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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Maryland State?

I stuck around after work today and played around on Photoshop a little bit (full disclosure: I was actually working on stuff for the wedding). This is what happens when a one-track mind plays around on the 'shop for a bit.

 So let me start by pointing out that I love both of my alma maters damn near unconditionally, for all their faults--name being one of them. Sure, South Florida is in West-Central Florida, and sure, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is the only non-community college in the country to have "county" in its name, but I love them anyway.

That said, let's, for shits and/or giggles, entertain for a moment the thought of my four letter alma mater in suburban Baltimore considering a name change. A fitting name would clearly vault it from its subordinate-to-the-flagship regional moniker. What would put it right up there? Maryland Tech? Sure, there may be some truth to it, but we want to keep the beloved humanities and arts folks happy, so let's go in a different direction. Maryland State University.

Aha! Now we're combatting one of the limitations I mentioned before--not having a power letter. Now State can wear their S proudly. And the use of the Maryland flag I've been talking about? I've got you covered there as well--at least the Calvert portion, which is more closely tied to Baltimore, and, more importantly, black and gold. Behold: Maryland State!

With all respect due to Stanford, whose logo I jacked wholesale.

So there you have it. I'm not saying a change is going to come. I'm not even saying I want a change to come. But should it come, we'll be ready.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Audio blog

Sidelined with an eye issue, I figured I'd go multimedia and go an audio blog post. Click here to give it a listen!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

No Thanks, we're mad enough already

All season, and particularly as the NCAA Tournament looms ahead, there have been talks about expanding the field of the tournament. Some say 68--rounding out to four play-in games--while other are saying jumping to 96 teams is the way to go. I could be amenable to the former; to the latter, I say no, no, and hell no.

While the real impetus is clearly money, the stated justification behind expanding the field is that there are deserving teams that aren't given the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament. I call shenanigans. Currently, there are 347 D-I schools. Right now, 314 of those have a legitimate play-in opportunity through a conference tournament. 20 of the 31 auto-qualifying conferences send all of their teams to the conference tournament (the Great West doesn't get an auto-bid, leaving its teams to fend for themselves) and even in the most restrictive conference tournaments, at least the top 2/3 of conference teams head to the postseason. What this says to me is that no one deserving a shot is denied access to one; winning a conference tournament is an automatic ticket in. If you want to look at teams trying to take advantage of this opportunity, note that as I write this, the bottom two seeds in the ACC tournament--the 11th and 12th best teams in the conference--are still alive in the semifinals.

Should the field expand, I fear that the emphasis won't be placed in ensuring a second team from America East or SoCon, but rather an 8th, 9th, or 10th team from the Big East or ACC. Let's take a look at last year's NIT, probably the best predictor of who those next 32 teams would be. Fifteen of them were Big Six conference schools, while an additional five were from the A-10 and Mountain West, both of which were multi-bid leagues in the NCAA tournament last year. Another five got automatic bids to the NIT by winning their regular season conference championship but failing to win their tournament, leaving just seven spots for the "little guys" who didn't otherwise earn it.

Would there be more possibilities for thrilling upsets? Probably. But you've got that with #11 NC State taking out #3 FSU, or #8 Georgetown knocking off #1 Syracuse. Leave that to the conference tournament and keep the NCAA Tournament--the most wonderful time of the year--as it is.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Miss Independent

As expansion speculation continues, the one school that would clearly be a coup for whoever they would have is Notre Dame. The Irish, of course, remain an independent which is a juggernaut in terms of history, following, and perceived prestige, if not actual on-field performance. The most logical fit and most persistent suitor is the Big Ten, currently looking to expand from 11 to 12 and add a championship game.

Recently, the good folks at Notre Dame, while stressing they would prefer to remain independent forever and ever, sang a slightly different tune. Conference of Notre Dame commissioner ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said, "...if there are fundamental changes to the Big East as a result of realignment, what does that do? What if a few conferences further distinguish themselves from the field? What are the competitive ramifications of that?" It's a particularly curious statement because it would seem to me there is is only one such "fundamental change" the Big East could make that would change Notre Dame's position. And that change would be to issue an ultimatum: Buy in with all sports, or get out.

