Friday, January 29

The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: 30-21.

(Previously: #s 50 through 41 and 40 through 31.)

30. Thom Brennaman
Charges: When people breathe audible sighs of relief upon hearing that Fox's BCS contract expired following the 2009 bowl season, their primary reason for doing so is Brennaman, who has come to symbolize everything that is lame and tone-deaf about Fox's college-football coverage. Brennaman's almost willful ignorance of the CFB landscape is off-putting enough, but he's now besmirched two straight bowl seasons with a cloying adulation for Tim Tebow that borders on the homoerotic. Over the course of his sportscasting career, he's arguably spent more time intimately acquainting his tongue with the intricacies of Tebow's perineum (go look it up) than keeping tabs on which down it is. When Brian Billick dared to cast doubt on Tebow's NFL prospects during this past season's Sugar Bowl, the audible indignation in Brennaman's voice would've been deemed overwrought and unprofessional even by most of the 14-year-old girls you've come across.
Exhibit A: "If you're fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it."
Sentence: Circumcised with a rusty corkscrew in the worst hospital in Manila.

29. PlayoffPAC
Charges: Stipulated: The BCS sucks. Selecting the national-title-game participants through an impenetrable stew of computer formulas and decimal points makes about as much sense as electing a president via a punt, pass and kick contest. But setting up a PAC with the express purpose of getting the government involved takes things to a whole new level. Seriously, you want this gang of one-car-funeral-fucker-uppers having a say in how crystal footballs are handed out? Seriously? Given the degree to which federal response to pressing issues is infarcted by the mouth-breathers in Congress, what we'll end up with is a setup whereby at least one team from every state has to receive at least partial credit for having earned a national title, and that'll get blown up once a Congressman from one of the larger red states determines that based on population and total federal grants to public universities, his state actually deserves two. If you can't pick this out as a clear-cut gridiron version of Animal Farm waiting to happen, you need to put down the channel-changer and trade in your football fandom for something a little less challenging, like Candy Land.
Exhibit A: I'm getting e-mail spam from them despite never even having visited their Web site.
Sentence: Time-warped back to 1860 and ordered to come up with a solution to the free state/slave state conundrum on penalty of death by firing squad.

28. Orrin Hatch
Charges: PlayoffPAC may be a horrendously ill-conceived waste of time, but at least it's just a bunch of private citizens with nothing better to do. Hatch, however, is a United States senator, which means we pay him nearly two hundred thousand dollars a year to have something better to do -- yet in spite of a lingering recession, unemployment level bumping up against 10 percent, and ongoing major military operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he still saw fit to spend Congress's time last summer on hearings concerning the "legality" of the BCS. (The fact that all three DI-A programs in his state are from mid-major conferences? Oh, just one of those crazy coincidences, I'm sure.) From there, it's really not that big a leap to foresee Hatch demanding a special prosecutor to find out whether his next-door neighbor has been allowing his shar-pei to poop in Hatch's rose garden.
Exhibit A: Just 15 days after his BCS hearings began, Hatch pulled out of negotiations over the health-care reform bill. Wasn't worth his time, I guess.
Sentence: Flayed alive at halftime at the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, with his skin being turned into a tent for still-homeless Haitian earthquake victims.

27. Steve Spurrier
Charges: It's always hard to see a legend fall -- except when the legend is Steve Spurrier, who spent the entirety of the 1990s getting his jollies via the gratuitous humiliation of opponents but has since been left to stew at South Carolina, a program that couldn't win an SEC championship if you spotted them Alabama's roster and Ole Miss's schedule. Despite not having achieved anything more notable in Columbia than eight wins and a Liberty Bowl title, Spur Dog continues to cling to Uncle Rico-like delusions that he can cap off his career with a stunning resurrection story, but every year he continues to hold the Gamecocks in thrall to his fading legacy is another year they miss out on hiring an innovative Muschampesque up-and-comer whose game plan dares to venture beyond "Fuck the offensive line, we'll just throw it 40 times a game and everything will work itself out." Would clearly rather be hitting the links at Augusta National on Saturdays, which if that's the case he should just quit now and stop dragging down the SEC's bowl record.
Exhibit A: After getting beaten by two touchdowns, by the fourth-place team in the Big East, in the Bowl, Spurrier said, "We've got to somehow learn how to practice a month before the game better."
Sentence: Forced to serve as the live donor for Urban Meyer's inevitable heart transplant.

26. Nu'Keese Richardson
Charges: As the focal point of one of the biggest brouhahas of last year's signing day -- Richardson was the recruit Lane Kiffin insisted Urban Meyer had "cheated" in contacting and still hadn't been able to land -- one could be forgiven for assuming Richardson might perceive an extra incentive to keep his nose clean in Knoxville. Evidently he did not. On the morning of November 12, Richardson and two other Tennessee football players were arrested for robbing someone at a Pilot convenience store near campus. With what turned out to be a pellet gun. "Nuke" was promptly booted off the team, his Vol career totaling all of 160 yards from scrimmage (the vast majority of which were earned against Western Kentucky and Memphis). Last seen attempting to resurrect his stillborn career at Hampton University, which with any luck offers a course in remedial common sense.
Exhibit A: After finding that their intended victim didn't have any cash on him, Richardson and his co-conspirators fled -- in a Prius -- but were stopped on their way home. Right outside the UT athletic dorm.
Sentence: The same as whatever he'd get in Tennessee for armed robbery, only it has to be served in the Michael Vick suite at Leavenworth.

25. Gregg Doyel
Charges: A pencil-necked, Mencken-wannabe misanthrope who ratchets up the cranky, constantly disgusted negativity of John Feinstein while stripping out any of Feinstein's maturity or sense of propriety, Doyel's every written word drips with bilious contempt. Not once has the columnist ever offered any shred of evidence that there's anything about college football he actually likes; instead, his every utterance is a caustic diatribe against a coach, team, player, or entire fan base that has failed to live up to his arbitrary standards of awesomeness. Doyel steadfastly refuses to demonstrate any tactical insight or statistical mastery, nor a desire to inform or even show a modicum of empathy with the fans for whom he's supposedly writing. It's just all acid, all the time, as if his regular column existed solely for him to demonstrate how cleverly he can piss people off in print. And there's just no place in the blogosphere for showoffs like that.
Exhibit A: His column lambasting Tim Tebow for his anti-abortion Super Bowl ad was so acerbic that the pro-choice football fans I know felt bad for agreeing with him.
Sentence: Signed to a buddy-cop movie with Colin Cowherd, directed by the "Date Movie"/"Epic Movie"/"Disaster Movie" duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.

