Auburn at the half – no touchdown for Kentucky, then the pick 6 was taken off the board for targeting by Auburn. Kentucky was better than I thought. Had they not been cheated on that touchdown at the half, the game might have had different result.
  • Again no ACC channel. Missed Louisville-Pitt game and the Hokies dominating win over NC State despite missing 23 players. 
  • Bo Nix has enough challenges, SEC Network. Can’t you air brush out the poor kid’s acne on his promo photo?
  • Sweet play by Army on the option scoop and score. It was not enough to allow them to keep up with Cincinnati.
  • Oklahoma crashes and burns against K-State. I did like the uniforms though. Lincoln Riley can thank Texas Tech’s Matt Wells for blowing a lead in an even more dramatic fashion. Up 15 points with about three minutes to go and the Red Raiders still lost. Rough.
  • Miami – Fla. State was a debacle. Was there anyone that didn’t see that coming? I can’t believe that was the national game on Saturday night. 
  • LSU was missing their shutdown corner, Derek Stingley Jr, so losing to Mississippi State is not shocking. I can’t help liking Mike Leach. 623 passing yards. The SEC just got a bit more entertaining.
  • A&M yikes. You do know you play “Bama this week right?
  • South Carolina – “Peter, Peter, Peter”
  • UTEP is 3-1. Man, 2020 is a weird year.

Week 5 Thoughts:

There still really isn’t that much to watch. Thoughts for this week:

  • I really hope the Aggies were looking ahead to Alabama against Vanderbilt. If not, it’s going to be a rolling Tide all afternoon.
  • Auburn at Georgia should be a game worthy of a Saturday night. It is the best of the bunch on a pretty light slate.
  • I would like to think that Virginia could give Clemson a good game. I doubt it, but at least I can hope.
  • Navy – Air Force may be worth watching for rivalry’s sake. 
  • UNC at Boston College is on ABC so I will probably have that on a secondary TV. I do like Coach Mac Brown. There’s something very appealing about his persona and affection for his players.
  • Florida State is so bad that Jacksonville State may be able to keep it close. If not, just hope that ESPN3 shows the JSU band. Check out our youtube video on collegemarching.com to see why.
  • The worst game of the day looks to be 0-2 Western Kentucky at 0-3 Middle Tennessee State. Bleh. 

It looks like this will be one of those weekends that will require a fair bit of channel surfing to find the good games. I just hope they aren’t on the ACC Network. Sigh.

Enjoy the Games, Tree

Week 4?

It is Week Four of the college football season but it doesn’t quite feel that way. At least with the Big 10 coming on board in a few weeks it will feel a little more normal. However, there are still gaps.

Last week we should have been checking the box in Murfreesboro, TN to see the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State host the Virginia Tech Hokies. Missing that game may have been a blessing in disguise given that the Raiders are 0-2 and lost by 33 to Troy at home. Of course, the Hokies have a tendency to play to the level of their competition so you never know.

Instead, it was another week on the couch, assembling my Sports Illustrated Wall Calendar for September. An all pro football calendar was the theme in recognition of the NFL’s commitment to a full season. I have to admit, it is one of the better looking walls I have created. There’s something about the commonality that make the covers come together.

My thoughts on what I saw last weekend:

  • Louisville’s defense was atrocious. Every time their offense would try to get the Cardinals back into the game, their defense would give up a big play. I think the stat line for two plays at one time was, 2 plays, 150 yards, 2 touchdowns. The ‘Canes look better then they have in years. Of course, Clemson will still crush them by 24.
  • The Louisiana Tech winning touchdown was great. To think that without instant replay, Southern Mississippi would have come away with the win. To be fair to the refs, when I saw the play real time, I didn’t think the receiver got his foot down either.
  • It was nice to see Navy get that win against Tulane, coming back to win after being down by 24. it was a record comeback for the midshipmen. It seemed like a low number for a new record until you recall that it is usually Navy (and Army and Air Force) giving up the lead. Nonetheless, we reward the Navy win with our release of our Navy review on youtube.
  • I would have loved to seen the NC State vs Wake Forest game on the screen instead of via ESPN updates. I may have to look at buying the ACC network on FUBO Tv, whatever the hell that is. Thanks so much Xfinity.
  • UCF makes the case for Group of 5 after beating up Georgia Tech 49 -21. They play Cincinnati in late November, probably to claim the American Conference title. Between them and the Sun Belt, the Big 12 doesn’t seem very big. Yes, I said that. Don’t forget that Tulsa nearly upset national playoff dark horse Oklahoma State last weekend as well. Big 12 indeed.
  • Of course, Clemson got their cupcake fix in by beating up Citadel.
  • However, the classiest move was Notre Dame going for it on 4th and goal up 45 points with less than three minutes to play. Remember Irish faithful, karma is a bitch.

The games don’t get much better this week which seems to be a real dog’s breakfast. ESPN’s college GameDay is doing Miami again this week against Florida State. They better hope the rivalry does something for the Seminoles because this could be a disaster of a game. What I might be watching this week:

  • Louisville at Pitt may be the most entertaining of the early games.
  • Kentucky at Auburn will probably make one my secondary TVs. The Wildcats are ranked 23. But, unless this is hoops, the Tigers will roll over the Wildcats
  • Army versus Cincy is the best game of the afternoon. There’s lots of chatter that the Bearcats have a shot at the playoffs. It is 2020 so I guess anything is possible.
  • WVU at Oklahoma State might be a good game but the Cowpokes kind of scared me off last week.
  • Tennessee vs South Carolina might be the best game of the SEC. The Vols are ranked a surprising sixteen. They and Kentucky should send the PAC 12 and the Big 10 each a fruit basket.
  • NC State at Va Tech is my preferred Saturday night game. What’s the ACC Network cost on FUBO Tv again?