There are some that say that would be a crazy proposition. But is it, really? The common belief is that Notre Dame is a big enough gravy train in all sports and the Big East would be foolish to lose the association. But the fact is, while Notre Dame certainly has a following all around, the big business is in Notre Dame football, which the Big East currently gets no piece of. So who really benefits more from the current situation more, the Big East, or Notre Dame?

The assumption is that if the Big East ever did issue such an ultimatum, Notre Dame would chunk the deuces and go independent in all sports. But consider this: Notre Dame football is already a well-established independent, and standing annual rivalries and a storied past make it easy to round out the rest of a twelve game football schedule. But what about scheduling a 22 game basketball schedule on your own? What about non-revenue sports? Inability to schedule tough already scared Notre Dame lacrosse this past year, who, despite going undefeated, nearly went unseeded in the NCAA tournament due to a weak schedule, and that was in a conference--the Great Western Lacrosse League. The Irish should be thanking their lucky stars that Big East lacrosse now gives them annual shots at the likes of Syracuse and Georgetown.

I'm not saying it's a gimme for the Big East. Should they make such a demand, they better be prepared to follow through. But should they lose Notre Dame, the opportunity arises for an additional all-sports member, which would mean a 16th basketball school and a 9th football team, an expansion the league needs to make. Getting the Irish to join up, of course, would warrant the same thing. And should they walk and join the Big Ten, that conference is at its desired 12, which will hopefully provide the Big East some protection against the feared raid. Big East: Say the words and put the ball in their court.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

And it is done

As I threatened before, I have joined Twitter. Not me, per se, but this blog. Because sometimes, I only need 140 characters.

Check me out:

Monday, March 8, 2010

The problem with lacrosse

When I frequent lacrosse sites--mostly those affiliated with Inside Lacrosse--I notice one thing that many of the commenters have in common. It is indicative of what I think may be one of the primary issues with lacrosse.

You know who watches lacrosse? Lacrosse players.

While I've got the perception that this is an issue, I'm not entirely sure I can articulate why, but I'll give it a shot. I think it makes the sport look overly technical--that is, the only way to understand it is to have played it, though in my experience that's not the case at all. I also think that because lacrosse is overwhelmingly played by upper-middle and upper class folks (especially outside of the hotbed areas, where more people have had the opportunity to hold a stick), the fact that it is followed by many of those same people makes the sport seem elitist.

Finally, it's been my experience that laxers have a bit of a spring sport inferiority complex. Whenever attacked, lacrosse players/fans will point out that lacrosse is a better sport than baseball. This is actually a fact with which I agree, but you're not going to win any friends coming at the neck of America's Pastime.


 After posts and posts and posts obsessing over UMBC's impending logo change... I'm still not done. I've said my say, ad nauseam, in fact, but I figured I'd put my money where my mouth is and give a shot at what I think I'd rather see. I've gotten beyond the fact that change is occurring and embraced that it could be a great opportunity. So below, here are a couple of thoughts of what I'd rather see. 
My main issue with the logo presented is that it de-emphasizes gold as one of our colors. With Towson, whose colors are black, gold, and white, just a couple of clicks around the Beltway form UMBC, I think utilizing the gold as more of a primary color helps distinguish us. "Recent Trends in Mascot Logo Design", which was a reference page when the school rolled out the logo choices, notes the trend of double-stroked text used; i kept this element, but instead utilized the white as the inner stroke, keeping the emphasis on the black and gold. 

The issue run into with that design, however, is the use of a gold dog. Yes, we are the Retrievers, and yes our colors are black and gold, but we are not golden retrievers. It's a mistake that already gets made, and by making our Chesapeake Bay retriever gold it only lends to that misconception. The same publication referenced above also notes the use of proper mascots instead of relying on the school colors. Using that model, here's the mockup using the brown dog, but still emphasizing the gold in the lettering.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Murderer's Row

I understand that in any collegiate sports, strength of schedule is a virtue, but damned if UMBC lacrosse doesn't have a murderer's row coming up. In the week to come, we've got #3 Carolina at home, we go across town on Tuesday night to play #5 Hopkins, and then get on the road to Jersey to play #6 Princeton. Add to that the following Saturday when the #7 Terps come to town, and that's four top 10 teams in about 2 weeks' time.

