Wednesday, November 29

Blogpoll ballot #14: A very rewarding weekend of college football . . .

Very, very, very rewarding.

. . . because for the first time since October 10, I get to put Georgia back in the top 25 -- well, my own personal top 25, at least. Call it rampant homerism if you must, but the Dawgs have just knocked off two straight ranked teams -- the first one (Auburn) is the only team to have beaten Florida this season, while the second (Georgia Tech) could very well be the ACC champion come Saturday. If Georgia was 5-7 at the moment, those two could be written off as blind-pig-finds-a-pair-of-truffles wins, but the Dawgs are 8-4 and most likely headed to the Peach Bowl. I may have to give up my Straight Bangin' Lifetime Achievement Award, but so be it.

My ballot is as follows; this week's official Blogpoll results are here.

Games watched: Miami-Boston College, last half of Texas A&M-Texas, first half of LSU-Arkansas, Georgia-Georgia Tech, flipped back and forth between Florida-Florida State, South Carolina-Clemson, and Tennessee-Kentucky.

1. Ohio State (Last week: 1)

2. Michigan (2)

3. Southern California (3)
I suppose I could've ratcheted USC up over the Wolverines after their win over Notre Dame, as the sportswriters in the AP poll elected to do, but guess who else whupped Notre Dame's ass? Yup, Michigan. And they took ND out of the game a lot earlier than USC did. And they did it on the road. And I know, I start comparing these two games too closely and I run the risk of asking how many Michigan linebackers could do the Hustle on the head of a pin, but basically it comes down to this: I think Michigan would beat SC on a neutral field. It'd be close, but they'd do it.

4. Florida (5)

5. LSU (10)
I'd just about written them off after the loss to Florida, but they've worked their way back and are now in pretty good position to snag an at-large BCS berth.

6. Louisville (6)

7. Arkansas (4)
I hesitated to drop them too much because I think their loss to LSU was more the product of lousy coaching than lousy play on the field -- you're looking for some momentum going into the SEC title game and still hanging on to hopes of getting into the national-title game, and instead of sticking with the "Wildcat" game plan that's been rocking the house all season long, you're all of a sudden going to make Casey Dick win the game for you? I'm still trying to figure that one out. Nevertheless, if that's their game plan, they're going to have a very unpleasant day against Florida's defense in the Georgia Dome this weekend.

8. Wisconsin (8)

9. Oklahoma (12)

10. Rutgers (14)

11. Boise State (13)

12. West Virginia (7)

13. Auburn (17)
Not crazy about jumping them four spots on a weekend when all they did was sit around drinking hot cocoa and braiding each other's hair, but a bunch of people above them lost, so there you go.

14. Tennessee (16)

15. California (18)

16. Notre Dame (9)
Cory McCartney got to it before I could, but has Notre Dame really been all that impressive this year? They've now faced exactly two elite teams (Michigan and USC) and gotten suckerpunched both times; their most impressive win is, what, Georgia Tech? Yet they're still going to get snatched up by a BCS bowl while Wisconsin, Rutgers, and as many as three 10-win SEC squads get passed over. Life's not fair sometimes.

17. Texas A&M (NR/26)

18. Texas (11)
If Hank Hill had seen Colt McCoy coming into the Texas-Texas A&M game, he would've pronounced, "That boy's not right." Kind of a shame that that injury basically screwed Texas's whole season.

19. Virginia Tech (20)
Looking back over their defense -- four shutouts, an average of fewer than 10 points allowed per game -- I'm starting to wonder if I want to go up against them in the Peach Bowl after all.

20. Wake Forest (22)

21. Boston College (15)

22. Nebraska (23)

23. Brigham Young (21)

24. Georgia (NR)
Yup, here they are. No, I didn't put them way at the top of the rankings, but they deserved to be somewhere. Certainly higher than . . .

25. Georgia Tech (19)
Jou fuck wit da bull, jou get da horns.

The next five: Texas Christian, Penn State, Hawaii, Oregon State, Missouri.

Dropped out: Clemson (24), Texas Christian (25).

The girls don't like the job.

Evidently prefers Papa John's to Dreamland barbecue.

Well, forget everything I said about Alabama hiring Bobby Petrino as their new head coach: I heard on the radio this evening that Petrino has said he isn't interested. Neither are the two guys I'd heard Tide fans (laughably) offering as their top two candidates, Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban. Apparently neither are Rich Rodriguez (not surprising) or Wake Forest's Jim Grobe (slightly more surprising), and former Texas/Auburn DC Gene Chizik has been snapped up by Iowa State. Just two days after Mike Shula's firing was formally announced, the pool of qualified candidates has already shrunk to microscopic size.

The next candidate I'd offer up as somebody Alabama needs to go after is former USC and current Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow, but honestly I don't know if he'd fit what has become a major requirement for the team's next coach: What Alabama really needs at this point is someone who, unlike, say, Dennis Franchione, sees the Bama job as the one they've always wanted and will do whatever it takes to bring the program back to national prominence. But what big-name coach right now really feels that way about this job? I was talking with two co-workers about the situation yesterday, office manager Cindy and fellow Georgia grad/closet Bama fan Stanley, and they both agreed that every time Alabama jerks its knee and yanks a head coach, it makes the job significantly less attractive for every other coaching prospect out there. And they both liked the metaphor I used right after that, so I'll mention it here: Alabama is like a really hot chick who's also a total bitch and can't figure out why guys don't want to date her.

I mean, on paper, the Alabama job should be the greatest job in college football: You've got tradition a mile long, a brand name recognizable even to people who couldn't give the first shit about college football, a fertile recruiting base, top-notch facilities, a fan base that's as passionate and motivated as any in the country. But like the hot chick who's also a total bitch, Alabama treats all its coaches-slash-dating-partners like crap. Lose one game and people are already talking about how you can't hack it and who your replacement should be. You're expected to recreate the kind of dynasty that Bear Bryant built, which in this day of scholarship limits and a bigger, more competitive SEC probably isn't even possible anymore. Is it any wonder that, to guys like Spurrier and Grobe, formerly moribund programs like South Carolina and Wake Forest look incredibly inviting? Win eight games in Columbia or Winston-Salem and they're bringing you 72 virgins and the finest meats and cheeses from throughout the land. Win eight in Tuscaloosa and the attitude is, "Well, OK, but you better do better next year."

In the decreasingly likely event that Alabama does manage to hire a big-name (or even temporarily-trendy-name) coach, they need to hang on to him like grim death. They need to grit their teeth and survive a few six- or seven-win seasons if that's what happens, because even if you concede that a Bear-Bryant-like dynasty is still possible -- which, for the record, I don't -- you must recognize that building one is gonna take a lot more than five years. Rich Rodriguez went 3-8 his first year at West Virginia and didn't bring home the Big East title until his fifth year on the job. Frank Beamer, a name that gets brung up like clockwork every time Alabama needs a coach, won two, three, six, six, five, and two games in his first six years before finally breaking through to a bowl in his seventh. A guy like Beamer is never going to be any good without the patience that was shown to him while he was struggling to turn VT into a competitive program.

I know I've been harsh on Alabama here, and I don't mean to sound that way; I like Alabama, I definitely fall on the crimson side of the Bama-Auburn rivalry, and I'm one of those people who just thinks there's something somehow better about college football when the Tide is good. But good Lord, people, it's time to man up and realize that after Mike DuBose, Dennis Franchione, the Mike Price debacle, and not one but two major NCAA violations, the reconstruction of Alabama into a national powerhouse is not a three-year job. It may not even be a five-year job. Hire someone who has that kind of patience, and then do him a favor by having that same kind of patience with him.

And you know, David Cutcliffe made a pretty decent head coach too, now that I think about it. I'm just saying.

Tuesday, November 28

Some friendly advice for my Crimson mates.

Now, I'll preface this right off the bat by saying that I may not exactly be the best advice-giver on coaching personnel matters. I was one of the few Georgia fans who was actually upset when we fired Jim Donnan almost exactly six years ago (though I quickly recognized it was the right move in hindsight once we picked up Mark Richt), and also met with speculations of insanity after suggesting that Georgia hire Rick Neuheisel as offensive coordinator. So, like, take everything I'm about to say with a grain of salt.

But if somebody from the University of Alabama athletic department isn't on their way to Louisville, Kentucky, right this very instant carrying a suitcase full of $100 bills they plan on dumping on Bobby Petrino's desk, everybody in Tuscaloosa is a fucking retard.

