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Top Teams 2008

After Week Seven

  1. Alabama
  2. Penn State
  3. Texas
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Florida
  6. USC
  7. Georgia
  8. LSU
  9. BYU
  10. Missouri
  11. Ohio State
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Utah
  15. Kansas
  16. USF
  17. North Carolina
  18. Miami
  19. Boise State
  20. Georgia Tech
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Submission Corner
Saturday Night's Alright For A Fight
Sunday
Jun262005

We love EDSBS

As in EveryDayShouldBeSaturday.com.

EDSBS's Stranko Montana had this interesting fact about former Florida quarterback Noah Brindise, in of all places, the comment forum over at paradigmblog, in response to a post about Oklahoma's potential two-headed monster in 2005 at quarterback:

By the way, Brindise was nicknamed "Fat Dog," and was famous for being one of the greatest guys to have a beer with in Gainesville. Or five beers, if he was feeling good.

Isn't Brindise an assitant coach or offensive coordinator somewhere now?

I have stories that cannot be repeated about a gregarious tight end at a prominent program who you could set a clock to for being at a local watering hole.  Good guy too, always got fellow students some drinks when the dopes behind the counter weren't in that service kind of mood.

Seems every team has some 4-year "character" who becomes a legend in his days, not just amongst the team but also its student body.

Sunday
Jun262005

New blog

Trent Dlugosh runs a blog about the University of Wyoming.  Excellent to hear the 'Pokes have someone on the internet representing them.  It's brand spankin' new.

So far, readable, and a good mix of topics, such as the school hosting a basketball tournament, and various media prognostications for the Cowboys this season.

Keep up the good work, Trent.

PS---I've got a few new blogs in the queue, mostly SEC blogs.  Will update those soon, and also continue to find more blogs.

Saturday
Jun252005

Discuss amongst yourselves

Does anyone remember the Mike Myers Saturday Night Live skit he played the television host/call-in old woman who kept locking up and asking her audience to "talk amongst yourselves".

Well, in that spirit, we've added a discussion forum on here to centralize the debate about Boise State and Georgia.

You can reach the forum here or just click on "Hot Topic Discussion" under "Navigation" on the menu at left.

Friday
Jun242005

West Coast friendly, WAC lover, etc.

So some of the criticism here is that we're just west coast honks or something to that effect.  I wouldn't worry about that if I were you.  If you've read this blog much and checked out our 2004 end-of-year top 10, we include Louisville (looooove that team), Auburn, Texas, Michigan and Virginia Tech.  And when we post our 2005 preseason top 10, Florida will most certainly be on that list.

Hey wait, isn't Florida... an SEC team?  Nahhhhhh.  Actually, judging by the type of ball they will soon be playing, they aren't!

Anyway, we care not a team's geography, it's not important.  What is important is what a team does on the field.  Some teams do it different and better, and for whatever reason, many of the highlighted teams are dotting the maps out west.

Of course, they don't play real football out west, or so the perception goes.

Friday
Jun242005

Welcome new visitors!

Thousands of you, hehe.

Anyway, glad you found the Resource thoughts on Boise State v. Georgia interesting, if disagreeable.

Feel free to peruse the website and be sure to bookmark it.  Whether you like the blog and its opinions or not, the actual website is a great thing to have access to for any college football fan.  Please don't let this be your only stop at CollegeFootballResource.  We welcome any and all visitors to make use of what we have to offer.  A lot of time and energy has been put into this and there are a lot of great links and features on the way as well.

If you don't know what we are, we're exactly what we're advertised as---a college football resource.  This website is a compilation of many many many links, laboriously organized into recognizeable categories.  We've also created some fun features, and a lot more.  Also, if we are missing any links that you find of merit, by all means email us and pass those along.  The blog is just the tip of the iceberg here.

Again, thank you for stopping by, we appreciate your attention and hope you will become a regular here.

PS---We'll respond more to the Boise/Georgia stuff soon, just a bit busy today.  It is Friday!

Thursday
Jun232005

Friday Heisman blogging

Many bloggers do cat blogging on Fridays.  We Heisman Blog.

This fine American Friday, we have just two items.

  • First, Memphis' DeAngelo Williams' Heisman campaign is already in full swing.  First, the SID at Memphis sent around some Williams themed race cars to various sportswriters.  That laid the groundwork for the biggie---DeAngelo's Heisman website: "Race For The Heisman".

We like it, it's got a consistent them, the cars are so popular they've already sold out, and the website features some nice video and looks like it can be semi-regularly updated.  That said, it's still not on par with the brilliant blog Matt Leinart put together.  Too bad Matt/the USC folks haven't updated it in forever.  Oh well, it served its purpose last year just fine!

In fact, Williams website reminds us of Darren Sproles' website last year that promoted him for the Heisman with another dazzling video.

  • Our next item has to do with something about Heisman voting we didn't notice until last year.  Heck, there's no way we could have noticed it until last year.  Heisman voters are demonstrably conservative.
In fact, they continue to remain lock-step with HeismanPundit's Heismandments.  The Heismandments are a set of unspoken rules that have been almost rigorously adhered to by Heisman voters.

What really put it together for the Resource folks was analyzing the available Heisman resources.

For three years now, a website called Heisman Projection has accurately predicted the winner of the race.  Projection gathered a wide swath of Heisman voters' public votes every year, and using a formula to account for regional balance, more or less nailed both the predictions for the winner and the overall vote percentages of the winner and runner-up. That is, until last year.