24. Bill Simmons
Charges: Thankfully, "The Sports Guy" rarely deigns to write about college football these days, presumably because there are no college teams named the Patriots, Red Sox, or Celtics. But when he does, the result is every bit as embarrassing as you'd think it would be coming from a man who appears openly proud of never having traveled south of I-495 unless forced to. Worse yet, Simmons has gone from being the voice of the enthusiastic, pop-culture-literate everyfan to a self-satisfied starfucker more concerned with dropping the names of all the awesome people ESPN has given him the opportunity to hang out with. At this point, he's the sportswriting equivalent of 5 1/2" floppy disks or leaded gasoline: useful for a while, quaint in their own way, but the world has moved on.
Exhibit A: In an April 2009 segment on his radio show, Simmons for some reason gave the equally cloying Rick Reilly free reign to dredge up a year-and-a-half-old pseudo-incident in which EDSBS passed along a story that Reilly had brought a stripper into the press box for the Florida-LSU game, then said, "It just seems like society's gotten a little bit meaner. Which I'm surprised by, because -- I really thought after 9/11, it was gonna be like some sort of wake-up call for everybody, you know?" This from the guy who threw together four thousand words gloating over Pete Carroll's inability to three-peat in the '06 Rose Bowl.
Sentence: The Patriots trade Tom Brady and Wes Welker away to the Bills and stumble through a decade of five- or six-win seasons before finally being sold and moved off to Los Angeles.

23. Mike Hamilton
Charges: Take the migraine-inducingly bad decision-making exhibited by Mike Hamrick at #44, boil off whatever loyalty or respect for tradition that might be motivating him in his current position at his alma mater, and you've got Tennessee's Hamilton, an athletic director who evidently graduated from the same slash-and-burn/get-distracted-by-the-first-shiny-thing-someone-dangles-in-front-of-your-face school of management that worked such wonders for GM and Lehman Brothers. Hamilton's first step in submarining the UT football program was to unload lifelong Big Urnge loyalist Phil Fulmer; the second and more important step was hiring budding dipshit Lane Kiffin, who could only be troubled to smirk his way through one season in Knoxville before busting tracks for USC without so much as leaving some bills on the nightstand. Thanks in part to the ridiculous contracts Hamilton had OK'd for Kiffykins' assistants, one prospective replacement after another turned the Vols down until they finally settled on a three-year WAC coach with a 17-20 record. If Hamilton still has a job in Knoxville as of this time next year, it should be taken as a sign that Tennessee is firmly committed to becoming a basketball school.
Exhibit A: In an interview earlier this month, Hamilton told ESPN, "Unless people get amnesia, that [Kiffin] was the coach everyone wanted." Which can basically be translated as "Because everyone else is as dumb as I am, it's not technically my fault."
Sentence: Serving as human anchor for the Volunteer Navy.

22. Lou Holtz
Charges: I'm going to try to tread somewhat lightly here, because my family has had its share of people who struggled with dementia just like everyone else's. But we've all watched Sweet Lou with our own eyes, and it has become clear over the last couple seasons that the former Notre Dame coach barely has the mental acuity to successfully procure cash from an ATM. Still, his mush-mouthed voice continues to fire spittle at us from the "College Gameday" set several times a week, mangling players' names and cravenly hyping any team he's ever coached -- or that his son has coached, for that matter, since Holtz apparently saw no reason to recuse himself from the broadcast booth of an East Carolina game last season despite the fact that his son Skip was on the sideline. The only reason he's not higher on this list is that ESPN is just as responsible, if not more so, for enabling him.
Exhibit A: Compared Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez to Hitler, something even the craziest, couch-burnin'est West Virginia fan would think was in poor taste.
Sentence: Locked in a sealed room that begins filling with water and won't stop until Notre Dame wins a national championship.

21. SEC referees
Charges: Seems like every year a different conference's officiating crew manages to assemble its own lowlight reel of blown calls, egregiously thrown flags, and assorted fuckuppery that sets the nationwide standard for ruinous interference. This past year, that crew was Rogers Redding's platoon of Keystone Kops from the SEC, who embarrassed themselves so thoroughly at one point in the season that commissioner Mike Slive had to issue a leaguewide gag order banning coaches from disparaging them in public. It was bad enough that Marc Curles's curiously one-sided calls prompted conspiracy theories about the league trying to engineer a matchup of undefeated Alabama and Florida teams in the conference title game to ensure a shot at the national championship, worse still that those theories started looking entirely believable.
Exhibit A:

Sentence: Torn limb from limb by a pack of British soccer hooligans, who then excessively celebrate their achievement.

We're fixing to delve into the depth of the truly, significantly, irredeemably loathsome -- #s 20 through 11 are on their way tomorrow. Or whenever I get around to it.

The Friday Random Ten+5 goes back to the movies, again.

The nominees for the 2010 Academy Awards get announced on Tuesday, so it's time for me to make my list of my favorite movies from last year. Not that a lot of these (or any of them) are necessarily going to get mentioned when the Oscar nominations are handed out -- this isn't a list of which movies had the greatest cinematic merit or sweeping societal significance, just a list of the movies I liked the most. (Keep in mind I split 2009 between Birmingham, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, so it's not like I got a ton of exposure to any experimental, avant-garde foreign films.)

But with that in mind, here's this week's +5, my Five Favorite Films From Last Year:

5. "Inglourious Basterds"
Despite what some people may have tried to tell you, there's nothing particularly complicated, or even particularly meaningful, about this movie. It's a straight-up revenge flick, though there are just enough people trying to get revenge, and with just enough different motivations, to keep things interesting. The acting is excellent across the board, the set design is superb, and a whole bunch of Nazis get bludgeoned, shot up, blown up, or carved into along the way. I'll be honest, after the summer I had, it was kind of a nice release.

4. "The Hangover"
My mom asked for this DVD for Christmas, which might give you some idea as to why I turned out the way I did. Anyway, a bunch of people get drunk; a baby gets lost; Mike Tyson sings a Phil Collins song; Zach Galifianakis gets tased in the face; and the weird, socially maladjusted gambling savant character's name is "Doug." That all adds up to a big bowl of awesome, and it was two of the most fun hours I've spent in a theatre in a long time.