What gets me the most about this is Hopkins on a Tuesday night, a game typically falls on a weeknight. I understand why it's done--traveling across town on a weeknight is a lot more feasible than any team taking a more significant road trip mid-week. But I also think it puts the Dawgs at a disadvantage, one they've never overcome. I don't think I lose my Alumni Association membership by being honest and acknowledging that Hopkins--one of the winningest teams in college lacrosse--is a better team than we are. That said, Coach Zim can flat-out coach, and winning when we are overmatched has happened before. But, of course, with only three days of preparation before Hopkins on a Tuesday night, there's not nearly the time to game plan for them, and unsurprisingly, we've always ended up on the losing end of the exchange.

I'm also not particularly looking forward to having to face the Terps on the back end of that series. I've come to relish taking out the Terps, as we have the past three years, but that game is certainly not ideally positioned for success in the schedule this year.

We've got a bye following Turtle week, and then Stony Brook comes to town. While the bulk of our strength of schedule comes from the out-of-conference games, Stone Brook is currently ranked right below us, at #20, and is the team most expect to challenge for the AE throne this year. That matchup should certainly let both teams know where they stand. We then cross town again to play Baltimore's wrong black and gold before finishing out our AE slate. It's quite an outlook overall, but here's hoping that it'll prep us well should we head to the NCAA tourney again.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't let the door hit you...

So the latest rumor on the block is that Rutgers is looking good for the Big Ten. I realize that the modus operandi for the predictions on Big Ten expansion is to throw every turd possible at the wall and see what sticks, so I'm not putting too much stock in this, but it is understandable that the NY media market is desirable. Add that to the fact that Rutgers isn't likely to turn down a change for anything soft like "loyalty", and who knows, it could happen. While I don't want to see the Big East get jacked again, I think that of all the potential considerations, I'd miss Rutgers the least.

It's not simply because I can't stand the Scarlet Knights. It's mostly because I think any of the other teams that could potentially be courted would hurt a lot more. Syracuse, the other consideration for the New York market, while not a huge loss in football, would be quite detrimental for basketball and lacrosse. West Virginia, of course has often been the banner-carrier for football. And Pitt? They've at least got some history and tradition on their side, as well as the rivalry with WVU.

What would we lose with Rutgers? One thing in particular comes to mind. The chance to beat them every year. It is, of course, recent records that leave me bitter, but I want to beat them so bad that every Scarlet Knights who ever suited up since the very first football game--which they will remind you ad nauseam they played in--feels it. But beyond that, other than the depleted number, I can't say I'd be particularly sad to see them go.

In fact, there is even a benefit I could see to losing them. Rutgers to the Big Ten means that Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers would all be Big Ten members who play lacrosse. If you ask the folks at the ACC, you really only need four teams to be a conference. Perhaps two-time MCLA champion Michigan would see fit to put a ring on it and go varsity, especially if the increased revenue that's the reason the Big Ten is expanding in the first place may make it possible to add both that and an additional women's sport to remain Title IX compliant.

So like everyone else, I don't know what the future holds. But if they come calling for Rutgers, don't expect me to protest too much.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't normally do this, but...

It's not often I repost just for the sake of reposting, with no additional commentary or spin, but this one speaks for itself.

This here? Hilarious.

Senior Night

Last night, UNCG honored the men who were playing their last home game as Spartans. It just so happened to be a night that I made it to the Coliseum early, and I caught the celebration of those six players in front of a sadly mostly empty arena. I was pleased, though, that the celebration did not end with the senior basketball players. Immediately following, the senior members of the pep band, cheerleading squad, and dance team were also invited to center court to celebrate their years of service.

Senior night--even before I realized they were going to honor the pep band as well--took me back to my final home game behind the drumset at UMBC. It was the end of a four year period--longer, even, than my time with the Alexis I. duPont High School Tiger Marching Band--of engagement and leadership that was a huge part of my undergraduate career. It was tough when undergrad came to an end and I finally had to give up that key.

As fate would have it, towards the end of that last home game, I broke our bass drum head. Don't know how, I was just playing and boom. Kick pedal straight through it. Admittedly, it felt incredibly badass.  And in TO fashion, I signed it and hung it in the pep band room (read: storage closet) and if theol' unit has any sense of history, it still exists somewhere.
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