Heisman Projection did accurately name Matt Leinart the Heisman winner, but it had a significantly more narrow margin of victory than the actual margin.

The projection had Matt Leinart at 1181 points to Adrian Peterson's 1052.  That would have given Messr. Leinart a slim 2.7% margin.  In fact, he won by 7% (of the five person field).

Where did this gap come from?  The Resource theory is that Projection's voters were heavily skewed towards sportswriters opinionmakers.  For whatever reason, they chose Matt Leinart by a much more slim margin than the actual outcome.  From this we can infer that although Projection gathered an impressively large statistical sample, it wasn't a great sample.  But that's not his fault.  Many Heisman voters' identies are a mystery.  They don't have to be public about their vote or who they are.

It was this large bloc of silent voters that chose Matt Leinart for the Heisman trophy by a large percentage compared to Projection's sample.  We call this silent bloc of voters the Heisman "Silent Majority".  It has a Nixonian feel, no?  And much like the Silent Majority's sustained power over national politics, this silent majority heavily influences Heisman outcomes.

Had the silent majority not been voting, the Heisman trophy had a slim but still possible chance of being awarded to Oklahoma freshman Adrian Peterson.  In the end, Matt Leinart won the thing by a quite comfortable margin.

Lesson learned: there is a powerful, heavily influential bloc of Heisman voters who adhere to the before-unspoken Heisman rules, the Heismandments.  Adrian Peterson's youth and lack of a body of work beyond his freshman season probably did him in last year.

That's all, enjoy your Friday!

Thursday
Jun232005

Synergy

As discussed by HeismanPundit yesterday, conventional wisdom often is miscast as true wisdom in college football.  His call for independent thought/knowledge was responded to on here, and judging by the comments and reaction to our thoughts on the Boise State/Georgia matchup, such is the case again.

This time, it's the fans who do their best to shout down any defiance of that conventional wisdom, using name-calling and mockery instead of simple arguments and the good ol' back-and-forth exchange of sensible people.  Gosh this reminds us of the Senate lately.  But we digress.

Anyway, fear not those of you out there who believe in something that goes against that which is nearly codified in college football, or life.  We're taking a beating today, but we stand behind the comments.  We did more than a little elaboration, and gave support for what we've said.  It's up to others to either agree or disagree, but either way the smart ones know to have sensible and reasoned reactions to match the views espoused on here.

We appreciate and invite any sensible scrutiny of Georgia fans, they're passionate as they come and love their team.

Thursday
Jun232005

Speed Kills

Good God, HeismanPundit's on a roll lately.  Between stops at the ATM and calls for revolution, he has this terrific entry about the fastest players in the NCAA, grouping them into two categories---actual times and perceptively who is fastest.

Actual time winner---LSU's Xavier Carter, an EASY call.  Sorry Reggie Bush fans.

Perceptive winner---Ohio State's Ted Ginn.  Nice point about his unusual gait ("he has a unique running style that betrays his hurdling background---head down and in a crouch").

HP knows his running and speed stuff, obviously, adding analysis of players' styles and strides ("Ginn is a gazelle, Devin Hester is a jaguar.  He has the rare ability to maintain his speed for the entire length of the football field").

And another golden nugget---the younger bucks like Ted Ginn are not as far along in the wear and tear department, giving them a slight nod over the more banged up warriors like Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson.  Football players naturally lose speed over time, although a handful can maintain their speed through their careers better than others.  So as a very gentle rule of thumb, a guy like Ted Ginn will never be as fast in college as during the first day he hit the field his freshman season.  Every play after that, assuming little actual speed development, he's adding hits and thus subtracting from his speed.  That and things like lifting weights and body mass without necessarily training for speed also subtract from true speed.

I witnessed a lengthy (somewhere near two hours) argument between four track-savvy, football-savvy folks in January that highlighted many of these concepts.  The sticking point appeared to be that players couldn't get faster than when they came in.  Obviously that's not 100% true, but football training is different than training for the 100 meters or 200 meters, in that football players are generally adding mass and muscle, while track guys are doing different muscle focus for weights and not adding the same kind of mass.  Things got fairly into the nitty gritty, and so I'll kind of drop off from here.

The bigger picture is, speed often makes for a great football player, just look at the names HP mentioned.  Not a bad bunch of guys, right?  Measurables do matter, in our book.

Thursday
Jun232005

More on receivers

Resource has gone receiver-happy lately.  Here's one more entry.

Another wide receiver we really like and look forward to watching this year is Cal's other athletic marvel not named Marshawn Lynch: DeSean Jackson.

Jackson blew us away at the Army AA high school all star game.  In fact, he won the MVP award, making plays all over the field, lapping the best high school competition around (still nothing compared to college football at its lowest levels, mind you), and showing great ability to makes plays on the ground (two touchdowns, one where he just blew past a defensive back, another where he wove through the defense, effortlessly) and in the air.  He's a bit smallish, at around 6-0, 170, but with those skills you don't need to be big, just keep what you're doing.

I don't know how long it will take him to acclimate to the Cal offense, but given his skills one has to believe both parties will try and expedite things if at all possible.

And as follow-up to our thoughts about Patrick Turner.  We reviewed his Rivals.com tape again, and talked to some people---this guy really might be the best receiver to ever come to USC when his playing days are done there.  Now if only he can get past two All-American candidates in Dwayne Jarrett, a sophomore, and Steve Smith, a junior.  Must be nice to be Matt Leinart right about now.
Thursday
Jun232005

1,800 hits (and counting) later...