3. "Up in the Air"
Say what you will about George Clooney, but the guy can act, and this was a role tailor-made for him -- that of Ryan Bingham, a corporate angel of death who's hired to swoop in and put his arm around the shoulders of cowering employees as he tells them they're being downsized. He spends three-quarters of his typical year flying from city to city doing this, but when technology threatens to make this task obsolete, he makes a plaintive case for the need to perform the task with a human touch. Yet that belief in the importance of human connection is completely at odds with his own rootless lifestyle, which is predicated on carrying as little baggage with him as possible -- human or otherwise -- at all times. Watching those two sides converge makes for a fascinating character study, not just of Bingham as an individual but of the country he represents. (Plus it's got Jason Bateman, Danny McBride, and Sam Elliott in it.)

2. "Zombieland"
This isn't an especially complicated movie, either, but boy, was it fun. It's the rare post-apocalyptic movie that has the stones to explore the fun side of a complete meltdown of humanity: Sure, you have to defend yourself from bloodthirsty zombies, but in between you get to take whatever you want from stores, shoot guns, crash cars into things, and basically let your id run wild. This was one of those movies that could've lasted twice as long as it did and I still would've been hugely entertained the entire way through, and yes, the celebrity cameo about midway through the movie is every bit as awesome as you've been told and then some.

1. "Watchmen"
I'd never read the graphic novel this movie was based on before the film was released, so I wasn't one of those people grousing beforehand about how there was no way to film the novel without completely butchering it. After reading the book, though, I have to say the movie was a pretty faithful interpretation, and what changes the filmmakers made might've actually been improvements. Not that it could've been easy to adapt that storyline, but the movie kept intact nearly all of the critical plot points as well as the themes of absolute power corrupting absolutely and where the line exists between order and despotism. Definitely one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen, maybe right up there with "The Dark Knight."

And the worst movie I saw all of last year: a tie between "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." If I had to pick, I guess I'd say "Transformers" was the worst of the two, if only because I ended up watching it from the second row of an IMAX theatre. After two and a half hours of that, I needed a stiff drink and a nap. Seriously, Bay, you owe an apology to every American male who raced downstairs on Christmas Day 1984 to find Optimus Prime under the tree. The third movie better be fucking gangbusters, or we're coming after you with torches and pitchforks.

Anyway. The Ten:

1. Pet Shop Boys, "A Red Letter Day" (Motiv 18 12" mastermix)
2. David Holmes, "Tess"
3. Mercury Rev, "In a Funny Way"
4. Foxy Brown, "Letter to the Firm (Holy Matrimony)"
5. Röyksopp, "Sparks"
6. Kraak and Smaak, "Bobby & Whitney"
7. The Dust Brothers, "Finding the Bomb"
8. Fugazi, "Cassavetes"
9. Underworld, "Sola Sistim"
10. Busta Rhymes, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See"

Feel free to put your own Random Tens and/or top movies of '09 in the comments.

Thursday, January 28

The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: 40-31.

Yesterday we kicked off the list with numbers 50 through 41; today, we dig yet further . . .

40. Mike Gundy
Charges: The epitome of sound and fury, signifying nothing, the Oklahoma State coach brings little more to the table than a 19-21 career Big XII record and a gel-saturated coif that's half "Jersey Shore," half Sonic the Hedgehog. Yet he's managed to construct a reputation for himself as a fearless defender of players and namer of names based on a single three-minute tirade at a postgame press conference -- let's face it, without the "I'm a man I'm 40" sound bite, none of us would have any idea who Mike Gundy is. Has spun more out of consistent also-ran status in the Big XII South than anyone who's ever coached. Basically, brings a further layer of douchiness to an industry not exactly lacking for it.
Exhibit A: His "I'm 40" rant was intended to castigate an Oklahoman reporter for portraying one of his players as soft and underproductive -- yet according to that very player, Gundy and his coaching staff had been saying some of the exact same things.
Sentence: Strapped to a blade on one of T. Boone Pickens's wind turbines for no fewer than one thousand (1,000) revolutions.

39. Jim Leavitt
Charges: Leavitt, who's coached the South Florida football team ever since the program was founded, has always been known as a fiery, hardass kind of guy, but that hit a new level during halftime of USF's game with Louisville, when he grabbed running back Joel Miller by the throat and struck him twice in the face (supposedly for not wearing a helmet in the locker room). Which would've been bad enough on its own, but then he got Miller to lie to the press and say that nothing had happened. Leavitt was fired, kicking and screaming, on January 8 and replaced by East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz.
Exhibit A: Even as Holtz was settling into his new office, Leavitt was issuing statements demanding his old job back. Right, because that wouldn't be the least bit awkward.
Sentence: Head-butted off the crow's nest of the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.

38. Ron Zook
Charges: On paper, Zook is nothing more than a fast-talking, vending-machine-punching, sub-mediocre football coach who has been promoted (repeatedly) far above his station. But he is truly loathsome for what he symbolizes: the triumph of some nebulous, only vaguely measurable recruiting ability over any actual talent for leading teams to victory. Let's be real here: Based solely on his won-loss record at Florida, particularly compared to both the man who preceded him and the man who replaced him, Zook never would've gotten so much as a text message from any DI-A program looking for a new head coach. But because the University of Illinois saw him as someone who might be able to snow impressionable young blue-chippers into spending three or four years in Champaign, they started cutting him paychecks. Since then they've gone 21-39 and are now attempting a "last-ditch" rebuilding effort six full years into his Illinois tenure -- but man, those signing days have been a gas, haven't they?
Exhibit A: "If you sleep five hours really fast, it feels like eight."
Sentence: Ten years of daily verbal abuse from former boss Steve Spurrier.

37. Mike Locksley
Charges: It should come as no surprise that Locksley, for now the head coach at New Mexico, fell from the Ron Zook coaching shrub: Locksley, running backs coach and (surprise!) recruiting coordinator under Zook at Florida, followed Zook to Illinois and then struck out on his own for Albuquerque, where he promptly went 1-11, the Lobos' worst record since the 1987 season. Along the way, Locksley further solidified his unimpeachable credentials by slugging an assistant coach during a meeting, which earned him a suspension for the Lobos' home game against UNLV. (Interestingly enough, they managed to lose that game by only 17 points, a smaller margin than all but one of the defeats they'd suffered up to that point.)
Exhibit A: Apparently Locksley can't even be bothered to pick on someone his own size: According to the police report, he outweighed the assistant he coldcocked by 100 pounds.
Sentence: Beaten into a coma by the reanimated corpse of Woody Hayes.