First, a tear for Mike Shula, who's a good upstanding Catholic boy and maybe even a good coach in certain circumstances but rarely looked like he was prepared for the buzzsaw that is coaching at the Capstone. As someone who's demonstrated himself to be quite conservative in the matter of firing coaches, and who almost always errs on the side of giving so-and-so another year before dropping the hammer, I thought Shula might actually do pretty well next year with a team that was pretty young at a lot of important positions in '06. That said, I won't spend a lot of time arguing with anyone who'd made their minds up that Shula just wasn't the guy. Shula spent his first two years in Tuscaloosa looking like the picture you'd expect to see on the Wikipedia page for "deer in the headlights," looked like he'd snapped out of it during last year's 10-2 campaign, then appeared to regress right back into the old deer pose this past season. Shula may deep down be a great coach, but at the same time it wouldn't surprise me at all if we never heard from him again, at least on the sideline of a major college football team.

"It's not you. It's me."

But anyway. Alabama, you need to hire Bobby Petrino. Stop chasing after Steve Spurrier, whose last two seasons at South Carolina haven't been that much better than the one that just got Mike Shula fired; stop chasing after Nick Saban, whose ego is getting fed by the NFL these days and hasn't demonstrated any desire to step back into the college ranks; stop chasing after Rich Rodriguez, who's coaching at his alma mater for Christ's sake (and doing a damn fine job of it to, last week's loss to South Florida notwithstanding). There are three major things going for Petrino, and they are, in no particular order:

1. He would bring the kind of wide-open offense Alabama hasn't seen in . . . well, maybe ever. Even when Mike DuBose and then Dennis Franchione were putting together 10-win seasons with the Tide, they weren't exactly slinging the ball all over the field. Part of the reason Shula got fired is because his offenses were mind-numbingly conservative. You want to open it up a little? Pass for 300 yards in a game for once? Petrino's your man. Spurrier's Spurrier, but he's not the Spurrier of the mid-'90s anymore. Petrino's the closest thing to that you're gonna find right now.

2. He's made it quite clear he wants to be coaching in the SEC. Guys like Saban, Rodriguez, and Rutgers's Greg Schiano are in cushy situations they know they'd be stupid to leave. But anyone with half a brain should know by now that Petrino, for all the success he's enjoyed in Louisville, sees it as only a pit stop on the way to someplace bigger. He interviewed for the LSU job; he promoted himself for the Ole Miss job before thinking better of it. And we all know what happened with Auburn. Which brings me to the third (and maybe the biggest) reason:

3. For the first time in six years, it would make Alabama look smarter than Auburn. Look, let's not sugarcoat this: Auburn has been eating Bama's lunch for years now, and not just in the Iron Bowl; the Tigers have been stringing together 9-, 10-, and even 13-win seasons while Alabama craps their pants with delight if they so much as make it to a New Year's Day bowl. Auburn is enjoying consistency and unity on their coaching staff while Alabama has turned coach-firing into practically a biennial ritual. But if Alabama were to snag the coach that Auburn nearly humiliated themselves on a historic level trying to hire . . . that'd be like the Punk'd of the decade in the SEC. You'd have a guy who knows Tommy Tuberville's secrets and can get his goat. This hiring would make the Iron Bowl exciting again before Alabama even wins one -- and it'd make Bobby Lowder spontaneously combust with rage, which is all the reason somebody should need to do anything.

Knows where Tuberville's bodies are buried; also would apparently sell his own mother into white slavery to become an SEC coach.

Come on, Alabama. We know you've got money; give Petrino as much of it as he wants and bring him to T-Town. He's good, he's available, he's feasible, he'd drive your biggest arch-rival fucking nuts. I'm offering you this exclusive consulting work free of charge; just throw me some tickets to the Georgia-Alabama game at Bryant-Denny next year and we'll call it completely even. Now go!

Monday, November 27

Now I get my gloat on.

Since I didn't get the chance to do nearly as much trash-talking as I wanted to do this past week (due to the technical difficulties mentioned in the previous post), I kind of have to get it all out of my system now. My apologies to anyone whom this offends, but . . . I decided to go back to the well of one of my favorite Web sites.

And my personal favorite, actually the first one I made:

You can make your own here. They don't all have to be as tasteless as mine.

Today I feel like dancing,
singing like lovers sing.

ED.'S NOTE: This post was originally marked Friday because it was basically a rewrite of the post I'd originally written last week but hadn't been able to put up because of all the problems mentioned below. It has been bumped up to today because, well, that's when I actually put it up here. Sorry for the confusion.

Sorry I kind of disappeared off the face of the earth for the past five days. I had this great post all put together in preparation for the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, full of hilarious jokes and top-quality snark about how Tech has only secured one non-referee-aided win over Georgia in the last 15 years, how Tech students have less of a social life on an entire weekend in the middle of Atlanta than Georgia kids do on a Tuesday night in their supposed "cow college," how most Tech "gentlemen" have so little experience with female genitalia that they probably couldn't pick a vagina out of a lineup, etc. etc. etc. Had it all ready to go, yet thanks to the Reggie Ball-like consistency of my parents' Internet connection and a bitchy attitude on Blogger's part over the last few days, I couldn't do anything with it, and it will forever remain unread. Well, except for the parts I'm basically rehashing here.

Georgia Tech: Bringing sexy back.

There are many ways to measure whom you think your biggest rival is, and each way may result in a different answer, but if you go by the "If your team was going to go 1-11 this season, whom would you want the one win to come against" question, then my most hated personal rival is Georgia Tech. If for no other reason than out of necessity, I no longer get nearly as worked up about losses to Florida as I used to; and while I may detest certain things about, say, Tennessee or Auburn, there's no shame in losing to either of those teams, at least not lately. A loss to Georgia Tech, however, is shame-mandatory, for the simple reason that Georgia has pretty clearly established itself as the premier college program in the state, Georgia Tech has all but curled up in a ball and settled down in its role of second banana, and there is no reason for Georgia fans to accept anything that would throw that relationship out of whack.

I know that sounds cocky, and I don't want to be interpreted as saying that I take wins over Tech for granted, or that anyone should; there's a difference between assuming a win and expecting one. I personally don't indulge in the former, but I won't apologize for the latter, nor will I apologize for really enjoying getting to wear the daddy pants in this particular rivalry. They're stylish, they fit nicely, our collective ass looks great in them. One win by Tech wouldn't automatically relinquish possession of said pants to the Yellow Jackets -- not when they've got a five-year losing streak to live down -- but it would certainly make life less pleasant for people like me. The most frequently invoked metaphor for Georgia Tech, at least in Bulldog circles, is that of the annoying little brother, the one who wants to be considered on the same level as you despite not really having done anything to earn it, the one who tries to compensate for his little-man-ness by trying to get your goat and taunting you about his supposed superiority in this, that, or the other, only to get smacked down every time. The only problem with that is that if you let little bro win even once, you're never going to hear the end of it. So it's best to make sure that never happens. Tech needs to be reminded that we're Georgia, they're Georgia Tech, each has a place in the world, and theirs just isn't as good as ours.

We should be doing this every year, and no, it will never get old.

That, for me at least, is why this year's UGA-GT game in particular was such a big deal to me. Sure, Georgia has had a season that at various times could be described as "godawful," while Tech has enjoyed very consistent success with only a couple of hiccups. If it were anybody else -- Florida, Tennessee, Auburn -- I could shrug and say, "Well, we'll just try to keep it close and get 'em next year," but not with Tech. Not with the prospect of 365 days of trash-talking from Tech fans acting like they'd just won the fucking Rose Bowl. I lived through that seven years ago, and after maybe the most ill-gotten "win" ever written into the Tech record books, no less; I didn't even want to think about what they'd act like if they actually won one fair and square.

Fortunately, I didn't have to find out, because the Bulldogs did exactly what I prayed they'd do for the past two weeks: Do almost exactly the same stuff against Tech that they did against Auburn. The duplication wasn't entirely successful -- our offense this time around was satisfactory as opposed to murderous, and whereas Auburn was a blowout almost from our very first possession, this was a nailbiter right down to the last 30 seconds -- but it was close enough. No picks from Stafford? Check. Receivers actually catching passes? Check. Winning the turnover battle? Check.