Yesterday's entry about the Boise State/UGA matchup didn't go over well with everyone.  It appears we've been linked to on about four Georgia themed message boards, as well as a Cal Board, a Pitt Board, and a Fresno State board in the last day or so.

Judging by some of the readers' comments, most were unhappy about what we said and strongly disagree.  So be it.  Just be sure and re-read it a few times before going off the handle, it's actually a very intelligent look at the matchup.  Unfortunately, the SEC fan base's mythical parochialism rules the day once again.  We still love you, SEC fans, but you guys have to bring counter-arguments up, not just the tired "we're bigger, we're faster, we're better, we play in the SEC and that's enough" line.

There's a problem with the conventional wisdom in college football, and we're here, in part, to inject some serious differences of opinion.

For those wondering, no I haven't been at the bong lately.  You can cross that off your list of insults.

Hopefully this post inspires some Georgia fans (or other readers who simply disagree and aren't part of the mighty Bulldog fan base) to actually discuss the merits of what was written, and also offer their own intelligent, free of tired talking points, thoughtful analysis of the matchup.  Some of you tried, at least a little.  We pay much more attention to those replies than the ones where we can tell the person typing them is real-time spitting at their screen, hurling a string of invectives and expletives more creative and thoughtful than any thoughts that made their way across the internet and onto here.

Wednesday
Jun222005

Smurf Turfers devilishly go down to Georgia

We're halfway into the week and Resource already has two lengthy diatribes to its credit.  Time for a third.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you know we have been talking quite a bit about Boise State in general, and their game against Georgia, specifically.  What follows is a more in-depth fleshing out of our thoughts on the game, and teams.  We're not the first blog or writer to call this game for the Broncos.  HeismanPundit called this one back in April and now the Sporting News' Matt Hayes thinks this one's going to the road trippers.

Hayes' argument centers around Boise's ability to punch holes in the Georgia defense and an inherent skepticism that Bulldog senior quarterback DJ Shockley has the skills to pull this one off.  Decent points.

Now, for the Resource take.

Imagine, for a moment, that at the last minute Dan Hawkins' Boise State Broncos opted out of this game and substituted the USC Trojans in their place.  Without a doubt the USC Trojans would be huge favorites to win such a game.  And we all know why---the Trojans have both talent and a sophisticated style of play that trumps anything Georgia can do.  Much like Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, Georgia would be flustered by the Trojans' various formations, substitutions, and use of personnel and play design.

That is because Georgia is a fairly low-tech outfit, but one blessed with outstanding athletic and talented personnel.

Similarly, Boise State is a program that does things much like the Trojans, if not better in many ways.  Their offense is out of this world and flusters its conference peers, of which many such programs are used to witnessing difficult to defend offenses.  Outpost programs sometimes are the breeding grounds of bright young coaches, so what happens out in Boise or Moscow may be reflected nationally a few years later.  That said, Boise State doesn't have the overall talent to match the Trojans, or the Bulldogs---in terms of pure talent.  But Boise is a talented team.  They have a supremely confident and accurate quarterback who has that offense down pat, and he can run a little.  They always have a thousand yard back or a handful of backs who can do just as much damage.  Their linebackers are small but fleet.  They're basically a lite beer version of USC or Tennessee or whoever.

As evidenced in the Orange Bowl and soon to be many games down the road, the high-tech stuff works, and often brilliantly against teams loaded with talent.  Enter Georgia.

In this game, Boise State is more or less going to work Georgia at times, flustering their defense and making them look stupid at times.  But this is football and the game isn't played in a vacuum.  Georgia will make its stops, their coaches are paid well because they are in fact bright coaches and can find ways to make games of ones like this.  But the advantage is all Boise's.

The real questions as to outcome are these---does Georgia have that much more talent than Boise State that it can overwhelm the visiting Broncos?  Along that same vein, is Boise State truly confident it can win this game?  Although we haven't written much about it, the concept of Belief is important for situations like these where brand name teams can sometimes intimidate a superior but lightly regarded foe.  Look at last year's LSU/Oregon State game.  Running a scheme far less sophisticated and also displaying far less confidence, the visiting Beavers let a nice lead slip away to the home Tigers, missing some crucial extra points but also blowing some key plays late in the game.  The Beavers let the crowd take control and their confidence slipped, giving the Tigers the necessary breathing room to escape.

If Boise truly believes it's the better team here, this game will be an annihilation in their favor.

Georgia basically has to follow the LSU model here, and hope that Boise doesn't quite have it all together this early in the season.  That said, compared to Oregon State, the Broncos are a true balanced squad, running and passing the ball with equal effectiveness.

As fans we tend to look at games in a vacuum, using our rudimentary models to explain outcomes.  Team A was more talented than team B, but B was gutty and thus put up a valiant but unfulfilled effort.  Team A's better.  Than kind of linear thinking is what's going to trip up a lot of analysts here.  Every outcome, every game played, has a logical and rational explanation for what happened that becomes all too evident after said game is played, but not so much before it happens.  But the more we know about teams within the less linear models and concepts such as sophistication and style of play, the more these games reveal themselves beforehand.

I'm still relatively new to the above concepts, but I have a firm enough grasp of them to feel fairly confident in what's expressed here.

