Runaround Sue's

Running around to Give you the Reacharound


Einstein's Definition of Insanity

I haven't anticipated a Cocktail Party as much as I have Saturday's in years.

Analysis of this game is everywhere on the internet at this point, and has been for two weeks. Also on the internet, as there have been for years now, are impassioned defenses from the entrenched Dawgosphere (all of whom are excellent writers and must-reads during the first hour and a half of work each day) on why this game should be kept in Jacksonville. Other than a couple of comments here and there on those sites as to why the game should move from Jax, I have yet to see a definitive post on anywhere in favor of moving the game from Jax each season. Allow me to provide one.

(Note: I realize this is not priority #1 prior to the game. However, there is plenty of actual analysis out there. I just wanted to post this now, while it is topical, as it will remain my stance regardless of Saturday’s outcome.)

First, Who I Am:

· I am a 2005 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

· My freshman year at Georgia co-incited with Mark Richt's first season at the helm, 2001.

· I have been watching Georgia football since the Goff years (not saying this is a long time...just painting a picture of where this argument is coming from).

· The thought of Erk Russell and/or Herschel Walker does NOT make me soil myself, tho I must admit, that ESPN Herschel doc was pretty damn cool and gave me the chills quite a few times.

· I realize that Mike Adams and our Athletic Directors are always going to do what is in the best financial interest of the University, and if that means holding the game in Atlanta, Jacksonville, the Everglades or even Gainesville every year, they will do so.

There seems to be a divide among Georgia fans on this issue. Those who attended the University pre-2000 are wholly in favor of keeping the game in Jacksonville, while those who attended during the Richt years would like to see some sort of a home-at-home (ATL-JAX or Athens-Gainesville) set up. The pre-2000s are passionate regarding this issue, usually for the reasons outlined below.

After each of their reasons is my retort. I have yet to see logical responses to these retorts, either on the internet, or from older UGA grads in person. Any and all comments are welcome.

Reason #1: “We played just fine in Jacksonville under Dooley!”

Retort: Yes, that is true. However, once upon a time Army and Navy were relevant college football programs. Notre Dame was a powerhouse. Joe Paterno actually coached Penn State. Times change. This line of thinking, as well as the constant nostalgia over plays, players and coaches from 30 years ago, is borderline pathetic…again, see Notre Dame. Florida was a completely different program back then. The demographics and high school programs in the state of Florida were different than they are today. Ditto for college football as a whole. Trotting out this logic would be like a Pittsburgh Pirates fan pointing out their dominance over the Atlanta Braves in the 70s and 80s and expecting that to hold true today.

Reason #2: “Richt’s record in road games is just fine…it’s not the venue…it’s Florida!”

Retort: Again, you are correct. Most years, Florida is the best (read: most talented) team that Georgia will play. Richt’s excellent road record has been compiled largely against teams where UGA has a talent advantage. Why a seemingly intelligent person would deem it logical to play a game one hour away from an opponent’s home stadium - a game that UF travels to by bus, and Georgia travels to by plane - and call it a neutral site game is beyond me. Why are we giving this advantage, however miniscule, away to a team that, most years, is more talented than Georgia? Why are we splitting the tickets 50/50 every season to, by and large, a more talented program? How does this make sense? Even if you stubbornly insist that the game is neutral, you are still taking away a home field advantage every other year in a game where UGA usually has inferior talent.

Reason #3: “It’s mental. Florida is just in our head! We just need to come out and GATA. SHOW THESE 19 YEAR OLDS SOME ERK RUSSELL CLIPS!”

Retort: I am sure it is somewhat mental. Georgia players probably do press more against Florida, they probably do feel like it’s a bigger game each year than the Florida players do. If one would agree that it is mental, and our players need to overcome this mental block, why not change something, anything (besides uniforms, of course) about this matchup to give the players a sense that they can own this series. A memorable end zone celebration can only hold up for so long. Every Florida fan I know (admittedly, again, in my age group) views this game as Georgia coming down to their region, getting whupped, and heading back to Athens with their tails between their legs. If Florida fans don’t even view this as a truly neutral site, why should we? You know there is not one Florida fan that would want to play this game in Atlanta every year.

Reason #4: We are throwing a bone to the south Georgia UGA fans.

Retort: I’m sorry, but this is irrelevant. The University of Georgia is located in Athens, Georgia, which happens to be located in the northeast region of the state. I cannot think of any other instance where a college sports team plays a game in a locale hundreds of miles away from their campus in order to appease a fan base in a different portion of the state. In addition, any talk of building a recruiting presence in south Georgia via this matchup being held in Jacksonville is negated by the fact that this series has been nothing but a Georgia curbstomping spanning the duration of every current and recent recruit’s time here on Earth.

Reason #5: We would look like giant pussies if we moved the game to a home-at-home.

Retort: Ironically, the most asinine reason for keeping the game in Jax also doubles as the one sliver of regret I’d have if the game moved. Look, nobody wants to look like a punk. However, let’s say you’re in a bar fight. The other guy, simply bigger and stronger than you, is beating your ass, punching you in the gut, throwing you to the floor, kicking you in the head. Every one punch you land is met with six of his. You’ve exhausted every ounce of effort and strength. Your friends are gone. Are you going to stay there, allowing him to beat you senselessly while you struggle to avoid injury and remain conscious, or are you going to attempt to get the hell out of there, admit defeat, and walk/crawl/run to safety? Would we get crap from UF fans if the series switched to alternating sites? Yeah, maybe, possibly, who cares? At the end of day, college football fans are always going to talk shit to each other, so just add this to the list. Do you know any Alabama fans that are still hung up on the Iron Bowl not being in Birmingham anymore? If so, my condolences.