36. LeGarrette Blount
Charges: When the 2009 season opened with about as shocking a beatdown as could be conceived -- Boise State's 19-8 suckerpunching of eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon -- the Ducks could've done the gentlemanly thing and slunk off into the shadows, licked their metaphorical wounds, and started prepping for Purdue. Not Blount: He hauled off and slugged BSU player Byron Hout for trash-talking, and just for good measure, tried to plow into the stands to mix it up with the Broncos' fans before being bodily restrained by a phalanx of teammates and security guards. The enduring image of Blount then trying to fight off his own teammates put the cherry on top of what was almost certainly the worst display of anti-sportsmanship of the 2009 season.
Exhibit A: The personal honor that Blount was attempting to defend included eight carries for -5 yards, one of those rushes a four-yard loss that handed BSU a safety.
Sentence: Undrafted by the NFL and forced to open his ultimate fighting career against Brock Lesnar.

35. Les Miles
Charges: Succeeded just long enough at LSU to make us believe he knew what he was doing, then began collapsing as soon as he ran out of Nick Saban's players, going 8-5 (3-5 in the SEC) in 2008 and ekeing out an incremental improvement to 9-4 this past season. That record would've been better had it not been for two epic brain farts: The first was ordering QB Jordan Jefferson to spike the ball to set up a game-winning field goal against Ole Miss, despite the fact that the Tigers only had one second left on the clock; the second was a Bill Stewartesque cavalcade of horrendous clock management that denied the Tigers a chance to kick a Capital-One-Bowl-winning field goal against Penn State. At his current rate, Miles will call for the victory formation with two minutes left in the third quarter in his team's 2010 season opener against North Carolina.
Exhibit A: Miles initially tried to dump the blame on his own QB for the spike debacle against Ole Miss -- before video surfaced of Miles himself specifically calling for Jefferson to spike the ball.
Sentence: Dressed in raccoon fur and let loose in the bayou to be hunted by LSU fans.

34. Mitch Albom
Charges: The erstwhile Detroit Free Press sports columnist has apparently taken it upon himself to become the Thomas Kinkade of sportswriters, pumping out treacly, feel-good, not-even-remotely-challenging portraits of an America that never actually existed (and even if it did, for only like five minutes). When he deigns to pontificate on college football, he becomes the sport's rhetorical fainting couch, a preachy Cassandra-come-lately who's only just seen fit to get het up over the Mammon-influenced outrages the rest of us made our peace with decades ago. Rule of thumb: If someone appoints themselves the "conscience" of a given entity or institution, run for the hills and don't look back.
Exhibit A: "It is wrong and harmful and we should all be ashamed of ourselves and I guess I’m going to keep writing it until I’m the last person in this business saying it. This glorifying of high school recruits has got to stop." Mitch Albom wrote this. In 2009.
Sentence: Buried alive with Morrie.

33. Pam Ward
Charges: Paradoxically, despite being the most prominent female currently occupying a college-stadium press box, Ward has set back the cause of female sports journalists everywhere by decades thanks to her hair-straightening delivery and stupefying inaccuracy. Tape delay be damned, Ward can be counted on at least three times per game to give a description of a given play's outcome completely at odds with what we've just witnessed with our own eyes. Her crimes against sports announcing are almost enough to make an SEC diehard feel pity for the Big Ten.
Exhibit A: "Pushed out of bounds by Mouton . . . touchdown Indiana."
Sentence: Knocked down to sideline reporter for Tuesday-night MAC games and drunkenly groped by Joe Namath.

32. Jimmy Sexton
Charges: If you've ever spent a December night tossing and turning over the prospect of your beloved coach jumping ship for another program, or over the shortlist of successors into whose hands your program could be placed, Sexton is a big part of the reason why. The Drew Rosenhaus of college coaching cares not for your program or its hopes for long-term stability; he simply wants to snag the fattest possible check for his bewilderingly lengthy list of clients -- because it means a bigger percentage for him, of course -- and if that means facilitating a midnight back-door exit for more-or-less-greener pastures for your current coach, whether it's the day after the end of the regular season or the day before your bowl game, so be it. And even in the instances where his charges don't decide to leave for new jobs, they'll still put you through a few nights of hell while Sexton wrings an extra half-million or two out of programs desperate to lock their coaches down with contract extensions.
Exhibit A: Sexton represents both Lane Kiffin and three of the guys Tennessee contacted to replace him. In the end, Kiffin got a raise and his dream job at USC, Derek Dooley got a gigantic raise and a job at Tennessee, and two programs on opposite sides of the country are wondering what the hell just happened.
Sentence: Packed off to Gitmo and assigned to be the agent for Ali Akhbar ibn-Massoud of the Camp Delta All-Enemy Combatants Cricket League.

31. Colin Cowherd
Charges: Of the national radio hosts who cover college football, perhaps none have more open contempt for actual fans of the sport than Cowherd, a self-satisfied douche fountain who apparently got a laugh out of his friends in fifth grade for making fun of the new kid in class and has been convinced he's a genius ever since. Spits out ad hominem attacks and knee-jerk overgeneralizations with the speed (and precision) of a gang-banger spraying an apartment building with a TEC-9, without so much as a hint of remorse or humility (or even an acknowledgment, period) when he's proven wrong. Alternates between raining contempt down on those who've had the temerity to express their fandom through blogs and bogarting their best material. Basically, he is what would happen if sports-talk radio created an amalgam of the Omega Theta Pis from "Animal House" in a lab, only without the athletic prowess or ability to do something funny even by accident.
Exhibit A: Insisted on his show that Will Muschamp was going to become the new head coach at Tennessee earlier this month and that he "had the text message to prove it."
Sentence: Sold to the MSI Mace corporation of Bennington, Vermont, as a subject for pepper-spray testing.

Loathsome #s 30 through 21 are on the way tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27

The 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football: 50-41.

Your nominations have been taken into account and the list has been arranged and re-arranged, and now that it's been more or less finalized, today kicks off the 2010 list of the 50 Most Loathsome People in College Football. But first, here are a few of the guys whom you might have expected to be on the list but aren't:

Jim Tressel -- The first edition of the list came out when the Maurice Clarett mess was still fresh in everyone's memory, but since then the Buckeyes have mostly kept their noses clean (and been beaten down by a litany of embarrassing non-conference losses). Who knows, though -- the Bucks did manage to knock off Oregon in the Rose Bowl, so maybe there's a loathsome, indecent juggernaut in 'em yet.