Here are some other thoughts on the game-

Georgia under coach Mark Richt has never really been exposed to the kind of offense Boise State plays.  Nobody in the SEC plays that kind of ball, not even close.  Florida will sometime towards the end of this season or the beginning of next one, but until then, nope.  The thing about the Boise type, USC type, Utah type offenses is not that they're fancy or high-octane, but that they're effective.  They can do so many things, moving players all over the field, disguising tendencies, and keeping opponents off balance.  It's a hell of a lot to prepare for.

Now, has Boise been adequately been prepared for Georgia's talent?  I'm not sure, but I do know they had a decently talented foe in their last game, a wild 44-40 loss to Louisville.  The Cardinal, one of our Big Six, had two star quarterbacks in Stefan LeFors and Brian Brohm, as well as backs Michael Bush, Eric Shelton and Lionel Gates, plus a fleet group of receivers, and an athletic secondary and group of defensive linemen.  They also crushed Oregon State last year 53-34, a week after they took LSU to the wire.

As for the Georgia offense---despite his acclaim as a quarterback and offensive guru, Mark Richt's only been so-so offensively at Georgia.  His squads have put up decent but unexplosive averages of 27.6PPG, 32.1PPG, 26.5PPG and 27.9PPG.  In four seasons the Bulldogs have cracked the 30 PPG barrier just once!  Yet this outfit is annually regarded as one of the nation's elite offenses.  The talent is there, but the production less so.  But look at Boise State in that same time period; 34.3PPG, 45.6 PPG, 43.0 PPG and 48.9 PPG.  Mind you, many would argue those points came against inferior defensive opposition, but two valid counter-arguments are that their league mates are also more accustomed to facing some kind of sophisticated offense in any given season, thus making them more prepared to face such an offense (yet judging by Boise's totals remaining high, completely incapable of stopping said offense).  The other argument is that regardless of conference, any team that has a truly balanced offense (Hawai'i need not apply) and is putting up those kinds of numbers should reasonably be expected to put up similar totals in any other conference.

That goes back to the style of play argument---what works in one place, can work in another.  Smart offense and smart defenses are exactly that---smart.  They can function reasonably well no matter the opponent or condition.  Norm Chow's offenses still thrived when the BYU Cougars traveled outside the WAC, right?  And they continued to work at NC State and USC.  That's what separates a truly sophisticated offense from a gimmick one, for what it's worth.  Gimmicks are usually too one-dimensional and lack the durability to sustain themselves against sound foes.

One interesting thought came to mind when writing this---Florida's fun n' gun offense was alright on the sophistication scale, but it was also a bit gimmicky.  Yet it worked for well over a decade in the SEC!  So imagine an offense better than that one (such as Boise's), albeit run with a less talented squad.  Boise could very well destroy most of the SEC, if it were a conference member, in theory.

Lastly, there might be something good happening on the other side of the ball for Boise State.  I've been talking this entire time about their offense, but their defense isn't too shabby either.  The last four seasons, the Broncos surrendered 23.3PPG, 18.5 PPG, 17.1 PPG and then 25.7 PPG, all within an offensive conference.  Two years out of four allowing under 20 PPG in the WAC is pretty good if you ask me.  Also, given last year's unusually high total, one can reasonably expect that seasonal output to go down a bit, probably closer to that 20-23 level.  In other words, their defense will have improved upon last year's version.

This is getting lengthy so we'll call it a night for now, hopefully you've enjoyed our take on the sure to be hyped Boise State/Georgia game (Saturday, Sept 3).

***

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Wednesday
Jun222005

Crusade!

I'm in.

Resource favorite HeismanPundit is calling for a college football bloggers' crusade of sorts, against the college football media establishment/MSM.

We're with him on this one.  I don't think HP or myself intends for any French Revolution style guillotinings (is that a word?) or anything like that, but the main point is accountability.  His example about what happened before the Orange Bowl was a personally redeeming moment of sorts knowing beforehand the game's likely outcome and how completely clueless these highly paid and respected pundits were.

If I'm reading him right, with the slate wiped clean, everything from here on out said or written by the prominent writers is fair game and determinant of their standing as either flat earthers, dunderheads, or decent pundits.  This could get ugly.  Everything before is forgotten, what matters is now.

In support of that, HP calls on the bloggers to take a stand and inject their opinions, citing the political bloggers' expertise and stronger credibility in the face of an arrogant and clueless mainstream media (MSM) as evidenced by the half-nelson, purple nurple takedown of CBS News' Dan Rather.

Now, given the widespread diaspora of opinion in the college football blogosphere, this at first seems difficult, but the larger issue is taking to task the baseless and unaccounted for opinions made daily that are heavily influencing the college football public.  In this game truth counts, and so does accountability.  We likey.

Again, HP provides a gentle nudge to the CFB bloggers out there like myself, with a call for bloggers' common sense and critically, an adherance to independent knowledge.

Basically this is what we're supposed to learn in college, the whole independent thought thing, but as reflected in the unanimous d'oh on college football's biggest stage last January, in the idiocy of how the polls work, in what's said on a regular basis on sports radio, in the prominent writers' columns, on GameDay and much, much more, the lesson hasn't sunk in for many of our sport's leading people of influence.

If nothing else, if HP, Resource, and a few of the other bloggers take this to heart, this season could be a significant learning experience for many of us.  I look forward to it.

"Go against the conventional wisdom"

Tuesday
Jun212005

44 blogs later...