This debate reached its nadir in 2008 when many a pre-2000 Georgia fan/blogger said “if we win this year, we will be 3-2 in our last 5 games…so much for that advantage!” That, combined with “UF did come to Athens in 1995…and look how that turned out!” might be the only two examples of bloggers actually resorting to small sample sizes to prove a point. We now have a whole generation’s worth of evidence to show that this series is lopsided in favor of Florida. Is Jacksonville THE reason Georgia is losing six out of seven games to Florida? No. Is Jacksonville one of the many advantages that Florida carries coming into this matchup every year? I believe so. If this is something that the University can change to the possible benefit of our football program, then I believe it stands to reason that this change is worth a shot. Or, we can just show the team some Erk Russell vids, tell them to GATA, and eventually stumble across back-to-back W’s in this increasingly frustrating rivalry.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a brutal 7-hour drive ahead of me.

Sightseeing 10/26

Wing Ding is an exclusive party hosted annually by a dear friend. Friends and family gather around "The Pit" for a massive overindulgence of all things merry. The menu is an overwhelmingly long list of smoked animals, oyster bar, open-flame-cook-your-own steaks, innumerable wings, and an all night smoking of jerky (for those who want breakfast in the morning.) You would be lucky to make it to your tent when pass out time comes around. For such a splendid event, in inordinately large amount of firewood is consumed. This is where I come in. As entrance fee for the good time, I am among the privileged few who are tasked with splitting so much wood. As such, I missed every college football game last Saturday and this week's safari will stick strictly to the NFL.

More wood than a gay pride parade
  • The Falcons put together a consistently good game against the Lions. One thing stood out and I'm surprised the TV announcer didn't make note of it. Matt Ryan scores a rushing touchdown and Svitek (playing for injured LT Baker) clearly stomps on a defense-man's hand. I do not tolerate poor sportsmanship well.  Punching, grabbing, eye-gouging are types behavior that are common in the chaotic pile and most always go unnoticed. One may say that football is an aggressive sport and players are just trying gain any advantage they can. Unsportsmanlike conduct is bad form. I hope that someday referees can start officiating this better. I would favor more ejections seeing as you literally have to assault another player to evoke this penalty.
  • Drew Brees threw more touchdowns than he did incompletions. Colts may be involved in the Suck for Luck game and that defense gave up half way through the 2nd quarter. Still, he threw 35 passes, completed 31 of them with 5 going for touchdowns. BOW DOWN!
  • Speaking of worship, Tebow seems to be the talk of the town. You can read great perspective here. He always does just enough to get the victory. The majority of the game was prolly the worst quarterbacking performance in the history of quarterbacking yet he rallies in the 4th to get the win. In the closing minutes he throws accurate passes, rushes for touchdowns, and turns water into wine. I think this may be Tim Tebow's world and we are lucky he lets us live in it.
What I want to see next week:
  • A 28 point bulldog lead at the end of the 3rd quarter. A football season wedding will prevent my viewing of the 4th quarter. (That's unsportsmanlike conduct)


Pujols. Discuss.

Allow me to put on my troll hat for a second. Two weeks ago, prior to the star of this unequivocally great World Series, by buddy Ed and I were discussing Albert Pujols impending free agency. With both the Yankees and the Red Sox stacked with 1B/DH types, it appears that Pujols' suitors will be the second tier of big name franchises: the incumbent Cardinals, the Cubs, Angels, Mets, Dodgers, and perhaps even his current nemeses Rangers.

Pujols has always been an odd case. He came to the majors in 2001, immediately mashed, and proceeded to put up an unprecedented resume during his first 10 years in the show. However, in this age of advanced stats and implied cynicism, Pujols was viewed as almost a risk this offseason. As white writers are to do regarding latino ballplayers, his age (31) is being brought into question. His still absurd production (.305/.392/.567 the last two years) has fallen off in comparison to the rest of his career (.328/.420/.617).

Moreso than anything else, watching Alex Rodriguez languish (.241/.349/.379) over the least two years while bringing home $55 million have made GM's and fans weary of spending mass amounts of scrilla on a player that while great, may be making two or three times his actual worth halfway and during the latter part of his contract. And lets not forget...unlike the Yankees, the Cardinals do not have unlimited capital to spend on the rest of their roster. Every dollar Pujols take is a dollar that cannot be spent to upgrade the weak bottom third of their lineup, their patchwork rotation or their bullpen.

So anyway, let's say Pujols and the Cardinals capture their second World Series title in the last six seasons. Who has more leverage? It's a legitimate argument that Ed and I discussed for a solid 20 minutes, throwing out pros and cons for both sides, while failing to reach a definitive resolution. What say you?

Cards have leverage:

  • Basically the LeBron precedent. Any athlete that leaves his hometown (tho a native of the Dominican, Pujols went to HS in Independence, MO) will be vilified among the media and fans. Is this actually a detriment to elite athletes? Who the fuck knows. If you know any, ask them.
  • Again, the Cards have won two World Series in six years. Does Pujols really want to leave this stable situation, the only he's ever known, for an extra $30 mil and the opportunity to play with Starlin Castro, the old farts the Angels trot out nightly, or Kemp/Kershaw/23 bums?
Pujols has leverage:

  • Game 3, the best hitter of his generation, the best player leading his team to three pennants in eight seasons.
  • Have you seen the rest of the Cardinals roster? Who the fuck is replacing Pujols? You're basically relegating yourselves to the Brewers-Rays-Indians-Rockies level of teams that are content to lose top notch free agents for a couple of draft choices. Yes, I am an outsider fan, but here's guessing the Cards view themselves as more of a Yanks/Sox organization than a Twins/DBacks team.
So that's it...if the Braves had been able to hold on to an ABSURD ASS 3 GAME LEAD WITH 4 GAMES REMAINING we wouldn't even be having this hypothetical, troll-like discussion. However, here we are. Ignore all the irrelevant garbage coming out there about Pujols. The next two games will decide the not only the World Series, but the future of an organization and one of the greatest hitters of all time.


We Beat the Tigers, Seminoles, and Hokies In That Order

Try not to laugh too hard. The Clemson Gleeks don their orange jackets to bring you some acapella hip-hop. Yes, they are covering a Kanye West song and the dude that has to cover the Rhianna part may be the highlight of the video. Once you compose yourself you can see that these guys are pretty legit. They must be the toast of the town right now. Happy gameday!