A pass defense that straight-up annihilated the opposition? Check, check, double-check, triple-check, however many checks you want to give 'em. Paul Oliver went up against Calvin Johnson, supposedly the most otherworldly playmaker in the country, and sent him out with tight pants and lipstick; Tech's supposedly sneaky-underrated #2, James Johnson, got owned so hard that Georgia can now take him down to TitleMax in the event they need some extra spending cash, and will probably spend the rest of his life reacting to the words "Tra Battle" the way Vietnam vets react to the sound of cars backfiring or helicopters flying overhead. Georgia's pass defense, who up until a few weeks ago hadn't been a major presence anywhere except Erik Ainge's highlight reel, has now held the last two quarterbacks it's faced to a combined 10-of-34 for 77 yards, no touchdowns, and six picks. The NCAA calls that a quarterback rating of 13.14, which is also the amount, in dollars, of the salary Reggie Ball can expect to command as an NFL free agent.

Reggie Ball: pwn3d. (And if you think you have to be 10 years old to think there's something funny about "Ball sacked," you're wrong.)

Reggie Ball . . . Reggie Ball, Reggie Ball, Reggie Ball. Every Bulldog fan's favorite Yellow Jacket had yet another hell of a game Saturday night, coughing up three game-killing turnovers and finishing his career 0-for-4-ever against UGA. From the moment they arrived back at their respective tailgates after the game, Georgia fans were talking about a ceremony to retire his jersey; even Tech fans were awarding Game Ball sole ownership of this latest loss. Look, I know there are those who will say it's unfair to pick on a twentysomething kid for what he does on the football field, and plenty of Tech fans whose opinions I actually respect, like Nathan Fowler, have told me that Ball is a fiery competitor who, while not the most naturally talented player out there (obviously), has passion and heart that can match up with anybody who's ever played the game. But I don't feel the least bit bad about taking immense glee in his winless record against Georgia, because I can't think of a single player over the last few years who has done more trash-talking with less to back it up than Reggie Ball. Maybe not even Casey Clausen, the mere sight of whom has nearly brought me to vomit on more than one occasion.

Ball may have passion and heart in spades, but I think all the accolades about his spirit and his drive to win have allowed him to get a big head and presume that people will overlook the fact that he is one of the most classless, obnoxious players in all of college football. Reggie started his career against Georgia in 2003 with a five-yard scramble on fourth-and-7 that he punctuated with a cheap swing taken at a Georgia trainer on the sideline (when he was yanked from the game after that, it was supposedly because of a "concussion," according to Tech's people). He continued it a year later by blaming the Sanford Stadium scoreboard operators when he lost track of the downs and ended the Jackets' last-gasp drive by throwing the ball away on fourth-and-long. And he capped it off by taking a swing at Georgia DE Quentin Moses after the penultimate play of Tech's last drive Saturday night (naturally, Moses's retaliation was what got penalized); Georgia DT Ray Gant reported that Ball was "definitely rattled, especially toward the end of the game. He was pushing people, kicking people on the bottom of piles." Praise him for his drive and competitive fire if you want, but Reggie Ball needs to start channeling some of that energy into completing passes (to his own team members) instead of taking cheap shots at guys like Quentin Moses who could very easily squeeze him into a ball the size of a gobstopper and swallow him whole; until he does, Reggie will continue to be a no-class shitstain who deserves every embarrassment that's been heaped upon him throughout his 0-4 string against the Dawgs. And if he takes the field in Jacksonville this Saturday with the sound of 92,746 Georgia fans chanting "Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie" still ringing in his ears, he'll have come by that honestly, too.

Yet in spite of that, and in spite of my general rule that Georgia Tech is not to be rooted for in any sport under any circumstance, there's a part of me that actually hopes they beat Wake Forest for the ACC title this weekend. If Tech beats the Demon Deacons, and Florida beats Arkansas for the SEC crown, then Georgia will have capped off what was once thought to be a lost season by beating two ranked teams, one of which would be the only team to have beaten Florida this season, the other of which would be the ACC champion. Nobody in Bulldog Nation is even going to remember Vandy or Kentucky after that -- not until next year, when a more-experienced Matt Stafford and his more-experienced team come to rain avenging hell down on anyone and everyone who got in their way in '06.

So congratulations to Mark Richt, the Bulldogs, and especially rhe seniors for refusing to lay down this year. Along with our tailgate hosts Josh, DAve, "Pasqua" and "Stanicek," Jmac, and many others, y'all made this one of the most memorable nights in my Georgia-football-consuming career.

What's up next? A Peach Bowl (nope, not gonna call it the "Chick-fil-A Bowl," sorry) date with the 10-2 Virginia Tech Hokies? Don't know yet, but I can say with utter certainty that if that scenario were to play out, given the high population of VT alums/fans on both sides of my family, it would result in a vicious, rage-filled smack-o-rama that would reverberate throughout the Gillett extended family for generations. Stay tuned.

But I'll worry about that later. For now, it's time to stand up and remind Tech Nation: Even at your best point in maybe the past decade, you still couldn't beat us. This is why we're Georgia and you're Georgia Tech. Go home and tell your children, so that they can be saved from the same kind of disappointment.

And have fun in Jacksonville.

F$#! Tommy Tuberville and his thumb -- we workin' on the other hand, baby.

Give the po' man a break:

· For some reason ESPN has taken to referring to the weekend before Thanksgiving as "Rivalry Week," and I can only presume they do so on the basis of exactly two hard-core traditional rivalries: Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama. Aside from those two, the "rivalries" on display last weekend were pretty slim pickin's, unless you were enthralled by, say, West Virginia beating Pittsburgh senseless in the "Backyard Brawl" or the two mules of Washington and Washington State fighting over the turnip that the Apple Cup has become. (Full disclosure, yes, I watched both of those games, but more out of boredom than anything else. If "Heroes" was on Thursday night, I probably wouldn't have messed with WVU-Pitt at all. Who needs Pat White meowing like a wounded and/or developmentally stunted panther when you can save the cheerleader and/or the world?)

Show of hands: How may of you felt just a little icky when you realized the girl who plays the cheerleader a) was only 17 and b) had played the assistant coach's daughter in "Remember the Titans"?

Let's roll with the realness for a second: Doesn't the weekend after Thanksgiving really hold the bigger claim to the name "Rivalry Week"? You've got the visceral hatefest of Georgia-Georgia Tech, of course, but also Florida-Florida State, which is still heated for partisans of those schools even if the rivalry has become a shadow of its former self; Clemson-South Carolina, which makes the current Shiite-Sunni battle in Iraq look like Friday Night Sissy Fights; the Egg Bowl, which is always fun even when the two teams suck, as was the case this year; USC-Notre Dame; Texas-Texas A&M; and of course Virginia-Virginia Tech, which reduces my family to a frothing, gelatinous mass of hate and recrimination for four hours each November.

· Had that last one actually been televised in the Columbus DMA this year, and had Virginia actually scored on the Hokies, it would've also allowed observers to witness my mom doing the full Wa-Hoo-Wa Dance with everything but pompoms, followed by a booming rendition of the Good Ol' Song (complete with " . . . but not too gay" following the "where all is bright and gay" line, as I'm told is the style in C-ville these days). Even so, you still would
ve gotten to see my dad setting new world records for progressing through all five stages of the Kübler-Ross Model as the Cavaliers got ground into the turf, but that's neither here nor there.

· Instead, we got to watch Clemson DT Jock McKissic, 6'6", 295 (and an Opelika, Ala., product, say word!), snatching a Blake Mitchell pass out of the air deep in South Carolina territory and running 82 yards for a touchdown. Actually, "running" isn't quite accurate; it was more "chugging." By the time he got to the opposite end zone he didn't even have enough energy to celebrate it. Clemson still lost, but that still had to be the most entertaining non-UGA-GT-related thing I saw all weekend.

· OK, I have to tell one of the jokes I was going to tell in the lost Friday post, though of course it's been updated to reflect Saturday's happenings:

A Georgia fan and a Tech fan are watching the UGA-GT game at the Jocks 'n' Jills on 10th Street in Midtown Atlanta. The Tech fan has a little Chihuahua with him, and when Tech scores in the first half, the dog turns three backflips, stands on its hind legs, and manages to bark the entire "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech" song before dropping down on all fours again. When Tech scores again in the fourth quarter, the dog goes through the entire routine once more.
"That's a pretty impressive trick," the Georgia fan says. "Does he do that every time Tech scores?"
"Sure does," says the dog's owner.
"Wow. Then what will he do if Tech actually beats Georgia?"
"I don't know," the Tech fan says. "I've only had him five six years."

Monday, November 20

UGA-GT faceoff: Let the hating commence!