Ok so just added 44 blogs to our blogs section, did some re-arranging, and whatnot.

Hopefully your blog is now on there, if not, PLEASE send it to us via email.

To take a look at what's new, I recommend our ridiculously useful "change log" that is currently titled "what's new here" to the menu at left.  Or you can just check it out here.  It basically notes any changes to the website and blog structure here at CollegeFootballResource.com, so if we move things around, add anything, add a new post, edit an old one, remove something or some reader comments appear, it's all documented.  Talk about transparent!

As far as the new blogs, it looks like we added a good mix, although the Michigan and Notre Dame contingents are swelling.  Hopefully we can find some schools to compete with them for overall volume in the college football blogosphere.  It's also heartening to find blogs for Rutgers and other less popular/successful programs.  The little guys need a voice, too!

Tuesday
Jun212005

Brief comments for today

I may be back later with some other ranting, raving essay.  But after two consecutive days of that I'm a bit spent.

'Twas actually a bit surprised there wasn't more reaction to the post below.  I guess my new blog friends are mostly asleep at the wheel or I'm not as ascerbic and controversial as I think, hehe.

To all of the bloggers out there reading this, chances are I've got your blog in the queue and just haven't gotten around to adding you to our blogs list.  There's something like 30 blogs I need to add and maybe I'm just avoiding mind-numbing task of doing that.  But that's what we're here for so you'll be up soon, no worries!

The Resource crew just started looking at its pages and pages of notes and ideas for the website/blog, and after avoiding some kind of panic attack, we realized how far we've come on here in the last six months but also how exciting these next six months will be.  There's a lot more work to be done here, from continuing to build the links sections, to adding some other special features, to really getting down to the nitty gritty of explaining our beliefs and concepts about the game and much more.

It is our belief the next few months are going to be quite special, and as a bonus we've added some blog friends (unlike last year when we flew solo on the old blogger website) to keep us entertained and informed along the way.

That's it for the rambling.  Showtime.

Monday
Jun202005

Some nice things to say about CFN

Be firm with one hand, gentle with the other.  Or something like that.

We don't mean to take shots at the CFN boys.  For a long time they've really been a bright spot on the college football internet landscape.  Having run this website/blog for several months now, I can tell you it is no small task to do what they do at CollegeFootballNews.  Obviously it's a passion of theirs, but to make a website that heavy on content requires a little madness too.  We respect that.

A lot.

Our disagreements are ones of opinion and we approach it as such.  No hard feelings are meant.  But we do take college football seriously over here and have it as part of our mission to change the dialogue some, because right now there are too many oddball opinions emanating from the guys on TV, radio, print and the internet and at some point it might be nice to counter some of the more egregious examples of opinionmakers gone bad.

We are not immune, here at Resource.  We're continually fleshing out out theories and models and adapting to the reality on the field.  But that in and of itself is something we're not sure we see much of from many of the pundits out there, and hopefully a few gentle nudges here or there can get a few more of the opinionmakers out there to be a little more realistic and fair.

In the end, what they say, matters.  When people say the polls are flawed, chances are they're flawed because the voters are too scared to vote against the grain, and accepted opinion.  But when common opinion is wrong, isn't there some kind of obligation to push back and make things right?  We here at Resource think so.

Please don't interpret this to mean we think the CFN guys are all wrong.  Far from the truth.  Quite often we read their pieces and are immensely satisfied with some of the opinions and thought processs revealed.  We're all fans, in the end, and we all love the game.

Monday
Jun202005

Fiutak Unhinged

More madness from CFN, quickly aspiring to become permanent Resource whipping boy if they keep this up...

From yesterday's "Ask CFN"---

  • Which team will be overhyped as the year goes on? It might be a good team, but it’ll have a huge season because of a lousy schedule and really be overrated? - Lee, Miami

A: California … again. The Bears only beat one team of note last year, Arizona State, and they don’t have to face the loaded Sun Devils this season. Your 2005 Cal schedule (be prepared to get honked off SEC fans): Sacramento State, at Washington, Illinois, at New Mexico State, Arizona, at UCLA, Oregon State, Washington State, at Oregon, USC, at Stanford. Obviously the USC game is the big one, but that’s in Berkeley. But the time the November 12 showdown comes around, Cal might be a top four team with inflated stats and too much hype. The only possible blips are at UCLA and at Oregon. Cal is good, but it's top 20 good and not top five good.

Exsqueeze me?

First off, California isn't highly rated this year.  If they somehow finish in the top four at the end of the year, that means that many other teams basically lost a bunch of games while California remained undefeated or with one loss, probably to USC.  I agree Cal's OOC schedule this year (Sacramento State, Illinois, New Mexico State) is ridiculous.  But Pete's Fiutak's setting up some funny straw man here.

So, California's schedule is weak and somehow they'll cruise to #4 or better by getting through the "weak" Pac-10 and having a better record than his SEC superheroes?  Isn't that the same scenario that USC follows every year, according to the SEC apologists?  Basically what is being said is that anyone who plays in a "lesser" conference (read: not Big Twelve or SEC), no matter their schedule, is automatically overrated and gets there with inflated statistics and feasting on weak conference opponents.

