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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Complete Me

Earlier today TCU accepted a bid to join the Big East conference in all sports starting in 2012. As you know if you read this blog, know me from elsewhere on the internet, or know me in real life, this garnered a resounding cheer from me; I've been backing this move since any talk of conference shakeup began.

In an article written earlier today, Ivan Maisel, one of my favorite sportswriters and columnists, referred to this recent union as a shotgun wedding. With all due respect, I think there are other analogies I'd draw up before that one. Perhaps it's the case of a hot young woman marrying an old codger for money. Perhaps it's marrying the Russian tycoon in exchange for a green card. But make no mistake, it wasn't an outside force like a daddy wielding a shotgun or a state legislature forcing a game or a school's vote for expansion. Both sides knew exactly what they were getting from the deal and entered into it knowingly. As uttered in Jerry Maguire, the Big East said to TCU: You complete me.

I'm sure the fact that TCU is likely to be on the outside looking in at the national championship game helped make the decision, though it's worth noting that in this exact same situation, a Big East TCU squad would likely be in a similar situation. The fact that the Big East is sweating bullets as the latest assessment of BCS auto-bids didn't hurt either. But each has something the other wants. For TCU, it means that they can lose a game, maybe even a couple, and make it into the BCS as a conference champion. It means membership in a club they've had to work their asses off just to caddy for. And, of course, it means lots and lots of cash, and I'm sure that stadium renovation isn't cheap. For the Big East, it means balanced football scheduling. It means adding a proven winner. It means a huge media market and Texas recruiting. And it could very well save the Big East, as TCU's stats will come with them, making a poor conference look a good deal better, and most importantly, head and shoulders above the Mountain West--the conference that TCU is leaving--who will gain Boise State but will also lose Utah and BYU.

While there is no deep shared history, TCU will reunite with some if its old bandmates: The Horned Frogs used to share the stage with Cincinnati, Louisville, and USF when they were all members of Conference USA together. So as a USF alum, I certainly welcome them and look forward to competing with them again.

No one's saying the marriage will be all bliss. TCU has to deal with bringing their subpar basketball program into one of the strongest conferences. The Big East has to deal with scheduling an unwieldy 17 team conference. But in terms of being mutually beneficial, this union is that, in spades.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This and That

This is one of those posts where I touch briefly on a few things I meant to write about but haven't found the time, or that I started but didn't complete.

First of all, those of you who faithfully follow the High Notes series realize I'm a couple of weeks off. Sadly, while I'd love for it to be the case, I can't devote every Saturday to sitting on my ass in front of a screen. Last weekend, it was the Carolina Renaissance Festival with my wife, and due to an event yesterday, the only game I caught was USF-Pitt, and I'm sorry, Herd of Thunder, but from what I heard, you weren't worthy of High Notes recognition this week.

Speaking of the Herd of Thunder, I'd like to go on record as saying that I do NOT like the replacement of the bridge of March Victorious with the First Down cheer.

I was prepared to start this week talking about how I had 3 teams in the NCAA men's soccer tournament. Each of them played Wednesday, however, and only UMBC remains. USF fell to UCF (boo) and UNCG fell at Georgetown. UMBC advanced past Princeton and faces William and Mary in a match to start in about 20 minutes. Let's get 'em, Dawgs!

And finally, basketball season is upon is. I am once again a season ticket holder here at UNCG, so I've seen the Spartans play the Seminoles and the Hokies thus far, both losses.That said, big ups to the Vu lounge at the Coliseum; with two Sunday games in a row, it has allowed me to watch football while I watch the home team in hoops.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monkeys Off Our Back

I'm sure each USF blogger worth their salt has already hit upon this, but as an alum, I feel the need to hit upon it myself. This year, despite a rocky start that included a homecoming loss to Syracuse, USF managed to get three major monkeys off our back this football season. We first beat Cincinnati; although they are having a down year, they are the defending conference champions and had previously bested four years in a row and five of the last six. The next dragon to slay was, ironically, the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers was a similar thorn in our side, beating us four consecutive times--all but our first matchup--and with a history including such nonsense as "illegal forward propulsion", knocking us from #2, and this mess. And finally, we beat Louisville at their place. Along with Cincy, Louisville is one of our oldest opponents, and in an interesting history, neither of us had gotten an away win in our series until this year, where we got an overtime win in the Pizza Palace. 

The future is bright for the Bulls. The conference championship is still within reach, and barring that, we're bowl-eligible, which could mean Orlando, Birmingham, St. Pete, or my personal selfish hope, Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


itty bitty living space

Yes, that was an Aladdin reference, and I made it for a reason. All too often, when discussing the power schools from non-auto-qualifying conferences like Boise State or TCU, one uses the flawed argument, " If they played in the SEC, they've have multiple losses by now!" Yeah, and if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle. It's the reverse of Jafar wishing to be a genie  and having to take the shackles that go along with it: Those who make this claim instead want to attribute the shackles of the power conference's tougher schedule without affording the school the great cosmic power that comes from being in such a conference. The statement may be accurate if you were to drop the 2010 Boise State Broncos into the 2010 SEC (and quite frankly, I'm not even thoroughly convinced of that) but if Boise State were in the SEC, they'd also have access to the resources, budgets, etc. that current members of the SEC enjoy. If you consider that they are doing what they're doing now with WAC resources (double entendre noted) imagine what they'd do with SEC loot!