Mike Leach -- What the Pirate Captain did to Adam James -- if, in fact, he even did what Adam James said he did to Adam James -- probably isn't anywhere near as bad as what most people would like to do to Adam James. Leach is a weird, weird dude, but nobody this entertaining can truly be considered part of the loathsome elite.

Lee Corso -- Sure, he only occasionally knows what he's talking about, but c'mon, the dude had a stroke not all that long ago. What's Lou Holtz's excuse?

Mike Patrick -- Goofier than a sack of red clown noses, but if the "What's Britney Spears been up to lately?" non sequitur is the worst thing he's ever done in his life, he's not even the most loathsome person in his own announcing booth, much less at ESPN.

Nick Saban -- I'll stipulate that we as a society may only have been exposed so far to a taste of the evil that the Sabanator is capable of, but for right now, I just don't subscribe to the "Coach X wins a lot, ergo he is loathsome" school of thought. (Auburn and Tennessee fans, of course, are free to disagree with me.)

At any rate, once we start digging into the heart of the top 50, I think you'll agree that folks like these pale by comparison. On that note, let's begin . . .

50. Kenny Chesney
Charges: Provided an answer to the entirely rhetorical question "Could ESPN possibly come up with worse 'Gameday' intro music than Big 'n' Rich?" by penning "This Is Our Time," a pop-country throwaway with lyrics so trite and fungible they made "Comin' to Your Citaaayyyy" sound fraught with meaning. Seriously, I cannot name a single CFB fan who had anything positive to say about this song. Even the shit-kicking SEC diehards from Dixie, whom I'm sure ESPN thought were right in the center ring of their target market, cursed it like one would curse public lice or the first parking-lot dent left in their brand-new car.
Exhibit A: After only a couple weeks of widespread outrage, ESPN was already backing off the use of Chesney's song. In favor of Dave freakin' Matthews.
Sentence: Forced to re-marry Renee Zellweger and exiled to hosting open-mikes in Branson; replaced on "Gameday" by Kool Keith.

49. Pete Carroll
Charges: Built a dynasty at USC so dominating in the Pac-10 it was almost boring to watch, and then, just as the first cracks started showing in the armor, bolted for the NFL -- with his program just weeks from a potential NCAA bitch-slap over special goodies supposedly given to Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight while they were playing. As Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" would say, Isn't that con-veeee-nient! Insists that his departure less than 24 hours before the NCAA announced it had completed its probe into the USC program had nothing to do with said investigation, but c'mon, dude.
Exhibit A: His abrupt departure from the Trojans 11 days into the new year ended up saddling the once-proud program with Lane Kiffin as a head coach.
Sentence: After three stultifying 5-11 seasons with the Seahawks, has to return to the college ranks as offensive coordinator at Division II Dixie State College of Utah. Under Lane Kiffin.

48. Dennis Erickson
Charges: A job-hopper with the ethics of an AIG executive and the attention span of a mayfly, Erickson was perfecting the art of leaving programs in the lurch when Nick Saban was still puttering around as an apple-cheeked DBs coach. Early in his career, he bolted Wyoming after only one year for a Pac-10 job without even telling the Cowboys where he was going, and then pulled the exact same disappearing act 20 years later at Idaho -- and Idaho was the school that had given him his very first head-coaching job. The latest program Erickson is destined to leave in substantially worse shape than he found it: Arizona State, which he led to a 10-win season in his first year but has gone downhill ever since.
Exhibit A: After a six-turnover loss to UCLA that ensured a second straight losing season for the Sun Devils, Erickson was quoted as saying "The good news is, there's only one game left." Hell of a pep talk you got there, pal. (ASU would go on to lose that one, too, and finish 4-8.) Does anyone seriously believe Erickson isn't out the door the minute the 2010 season ends?
Sentence: Twenty minutes in a locked room with middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

47. Bill Stewart
Charges: Since Bobby Bowden has dutifully exited stage right, the title of "Kindly-Looking Old Coach With The Least Idea Of What's Going On At Any Given Moment" goes to Stew, who inherited a West Virginia team riding a wave of emotion tall enough to upset Oklahoma in a BCS bowl two years ago -- and, fatefully, was promoted from interim to full-time head coach the day after the win. The 26 games he has coached since then have been a cavalcade of head-slapping personnel decisions (only 15 carries for Noel Devine against Auburn? Seriously?) and clock mismanagement that ol' Bobby himself would've looked upon with an approving grin. You feel bad for slamming anyone who means so well, but . . . well, good intentions shouldn't be used as an excuse to allow any football as proud as WVU's to be this handcuffed, achievement-wise.
Exhibit A: "It's mass confusion down here. Just a mess." -- Erin Andrews, from the Mountaineers' sideline at Colorado, 09/18/08

Sentence: Used as kindling for couch fires when West Virginia opens their 2010 against Coastal Carolina.

46. Stewart Mandel
Charges: Mandel is hardly the most offensive member of the pundit class's written-word division -- as you will certainly see as we move further down the Most Loathsome roster -- but for every insightful observation he makes, there's usually at least one howling logical inconsistency or broad, sweeping judgment so naive and/or just plain ill-considered that you start to wonder whether he's actually watched a college football game at any point in the last decade. Clings almost as fervently to an ill-defined notion of "iconic status" as Heismanpundit used to cling to the equally ill-defined metric of "scheme," which causes him to do silly things like deny Tom Osborne "legend" status as a coach for being too "bland" and continue burning a torch for the concept of Notre Dame as enduring powerhouse.
Exhibit A: May never live down this piece from 2008 in which he attempted to rank the relative "prestige level" of America's top programs, doing so not by on-the-field accomplishment or even market profitability but by what percentage of Montana residents would recognize the symbols or icons of a given program. This bizarrely arbitrary criteria led him to rank Florida State and Notre Dame as more "prestigious" than LSU or Georgia, and Texas A&M and Colorado as more "prestigious" than Oregon or Iowa.
Sentence: A Decided Schematic Advantage in Life: A Memoir, by Charlie Weis (as told to Stewart Mandel), coming soon to finer bookstores everywhere.