Has anyone ever taken a look at how the SEC and Big Twelve build their schedules?  Right off they split the conference into two divisions, allocating a mix of strong and weak teams to each division.  Then each major program (the Nebraskas, Auburns, etc. out there) builds a cupcake highway of light OOCs, for their first three wins, followed by a healthy diet of in-conference never-has-beens such as Baylor, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State, Kansas, teams that have rarely or never won a conference championship and likely never will.  So that usually pushes the win total up, so that the conference big boys have 6-8 automatic wins, unnoticed.  Then in any given year, most divisions have perhaps 1-2 really good teams, and so a so-so Nebraska might win one of those two, say splitting Kansas State and Colorado.  That's 7 wins, and all that's left are two random games against a foe from the other division.

Chances are, for the big program like Nebraska or Tennessee, another easy win or two is in place, since the odds are in favor of drawing the numerically higher weak teams than the numerically lower strong teams.

The end-result, most seasons, is a 12-team conference with four to six teams having nine or ten wins.  It's simple stuff, and because college football fans and pundits aren't paying attention, these conferences, by virtue of having big-name programs and this scheduling scheme, get credited for having six top 25 teams year after year ad nauseum.

As one of my smart football friends said, it's all an algorithm.  The superconferences are at huge built-in advantages and its up to the fans and pundits to sort out whether some of these supposed great teams are really so great or just feasting off a funny schedule gimmick that gives them an automatic 9-10 wins.

One of the lessons we'll be teaching here at Resource as the season rolls along is this---what really matters to be an elite team, is sophistication and style of play.  Look, I worshipped at the altar of talent, team speed, and other measures for a long time.  But I was in the dark.  That's not to say talented teams can't beat sophisticated (we'll define that further as we roll along here) teams, only that sophistication and advanced style of play will win out in general.  It's only in the absence of a sophisticated team (quite often in college football, because many of the good coaches end up in the NFL, plus the college football schedules are much less difficult and rigid) that you have the pure talents winning titles and hovering among the elite.  Think back to 2001.  USC was not quite at its current level that year, and thus the vacuum was created for two majorly talented teams in Ohio State and Miami to play in the Fiesta Bowl.

Now, there is no such opportunity.  If USC falters, it will probably be within its own conference (much similar to what almost happened last year against UCLA and Stanford and Oregon State).  But in USC's absence, we still have sophisticated programs like Louisville, Boise State, Utah and California, and now Florida.  When a supremely talented but low sophistication team goes up against high sophistication, high talent, you get USC 55, Oklahoma 19.  When you face off two highly talented but rudimentary teams you have LSU 21, Oklahoma 14.  When you match up a highly talented, moderately sophisticated team against a low to moderately talented but highly sophisticated team, you get Miami/Louisville from last year.  Roughly.  See how this works?

Not dismissing talent, because it also matters---a lot---but out of nowhere this party of six (USC, Louisville, Boise State, California, Utah, Florida) has appeared on the college football landscape and they will be the ones writing the 2005-2006 script, in all likelihood.

Getting back to Fiutak's response, he used California's loss against Texas Tech as justification for their apparent status as overrated.  That game in fact was a perfect illustration of what we've been talking about.  Texas Tech has been playing one style of ball for about five years, and for a while it was a hit inside the Big Twelve.  Because it was unfamiliar, it tripped up a lot of opponents despite Tech's lower levels of talent and depth.  But as the seasons rolled along, the novelty wore off, because its offense is so gimmicky, and most of the better Big Twelve programs found ways to compensate for it and win games against the Red Raiders.

But, when Tech takes its show on the road, it becomes much more effective.  Most college football teams simply have never faced such an offense, at least regularly.  A good analogy is if you were to be on a basketball team, one that is talented and plays great man defense.  Its a smart man defense, but all you ever play is man defense opponents.  Eventually, you become very sharp against the man and running it, but one day you go up against a lesser talented but ridiculously skilled zone squad.  You get crushed.

That's the concept of familiarity.  California in this case was the man team, and although it could simulate what Tech was doing in practice, there was no real experience against that kind of offense and they got blitzed.

But, if, for example, California had gone up against the Texas longhorns, they very likely would have crushed Texas.  Texas plays in a conference full of teams with finesse offensive lines and low-tech passing offenses (TT's gimmicky offense aside).  Meanwhile, California plays in a conference full of balanced, high-tech pass teams, and itself has a crafty run defense.  California would have been far more familiar with Texas' one-dimensional run attack than Texas with California's varied offense that can both run and pass with all kinds of looks and options.

Now, the real question should be where do we believe Cal will end up this year?  I have a hunch they'll be borderline top 10.  It's a lot to ask to replace an entire defense as well as a superstar quarterback.  Their system remains but a quarterback is critical in making it run and it appears that their two options right now are having some difficulties.  So they are a bit of a paper tiger this year, but there's the potential to be a real tiger if the players are still on board with Tedford's system.  They're probably looking at 1-4 losses, but will continue to be a step above most of the Pac-10 outside of USC and perhaps (this year) Arizona State and Oregon.

Amazingly, there's more, so let's get to it---

  • Outside of your own, which preseason previews do you like the most, and which are the best? If you could only buy one, which would it be? - Joe B.
A: As far as the print annuals, there’s The Sporting News annual, and then there’s everyone else and is the gold standard. Athlon’s isn’t bad. For the first time, I almost bought the Phil Steele mag from my local Barnes & Noble, but I unfocused my eyes while trying to read one of the two-point font previews and freaked out when I saw a pony. Street and Smith’s doesn’t do it for me at all. The problem inherent in the system is that they’re all out of date when you get them since half of the post spring depth charts haven’t even been created yet when all the annuals go to press.