Take the High Road Next Time, Coach

Much ado was made over the Jims' post game handshake/chest bumping. Perhaps Harbaugh was a little too exuberant with his handshake and back slap/shove. No need to get your shorts in a bunch though, Schwartz. That type of overreaction is unbecoming of a man in your position. Football is a competitive sport and the cutthroat nature of the business may have you jaded, but never forget, it is just a game. Take the high road next time, coach. Likewise, commendations to Harbaugh for owning up to his shortcomings after the game.

Not a day earlier, Todd Grantham, UGA defensive coordinator, made a scene after a close win over Vanderbilt. No one likes a sore loser but you know what people hate worse; a sore winner. Standing up for your players is one thing but acting like a donkey is another. This behavior is especially embarrassing for a man, whether he likes it or not, is a role-model for the young men he fervently represents. Take the high road next time, coach. Vandy head coach Franklin and Richt clarify the situation shortly after. There is only one reason to react as Grantham did. If a person makes disparaging remarks about any female family member (mom, wife, sister, or heaven forbid daughter,) it is perfectly acceptable to skip the tough guy charade and unleash hay-makers with little discretion.


Real Life Matters: Week Six

Let's see if this article's made out of straw, or truly is a Brick House. YEAOW!

A few weeks ago Sports Illustrated featured a 6-page spread on the Vanderbilt Commodores for its primary college football coverage. Eschewing my SEC Snobbery for just a moment, let’s dig a little deeper to discover just what it is about Vandy that required the spotlight of a national magazine.

The roar needs no explanation, but an onlooker provides one anyway: "Yeah. He's here." The he in question is Nick Saban, and his devotees have filled the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., hoping to glimpse the Crimson Tide coach.

Yes, those amazing Commodores! Why, I can’t wait to begin my feature article about their pluckiness, high IQ and winning ways! Hmm? What’s that? Why did I choose to use the first 200 words of my story on the Vanderbilt Commodores talking about how Nick Saban “is like a fiftysomething Justin Bieber?” Pay you no mind, see!

Appearing before the media alongside Saban and the three Tide players, almost for bookkeeping purposes, are the representatives for the Vanderbilt Commodores. They have a new coach, 39-year-old James Franklin, but the same old story. They have finished with a losing record in 27 of the last 28 years. They have not had a winning conference mark since 1982. Of the 1,050 credentialed reporters, fewer than 10 are there to cover Vanderbilt.

I can almost see the wheels churning inside this reporter’s head while forming his storey. “Say, based on this here credential list, less than 9 % of the media members are here to cover the Commodores! That’s a real shame. Wait, I’M not here to cover Vanderbilt, EITHER. Maybe I can build up their coach and speak about their academic success. Nobody will be talking about it because it doesn’t matter!”

Since becoming coach last December, Franklin has filled every single media request that has hit his desk. He cohosted a Nashville morning radio show and has invited radio personalities to broadcast live from practice. (They accepted.)

Yes, compared to the most successful coaches in the SEC, like Nick Saban and Les Miles, who routinely close practice to both the media and NFL scouts, Franklin isn’t afraid to have the whole Commodore gameplan revealed Live and On Air!

He spoke to the leaders of Vanderbilt's student government and the Black Student Alliance. He has visited every fraternity and sorority on campus ... twice. He has spoken to Kiwanis clubs and Rotary clubs. Sometimes it's hard to tell if he is trying to win the SEC or a seat on the city council.

City Council! City Council! Is James Franklin using the Vanderbilt job as a showcase for his determination and media savvy? Perhaps that’s unfair to say. I did have to make sure that this wasn’t creative license and embellishment by the author, which it is not. Franklin really does rotate his weeks among (the four) fraternities and sororities in Nashville, trying to drum up interest in his program. Get this guy some coverage, dammit!

I also had to look up what a Kiwanis club is. At first, this embarrassed me. Until I discovered that I simply have to send you here, rather than even attempt to explain what they are myself.

"I'll do birthday parties," he says. "I'll bring balloons."

Alas, I could not find any information on the web to verify this, but I know this is 100% true. If you live in the Nashville are and are looking for a great gag gift for your buddy’s bachelor or birthday party, Franklin is available.

And he’ll answer on the first ring!

Also, if I were a supporter of the Vanderbilt program, the thought of my coach walking around time, begging for attention and showing up for birthday parties with Commodore Kazoos would almost certainly offense my sensibilities.

If the folks on Vanderbilt's campus think Franklin is passionate when he speaks to them, they should see him with his players. During one practice in August, Franklin, a former Division II quarterback for East Stroudsburg, stepped in against the Commodores' defense. Linebacker Archibald Barnes intercepted his coach's pass and tried to return it for a touchdown. Franklin sprinted toward Barnes and leveled a defensive back blocking for Barnes. The coach was not wearing pads.

I believe this may be my favorite part of the article. So, without pads, COACH FRANKLIN lines up under center, and throws an interception. Not to be outdone by this outstanding example of football skill, he then decides to level a poor defensive back that was presumably wondering what the hell he’s supposed to do with a crazy person in position of authority is foaming at the mouth and intending to nail him. Also presumably, he decided that avoiding giving his COACH FRANKLIN a concussion would probably be better than the endless shit he’d be taking for letting a 40-year old take him to school.

I seem to remember another brash, outspoken coach with a penchant for irregular and incomprehensible acts of intended inspiration. So, this is going to end well.

Single-ing out a winner, or just another loose cannon?

Last Saturday night in Nashville, before the Commodores played Connecticut, Franklin surprised his players with all-black uniforms, including black helmets.

This would be quite the act of leadership and inspired, innovative thinking – just the kind of thing a fresh young coach with loads of new ideas is brought in for? Unless of course the exact same thing was done just a few years ago by a coach within his own division.

The color was symbolic.

“Just give it a few quarters, men! Soon you’ll be seeing the same color from within your helmet, as from the outside!”

"We're going to play like a big-time program," Franklin says. "We're going to act like a big-time program. They're going to be treated like [they play for] a big-time program."

“Hey, Coach. We’re tired of being treated like a small-time program. Why does that even happen?”

The Commodores beat the reigning Big East champion 24--21 to improve to 2--0—matching their win total from each of the last two seasons.