No picks this year, I just can’t seem to get up for it. Maybe next year.

Til then, see you on the couch

Tree

2020 Schedule

What can I say? The 2020 College Football season is pretty much a disaster despite what the folks at ESPN Game Day will tell you. Thanks to COVID-19 four of the ten FBS football conferences, the Big 10, PAC 12, Mountain West and the MAC, have opted out of the 2020 fall season. The remaining six, the ACC, Big 12, SEC, AAC, Conference USA and Sun Belt are still playing but almost exclusively in conference opponents. I had a heavy dose of PAC 12 and Mountain West games. Of the ten games I had scheduled, only three remain and two of them have been rescheduled. Tennessee at Georgia was originally planned for November 14 but now it is October 10. It is an SEC game so I am guessing they will have fans. The marquee game of the year for me was going to be Bedlam at Oklahoma on October 24th. Alas that has been moved to November 21. One game still remains as scheduled. Navy at SMU on Halloween. SMU is limiting ticket sales to season ticket holders, faculty and students. Of course, there is still a healthy aftermarket for tickets. Perhaps by then Navy will have done some live tackling drills.

I do believe that with proper social distancing and mask wearing in an open air venue, the risk to contracting Covid-19 is probably not very high. Tailgating should be similar except that with the consumption of alcohol, behavior modification probably flies right out of the parking lot. I am very strict about wearing my mask and social distancing, but once I get a few pops in me, all bets would be off. I am not proud of that, but that’s the reality.

The real issue, however, is that the overall experience has to be diminished. A tradition like Bedlam should be attended in its full glory, not some watered down version. Given that, I find it highly unlikely that I attend any games this year. Of course, the SMU game is during Halloween. I mean if you have to wear a mask…

Til then, I will see you on the couch.

Couldn’t win the big one, and other questionable SI cover subjects

Another month of endless days of this pandemic. No Olympics, MLB is best experienced live and the Penguins made another embarrassingly quick exit of the NHL playoff bubble. Sigh. Sports this summer is like eating a bad frozen pizza – you go in with low expectations and it still disappoints you.

That and some Facebook inspiration from Bill Berger brings me to the Sports Illustrated Cover wall calendar theme for August: Players that couldn’t win the big one. Encapsulated within that topic includes underachievers and the overrated.

It actually is quite a high bar. Generally speaking, they don’t put just any shmoes on the cover. It is rare to find the truly unworthy and I found myself making the harshest of cuts.

As an example, take Vinny Testaverde. He did win a Heisman Trophy and played twenty-one years in the NFL. He does also lead the NFL in career losses at 123. I once stood two hours in line to get his autograph on NFL footballs for my kids. They have an honored space in the bottom of a trunk in the garage.

A number of other quarterbacks made the wall this month. Among others, it includes Richard Todd, Steve Spurrier (from his Tampa Bay Bucs days), Bernie Kosar (which seems really unfair – but really between him and the Countess Consuelo Crespi who would you pick?), and two other would’ves and could’ves. Keith Vander Kelen was a Rose Bowl MVP despite his Badgers losing the game. Unfortunately his pro-career was more of a disappointment as he spent the vast majority of his career backing up Fran Tarkenton. Likewise Don Trull was an All American QB at Baylor but has 61.3 lifetime passer rating in the NFL.

Kristie Phillips won the 1987 U.S. National Gymnastics Championship and was an early favorite for gold in the 1988 games. Alas a recurring wrist injury and a disappointing 45th place at the World Championships ruined her confidence and she only made the U.S. Olympic team as an alternate to the games. She rebounded to have a strong cheerleading career at LSU, eventually competed again in gymnastics and end up in the Hall of Fame. However, she never materialized as the next Mary Lou Retton.

I couldn’t resist selecting the socialite Clare Booth Luce for the wall. Her primary sporting credentials appear to have been being the spouse of Sports Illustrated publisher Henry Luce. While she probably didn’t deserve an SI cover, she was a Congresswoman, Broadway playwright, and Ambassador to Italy. It is an extremely impressive resume. Being rich certainly didn’t hurt, but it would be hard to say she squandered the opportunities wealth provides.

SI has also over hyped athletes from time to time. The article on Mike Peterson came to fruition after Peterson’s barber sent SI a letter extolling his skills as a once-in-a-lifetime athlete. Peterson was an above average high school athlete, nothing more.

It isn’t just people but teams as well. A number of covers this month were of team’s that didn’t quite meet expectations such as an overrated Arizona Wildcat team that was picked to win the national title but finished 8-4. I remember receiving that issue, looking at the cover and thinking “Arizona is number one?!? WTF!”

SI also jumped on the soccer bandwagon in the ’70s. I do like soccer but nearly 50 years later, it is still a tier two spectator sport in the U.S.

I will finish with Evel Knievel. It is hard to forget the hype surrounding his attempting to jump across Snake River Canyon in a motorcycle. Ultimately, the jump was in “rocket powered cycle” which was really just a rocket off a ramp. The shoot deployed early and the rocket drifted back over the canyon, floating harmlessly to canyon floor. It was a huge failure and an early life lesson that things are not always as impressive you think they will be. It was the end of my Evel Knievel action figure, wind up motorcycle and matching lunch box. And more significantly, the start of the end of my innocence.