Phil Steele's preseason magazine is the only halfway intelligent one out there with some semblance of a consistent and accurate methodology and one of CFN's lead guys isn't reading it because it hurts his eyes?

  • I am currently deployed in Iraq and have a hard time keeping up with my beloved UGA DAWGS. I have been a die hard fan my whole life. My home base in the states is Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. I live about 30 minutes from Boise. Since Idaho does not have any pro teams all I hear about is how great Boise State is. I have tried to explain to everyone that when the Broncos get into Athens there will be 92,000 SEC fans waiting to greet them. Not quite the blue turf back home. Evan though they do sometimes play Oregon St., Georgia is not Oregon St. I would like to hear what you think about a mid major team experiencing the SEC and all its wonder. If you could also give your predictions and analysis of the game, that would be great. Thanks. – B.J. USAF
A: My normal belief is that if you’re going to pull off an upset, your best chance is to do it in the opener. Without four preseason games like you have in the NFL, a lesser team with a ton of experience can hang with, or beat, a better team if there are kinks to be worked out. However, Georgia is a veteran team and will be jacked up for week one in the D.J. Shockley era and after hearing all off-season about how Boise State is going to come in looking to pull off the upset. Look for the Dawg line to steamroll over the Bronco front seven in a double-digit win. Stay safe!

We agree, stay safe, soldier. But your Dawgs are very likely to go down. Pete actually gets part of this right, openers are great for upsets. Good teams get better as the season rolls along, and are vulnerable early because they're required to do more early on to meet their expectations and ofter suffer early upset losses as a result. Boise State is a good team, and they may take a while to get that offensive machine rolling. Georgia, on the other hand, is a pedestrian team, one that will be about as good during week one as they will during week twelve, relative to someone like Boise. Heresy, we know.

I doubt, at the end of the season, many Georgia fans will be happy with the D.J. Shockley era.

  • I get tired of hearing how weak the Pac-10. Pac-10 teams have been playing SC a lot closer than their non-conference foes the last 3 years. Cal should have beat them the last 2 years, Stanford played them tight, as has UCLA and Oregon State. They shutout Auborn of the mighty SEC, toyed with V-Tech, have routinely destroyed the Fighting Irish, crushed Big-Ten champs Michigan and Iowa, and of course how can you forget their perfomance against the Big 12's untouchable OU. Has anyone considered the Pac-10 does possibly prepare SC for their "easy" non-conference schedule?? – B.A.
A: Take a deep breath, and then take a closer examination of the Pac 10 teams you just reeled off. Cal got pantsed by Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl and didn’t beat anyone all year outside of Arizona State. Stanford was, well, Stanford. Oregon State wasn’t that great, and that game was played in a fog. UCLA lost to Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl. USC hardly toyed with Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame wasn’t that great. As USC has proven, the coaching staff is peerless when given a month to prepare for a bowl. Those close calls last year are a bit disturbing, and can't keep happening. Eventually, the breaks go the other way.
Did you know Stanford has won the Pac-10 crown recently in football? Now they're at the bottom. But cellar-dwellar Oregon State is now near the top. Elite conferences are like that, their best teams more or less change over a period of time. Of course you are going to have cupcakes, but every team is capable of winning the crown any given year. We see a little of this in the Big Ten, also, with Northwestern winning sometimes, as well as Iowa. So when someone says Stanford's Stanford... well Stanford has been in some Rose Bowls recently. When was the last time Vanderbilt went to a BCS bowl? Or Kentucky? How about Baylor?

I hate to seem like a Pac-10 apologist, but it really gets an undeserving horrible rap. Conference strength waxes and wanes every year within each conference. But because of the superconference setups and this weird anti-west perception, combined with the rabid enthusiasm of the sport's fans in the south, the Pac-10 earns pinata status. But in reality it is a conference of coaches, of fairly decent athletes and sophisticated offenses and defenses that have held their own on a national setting year after year.

Its time we get realistic and address some of the faulty perceptions of every conference, as well as the false glorifications of two in particular. Nobody's arguing the Pac-10 is the nation's elite conference, but it's by no means a whipping boy, and in reality conference performances are very much determined by style of play and familiarity.
Sunday
Jun192005

Why I'm not bothered by the BCS

I've always remained pretty quiet when hanging around college football fans who target their anger towards the BCS.  Part of that's just me, I tend to not really say much when I don't really care much for the argument.  Part of it's because I have an opinion very much different from the more outspoken fans.

That opinion is that I like college football's status quo.  In fact, I preferred its antebellum days, when we went with the two polls---Associated Press and Coaches---to determine team rankings and bowl matchups.  In most years, the poll outcomes were never in much dispute, harmonious and not worth any kind of fuss.

Obviously, times changed and with the game's continued growth, the money men of the sport took advantage of fan frustration at a few messy poll outcomes and crafted the Bowl Alliance and later the Bowl Championship Series.  It was a halfway measure meant to quell the masses while creating cash-cow megabowls.

Such a system, by its nature a compromise, isn't exactly anything to be excited about, but it's made for some major end-of-year matchups that we might not have otherwise seen.

Some of the real problems rest in the creation of so many bowl games.  Around half of the teams in D-1 are now playing in some kind of end-of-year bowl, which combined with the prominence of the Big Four (Rose, Orange, Fiesta, Sugar) bowls, has diminished the value of some of the game's more established and celebrated games like the Cotton and Gator bowls.  I'm very much in favor of bowl games, but they become a lot more valuable if there are less of them being played and thus better teams and better matchups are played within them.