“Oh, yeah! That’s why! Our 4-20 record the last two years has been destroying our cause! Guess I’m so mentally stuffed with quadratics I forget how terrible we are each year!”

By the way, I love that the writer is sure to mention “Big East champion,” as if everyone in the country isn’t collectively wondering, “wait, the Big East is still around?” Vanderbilt went on to win its next game, I’m sure delighting the author who wrote this story, then promptly lost its next three by a combined 88-31.

Franklin said it would have been more fun to blow out the Huskies, but winning at the end, largely with defense, might have been better. "I actually think we'll get a lot more out of winning that way than we would the other way," he said. "That was the kind of game that in the past, Vanderbilt didn't find a way to win."

“Now that I think about it,” said Franklin, “We also lost the games that were decided largely with offense and special teams. We lost the close ones, but we definitely seemed to always be on the wrong side of the blowouts. We lost day games and night games, September games and homecoming games. I’m sorry what was the question?”

Winning SEC football games at Vanderbilt may be the toughest task in any of the major American sports. It is like managing a major league baseball team with the Cubs' history, the Royals' resources and the Rays' fan base in a division with the Yankees and the Red Sox.

And your winning meaningless baseball metaphor of the story is…paragraph number 38! Translation – Vanderbilt sucks and the SEC is hard.

Or as former Vanderbilt safety and NFL Pro Bowler Corey Chavous puts it, "It's like trying to climb a mountain with a truck on your back."

That’s better. It’s like trying to climb a mountain of success, but you have 3 tons of suckiness on your back. Chavous must have been a valedictorian.

Vanderbilt is in the SEC, but it is not of the SEC. Vanderbilt is 17th in the most recent U.S. News & World Report college rankings. The next SEC school is Florida, at No. 53.


Since 1987, 11 of the conference's 12 schools have been found guilty of a major NCAA violation in football. The 12th is Vanderbilt. The SEC may or may not be out of control, but it certainly seems way out of Vanderbilt's control.

Rule following!

There are literally a million reasons why Vanderbilt has not had any violations. Sure, you can let complete assholes like Jay Cutler into your school, but try admitting LaDaniel Thompson (not real), who just ran the 40 in 4.2 and has a 5” vertical at 6’5” 210 pounds.

Franklin knew this when he took the job last winter after serving as offensive coordinator at Maryland (2008--10) and Kansas State ('06 and '07). He understood that before he could install his offense, he had to instill hope.

Shit! These players seem to actually know they PLAY for Vanderbilt. It’s uncanny! MAYBE DIFFERENT COLORED UNIFORMS WILL CONFUSE THEM?

"The biggest battle," he says, "is getting [players and fans] to believe."

“The biggest battle,” truth-telling COACH FRANKLIN doppelganger says, “is trying to win games with players far less talented and athletic than our opponents.”

Beginning in 2002, Bobby Johnson went 29--66 in eight seasons, but his reign is still considered a success, for one reason: In '08, he led the Commodores to a 7--6 record, including a win in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in Nashville. The trophy sits alone at the entrance to the Vanderbilt coaches' offices.

God, this is just sad. Can’t you imagine the trophy merely sitting in an empty chair outside in the hallway?

The thing about Vanderbilt is that it seems as if it should be able to compete.

The thing about this article is that it seems as if it should have a point.

The university is nationally respected. The campus is beautiful. The schools it most resembles have thrived—Stanford won the Orange Bowl last season; Northwestern has been to several January bowl games, including the Rose Bowl.

This can’t have anything to do with the Commodores’ conference, and the degree of difficulty in playing better opponents in every facet of the game, or Vanderbilt’s multiple and glaring recruiting disadvantages, or lack of private or University financing, or really anything of note that you could be talking about but are choosing not to? No? Okay, then.

With no chance to be the best team in its conference, Vanderbilt has sought to be the purest. In 2003 then school president Gordon Gee disbanded the athletic department and folded it into a division of student life. Johnson banned profanity on the football field.

I have no idea what “pure” means in this context, but my spidey sense is telling me it won’t help you win football games.

Having the brightest players in the league does not necessarily mean having the brightest team. As he watched film at a recent staff meeting, Franklin expressed disbelief at one player, who could not grasp a new scheme. "He got almost a perfect score on the ACT, and he's struggling," Franklin told his staff. An assistant cracked, "[But] he'll split the atom for you."

I love that the coaches are shown here ripping their own players. “Say, how come these fellas are so smart, but they can’t learn them some football? By the way, does anyone know what I’m supposed to do with that screen that sits in the middle of my desk and plays the soothing trance symbols all day?”

One problem is that the Vanderbilt community generally expects to lose.

The Vanderbilt community, we can say now with confidence, is not delusional.

Franklin is trying to change that thinking. Other coaches, and even some people at the school, can rattle off a list of reasons why Vanderbilt loses.

None of which you have mentioned in your story, sir.

And if you say that Vanderbilt can't possibly win in the SEC, he says that at Vanderbilt, players can get a world-class education while playing in the nation's toughest conference.

"What he also does not say, however, is that the Vanderbilt can possibly win the SEC."

Can Franklin pull this off? History and 11 other rabid fan bases say no way. Franklin can't match the credentials of other coaches in his conference, but he is trying to make up for it by being closer to his team.

Can Franklin pull this off? Every logical, statistical and thoughtful measure available says there's no prayer in the world powerful enough to help Vanderbilt win. Coach Franklin makes up for all of this, however, by being purer with his team.

When the Commodores saw the movie Horrible Bosses in August, Franklin realized, Uh- oh, that's me, I'm the boss now. He looked around. Nobody was in his row. He grabbed a few freshmen and made them sit next to him.

This absolutely, positively needs no snarky comment. It's good on it's own.

"The first thing he said to me was, 'We're not taking no for an answer,'" said quarterback Josh Grady, a three-star recruit who signed with Vanderbilt in February, two weeks after Franklin offered him a scholarship. "He was like, 'We're going to change the culture.' Whenever I would say, 'Maybe if I come,' he'd be like, 'No. You're gonna come.' I'd say, 'I understand we're gonna try to change the program.' He'd say, 'No. We're gonna change the program.' Little things like that made me buy into it."