It's the week before Thanksgiving, and you know what that means . . . well, maybe you don't know what that means other than turkey overdose and take-no-prisoners Christmas shopping, but if you attended Georgia or Georgia Tech you do: It's the week of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, the now going-on-113-year-old UGA-GT rivalry. It may not be the nastiest rivalry in the country, it may not be the one most national-title-implication-fraught, but it's certainly one of the most interesting: Very few rivalries match up schools of such vastly different personalities. Sure, Georgia people talk mountains of shit to Tennessee kids, Auburn kids, Florida kids, etc. etc. etc., but when you get right down to it we're not all that different from them. Tech kids, though . . . yeah, there's a culture gap there. We Bulldogs live in a relatively small town about 60 miles into the east metro Atlanta hinterlands, yet we still do more partying on a Wednesday night than Techies do on a Saturday in the middle of Midtown freaking Atlanta. Our idea of a good night is a hard-liquor IV and dozens of the hottest coeds in the Western Hemisphere; theirs is World of Warcraft games played over the Internet with people who may not even be from this hemisphere. And so on and so forth. The jocks and cheerleaders from your high school are the kind of kids who go to Georgia; the awkward Dungeons & Dragons players off in a dark corner of the lunchroom are Tech material. Maybe it's not fair, but that's the way life is sometimes.

I really can't make it much clearer than this.

But anyway, it's a rivalry that's worth delving into further, which is why I approached Tech blog Ramblin' Racket about the possibility of doing a Q&A exchange so that the two sides could find out a little more about each other. You'll recall that I did something similar last year with Tech blogger Nathan Fowler, late of Golden Tornado and more recently of AOL Fanhouse. This year the stakes are ratcheted up even higher, as Tech is on their way to the ACC championship game while Georgia has struggled mightily for most of the season -- and Georgia is running a serious risk of sustaining its first loss to Tech of the Mark Richt era. First loss to Tech since the previous century!

What's on the mind of Tech Nation as they stand on the brink of maybe their best season since the national-title year of 1990? What, other than advanced calculus and a disturbingly thorough knowledge of obscure comic-book characters, makes the Tech man tick? You won't know unless you read, sucka.

(ADDED: My responses to Ramblin' Racket's questions right here.)

1. About 11 months ago, Georgia Tech had just gotten embarrassed by Utah in the Emerald Bowl, and a substantial portion of the Tech fanbase -- even people who had supported Chan Gailey in the past -- decided they might not piss on Gailey if he were on fire. Now Tech is 9-2 and has a very real shot at their first-ever BCS bowl. What's the prevailing opinion of Gailey at this point? Have the Chan-haters softened their opinion on him, or do they think he's only taken advantage of a weak ACC?

The Ned Flanders of college football would have a glass of warm milk before going to bed, but that's almost like doing drugs.

Most realistic Tech fans (read: very few Tech fans) recognize that the ACC is down, and while GT benefits, we still believe that this is a truly solid team which took Notre Dame to the wire and has had only two "off" games (Clemson and UNC).

The hardcore-est members of the "Can Chan" movement would probably never let up even if we won the BCS title game, but most Chan-haters are converted. A lot of them are a total knee-jerk group who went directly from hating Chan to loving him. These are the folks who would deny that this is a down year for the ACC, and will probably complain that whoever we play in a bowl game is unworthy . . . I guess better that than hating on the coach, though.

2. One thing Georgia fans constantly revel in is just how much attention Georgia football is paid by seething Tech fans. So how much attention did Tech Nation pay to Georgia's struggles this year? Which, in retrospect, was more satisfying: Whacking Virginia Tech, or hearing that Georgia had lost to Vandy?

I'll be the first one to admit GT's "little brother syndrome." In defense of it, though, imagine if -- IN ATHENS -- there was 20x as much Tech stuff on homes/cars/businesses/etc as UGA stuff. There would be much the same effect. The reason the Dawgs are always on our minds is because they're always in our faces.

That said, we always know how the 'Dawgs are doing, and we definitely enjoy the failures. The weekend of the Vandy loss was a bye week for Tech, so there wasn't even a distraction from loving it. I don't think I've ever said "How 'bout them Dawgs?" more times than that weekend. Beating VPI was more satisfying, though. Schadenfreude only goes so far, and up until Tech's loss at Clemson, I was still worried about y'all screwing up our strength of schedule . . . although the rest of the ACC would have already hosed it.

3. How do you think this year's Yellow Jacket squad stacks up to the better teams of the George O'Leary era?

O'Leary: Never been seen in the same room with Newt Gingrich.

My instinct was to say the GOL teams were better, but as I think it through and look at the numbers, I think this year's squad trumps them. Joe Hamilton offenses put up more points on average, but they lacked the stifling D of the Jon Tenuta era. In GT's 10-2/ACC co-champ season of 1998, the team allowed almost 25 points per game (compared with [about] 15 so far this year).

The down year for the ACC doesn't effect my opinion here; in the late '90s, the ACC was still trying to shed its perennial-cakewalk/"FSU and the Seven Dwarves" image, so the quality of opponents was probably not all that different.

4. How will Reggie Ball be remembered after he leaves Tech? Will that change substantially if he wins (or loses) an ACC title?

Honestly, I think Reggie's legacy falls to this game against Georgia. Even if we win the ACC, with a loss to UGA that would always be the proverbial asterisk in the conversation.

Two buddies talking Tech QBS: "Okay, Hamilton was awesome . . . Shawn Jones was a BAMF . . . Reggie Ball was sweet . . . " "Yeah, but he never beat Georgia." "Yeah, true, he sucked. Didn't he like throw the ball away on fourth down?"

I know what you're thinking. "Was that third down or only second?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself.

If Reggie beats UGA this weekend, he'll be remembered as a very good quarterback. If he beats Georgia and wins the ACC, he'll be remembered as a great quarterback.

5. Lightning round! I'll say a word or phrase and you respond with the first word or phrase that pops into your head. Ready? OK, here we go:

Chan Gailey: Underrated.

Mark Richt: Gentleman coach. I wish he sucked.

Uga VI: Ugh.

Reggie Ball: Calvin Johnson.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Sucks without Tony Barnhart.

Athens: Cheap booze and hot chicks.

UGA coeds: Brumby, "Nine Floors of Whores." (I actually cheated on this one, because the first several responses I thought of were inappropriate . . . but all true.)

[Judges? Yes, we will accept "Nine Floors of Whores." We would've also accepted "Virgin Vault." A good friend of mine peed off of the roof of it while he was in school there.]

6. From what I gather, Tech has had some pretty impressive successes on the recruiting trail this year; however, after this season they lose a considerable amount of experience at quarterback, and could also lose a once-in-a-generation playmaker if Calvin Johnson busts tracks for the NFL. Particularly with regard to the UGA-GT rivalry, is the general sense among Tech fans that this was their "breakthrough year" setting them up for a return to national prominence, or that 2006 was just a one-year window for success that will start closing again once Ball and Johnson are gone?

Really a little bit of both. We expect a little fall-off next year (especially if Calvin leaves), but also a return to perennial contention for the conference title, much like Georgia since '02.

Tech has not gotten this year's level of media exposure since Joe Hamilton was on the Flats. (It really helps that some Calvin Johnson highlight is in 80% of ESPN's college football commercials.) Getting the team into the national consciousness helps recruiting, and that has obviously paid off with the incoming class you mentioned. If Tech can squeeze potential out of 4-star recruits the same way we have 2- and 3-stars, the program should be in great shape. (For an example of Tech getting the most out of its players, realize that P.J. Daniels started out a 7th-string walk-on, then led the ACC in rushing in 2004.)

7. Last question: A mysterious man shows up at your doorstep one day and offers you your choice of three wishes -- but you can pick only one: You can trade coaches with Georgia, trade female student populations with Georgia, or trade Travis Bell for a framed, limited-edition "Lord of the Rings" poster signed by every member of the cast. Which one do you choose?

That's damn tough. Even though I covet him, I've learned to hate Mark Richt, so no coach trade. And even though I covet the hotties, I wouldn't want to trade the womenfolk. One of Tech's greatest traditions is bitching about how much harder it was when you were there, and how kids now have it too easy (e.g. "Java!? I programmed on a PUNCHCARD, kid!" "We never had any fancy waterslide. And we only had a swimming pool for drownproofing." "Back in my day, east campus smelled like shit. And there were NO girls.") If the students ever had a female population like Georgia, I would be really angry and bitter about how much better they have it.

So, unfortunately, I would take the "Lord of the Rings" poster. I would sell it, if that makes it any less shameful a choice, but I would probably sell it at DragonCon, so the shame just rolls right back in.