45. John Feinstein
Charges: Feinstein is certainly a talented writer and a passionate sports consumer, but the Washington Post columnist is also one of those guys who feels a frequent need to place himself above whatever it is he's writing about -- and nowhere is that more true than with college football, his takes on which are so cranky and perpetually outraged as to make one wonder whether there's anything about the sport that he actually likes. Has gone so over-the-top in railing away at his current bête noire, the BCS, that at times he actually verges on making the BCS a sympathetic figure.
Exhibit A: Actually wants Obama and Congress to get involved in reforming the CFB postseason.
Sentence: Twenty thousand words on the 2009 EagleBank Bowl.

44. Mike Hamrick
Charges: Nobody ever claimed athletic directors were a particularly brilliant breed of human being, but Hamrick has done his best to raise the arrogance/myopia bar to a level even the Ole Miss braintrusts who traded in David Cutcliffe for Ed Orgeron would have trouble reaching. At East Carolina, Hamrick fired Steve Logan, the winningest coach in program history, after only his second losing season in nine years and replaced him with John Thompson, who proceeded to go 3-20. Last year, after barely four months as the AD at his alma mater, Marshall, Hamrick showed head coach Mark Snyder the door just one week after the Thundering Herd had secured their first bowl bid in five years. We can only assume that Hamrick makes personnel decisions with the same 20-sided D'n'D die that Bill Stewart uses for play-calling.
Exhibit A: Between his ECU and Marshall tenures, Hamrick spent six years at UNLV, during which time he hired Mike Sanford as head football coach. Sanford was fired at the end of last season with a 15-43 record.
Sentence: Must serve out the remainder of his career as a VP in former FEMA director Michael Brown's disaster-recovery consulting firm.

43. Paul Johnson
Charges: Nothing wrong with inhabiting the stereotype of the crusty, cranky old coach, but you should at least try to take it in an interesting direction. Johnson is merely Weis Lite, throwing his weight around because he's managed to turn his high-school offense into a weapon of ACC dominance (which is sort of like bragging about the time you schooled a group of second-graders with a whiffle-ball bat). Yet despite his reputation as a triple-option guru, went just pass-wacky enough in critical phases of games against Georgia and Iowa to lose both in embarrassing fashion.
Exhibit A: After the UGA loss, instructed Georgia Tech fans to deal with gloating Dawg fans thusly: "Guy giving you a hard time and you get tired of it, punch him in the face." Perhaps not the best advice to give to a group of people who've only ever thrown punches in World of Warcraft battles.
Sentence: Reggie Ball awarded four more years of eligibility.

42. Todd Graham
Charges: Graham, you may or may not recall, was the coach who set a new standard for career ADD by ditching Rice after only one season to go to Tulsa -- just two days after signing a six-year contract extension with Rice, the negotiations for which he interrupted repeatedly to go to the bathroom so that he could call Tulsa and haggle over terms with them. He's managed to give Tulsa his undivided attention in the three years since, so good for him, I guess, but he did make minor headlines earlier this season by getting his players to fake injuries on the field to effectively snake a few extra time-outs. Though the gambit didn't work -- Houston scored nine points in the final 21 seconds to win 46-45 -- it was the kind of cravenly exploitative move indicative of a man mercenary enough to one day get hired by a desperate BCS-conference program that Graham will then haul to the deepest bowels of NCAA-probation hell.
Exhibit A: Tulsa in Graham's first two seasons: 21-7 record, average of 44.18 points scored per game. Tulsa in Graham's most recent season, i.e. after offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn had left for Auburn: 5-7, 29.25 points per game. So there's a case to be made that he's not even all that good a coach.
Sentence: Chokes to death on a piece of gristle in a Tulsa rib shack after being ignored repeatedly by waitstaff and fellow customers who find his frantic gesticulations "unconvincing."

41. Bob Davie
Charges: It's bad enough that the confoundingly tanned ESPN booth announcer insists on applying the FOOTBAW modifier to every other word as if we didn't know which sport we were watching and mispronouncing the names of players and coaches that even the most meagerly knowledgeable blogger could get right. This past bowl season, Davie elected to top his laundry list of offenses by nakedly shilling for Team Craig 'n' Adam in the then-festering James/Texas-Tech-versus-Mike-Leach brouhaha, thus proving conclusively that he's either a brazen starfucker or a mindless talk-bot willing to broadcast whatever propaganda the ESPN Powers That Be upload into his wheezing, hamster-wheel-powered RAM.
Exhibit A: During the Alamo Bowl on January 2: "You've got to admire the courage of the James family through all of this." Uh, no, Bob, we really don't.
Sentence: Has to serve as sideline reporter for the next five Humanitarian Bowls wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.

Loathsome #s 40 through 31 come tomorrow. You're so excited you can barely contain yourselves, I know.

Monday, January 25

From "Who dat" to "Who da f&%$ cares."

Sorry for your loss. Door's that way.

Your Super Bowl matchup is thusly locked in, and for the first time in a while, it's got two teams I actually like -- no Patriots, no Cowboys, and praise be, no Brett Favre. Seriously, the thought of two solid weeks of Favre hero worship on the part of the media might have been enough to make me voluntarily not watch the Super Bowl for the first time in as long as I can remember.

But that just meant the talking heads had to pack their planned two weeks of hero worship into a single column or postgame show, kind of like those shopping sprees they used to give away on Nickelodeon where you'd have five minutes to barrel through a Toys 'R' Us shoveling as much stuff into your shopping cart as you possibly could. And the rod-gobbling followed a predictable pattern, whether it was the print media (here represented by the equally predictable Favre hagiographer Peter King) . . .

No matter what you think of Favre -- and it's no secret I think he's the most charismatic and interesting player I've covered -- you have to admire how he bleeds in front of us. He goes out and gets the snot knocked out of him ("We were determined to hit him over and over and make him feel it,'' said none other than his old friend with the Packers, Saints safety Darren Sharper), somehow survives, then makes a throw he never should have made.

. . . or Tom Jackson, normally one of the saner hosts of ESPN's "NFL Countdown":

"He's not afraid to throw a pick. That's the thing I admire most about him," Jackson said on "SportsCenter."

Everyone owes the Saints a thank-you card, because this is what they saved us from two weeks of: Commentators-slash-fanboys earnestly trying to convince us that Favre is so awesome even his brain farts smell like fresh-baked croissants. Look, resentment over Favre's retirement gamesmanship and other offseason asshattery aside, I'm as impressed as anyone by the career the guy's put together, but even with a body of work as impressive as that, there comes a point at which the adulation becomes just a bit ridiculous, and we streaked past that point way back in August.