Wouldn't it be awesome if everyone was as gullible as a 17-year old jock?

"So, Ben, if we give you this raise..."
"No, when you give me this raise."

"If I come home with you tonight,"

Franklin is dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's, and still, it will be a challenge to avoid all the L's.

Because his team is just so darn P-U!

Atlanta, the site of the SEC championship game, could not seem farther away. The history is almost suffocating. Fact: No Commodore has ever played in two bowl games.

Fact: as evidenced by your opening line about media coverage, nobody cares about this fact.

"Ultimately we're going to have to put a product on the field that people are proud of," he says, "and I understand that."

So, like, a Hyundai?

The number in the Win column is the one inescapable truth for the biggest underdog in college football, the only SEC team that the rest of the country can love. Franklin embraces that truth as enthusiastically as he embraces everything else. Vanderbilt has been waiting for the future for 50 years. It has to arrive at some point. Doesn't it?

I absolutely adore this logic. I've been playing the same numbers in the powerball for 38 years, dadgarmett! My payday has to come sometime, don't it?

Editor's Note: Georgia barely beat Vanderbilt this weekend. Plucky!

On to this week's wagers! A reminder of what's at stake:

- Swift kick in the ass. No bullshit. Velocity of kick dependent upon kicker (kick-ee likely to ask for more)

WINNER - Bottle of his choosing.

BONUS - Winning Percentage more than 10% differential? Georgia home game football ticket




This Week's Picks
Georgia (-11) Over Vanderbilt
Last week requires a retraction: Georgia has actually beat the spread four weeks in a row (plus a push). Count on them to make it five.

Michigan (+2.5) Over Michigan State

Is it just me, or does it seem like halfway through the CFB season, Vegas collectively says, "Okay, that's enough. You had your fun, now we're going to start trying."

Boise State vs Colorado State UNDER 54.5

Indiana (+40) Over Wisconsin

Wisconsin has averaged nearly a 40-point differential this season. Indiana's played (and lost) some really close games. I like the Hoosiers not not get beat by 40!

Especially with important games at Ohio State and at Michigan State, this is a recipe for some 3rd-string in the 3rd-quarter brew for Wisconsin.

Georgia Tech (-7) Over Virginia
South Carolina (-2.5) Over Mississippi State
Toledo (-7) Over Bowling Green
Kansas State (+3.5) Over Texas Tech

Each week we're going to bring to you what the University of Georgia football team is, metaphorically speaking. In terms of a woman you are sexually/intellectually/spiritually interested in:

Week of 10/3
This week Georgia's the chick you met a party, but the more you try to remember the more she seems like simply part of your imagination. Did she really make out with you on the hood of your car? You didn't tell her you loved her, did you?

Then a friend reminds you the girl's in one of your classes. While it's Spring Break, you're guaranteed to see her.

So play it cool, mates. Don't call her, don't masturbate to her. And don't get too excited. You never know if you spent the night sucking face with a sea donkey or a true bangin' chick. You'll know real, real soon.


NBA Lockout: Not As Bad As You Think. Yet.

FACT: The NBA is my favorite sport.

FACT: The Atlanta Hawks are my favorite team in sports.

FACT: The NBA Playoffs are my favorite time of the year in sports.

FACT: I am not losing my mind over the NBA lockout...yet.


When the NFL lockout began, I thought there was no way they would miss any games. That league prints money. The owners would get what concessions they could leading upto the final seconds before games had to be missed, then a deal would be reached. Too much money at stake.

When the NBA lockout began, I felt there was no way games could NOT be missed. I don't care how much the players or Deadspin's in-house-whiner says the owners fudge their loss numbers, the financial model of the league was broken. Just as it has been proposed that the owners shouldn't feel a right to make money off of owning a team; similarly, the financial +/-s of a couple of teams aren't an indicator that they shouldn't pursue a lockout if they felt it was needed. An above average NBA fan can eyeball a system where 90% of the players are making more than their added value to their respective squads. Contracts were too long and cap-crippling, mediocre-to-average players were being paid like superstars, paid attendance was dropping, the owners/GMs absolutely failed to exercise any fiscal restraint. None of this is news.

Here's one thing that hasn't seemed to be mentioned, however. The players can't win. They were dead before this started. Forget each side's PR campaigns, twitter talk, etc. for a second and think about the following:

Even if the owners losses aren't actually losses and they are making slight profits, if they stand to make more money with a new CBA, they WILL pursue that and they will hold out until a deal that ensures larger profits become available.

Yes, this lockout sucks, and I do feel that if idiot owners can't help themselves from paying Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay $12mil/year, fuck them. But logically speaking, they can win a battle of financial chicken with the players. Like the Chris Rock joke says, Shaq is rich. The guy who signs Shaq's paycheck is WEALTHY. Big difference.

In order to break the players, missing games was necessary and inevitable. Sucks, but it is a truth. Also a truth is that very few NBA fans care about this as long as football is being played. Bill Simmons may point out that casual NBA fans who came to the sport with the influx of talent and exciting seasons the last few years might be turned off. My counter: no they wont. I know several fans like that. If anything the lockout hurts them less...they won't even notice the NBA is missing until February. Hell, regularly scheduled weekend national TV games don't even start until Christmas. If the 1994 baseball strike showed us anything, it is that fans will ALWAYS come back to a sport they enjoy.

Much like the threat of missing any games was the kick in the ass the NFL needed to get the deal done, the end of football season and the ability to repeat of the shortened 1999 season will be just what the NBA needs before a deal gets done.

(Note: I loathe when media types mention "in this day and age of twitter and SOCIAL MEDIA...," in fact, I am cringing as I write this, but it bears mentioning that with the oppressive 24/7 news cycle that exists today, there will be considerably more public pressure on both sides to get a deal done, at least before the new year, than there was in 1999. Finally we found something good about the 24/7 news cycle...only took us 10 years.)