Heh heh. I knew you couldn't refuse.

Thanks to Ramblin' Racket for having enough faith in the literacy of Georgia alums to participate in this little back-and-forth. Good luck Saturday (though not so much in the "hope you play a great game" sense as in the "hope none of your guys get seriously injured" sense). I'm looking forward to a great game and, dare I hope, 365 more days of holding it over you guys' heads.

Saturday, November 18

Blogpoll ballot #13, and some other crap.

Take a bow, Buckeyes.

With no Georgia football this weekend to entertain (or horrify) me, it was a relatively relaxing Saturday, one I spent on the couch polishing off a half rack of Dreamland ribs whilst flipping back and forth between the Iron Bowl and the Ohio State-Michigan game. Both underdogs scored first, only to see the favorites storm back for a win; I probably felt sorrier for the Alabama fans, if for no other reason than because I know what it feels like to have Auburn fans relentlessly bugging the shit out of you (though they won't be doing much of that to me for the next 12 months, heh heh). But I also felt a little bad for the Michigan folks, in an "I wish both teams could've won" kind of way, as wishy-washy as that sounds. I mean, a classic like that, where both teams are so clearly playing their asses off . . . hate the fact that anybody has to lose at all, is what I'm saying.

Partly for that reason, my top two teams remain the same from last week's Blogpoll ballot to this week's: Ohio State is still #1 and Michigan is still #2. I could've dropped the Wolverines, and I'm sure plenty of people did, but unlike most times when a top team loses, I didn't think dropping them was a necessity in this case. Can you confidently say that any other team in the country -- Southern Cal, Louisville, Florida, whoever -- would've played Ohio State that close under those circumstances? One loss or no, is anybody better than Michigan right now other than Ohio State? I played out a bunch of different scenarios in my head and couldn't find any -- and apparently both the sportswriters and the computers agree with me.

But, and here's the paradox: I don't want to see a rematch of this game. Michigan may still be the second-best team in the country, but the fact is they had their chance, they lost (even if it was close), and that, to my mind, is that. Michigan was +3 in turnovers, they scored 39 points, and still didn't get the W; I think Ohio State's superiority has been conclusively established here. So it's time to give someone else a chance for the national-title game. I've got ideas about who I think that someone should be and who it shouldn't, but I don't want a rematch.

Anyway. Here are my rankings.

Games watched: Part of Ball State-Toledo (it was Tuesday, I was bored), West Virginia-Pittsburgh, parts of Boston College-Maryland, flipped back and forth between Auburn-Alabama and Ohio State-Michigan, rotated randomly through USC-California, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest, Washington-Washington State, and Cincinnati-Rutgers.

1. Ohio State (1)

2. Michigan (2)

3. Southern California (6)

4. Arkansas (3)
Not exactly a world-afire-setting performance against Mississippi State, though it's not like they needed one. I didn't drop them a spot because of that; I think my guilt over having them above a team that dropped 50 points on them finally caught up with me.

5. Florida (4)

6. Louisville (9)

7. West Virginia (10)

8. Wisconsin (12)
The Badgers have to be pissed about the rule saying a conference can't put more than two teams in the BCS. Instead they get to play in the Capital One Bowl again.

9. Notre Dame (8)

10. LSU (7)
Unlike Arkansas, I did drop LSU for a lousy performance in a win. Good God, what are you doing getting taken to OT by Ole Miss? In Tiger Stadium?

11. Texas (11)

12. Oklahoma (13)

13. Boise State (18)

14. Rutgers (5)
I understand about letdowns, guys, but there's get-played-close-all-game-long-and-get-punked-at-the-end letdowns and then there's never-in-the-game-for-even-a-second letdowns, and this was the latter. And it doesn't get any easier next week, because even Syracuse is good enough to beat them if they're looking ahead to West Virginia.

15. Boston College (20)

16. Tennessee (15)

17. Auburn (17)

18. California (16)

19. Georgia Tech (19)

20. Virginia Tech (23)
Very nice win against Wake Forest. The Hokies will be dangerous next year.

21. Brigham Young (21)

22. Wake Forest (14)

23. Nebraska (24)

24. Clemson (25)

25. Texas Christian (NR)

The next five: Texas A&M, Penn State, Maryland, Hawaii, Georgia.

Dropped out: Maryland (22).

Sunday morning coming down:

· Kirk Herbstreit is one of my favorite guys in sports, but when I heard that the former Ohio State QB was going to be in the booth for the OSU-Michigan game, I smelled a rat and poised my finger over the "shenanigans" button. But I'll say this for Herbie: He did a great job of keeping whatever biases he might've had bottled up and calling a very clean game. He praised Michigan when they did something good, and (perhaps to a lesser extent) he criticized Ohio State when they screwed up. So props to him for that. I still think it's pretty sketchy when former players or other alums of a school are in the booth for a game that school is playing in, but Herbstreit showed how to do it right. Class act.

Plus the ladies love him.

· Wish the same could be said for some of Ohio State's fans. I know I'm not the first one to ask it and I know I won't be the last, but what is it about a win like this that makes certain people think, "You know, the best possible way to celebrate this victory is to turn over a car and set some stuff on fire"? I'm not going to sit here and say Georgia fans are as pure as the driven snow, but the worst we've done of late is trying to rush the field too early when we finally beat Tennessee back in 2000. For even the biggest games -- winning the SEC title back in 2002, finally beating Florida in '04 -- we participated in very little that would qualify as "vandalism," much less "arson."

· So here's what it looks like in the Big East: Everybody has at least one loss. Louisville has Pittsburgh and UConn left, both of whom they should beat without much trouble. Rutgers has Syracuse, whom they should, and West Virginia has South Florida at home before RU and WVU meet up on December 2. So if everybody beats whom they should beat before then, and WVU wins, then Rutgers has two losses, Louisville has the tiebreaker over the Mountaineers, and Louisville is the Big East champion. If Rutgers wins, they have the tiebreaker over Louisville, and they're the Big East champion. I think. But apparently that means WVU is all but out of the race regardless. Weird.

· OMG SPURRIER TO MIAMI! True? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it ain't fun to watch the Gamecock fans squirm. And I gotta say Spurrier doesn't look like the happiest cat in the conference right now. At various points this season he's called out the refs (twice), his own players, even his own coaches, pretty much everybody but the grounds crew at Williams-Brice Stadium -- all in all a guy who's showing all the signs of being really upset at where his life's path has taken him.

When your job has you looking this Tom Coughlinesque, it's time to admit things didn't turn out the way you thought they would.

· Finally, Jason Campbell's line from his first start for the Washington Redskins: 19-of-34 for 196 yards, two TDs, no picks, and five rushes for 11 yards to boot. Efficiency rating for the game: 92.3. Yeah, they lost to Tampa Bay, but while the season may be a disaster, it's no longer a complete disaster. Kudos, Mr. Campbell, and I'm sorry I doubted you. Just please try and win, you know, maybe a couple games down the stretch.

I suppose I can get used to this.

Friday, November 17

Friday Random Ten: And on the twelfth weekend, I rested.

For the first time since August, Georgia is going an entire weekend without playing a game. Any other day I might be bummed about this, but after 11 straight weeks of probably the most tumultuous season of the Mark Richt era, I'm actually kind of glad for the breather. This weekend I can just kick back, polish off a few Stellas, and take in everybody else's thrill of victory/agony of defeat without having to get too emotionally involved myself.

I know the OMG Biggest Game Evar this weekend is Michigan-Ohio State, but with all due respect to a Buckeye-fan commenter I'll get to in a minute, down here in Alabama, we only just found out the Big Ten was in Division I-A a few years ago. And I wanted to share with you the experience of a very close friend of mine from college, who for reasons too complicated to explain went to the Wisconsin-Iowa game in Iowa City this past weekend. Based on this experience, she says she finally has empirical proof that the Big Ten has nothing on the SEC when it comes to tailgating or anything else. Our girl on the scene points out thusly:

· Iowa has two majorettes. One of them is a dude.

· Most of the music in the stadium was piped-in shit like at an NBA game, not the marching band. Which was probably fine because Wisconsin didn't bother to send their band, not like Iowa isn't about the closest school in the Big 10 from them. Still, I don't approve. If I wanted to hear multiple playings of the first 15 seconds of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," I'd go to a fucking Atlanta Braves game and wait for Chipper Jones to bat. This is supposed to be college football.