But since one's embarrassments only add to his or her legend, I see no reason why we shouldn't revisit and, in some cases, rehabilitate the memories of those who've gone and embarrassed themselves before Favre. Try these on for size:

· "Say what you will about Willie Martinez, but it takes guts to not have a defender within 10 yards of an eligible receiver. People need to remember that."

· "He's not afraid to throw five picks in a game. Even when the opponent just broke a 21-game losing streak. That's what I admire most about Quincy Carter."

· "Everyone has their own opinion of Dan Snyder, but it takes guts to hire an untested career QB coach as the head coach of an NFL franchise, and I admire the hell out of that."

· "Some guys, when placed under the media glare of the most powerful office in the free world, would think twice about accepting a blowjob from an intern. You have to respect Bill Clinton for breaking that mold."

· "Why do I call myself a lifelong John Travolta fan? Simple: because it takes a lot of courage to make a movie like "Battlefield Earth."

· "That's why you've gotta respect Canadian geese: They're not the least bit afraid to fly into the engine of an Airbus A320."

· "We can debate the legacy of George Armstrong Custer all day, but let there be no dispute about one thing: The man wasn't afraid of Indians."

Feel free to throw your own in the comments.

Friday, January 22

The Friday Random Ten+5 ponders life after Kiffykins.

Earlier this week I managed to establish, in quantitative terms, that former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin was actually a dumber hire for USC than Chan "Beige Alert" Gailey was for the Buffalo Bills. No need to thank me; I do it for the kids. But simply making a determination like that is only of so much use if it doesn't come with any suggestions as to who might be better. When Kiffykins inevitably gets shown the door in L.A. after three or four seasons of not coming within 100 miles of the Rose Bowl (metaphorically speaking, of course -- the stadium itself is actually just a quick drive up the 110 from the USC campus), they're gonna need some names, stat.

Well, guess who's got 'em? OK, yeah, Jimmy Sexton, but guess who else? That's right, I do. Don't ever say I never gave you anything, Trojans, because somewhere in this post is your next football coach -- today's +5 is Five People Who Would Make A Better Head Coach Of The USC Trojans Than Lane Kiffin.

Tom Selleck
Kiffykins fancies himself a badass, but he's not even in the same badass solar system as Magnum, P.I., who attended USC on a basketball scholarship in the 1960s. (According to Wikipedia, while in college he made two appearances on "The Dating Game" and lost both times, which is bullshit -- what kind of woman turns down The Selleck?) Based on his experience in films such as "Three Men and a Baby," we know he responds well to high-stress situations; based on his time as Magnum, we know he can restore the swagger to what was, until recently, the invincible hope-crusher of the Pac-10.

Ruffin McNeill
Came within an eyelash of getting Texas Tech's head-coaching position after leading them to a 10-point win in the Alamo Bowl as the interim coach. Turned around the languishing Red Raider defense almost singlehandedly. And don't tell me he's not a leader of men -- if he can train a shrimpy little white guy like Little Mac into a Mike-Tyson-beater, he can coach the shit out of the Trojans.

Song Girl Erin
Young. Energetic. Motivated. Loyal as all-get-out to the Trojans. And let's be honest here: As much credit as Kiffin gets for being a balls-out recruiter, if Lane Kiffin asked you to do something and Erin asked you to do something, whose request would you be more likely to fulfill?

Dave Wannstedt
If all the Trojans are looking for is a guy who tanked in the NFL but has been so-so as a college head coach, why not go with a more proven quantity in the Wannstache, who at least managed to win 10 games this season? Kiffin's barely won 10 games in his career.

Rick Neuheisel
They'd never get him, of course, 'cause Slick Rick's a UCLA man born and raised, but Neuheisel was perfecting the cheeky-young-douchebag-coach shtick when Lane Kiffin was still begging his dad to let him take the Buick out on Friday nights. No angel as far as NCAA sanctions are concerned, but let's be real here, if USC gave a rat's ass about that then they wouldn't have hired Kiffin in the first place. Won a Cotton Bowl at Colorado and a Rose Bowl at Washington, both of which have mostly stunk on ice since he left; UCLA may still be paddling its way back to respectability at the moment, but don't be surprised if, a few years from now, the Trojans are casting envious glances up I-5 at what Neuheisel's been able to put together in Westwood.

No, no, USC, this one's on the house -- as is the Random Ten:

1. Paul Simon, "You Can Call Me Al"
2. When in Rome, "The Promise"
3. Gnarls Barkley, "Open Book"
4. General Public, "Taking the Day Off"
5. Nouvelle Vague, "The Killing Moon"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "One More Chance"
7. Nouvelle Vague, "Fade to Grey"
8. Billy Joel, "Uptown Girl"
9. Lou Reed, "Walk on the Wild Side"
10. A Tribe Called Quest, "Go Ahead in the Rain"

Happy Friday, folks -- your Random Tens and/or suggestions for better options than Kiffykins are welcome in the comments.

Wednesday, January 20

Profiles in just not giving a crap anymore.

I assure you this is real:

That's right: Chan Gailey, whitest man in America, innovative architect of "Chan Gailey Equilibrium," and offensive coordinator who was fired last year after three preseason games -- that's right, not even regular-season games, preseason games -- with the Kansas City Chiefs, has been hired to be the head coach of something. In this case, "something" is the Buffalo Bills, a New York-based charitable organization that provides work opportunities for mediocre, washed-up football coaches, in addition to frequently fielding a professional football team.

I have conflicted emotions about this. On the one hand, I am bitterly disappointed to see that Gailey didn't return to the college level and end up at any of Georgia's arch-rivals who were hunting for head or assistant coaches over the past few weeks. (Gailey attended the University of Florida and was a grad assistant there in the mid-'70s; why, oh why did they not see fit to bring him home?) On the other hand, it put a lot of things in perspective for me, as a lifelong Washington Redskins fan, vis-á-vis Daniel Snyder's almost uniformly atrocious ownership. The guy's an idiot, no doubt, but at least he never seriously (to my knowledge) considered hiring Chan Gailey.