So, in summary, let's just say I am much more worried about the Hawks using their inevitable amnesty clause on Marvin Williams over Joe Johnson than the NBA missing meaningful time. Once I pull up my bookmarks and see that Larry has seven new posts slamming Rick Sund on the matter, I will know that the NBA season is finally here, and the system in place will make more sense than the old one.

In the meantime, thankfully, we have OBJ here to provide us his list of the GOOD things that the NBA lockout has and will continue to bring us for the foreseeable future:

-Dwayne Wade can spend more time with his children

-With two less games on Christmas Day, fellas everywhere will only have football as an excuse to not consort with their families. Everyone will be miserable, but they will be miserable together.

-Blake Griffin gets another year without an injury

-Kevin Garnet, Tim Duncan and the rest of the NBA veterans on the wrong side of 30 have a year to rest their aching muscles, and perhaps turn back the mileage Bueller-style

Note: This raises the question - is Yao Ming's foot really that messed up, or did he just give up? Did he and his handlers not anticipate an NBA lockout? Yao essentially would have had two full years to rehabilitate his his ailing appendage, but he folded instead. Either he truly was a genetic freak whose, say, more detailed body parts couldn't support the rest of his (Chinese laboratory created) leviathan frame, or he simply grew tired of rehabbing for months and months just to play for a handful of weeks.

-The WNBA will become immensely popular

-Just kidding. But people who would normally pay more attention to the NBA will turn towards College Hoops instead, ushering in a new generation of college basketball fans

-This lockout will end when the players give up - this means no more ridiculous salaries and, potentially, an NFL-style parity system across the league. The former will help protect organizations from themselves and is pretty much guaranteed to happen. The latter is designed to elevate the entire "brand" of a sports organization, and could usher in a new era of success for the NBA

-For a whole season, no more having to sit through another endless Spurs vs. Grizzlies Thursday night TNT game, simply because there's nothing else on

-The price of jerseys will go down, enabling me to purchase my Pooh Jeter apparel


Sightseeing 10/13

My apologies up front, loyal readers, for another missed photo opportunity. A last minute decision to acquire bargain priced (and bargain seating) Sunday Night Football tickets led me on a bare bones trip to the dome without my new camera on hand. A $600 dollar camera does me no good lest I learn how to operate it properly much less remember to grab it on the way out of the door. This brings me to today's theme. Money can't buy you happiness, or a championship.

  • Take the Yankees and the Phillies, who sport the two highest paid rosters in MLB, have just been bounced from the playoffs by teams with approximately half their payroll. The Marlins won the world series in 2003 with a payroll one third of their series' opponent, the Yanks. The Phils, obviously the best team in the league this year, should enlighten us to the detriment of a BCS playoff system.
  • More BCS games would equal more revenue for all parties involved. I am astounded a playoff system has not been implemented yet. Much like I don't want to see another 2005 White Sox/Astros world series, I would rather be hit across the face with a pineapple than tolerate an equivalent BCS title game.
  • Julio Jones cost the Falcons in the form of draft picks. Although I love his skills and think he will be a great player moving forward, I feel that pressure to perform is forcing the ball in his direction. Jones is taking the next game off due to injury which may not be a bad thing. This will be a chance for the Falcons to revert to a style of offense that worked so well last year.
  • Cam Newton is the exception that is going to prove our rule today. NCAA admits the possibility of reopening the case if new information arises. This tells me that among all that smoke, they just couldn't find the fire. How much does a crystal football cost, Auburn? Apparently rounds-a-bout $200,000.
What I want to see next week:
  • A Falcons game from less than a half mile way (Probably not an exaggeration from the top row of the Georgia Dome)


Real Life Matters: Week Five

The League Championship Series-es have begun. It has to leave a dropping like bullion-weighted dogshit in your mental backyard: who for to root??

Sit on this - the more you hate, the more you love. Do you think hard Celtics fans would be so die without their Lakers foils? The more years that stack up with Georgia losses, the more Florida fans feel their is no rivalry.

And the more Georgia fans feel there is one.

Would you even care about the Olympics if it weren't for the USA vs. EVERYONE?

If you're from Alaska, Hawaii, Singapore, Djibouti or Queens, you may root for the Yankees. Hell, until the (soon to be) Miami Marlins showed up in the great Purple and Teal 90's Expansion Team Unirevolution everyone within 1,500 miles of Atlanta rooted for the Braves. Everyone in Alabama, everyone in Arkansas, everyone in Florida. But how regionalized and - by definition in today's sports world - relatable are the teams in the these Championship Serieseses? Is there a reason to root for any of them if you're not from that geographic area?

Green Bay, Wisconsin is the smallest market in all of American professional sports. If you'd like to stretch the "metro" area to 283,000, COOL. The second in the diminutive-ist list is Buffalo, New York! Population: 1.1 million.

For a different brand of bird, you sure do look cocky.

Here's an easy one! The Pujols drama is artificial because everyone knows a) nobody is paying 10-year contracts and b) the Yankess aren't in the game. St. Looey - BULLY to you. No offense to your fanbase, but your manager's a dick. Everyone loves Albert Pujols and his loveable inability to speak english, but after winning Eleven world championships since your 1882 introduction (8.5 World Series Winning Percentage [WSW%]) you cannot pretend to be an underdog any longer. Hell, you just won a World Series in 2006.

Be glad! Rejoice! This is your coming out party, Redbirds. Congratulations, you're now the Phillies. Nobody outside of your state ('s immediate rooting interest) are pulling for you.

Early in the 1920's, the infantile National Football League consisted of markets like the Decatur Staleys, Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Muncie Flyers, Rochester Jeffersons and Rock Island Independents. Money, and the evolution of the game/markets/regionalism led to all of those small market teams folding. Except for the Packers, which was bought by its community.

Though a scared little kitty, easily the best DeTigers logo ever. Weird.

Have you even seen a single episode of Hung? Because it's the most bragging rights a Detroit native (DETROTIAN!) has had since capitalizing on Ford's assembly line "invention" by throwing thousands of underpaid fingers into the meat grinders. No, Bully to YOU, Detroit! You've really been with us since 1901? And you've won FIVE World Serieseseses (4.5WSW% [last 1984])?