· Remember how we used to go to the Miss Georgia pageant every year and joke that the girls in the audience were all dressed as if, just in case, there would be an off chance that Miss Magnolia Midlands would, like, sprain an ankle or something and they'd have to pinch pageant? Full hair, full makeup, prom attire, the works? Ridiculous. Well, the same goes for Big 10 football. I know those lazy bastards don't find it necessary to dress or anything for a football game, so I was prepared to see a ton of people in sweatshirts. No biggie. I was wearing one myself -- when in Rome and all that. Here's what I was not prepared for: the number of people who were not just wearing sweatshirts, but sweatPANTS too, That's the kind of thing that doesn't show up on TV. Wow. All I can say is, wow.

· Iowa fans were booing after dropped pass No. 2. Unbelievable. First off, no Georgia fan would even NOTICE there was a dropped pass trend until about No. 5 or No. 6, that's how bad we are. And I'm not going to sit around and pretend Georgia fans never boo their own team, but people get really mad about it when that happens. Booing your own team is a total no-no in the SEC. (With one huge, orange-and-blue jean-shorts wearing exception in the University of Florida, whose fans are uncouth fistfuckers who aren't even Southern except in the geographical sense of the word and deserve all the booing they heap on their team. So they'll boo at the Swamp. But then again, no one likes them.)

· Neither team appeared to have a kickoff cheer (like "Go Dawgs, Sic 'Em" or "Roll Tide, Roll" or "War Eagle Hey"). . . . Wait, I take that back. When Iowa was receiving, but not kicking, the loudspeaker would play a few seconds of the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up." Which would be totally bitchin' if I was watching a commercial for Windows 95. But I complained already about the music, so now I'm just piling on.

· You know how on a big third down usually the defense will lift their arms as if to tell their fans, hey, you lazy fucks, how about standing up and cheering for us on this big third down, it's the least you can do while we're out here getting our faces pounded? And then everyone does stand up. Both Iowa and Wisconsin were doing that. Only students responded, though. And not even all of them.

So overall I was not impressed. I'm not saying the SEC experience is better, not by any means. All I'm saying is, I'm about done hearing Big 10 folks -- who have never been to a game in any other conference -- talk all day long about how they're the only ones who know how it's done. Shenanigans. That's what I'm calling. Shenanigans.

Wow. Harsh words, I know, but still, it makes me feel more assured in thinking that the biggest game of the weekend, at least in my little corner of Dixie heaven, is still Auburn-Alabama. Yeah, this game hasn't had national-title implications in years; lately the only implications it's had is which coach is going to need to be updating his résumé over Thanksgiving weekend. But be that as it may, when I walk into my office on Monday, half of the people there are going to be suicidally depressed and the other half are going to be the ones driving them to it, and Bama-Auburn is going to determine who's who.

Anyway, I've slagged on the Big Ten enough, and in all fairness, Michigan-Ohio State is a pretty big game (in case that fact wasn't drilled into your skull enough by ESPN over the past month and a half). I should probably show more gratitude than that, especially given that one of my commenters who is an avowed Buckeye fan threw in a contribution to the whole Scarlett-Johansson-in-a-Hooters-uniform thing, which appears to be very close to taking on a life of its own:

As Borat would say, great success. Kudos, Buckeye. Maybe we'll make this a weekly Photoshop contest like they do on What's next? Jenna Bush in a Playboy bunny costume? Sky's the limit.

Anyway, enough of that. The Ten:

1. The Clash, "Julie's in the Drug Squad"
2. Mint Royale, "From Rusholme With Love"
3. Gorillaz, "Dracula"
4. Cat Stevens, "There Goes My Baby"
5. Underworld, "Pearl's Girl" (Live at Benicassim 2005)
6. Fun Lovin' Criminals, "Love Unlimited"
7. U2, "Zoo Station"
8. Janet Jackson, "When I Think of You"
9. Dimitri from Paris, "Un World Mysteriouse"
10. Pet Shop Boys, "The Theatre"

Your Ten(s), big game predictions, off-color rants, and whatever else in the comments. Dzienkuje.

Wednesday, November 15

Thursday mystery meat.

Great success!

· After many weeks of anticipation, I finally saw "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" on Monday. Whoawhoaweewow! I laughed so hard I nearly had a stroke. Make that multiple strokes. I don't want to give away too much of what happened, but . . . I hope you like fat, naked, hairy men. Or at least think they're uproariously funny.

Next up for must-see viewing: "Casino Royale." No fat, naked, hairy men that I know of -- just two hours of pure uncut badassedness. And while I will confess to not being all that jazzed initially about the choice of Eva Green as the new Bond girl, I'm coming around.

"Vesper Lynd," though? No "Regina Frottage" or "Baroness Clitora LeBoeuf"?

· I don't want to seem like a corporate whore here, but I have to give a shout-out to Cingular Wireless. Recently I upgraded to a new phone (a Sony Ericsson V-something-or-other), and this past week, after having had it for less than a month, the speaker conked out. So basically the only way to hear people on the other end of the line was to put them on speakerphone, and I didn't want to do that if I was getting calls from any of my weed hookups or babymommas, you know what I'm sayin'? So I went down to the Cingular store to try and get a new phone, and I was prepared to raise holy hell if all they were going to do was swap out my old crappy phone for a new crappy phone that was the same make and model.

But when I asked if I could upgrade to an LG CU500, the sales associate, Greg, said that would be fine. Didn't have to pay any extra charges or penalties for the privilege, either. Since I couldn't carry over any of the games or ringtones I'd bought from the old phone to the new one, he said to simply call 611 and get them to credit all that stuff on my next bill. I did that, once again expecting a major bureaucratic hassle, but in spite of some computer problems on the operator's end she had the whole transaction taken care of in about five minutes.

So Cingular gets the official Hey Jenny Slater endorsement for kick-ass wireless company. If you're looking to switch services, I highly recommend them. And my new phone, as Peter Griffin would say, is frickin' sweet.

Check the new hottness.

· With a lame-duck Congress left to do nothing but play out the string and a lame-duck president left to do nothing but tremble in fear and wait for the Democrats to come crashing through his door, everything old is new again in Washington. John Bolton is getting coughed up again as Bush's nominee for UN ambassador, daddy's friends are coming back to try and save Dubya's ass (Bush 41 having to bail out his son? Why, that's a new one!), and Strom Thurmond Fan Club president-emeritus Trent Lott has clawed his way back into the Republican Senate leadership as the Senate Minority Whip. Which inspired the Quote of the Week, brought to you by Atrios:

Trent Lott selected as Senate Minority Whip, because if there's one thing that Trent Lott likes, it's whipping minorities.

· In case you hadn't heard, Britney Spears is getting a divorce. How's K-Fed taking it? Well, let's see:

Yep, ladies, the line forms to the right. Hope you like kids!

· You also might've heard that, after a few well-earned days of relaxation this weekend, the Dawgs will be gearing up to play in-state archrivals Georgia Tech in the 99th installment of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate. Over the next week and a half you can expect plenty of stuff on here pertaining to the subject of what knob jobs Techies are, including what is sure to be a highly snarktastic Q&A exchange with Tech blog Ramblin' Racket. Even though they have to get through Duke (snicker) before they face the Dawgs, RR has taken the liberty of getting the acrimony started early, and since we have the luxury of a bye this weekend, I see no reason why I shouldn't start doing the same. I'll start with this link, possibly the most concise explanation I've ever seen of the difference between Georgia people and Techies.

· Speaking of Georgia football, here are some more links fo' that ass -- I on Athens, the incredibly well-done Georgia blog by Columbus Ledger-Enquirer sportswriter David Ching, and The Hobnailed Boot, another eager member of what is rapidly becoming an unstoppable force majeure of independent Bulldog bloggers. I'm tellin' you, if it all came down to blogs, Georgia would be kicking the ass of every other team in the country (and the national-title game would probably become an annual Georgia-Michigan affair).

· And finally, in response to a particularly colorful metaphor from Tuesday's Blogpoll rountable recap, DCTrojan said he'd pony up a few hundred bucks if I could produce pictures of Scarlett Johansson in a Hooters uniform.

Well, courtesy of Baby Sis's almost frighteningly wicked awesome PhotoShop skillz . . . here you go, Trojan.

Oddly enough, I found this in my e-mail inbox whilst watching the "Raisins" episode of "South Park," which incidentally is the reason why I identify so closely with Butters.

But anyway, you're welcome. By the way, I do take personal checks.

Tuesday, November 14

Roundtable roundup.