So even though I stopped doing the Monday Morning Cage Match a couple months back just because I got kind of bored with it, it seems like the perfect way of determining which coaching hire was more inexplicable: the Chanster to the Bills, or Lane Kiffin to the USC Trojans. Both decisions are redolent with apathy, the actions of managers who for whatever reason lost all hope of being able to hire someone good and were content to simply throw a contract through the car window of the first guy who actually expressed any interest in the job -- actually, in Gailey's case, the hiring was so surrender-riffic that they probably just text-messaged him a contract, but whatever. Using an expanded version of the Cage Match, we shall determine which of the two hires was more embarrassing: Let the Gailey-Kiffin battle royale begin!

You name it, Chan Gailey has coached it, from the lower college divisions to DI-A to the NFL to the World League of American Football, whatever the hell that was. He's only spent two years as an NFL head coach, but he does have 13 years as an offensive assistant, including four Super Bowl appearances. Thirteen years total as a coach at any level -- well, make that 12.25: He was fired a quarter of the way through his second season with the Oakland Raiders. And actually, you might want to scale that back even further, because I think one of those years was as a grad assistant, and another was a year spent as a "quality control assistant" with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yeah, ha-ha, very funny, you got coffee for Tom Coughlin. Stop trying to make it something it wasn't, Lane. Then again, he was the offensive coordinator for Southern Cal during the 2005 season, when the Trojans averaged 49 points and 579 yards per game, so there's that.

That "Chan Gailey Equilibrium" thing? Oh, it's real. In 13 years as a head coach at various levels, Gailey has assembled an aggregate record of 98-63-1, which averages out to 7.54 wins and 4.85 losses per season. (And 0.08 ties, but come on, you just know he's gonna find a way to tie someone at least once in the NFL.) He is the Toyota Camry of head coaches: satisfactory, dependable, he'll get you from point A to point B ("point B" in this case being the Humanitarian Bowl), but you will never, ever be remotely enthused or invigorated while he does so. In 20 games with the Raiders and 13 with the Vols, Kiffin is 12-21. Yes, the USC Trojans just hired a guy who's nine games under .500, lifetime. He'll have to go at least 11-2 with the Trojans this season just to get to .500. And as much derision as has been heaped on his UT successor, Derek Dooley, in various corners of the blogosphere, not only is Dooley's 17-20 record better than Kiffin's was when Kiffin first came to Knoxville, it's better than Kiffin's now.

In 2007, the Kansas City Chiefs were 19th in the NFL in passing, dead last in rushing, and next-to-last in total offense; they finished 4-12. In 2008, Gailey's first year as offensive coordinator, they were 18th in passing, 16th in rushing, and . . . seventh-worst in total offense. And they went 2-14. Progress! At any rate, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley was unimpressed enough with Gailey's performance that he saw fit to fire him after just three preseason games the following year. Yeah, I'm gonna repeat that as many times as it takes to sink in. Went 7-6 at Tennessee, which is considerably less than what most Vol fans expect but better than the team's 5-7 record the season before he arrived. The Vols blew Georgia and South Carolina off the field, got jackhammered by Ole Miss and Virginia Tech, and played agonizingly close games against top-five Florida and Alabama teams that they had no real business staying within three touchdowns of; an average season in pretty much every respect.

Bill Cowher. Wait, what? Yeah, apparently the Bills went to Cowher to try to lure him to Buffalo, and he said no but suggested his former offensive coordinator from the Steelers. Wow. Cowher is a guy that at least 30 NFL teams would sell their mothers into white slavery to get, so his word means a lot here. So much that it actually counteracts a recommendation from Jerry Jones, who reportedly said he "regretted" having fired Gailey back in 1999. (Actually, since Jer-bear ended up replacing Gailey with Dave Campo, perhaps his regret is sincere.) Ummm . . . his dad?

Took the Cowboys to the playoffs in both of his years in Dallas, including his first year as the NFC East champions. (Even if he did proceed to lose in the first round of the playoffs that year and hand the Arizona Cardinals their first playoff victory in 50 years.) We could say the moral victory against Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators, the equally moral victory against eventual national champion Alabama, but those aren't actual wins. We know what the biggest win of Tennessee's 2009 season was, and it was the prison-shower cornholing they gave to my Georgia Bulldogs up in Knoxville. In retrospect, that might have been the best humiliating beatdown we ever had -- I have to think it accelerated the dismissal of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and two other defensive assistants who hadn't been getting anything done -- but that doesn't change the fact that, at the time, I wanted to disembowel myself and strangle myself with my own entrails.

Aside from getting shitcanned in the preseason, it'd have to be losing to Georgia all six years of his tenure at Georgia Tech. That losing streak was arguably set into motion by the loss he suffered in his first year with the Yellow Jackets, a 51-7 napalming in which the intimidation was visible in his team's eyes almost from the moment the Dawgs put their first points on the board. From then on, you could almost set your watch by the point Gailey's Jackets would crap their pants against the Bulldogs (though, in his defense, Reggie Ball obviously had a lot to do with that). Probably getting curb-stomped by Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which closed out Kiffin's first and only season. A Hokie offense that struggled to score on East Carolina a couple months earlier went apeshit on the Volunteer defense, winning 37-14 and handing the Vols their sixth straight loss in the Georgia Dome. (Seriously, y'all, just don't play there anymore. You're like the character in the horror movie who goes back upstairs even though it's obvious to anyone with half a brain that they're about to be sliced up like prosciutto.)

Well, if Chan Gailey Equilibrium continues to hold in Buffalo, a 7-5 season in college should equate to, oh, let's say a 9-7 season in the NFL. Since the league went to 32 teams in 2002, nine wins gives you just under a 40% chance of making the playoffs -- which, actually, is probably an improvement for the Bills, now that I think about it. Ruthless recruiter. Also has a fairly hot wife.

CONCLUSION: USC's hiring of Lane Kiffin is actually more embarrassing than the Bills' hiring of Chan Gailey. Congratulations, USC: Buffalo hired a coach whose very name has become synonymous with mediocrity and the bare minimum in terms of acceptable achievement -- the "wearing only 15 pieces of flair" of football coaches, if you will -- and yet all available evidence indicates that it was still a smarter move than bringing Lane Kiffin back to Los Angeles. This may seem hard to fathom right now, but in three years, when the Bills are patting themselves on the back for another 8-8 season while the Trojans anxiously fret over whether recruiting violations will keep them from accepting the EagleBank Bowl bid that's otherwise rightfully theirs, you will see that I was right.