In related double standards, some folks are choosing to get on their high horse about definitions as they relate to athletic conferences. With recent talk of TCU potentially joining the Big East (for the record, my oft-stated opinion of this is YES YES THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN YESTERDAY) Some scoff at the liberal interpretation of "East" Oh yeah? Consider:
-The Big Ten has 11 and soon 12 teams
-The Big XII will soon have ten teams
-The SEC and Pac-10 reportedly both considered Texas schools. Texas is neither in the Southeast nor does it touch the Pacific
-The Pac-12 will contain Colorado and Utah, and already contains Arizona schools, all landlocked states
-Outside the BCS: Some of the Atlantic 10's 14 schools are quite a ways from the Atlantic; one even lies across the Mississippi!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where's Brooklyn At?

--or-- My opinion on matters that are none of my damn business

With the New Jersey Nets preparing to make the move to Brooklyn, the prevailing sentiment is that there will be a name change and a rebranding. The internet is abuzz with ideas, and I have a few of my own, despite having no connection whatsoever to the franchise or its current or future home.

If Sacramento didn't already have the nickname, I'd say the obvious name change would be the Brooklyn Kings. This works on multiple levels. The borough of Brooklyn is coterminous with Kings County, and the team could easily use a BK logo--BK being the common abbreviation for Brooklyn--with a crown. Barring that, Brooklyn Knights, which is already used for a minor league soccer team, would work.

But my personal favorite is the Brooklyn Bridgemen. The Brooklyn Bridge is a major landmark of the borough, and the drum corps fan in me appreciates the nod to the Bayonne Bridgemen who, like the team currently known as the Nets, hail from New Jersey.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Broncos--Buster, or busted?

I'm writing this in direct response to my boy B. Joyce of Big Blue Homer. In this post, he claims that an undefeated Boise State is still less deserving of a berth in the national championship game than a one loss team--Alabama--who plays in the Strongest Ever Conference. I respectfully disagree. And here's why.

First off, let me lay out the methodology here: I'm doing just what Brian did and laying this out at Boise State vs. Alabama. In other words, if one national championship spot is sewn up--let's say, for the sake of argument, by Oregon--who deserves the second, an undefeated Boise State, or a Bama squad with one loss? If I had a vote to cast, it would be with Boise State.

Yes, the SEC is better than the WAC. Yes, Bama plays a far superior schedule. But X-0  > X-1. And once you've lost a game, you have no unalienable right to play for a national championship, not when there are undefeated teams still around. Proponents of the BCS will without fail parrot the following platitudes: Every game matters! The entire season is exciting! Who needs a playoff? The whole season is a playoff! It is for that very rationale, the tenet upon which a flawed system is based, that an undefeated Boise State MUST go to the MNC game over a one-loss Bama. You can't tout the all-season playoff nature of the system without then accepting that same reality when it could stand to harm one of your blue bloods.

While I know all teams are supposed to be judged on the merit of the year at hand, that simply isn't the case in college football. A team's performance in previous years factors into their rankings and thus their potential aptitude in any given year. The Boise State Broncos are in the middle of their third consecutive undefeated regular season. This has warranted a preseason top 3/top 5 ranking, the latter of which is in the Coaches Poll, a factor in the BCS. What's more, each of the teams ahead of them in each poll has lost. This inertia should mean something, as it has for every other team in that position. That it should not happen for Boise State--after not just one but multiple successful seasons--is indicative of the glass ceiling that non-AQs face. If this continued excellence can't earn them a spot in the title game, what can?

Finally--and I hate that the system we have forces me to do this--but if Boise State were in certain other conferences, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I am an alumnus of a Big East program, and I love the conference for as long as they are my conference (or are a conference...). But the fact of the matter is, if this were an undefeated Big East school, there'd be some scuttlebutt, but not nearly as much, and quite frankly, you'd have to work pretty hard to convince me that this year's iteration of the Big East is qualitatively better than the WAC. And while we're focusing on Boise State, I'd remind folks that fellow non-AQ (and hopefully future Big East member *ahem*) TCU is sitting pretty high in the polls as well, and quite frankly would be even more deserving of the spot should they remain undefeated.

Boise State has defeated all comers for years,  scheduled as tough as is within their power (I'd love to see the power schools that have ducked them) and done everything possible to earn a spot in the MNC game, should they be the only or one of only two undefeated schools. What more do you want?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

High Notes, Week 9

High Notes is a weekly topic dedicated to recognizing a collegiate marching band who had a notable performance in the week of college football.

This weekend of football didn't excite me a whole bunch. USF had a bye, and on the pro side of things, both the Eagles and Ravens did as well. That said, what this meant was that I didn't have one game to which I was tied, so I got to get at least a sample of quite a few bands. 

One game kept my attention, not for the football, but for the band, and it is that band that gets my recognition in Week 9. Auburn University's Marching Band was putting in work at an equal or greater rate to their undefeated football. With little exception, SEC bands don't do it much for me, but Auburn just became one of my exceptions. That begs the question: With a high-performing band and an undefeated team, might Auburn put the best combo out on Saturdays?

Programming note: I may miss a Week 10 update as well. My wife and I are traveling up to Slower Lower Delaware for Punkin Chunkin!
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