My argument has always sided towards remaining with the bowl games.  The bowls are such a fascinating and unique tradition, often pairing unlikely opponents that test fans' beliefs in their team/conference/regional superiority.  And it creates great travel opportunities for the players and fans.  I love them, and they're what make college football so great, because the tradition aspect is what really separates college football from all other sports on the American landscape.  It's why you're here, in some aspect, reading this website.  You root for some school and are loyal to it not just because you were born into it, but because you believe in its mythology, its symbolism, its victory over bitter rivals, and because the wider game itself has some kind of appeal.

That's the draw of tradition.  The bowls are, in my heart and mind, a permanent feature of that tradition.  Without the bowls, the college game loses so much of its appeal.

So when I hear people argue for some kind of a playoff, I cringe and wonder if maybe we're getting away from the real purpose of the game.  College football, bless its soul, has a ridiculously brief season, usually 11 games and if a team's lucky, a 12th game in some kind of bowl.  The weeks approach and pass in furious order.  But what's great about the season is that because there are so few games and such a great bowl reward potential at the end, that literally every week matters.  There is such tension and drama in the week-to-week happenings all across America.  No other sport has that aspect.

Creating some kind of playoff, to myself and in the long run a lot of fans, would kill so much of the game's appeal.  Perhaps we're all being a bit short-sighted here in our quest to reach some kind of "final" outcome.  Again, I've always enjoyed the frustration of things like split national championships.  It's fun to see disparate fan bases argue until the cows come home about who really was the best.  That's part of what keeps us watching the games.  We need the uncertainty.  It's in this imperfection that college football has attained such a nirvana-like appeal to so many fans.  And now many of us want to tinker with that.

Now, some have said that the playoff could function within the bowl setup.  I say hogwash.  Fans would see right through that as some kind of diminishment of the bowls.  Imagine the first round of the playoffs somehow being an "Holiday Bowl" and "Gator Bowl" for the rights to play the next round in the Rose Bowl or Fiesta Bowl or what have you.  How bizarre is that?  To me that looks like chaos and an unnecessary change to how college football has always been run.

So, having a choice between what looks like an unnecessary and diminishing future option and the curent tangled, confusing and perhaps unfair but intriguing system, I choose the former.

Long live the bowls.

Saturday
Jun182005

Pink Panty Pulldowns and Pocket Shots

Good lord do I love college football.  Especially intriguing is the game-day experience (on those weekends I'm not glued to the television at home), with all the tailgating, hob-nobbing, eating and drinking.  But sometimes the fun continues into the stadium.

Here's another excerpt from Warren St. John's RammerJammerYellowHammer, with discussion to follow:

One of the persistent problems facing students at the University of Alabama is figuring out how to smuggle booze into the stadium on game day. They are frisked at the gate and, once inside, monitored by campus police. Getting busted means being thrown out and possibly suspended-a minor threat when weighed against the punishment of missing the final quarters of a close game.

But even so, there is something about the problem of smuggling booze that miraculously imbues the most dim-witted fraternity yahoo with the design genius of a NASA engineer. The most popular solution is to rig booze-filled collapsible plastic bladders beneath the clothes. Local outdoor stores sell them to campers and survivalists---besides being useful on game day, they're apparently handy for the Armageddon.

Usually the bladders are place in the seat of the pants or else around the torse---even beneath the probing fingers of a gate attendant, they feel like genuine sophomore beer bellies. But the safest technique of all is to hide the things inside a date's brassiere, though that poses another risk---getting your date arrested. And yet given the alternative---a football game with no booze---there are plenty in the southeast corner of the end zone who are willing to try.

Whiskey is the drink of choice---it mixes well with coke, if it's mixed at all. Occasionally sorority girls will mix up a batch of drinks for themselves---a mixture of vodka, gin, and pink lemonade called a Pink Panty Pulldown. If you train your binoculars on the student section in the first quarter, you can see them reaching into their necklines for their stash.


Been there, done that.  One of the newer contraptions for funneling booze is the Pocket Shot.  See their website here.  It's basically a durable plastic package containing a single shot of various liquors.  Last year I know they had rum and vodka, but it appears they're now making some mixers (kamikaze, lemon drop, sour apple and purple hooter).  If sneaking booze into games is your kind of thing, be sure to place a few orders.
Friday
Jun172005

Pardon The Dust

Just doing some re-arranging around here.  Things might be a bit out of place as we get ergonomic on you.  Nothing to fear.


Friday
Jun172005

Gotta Love College Football

You don't see this with baseball fans, or basketball fans.

I'm trying to finish RammerJammerYellowHammer this weekend, and came across this gem---

"There's one more stop before kickoff---the Bear Bryant namesake reunion at the Bryant Museum. The namesake reunion is exactly what it sounds like---a gathering of people named after Paul William "Bear" Bryant. The museum keeps a registry of such people---they fill out a form headed "I was named for Coach Bryant"and are invited once a year to a pregame barbecue at the museum.
The list is, of course, voluntary and only modestly publicized, so it can't account for everyone named after the Bear---or those who'd been named Paul, Bryant, or Bear for reasons that remain a mystery even to me. But these limitations notwithstanding, the current tally of registered Bear Bryant namesakes stands just shy of six hundred.