The Lions are looking good. Your hockey (?) team is solid. Everyone in American knows your state looks like this:
Like the South, it's not all trash!

Congratulations, Tigers fans! The majority of America is rooting for you because your city is on its death bed! Yes, you are being given the Saints Vs. Katrina 2005 Sympathy Sports Award powerup. Run with it. Embrace it. Because unless your town can start producing flying cars, you will no longer be considered a major American city. This is your chance to be, beloved.

Know that the majority of America is rooting for you. Then un-know it. And just play baseball. Most people would like to see this.

Heeey! Milwaukee! Isn't that in Green Bay?

Sorry, Milwaukee (0 WSW% [last never]). Though the analysts (read: TV personalities) will talk endlessly about how your first baseman and the Cardinals' first baseman are both going into unrestricted free agency, and DEAR LORD how that's going to affect your mosque-esque shrine to small-market it-can-happen-without-money image, well.

Well, shit, Milwaukee. We just don't even know where you are. Just know that when Prince leaves, then comes the city, restaurants, bars barbershops and florists, and you're left with Rickie Weeks.

The Green Bay Packers were borne of a street-corner conversation, featuring Curly Lambeau and his Indian Packing Company employer. Curly convinced his J.O.B. to buy uniforms and provide a practice field. Put it together, this is where the namesake was fittingly originated. Lambeau starred for the team for 11 years, became its first coach (for 30 years) and eventually got bored. So he created the forward pass.

The reason you've heard so many Chuck Norris jokes,
is because every time Chuck Norris Kicks someons's ass a new joke is born.

So we are just chock FULL of teams that literally anyone in the country can root for - for any reason they choose. Texas, around since 1961 without grabbing the brass Ring in the MLB merry-go-round, has somehow also compiled a sad championship record (0 WSW% [last never]). Though not the most hated team, they have to be the favorites. And yet the Rangers will still be considered and rooted for like underdogs.

Like everyone else in this World Series race.

winning the first two Super Bowls and preposterously having street names like Packers, Lombardi, Ray Nitschke, Brett Favre, Mike Holmgren, Don Hutson, Reggie White, Bart Starr and Ton Canadeo, Packers fans somehow do not exude a pompous pheromone and therefore almost make opponents refuse to hate them.

Somewhere in the world, there is a baseball fan (no - there is) that has absolutely no rooting allegiance to any of these teams vying for a World Title. And to have the option to pick your own lame horse for whatever reason is, frankly, why he watches.

The Greenbay Packers were voted the third most popular team in the United States based on a 2010 Harrison poll. They are the only publicly owned professional sports franchise in America.

Every fan of their city is still pulling for their team. But the Packers this year are a juggernaut of immeasurable proportions. Once your team is out of it, you may not be rooting for them. But are you rooting against them?

On to this week's wagers! A reminder of what's at stake:

- Swift kick in the ass. No bullshit. Velocity of kick dependent upon kicker (kick-ee likely to ask for more)

WINNER - Bottle of his choosing.

BONUS - Winning Percentage more than 10% differential? Georgia home game football ticket

A real problem this week, as I was either too lazy or too busy to post my picks in time. We'll go ahead and mark me off for three losses for Week Five, and I'll proceed through my week ashamed of myself.



Georgia beat the spread two weeks in a row! NICE. Too bad the momentum gained from going 3-1 last week completely stalled out from throwing this week's picks in the trash.


This Week's Picks

Georgia (-2) over Tennesssee
A WIN! That's 3 weeks in a row of covering the spread against SEC teams.

Texas (+11) Over Oklahoma
A LOSS! UT didn't even come close, as Oklahoma is now firmly in the driver's seat for the TGCSECO (TeamtoGetCrushedbyanSECOpponent) Championship.

Florida State (-10) Over Wake Forrest
ANOTHER LOSS! An outstanding week for OBJ to sacrifice his picks. I'm still in this!

Each week we're going to bring to you what the University of Georgia football team is, metaphorically speaking. In terms of a woman you are sexually/intellectually/spiritually interested in:

Week of 10/3
This week Georgia is the Older Woman who may just more know about life than you do. Sure, you're young and have all the energy, but this chick seems to know stuff. Y'know, like which materials you're actually able to throw in your recycling bin, or how much life insurance costs. Shit like that.

The Older Woman is intriguing, because while most females seem to come fully loaded with wholesale-sized carts of insecurity, the older woman walks around with self confidence in spades. It's as if they stopped trying to zap/lather/cream/exfoliate/pencil/place-into-suspended-animation, etc. the wrinkles, and decided, "You know what? Fuck it. I think I'm pretty. That's really all that matters." It's incredibly arousing and wonderful in its simplicity.

Plus, you never know when they'll drop a knowledge bomb on you. You may date an older chick for a month, but that one time she said, "Ya know, babe, you really shouldn't take the trash out barefoot. On top of all broken glass out there, acting as a petri dish for countless diseases, scorpians and millipedes - TERRIBLY POISONOUS! - are also out in full force this time of year. By the way, when was your last tetanus shot?" will be ingrained in your mind forever. Older chicks rule.


In Which While Writing This, I Almost Referred to a Conference As "We" Nine Times

With both college football/NFL in full swing and the baseball playoffs providing drama on a nightly basis, there shouldn't be any excuse for a red-blooded American sports fan to be following this conference realignment nonsense. I would counter, however, with the following:

  • While college football is fucking awesome in every respect, we really don't yet know who the best teams are outside of Louisiana or Alabama, or even if there are any/many good ones. At this point, it appears as tho all non-LSU/Bama top teams have feasted on a menu of cupcakes, ACC teams whose elitism is questionable, and Mississippi State, whose non-elite status has been confirmed. There is a reason why the Mumme Poll doesn't start until next week, everything is conjecture at this point. Check back then when we know more.
  • The NFL, while also enjoyable this season, does not lack for coverage. There are approximately 287873262672691028 articles on the internet right now on everything from in-depth coverage wondering if the Jets will deploy Darelle Revis in a nickel package on Wes Welker this Sunday or if they'll waste him on Deion fucking Branch on the outside, to page-hit pandering lists on which teams should sign TO. If you understandably don't want to read this, you can prolly turn on an ESPN channel right now and hear a couple people arguing over WHO IS MORE FOR REAL, THE BILLS OR THE LIONS?
  • Baseball is baseball and thus best consumed in 3 minute highlights. Oh the Tigers beat the Yanks to go to the ALCS? Cool. CC Sabathia came in as a reliever? Huh. Interesting.
Combine all that with the fact that I'm a huge fucking dork when it comes to this shit, and allow me to provide my two cents on college realignment to this point. Because reading paragraphs on this situation will make you either fall asleep at your keyboard or switch over to porn, I'll keep it brief and in bullet-point form:

What we know at this point:

  • Texas A&M, pissed that Texas has their own TV network, left the Big 12 for the SEC. Their students/alums allegedly chanted "SEC" at summer graduation, a full month before this move was confirmed. Safe to say they'll be a solid fit culturally in their new conference.
  • The Big 12 avoided destruction for the second straight year because the Pac 12 didn't want the baggage that came with Texas' huge TV contract. Texas and Oklahoma (and thereby Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, who are attached to their in-state counterparts) crawled back to the Big 12, hat-in-hand.
  • The ACC decided that they needed more 7-win football teams and nabbed Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East. Knocks aside, this was a good move for the ACC. They were proactive and raided the Big East to protect themselves from being poached. In the process, they essentially killed the Big East as a football conference, of which we will be eternally grateful.
  • The Big 10 decided that they are content with large, academically strong state schools and god-awful boring as shit football, and are staying pat at 12 members.

So where does this leave us? The Pac 12, Big 10 are solid at twelve members. The ACC has 14 members, and will likely pick off the carcass of the Big East when it officially folds, pick up UCONN and someone else, and become a basketball mega-conference. The Big 12 has 3-4 open spots (more on that in a minute), and is likely to fill them with smaller but good college football programs (TCU, West Virginia, Louisville, Houston). For some reason, aka MONEY, Boise State has not been mentioned as a Big 12 possibility

This is a long winded way of bringing us to the SEC, the greatest conference in the land that should have every intention of staying that way. Right now, at 13 members, the SEC is in a state of flux and coaches have been open about their displeasure regarding an unbalanced schedule ("why does Alabama get to play 2 games in Texas and gain exposure there while we play none?") Clearly, a 14th member needs to be added, and for weeks all fingers have pointed to the UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI of all places as the 14th member.

How the hell, did Missouri, as mediocre a football program as they come, with absolutely no regional or cultural ties to the conference get to the point where the SEC wanted them to be invited? Well here is what SEC Commish Mike Slive sees in Mizzou:

  • Expanded footprint into the Kansas City and St. Louis football markets.
  • A strong academic instution, only eclipsed in the conference currently by Vandy and Florida.

Here are my responses to these 'benefits' that Mizzou brings:

  • Awesome. You're adding the 25th and 34th biggest TV markets, neither of which have been college football crazy locales. This outweighs the benefits of bringing in a mediocre program to a conference whose biggest/only selling point is its elite level of football? Add Virginia Tech (DC Market) or FSU (larger footprint in Florida).
  • You're the SEC. WHY ARE YOU CARING ABOUT ACADEMICS?!?!? This is inexplicable. You think adding Missouri, a state school ranked 60thish in the nation is going to make people think highly of the SEC academically? MISSISSIPPI STATE IS STILL A MEMBER OF THIS CONFERENCE, YO. UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY. ARKANSAS, PEOPLE. Academics should never be a priority for the SEC as long as everyone's eligible. Hell, I'm in favor of throwing Miss. State a bone and inviting West Virginia over Missouri. At least they're a cultural fit and allow Miss State to no longer be ranked last in the conference academically for the first time, ever.

Luckily, news has broke in the last 24 hours that:

  • Missouri mentions they still want to be in the Big 10 but, for the second straight year, they were rebuffed. The SEC is taking other conferences scraps now?
  • Per, some SEC presidents are bucking and don't want to invite Missouri, citing their lack of prestige and the conservation of traditional rivalries. So there is still hope that Missouri will, for the second straight year, have to go back to the Big 12 with their tail between their legs.

For this to happen, the presidents of UGA, UF and South Carolina will have to break an alleged pact between those three schools will block any new members from their state (read: Clemson, FSU, and GaTech). Clemson and GT aren't likely candidates, but FSU is given their stronghold in Florida markets, program prestige and the cultural fit they provide. UF and UGA enjoy being the only SEC game in town in the fertile South Georgia/Northern Florida recruiting area, and don't want to share this area.

  • Similarly: While Texas A&M is not that much better a program than Mizzou, that will improve. A&M can now go into a recruit's house and say "Want to play in the best/most televised/pro ready conference in the country? Want to stay in Texas? Then you've got one option, son." While more SEC schools (specifically LSU, Arky, Bama) will benefit from this move as well, expect A&M to start nabbing recruits that were Longhorn locks two years ago.

Bottom line: The SEC is the premier football conference in America. This is a source of pride among southerns (see SEC Chant), as there are not too many areas in which the south is head and shoulders above the rest of the country. The SEC should stay that way. Add FSU, West Virginia, VaTech, or make a godfather offer for Oklahoma or Texas (if you have to take Okla State/Tex Tech and go to 16 so be it. Personally, I think Okla/Texas enjoy being the top dogs in a conference of ACC-level schools and are too scared to come to the SEC, but whatever). Just don't add Missouri. The shoe doesn't fit.

Enjoy the actual, real football action this weekend.

(Ed. Addendum: I am not naive enough to ignore the reality that money drives all, and that Mizzou will continue to be pursued as long as it makes financial sense to the SEC. I am also not one of those fans that views the Tennessee-Bama rivalry as sacrosanct and must be conserved at all costs. I simply feel that by adding Virginia Tech, you expand into a bigger, more profitable market and add more eyeballs to your product. Ditto, although to a lesser extent for Florida state. While I'd love to see West Virginia as well, I realize they do not help this league in the TV households category.)