Last week MGoBlog was kind enough to let me host the sixth Blogpoll roundtable of the season. Now it's time to put pencils down and see how everybody did.

1. We're just a few weeks away from the end of the regular season, so everybody should have a pretty good handle on how good their teams are and what sort of records they can expect to finish with. Looking back over the season, which was the game where your team really defined itself in 2006, for good or ill? Or to look at it another way, which game, win or loss, was most representative of your team's attitude and style of play this season?

You could really tell who was happy with their season and who wasn't by their answers to this question. Pumped-up Michigan fans variously selected their red-assed beatdown of Notre Dame or their avoidance of a prime letdown opportunity against Wisconsin; the Golden Domers at The House Rock Built and Rakes of Mallow picked Notre Dame's stirring comeback against Michigan State; Texas A&M & Baseball in No Particular Order chose the Aggies' upset win over surging Missouri. Ramblin' Racket came up with a great answer: Georgia Tech's comeback against Maryland.

Every year of the Chan Gailey era has gone as such: "Stop me if you've heard this one before -- a Georgia Tech team beats a ranked opponent, then loses to a middle-tier ACC team that they should have beaten." This year, GT has won all the "trap games" (so far).

And then there were the malcontents, people who picked out embarrassingly close wins or just plain embarrassing losses as signatures of seasons that hadn't gone quite like they'd planned. At the time, it didn't get malcontenter than at Georgia; I picked the pants-crappingly close game against Colorado as our signature game, while Kyle King went all the way back to Georgia's defensively challenged loss to West Virginia in last year's Sugar Bowl. 50-Yard Lion picked the shouldn't-have-gone-into-OT Penn State-Minnesota game as "a sign of things to come." Off Tackle declined to share in TAMBINPO's Aggie optimism, calling the weird TAMU-Army game most representative of A&M's fortunes in 2006. And then there were the real doomsayers -- two of them disgruntled Iowa fans (Kinnick North picked the loss to Vanderbilt-of-the-Big-Ten Indiana, The Bemusement Park said double-OT against Syracuse "was no fluke"), the third an Alabama diehard who can't get the stinky cologne of the Mississippi State loss out of his nostrils.

Finally, I have to give a shout-out to a truly intriguing bit of method acting on the part of Sunday Morning Quarterback, who decided he was as bored with his Southern Miss Golden Eagles as everybody else and took on the persona of a disgruntled Southern Cal fan instead:

USC, let's face it, sucks this year. Pete Carroll should be fired immediately. What kind of coach loses a game with the number-one recruit in the nation at every single position, especially to Oregon freakin' State, which doesn't even offer scholarships? We tried to tolerate it when Carroll failed last season to win the mythical championship with the Greatest Team of All Time (seriously, like, an NFL playoff team), we showed patience, but this is the last straw.

Hmmm. Are you sure you're a USC fan and not a fan of [insert SEC team here]? We've turned coach hatred into a fine art down here. Based on the speed with which we turn on our coaches -- even the good ones -- you'd have to conclude we would divorce Alessandra Ambrosio the very first time she comes to bed wearing granny panties.

Yecch! Plus I hear she chews really loud.

2. Are there any teams you think are still hugely overrated? What about underrated?

Almost a quarter of our respondents called Notre Dame overrated. Yikes! So whom do the Notre Dame fans think are overrated? Rakes of Mallow says Florida, while WVU is underrated "now that they've plummeted"; The House Rock Built comes up with one of the year's best quotes ("Ratedness is overrated") but says Texas has no business being ranked substantially higher than ND based on résumé, inadvertently agreeing with MGoBlog, which means the universe is now going to explode or something.

Apparently few people agreed with my assessment of Louisville, as they were a popular "underrated" choice; 50-Yard Lion said both Louisville and Rutgers were underrated, which was interesting. But apparently a lot of people agreed with me that Wisconsin was underrated, including Mountainlair, Westsider Ride, and, by implication, The Bemusement Park.

Badgers: You'll always get your props here.

Unique choices: Double Extra Point says fuck the defense, Hawaii should be getting more props for scoring 5,336 points a game. Off Tackle says WVU is overrated even after their loss to Louisville, an open invitation to the most heinous kind of couch arson imaginable. Sunday Morning QB quite presciently picked out Texas as cruisin' for a bruisin'. Ramblin' Racket hates on Tennessee and LSU Silky Johnson-style. But Kinnick North gets the prize for daring to call Auburn overrated. Fuck yeah they are (were)!

3. Did your team play any Division I-AA opponents this year? If so, do you think it benefited your team at all? If you were a coach or an NCAA official, what policy would you have toward scheduling D-IAAs?

The Michigan, Notre Dame, and Alabama fans are exempted from this question and may view the remaining responses from atop their no-IAA-playing high horses. As can Sunday Morning QB for as long as he remains a USC fan.

. . . USC definitely does not play I-AAs because USC is in the PAC Ten and the PAC Ten RULZ and plays the toughest out-of-conference schedules every year. USC took on Arkansas and won BIG, so every team in the entire SEC can shove it for the rest of eternity.

All righty then. Of the 11 bloggers whose teams played a D-IAA this season, all but four were suitably embarrassed by the practice; the dissenters included Double Extra Point, who didn't have a problem with the Cornhuskers playing Nicholls State (even if it wasn't exactly great preparation for USC the following week); TAMBINPO, who witnessed what had to be a thrilling TAMU-Citadel match but thinks there are plenty of D-IA scrubs who would have been just as bad; Ramblin' Racket, who thought Samford was a good pick-me-up bouquet after the disappointing loss to Notre Dame; and Kinnick North, who would like to send Montana a basket of mini-muffins for helping the Hawkeyes to get bowl-eligible.

Grizzlies, this one's for you.

Co-Hawkeye The Bemusement Park also appreciated Montana's gift, but would prefer not to see too many D-IAAs in the future:

I don't have a problem with I-A teams playing I-AA opponents, provided the I-A teams agree to play in frilly pink tutus and ballet slippers. As we are fond of saying around here, Competition creates competitors.

4. Which not-a-typical-national-powerhouse team (i.e. no Ohio States or USCs) has played well enough this year to set themselves up for a breakout season in '07?

Burnt Orange Nation says Oklahoma State is getting close, and Sunday Morning QB agrees. Roll Bama Roll goes out on a limb and says former C-USA doormats Tulsa and Houston. The M Zone goes out on a limb and says Illinois, coach [NAME REDACTED] and all.

But if you want in-your-face chutzpah, look no further than Aggie Nation, where TAMBINPO and Off Tackle both pick Texas A&M to be that breakout team: Bold! Mountainlair picks his own West Virginia Mountaineers: Also bold! Kinnick North, however, throws water on the 'Eers' parade (and asks for another burnt couch) by saying WVU and Louisville will fall off and all the traditional powers will hold on, meaning no true breakouts in '07.

MGoBlog took issue with me apparently not having figured out that Rutgers was already having a breakout year, which is a legit beef. I wasn't the only one -- Kyle at Dawg Sports agreed -- though he may have only done so as an excuse to post more Kristin Davis pictures. Fool me once, Kyle, shame on you; fool me twice . . . Double Extra Point picked Missouri unless Gary Pinkel finds a way to fuck it up (which, as 'Husker fans, they hope he does), and The House Rock Built picked Ole Miss, though apparently under duress . . .

Because the Orgeron is standing outside my window with a hunting knife mimicking that he will slash my throat if I don't give a shout out to the Wild Boyz. So there.

Fair enough.

5. Take a look at your team's bowl prospects this season. Which bowl(s) do you think you have a reasonable shot of ending up in? Of the teams you might likely face in a bowl, which team would you most want to play and why (maybe you've always wanted to see how your team would match up with them, maybe there's an old score you want to settle, or maybe you just want to finish the season with an easy win)? Conversely, which potential opponent would you really like to avoid in a bowl game?

All the Michigan bloggers are getting to enjoy the kind of season where if they fuck up they go to play USC in the Rose Bowl, so no real surprises there. The Irish fans want to go up against Florida's "knifewrench offense" in the Sugar. At Burnt Orange Nation, HornsFan is looking toward either the BCS title game (nope) or the Fiesta (maybe), as long as they don't have to face the undefeated Boise State Broncos:

I'd most like to play Notre Dame, for a multitude of reasons, and least like to play Boise State. Playing Boise State is a lose-lose proposition. If you blow 'em out, you were supposed to. If you win close, you were supposed to blow 'em out. If you lose, you suck. There's no happy ending.

Well, there is one -- punch them in the gut on the very first play, pick them off four times in the first half alone, and make Heismanpundit eat his words. You'll have to ask D.J. Shockley and Greg Blue about all that, of course.

Speaking of Georgia, 50-Yard Lion isn't nuts about possibly going to the Outhouse Outback Bowl, but if they have to go, he wants to play Georgia. Thanks, guys! But just in case that doesn't happen, Aggies Off Tackle and TAMBINPO would be happy to meet you in the Alamo (assuming they don't make it to the Holiday Bowl). Double Extra Point would like to go to the Holiday Bowl, only not if it means playing USC, and I can see why. That's OK, because recently minted USC fan Sunday Morning QB doesn't want to go there anyway.

Mountainlair would like a shot at Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl assuming Notre Dame keeps their grubby Papist hands off it, while Ramblin' Racket, assuming a win in the ACC title game, would like to face Auburn in the Orange Bowl -- not surprising given Tech's recent history against the Tigers, and there's just something cozy and right about that matchup, which would fit into the Orange Bowl as snugly as Scarlett Johansson into a Hooters uniform. Speaking of uniforms, Kyle King wouldn't mind another old-skool rivalry being reinvigorated in the Peach Bowl -- Georgia vs. Clemson -- but he says leave the all-purple uniforms at home, k thx.

Look, if I could've found a picture of Scarlett Johansson in a Hooters uniform, I would've used a picture of Scarlett Johansson in a Hooters uniform. Instead, you get this.

Then you have the people who are out for revenge -- Kinnick North wants an Iowa-Missouri matchup in the Alamo, so as to punish Mizzou for bitching out on the Hawkeyes' sked earlier this year -- and, as always, the pessimists. Roll Bama Roll is hoping for Tulsa or Houston -- not coincidentally, his candidates for an '07 breakout season -- in the Liberty Bowl specifically because a Tide loss to either of those teams would be more likely to shake things up on the coaching staff. And while The Bemusement Park thinks Iowa could go to the Insight Bowl, he thinks there's at least a chance they'll end up in sunny Detroit for the Motor City Bowl, where he "doesn't like their chances against Central Michigan and their creepy brand of ninja football."

6. In a roundtable question during the off-season, we were asked whom you'd pick if your current coach fell deathly ill and you had to select another coach to lead your team to victory. Let's turn this around and imagine that you've somehow schemed your way onto the search committee to select your biggest rival's next head coach. Which rival would that be, and which coaching sooper genius would you try to stick them with?

So many awesome answers here -- lots of people wishing Chuck Amato, Ron Zook, or John L. Smith on various rivals, lots of Michigan fans simply hoping Bobby Wallace, Ty Willingham, and John Cooper will one day return to Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, respectively. 50-Yard Lion would like to send Jay Paterno to Michigan State (are you listening, Bobby Bowden?); Kyle King, who hates Auburn, would like to send Jeff Bowden to the Plains but says Ray Goff might be even better. Sunday Morning QB says "Whoever the Guy Was Before Carroll" to Notre Dame.

For your information, that was Paul Hackett . . . and a great choice.

Only one team punted on this one, and that was an unusually conciliatory The House Rock Built: "I'm fine with our rivals being well-coached and successful teams, as long as the Irish also have a somewhat competent coach." That's sweet, but in the words of Homer Simpson to his daughter, "You're a liar, honey. A dirty, rotten liar."

Here are my favorites.

Third runner-up: Burnt Orange Nation digs up a coach who never seemed to lack for work no matter how many programs he'd laid waste to and asks, why not let him lay waste to another?

Well, let's see. I'm very pleased with Coach Fran's performance at A&M, so we'll leave him be. That leaves OU. Let's say Stoopsy heads to the NFL next season; who might we enjoy placing at the helm in his stead? How about John Mackovic? It's out of the realm of possibilities, but boy that would be deliriously funny.

Second runner-up: Roll Bama Roll proposes to use Bobby Lowder's Macchiavellian tactics against him.

I'd want to send a private jet from Auburn to pick up Dave Rader before letting [Tommy Tuberville] know.

First runner-up: Double Extra Point wants Lou Holtz coaching again, for all the right reasons:

The major reason is that this would remove him from his ESPN studio gig, which would allow me to once again enjoy their Saturday coverage. In addition, I like Colorado more when its program is shrouded in controversy, and let's face it -- when you hear Lou Holtz you obviously think "institutional control." Lastly, I just like the way Holtz says "Nebrathka."

Insert "J.D. Stokley"/"University of Auburn"/"Colorado could really make some noise in the Big Eight" joke here.

But the grand prize goes to GaTech blogger Ramblin' Racket, who would like to allow himself to nominate . . . himself.

I would make myself the head coach at the University [sic] of Georgia. I recently began coaching the Ellenwood Steelers flag football team, and I think I've developed my skills plenty enough to be the "CEO/Coach" that a modern head coach must be. I would bring with me my current staff (read: my dumbass friends), and we would spend most of our time scouting talent of the non-football player kind in downtown Athens.

If all went according to plan, the whole program would be a total shambles within two years or so, and although I'd get shit-canned quite promptly, hopefully I'd maintain the job just long enough to cripple it for a good while.

In case you couldn't gather just from the quote, the Georgia "talent" he's talking about is of the female variety, and I just can't get angry at someone with such similar interests to mine. Well met, Racket.

I find your taste in football teams disturbing, but otherwise your taste is unassailable.

In fact, well met everybody. Thanks for participating.

Monday, November 13

Blogpoll ballot #12: I'll be brief . . .

. . . because I'm still busy enjoying postcoital cigarettes from the Auburn game. But here goes anyway.

Games watched: Rutgers-Louisville, UTEP-UAB, Georgia-Auburn (w00t!), most of Florida-South Carolina, flipped back and forth between Arkansas-Tennessee and LSU-Alabama, caught the last few minutes of the KState-Texas upset.

1. Ohio State (last week: 1)

2. Michigan (2)

3. Arkansas (4)

4. Florida (7)
A three-slot rise is probably too much given the way they had to squeak by South Carolina, but lost in all the conversation about how crappy the Gator offense has looked over the past few weeks is the fact that their defense is downright terrifying. And it's on the basis of that that I think they'd beat the next few teams on a neutral field.

5. Rutgers (19)
I normally shy away from jacking a team up this many slots at once, but it's starting to look like I had Rutgers underrated for too long.

6. Southern California (9)

7. LSU (10)

8. Notre Dame (13)
Another team that probably rose more slots than they deserved, but a bunch of teams above them did lose, so . . .

9. Louisville (5)

10. West Virginia (12)

11. Texas (3)
Bad, bad loss to KState, and it's not like you can even blame it on Colt McCoy getting knocked out. What the hell happened to the Longhorns' defense? I know their secondary has been weathering some injuries of late, but 269 passing yards to a first-year starter?

12. Wisconsin (14)

13. Oklahoma (15)

14. Wake Forest (18)
The Deacs had their second string on the field and FSU still couldn't score. So allow me to reneg on my promise to be brief and diverge for a moment on the Bobby Bowden situation. Yes, I know he brought the program up from anonymity and he's done some incredible things in Tallahassee, and respect needs to be given, but there is absolutely no reason for him to be keeping his son as the offensive coordinator the way the 'Noles have been playing. And I think the school would be perfectly justified in throwing Bobby's past accomplishments out the window if he continues to let his loyalty to his son override his responsibility to the team; there's not a company in America where you wouldn't be fired if you held on to a blood relative this long in spite of their repeatedly demonstrated incompetence. Maybe I'm being overly harsh, but if I'm the university president or AD, I sit down with Bobby after the conclusion of this season and tell him, "Either Jeff goes or you both do." If Bobby's primary loyalty is to his son and not his school, then the school shouldn't get all hung up on any loyalty to him.

15. Tennessee (11)

16. California (8)

17. Auburn (6)
I don't like to drop a team by this many slots either, but they went up against a Georgia team at its lowest point in probably a decade and just got completely dominated. And they got dominated in ways that confirmed all the weaknesses people had been murmuring about pretty much since the South Carolina game.

18. Boise State (16)

19. Georgia Tech (17)
Seven whole points against a serious contender for the title of Worst Team in D-IA? I'm actually looking forward to the UGA-GT game now.

20. Boston College (20)

21. Brigham Young (NR/27)

22. Maryland (23)

23. Virginia Tech (21)

24. Nebraska (25)

25. Clemson (24)

The next five: Oregon, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Penn State, Hawaii.

Dropped out: Oregon (22).