Monday, August 31

Preseason BlogPoll roundtable: sleepers, statement games, and spending money.

Once again, MGoBlog proprietor/BlogPoll founder Brian Cook has (mis-)placed his trust in me to do the season's first BlogPoll roundtable, in which I get to stick my neck out and make a bunch of statements that have at least a 50-50 chance of looking dumber than dirt a few months from now, then all of you get to do the same. We only have THREE DAYS LEFT before the season actually kicks off, so let's get this thing started:

1. Without naming names, a few teams seem to have popped up frequently on everyone's "overrated" lists in the preseason, so let's forget about them for the moment and concentrate on a different group: sleepers. Which currently unheralded team are you currently putting at least a few of your chips behind in the hopes that you'll be able to say "totally called that" once they've accomplished big things by the end of the season?

Well, I put N.C. State at #19 in my preseason BlogPoll ballot even though both of the "official" polls relegated them down into the middle of the "others receiving votes" rabble -- they'd be 39th in the AP poll and 43d in the coaches', if we counted that far -- so I guess that makes the Wolfpack my top sleeper for this season. They've got a talented QB, Russell Wilson, who made phenomenal strides last season, as well as a defense that made similar strides and brings back five starters in the front seven; they've also got a favorable schedule that includes eight home games, beginning with a four-game out-of-conference homestand that has two I-AA scrubs sandwiched between South Carolina and Pittsburgh, both of whom are question marks. If the 'Pack sweep those, they could be 7-0 going into their midseason bye, and after the bye week comes a trip to FSU on Halloween, where they've split their last four visits. The only game the Wolfpack really need to be dreading is a November 21 trip to Virginia Tech, and it's not outside the realm of possibility for them to be eyeing a rematch with the Hokies in the ACC title game two weeks later.

A metaphor for State vs. the rest of the ACC in '09?

2. In a similar vein, pick a sleeper player on your team whom nobody's talking about right now and tell us why we will be talking about them by December.

You really had to be paying close attention to the box score to know who Aron White was last season -- he caught Georgia's lone touchdown in the Florida debacle, and caught another TD that helped break the Capital One Bowl open for the Dawgs -- but he is the latest in a series of impressive physical specimens Georgia has had at tight end. Two factors point toward White making a name for himself in 2009: One, the suspension of starting tight end Bruce Figgins means White will more than likely have that position to himself for the first six games, and two, a healthier and more solid offensive line likely will reduce his blocking responsibilities somewhat and free him up to do more pass-catchin'. Experienced receivers in general are going to be at a premium on the Georgia roster, too, so White could be a nice safety valve in blitz situations.

Another guy who's hardly a household name right now but could be by year's end: tailback Richard Samuel, who worked his way up through the depth chart over the offseason and was a bit of a surprise pick for the starting RB job earlier this month. Samuel rang up a 5.1-yard-per-carry average last year and will also benefit from a sturdier offensive line this season. Which is not to say any of us are going to be forgetting about Knowshon anytime soon, but the backfield situation in Athens may not be quite as dire as you've been led to believe.

3. Florida is about as big a consensus favorite as we've seen in recent years, but remember, USC got 62 out of 65 first-place votes in the AP's 2007 preseason poll and still managed to lose to Stanford. Given how difficult it is to go undefeated period these days, where do you think the Gators are most likely to stumble in the regular season?

I think the October 10 trip to Baton Rouge has to be the most obvious answer here, but even if the Gators succeed in knocking off the Tigers for the second straight year, they'd better take care not to relax too much when they get home: Their next opponent, Arkansas, should be packing just enough firepower on offense to make a game of it if the Gators come out sloppy. (And forgive me for gratuitously plugging my own guys here, but Georgia has a bye before the Florida game this year, just like they did two years ago, and are 7-1 all-time against defending national champions. Just saying.)

Including Florida in '97 and '07. Also just saying.

4. Which regular-season game not involving your team or conference are you most looking forward to this year?

As many of you already know, two of my best friends from college and I have made a tradition out of going to one big non-Georgia rivalry game each season just so we can say we've experienced it. Our first two outings, Ohio State-Michigan in '07 and USC-Notre Dame in '08 were duds as far as the games themselves were concerned, but this year I think we've picked a winner -- the Red River Shootout, Texas-Oklahoma for all the marbles. Well, a substantial portion of the marbles, at least. I fully expect this to be the de facto Big XII championship game, as it's been for four of the past seven seasons, but this year it could be a play-in for the national-championship game as well -- and with the Longhorn fans still fuming over being left out of the 2008 conference-title bout, this year we've got the added ingredient of some weapons-grade revenge-lust on the part of the 'Horns that's going to make "Inglourious Basterds" look like a Thomas the Tank Engine movie. It's going to be quite a weekend in Big D, and I vow to come back that Sunday with one of two things: a pair of hot pants from a Texas pom girl or a photo of me giving Tony Romo a pair of Norwegian goggles.

5. In honor of Georgia's opening-weekend opponent and their most prolific booster, let's say you somehow come into T. Boone Pickens money and can buy anything you want for your program -- facilities upgrades, an airplane for recruiting, buy out the contract of that coach you hate, you name it. Where does your first check go?

"That's your private jet? But it only has two engines."

Last week's $333,000,000 Mega Millions jackpot probably would've been worth about $210 million if I took the cash option; knock off $90 million or so in federal taxes and I'd still have more than enough to give UGA three million to endow a dedicated special-teams coaching position at two hundred grand a year. Currently, those duties are split haphazardly amongst three different assistants, with defensive-ends coach John Fabris taking a lot of offseason heat from Bulldog Nation for our lackluster performance in kick and punt coverage over the past couple years. I say hire a dedicated ST coach and clear up the confusion once and for all. (My first choice, coincidentally, would be to bogart Joe DeForest from Oklahoma State, which would really piss off T. Boone.)

Job number two would be extending the third deck all the way around the east end zone to the skyboxes and bumping capacity up over 100,000 once and for all. I figure a donation like that would at least get my name on the field somewhere. Doug Gillett Field at Sanford Stadium has a nice rhythm to it.

Respondents, if you wouldn't mind, throw a link to your answers in the comments thread, and I'll try to include them in a roundup next week.

Monday Morning Cage Match XII:
Two heavyweights in the action genre face off.

Last week's Cage Match pitted an up-and-coming star from Georgia's offense against an opponent with the same last name and (roughly) the same hair color. This week, we turn our eyes to the other side of the ball and pit the hardest hitter of the Dawgs' defense against an action-film impresario who's taken some pretty hard hits of his own: Rennie Curran vs. Renny Harlin.

Renny Harlin

Rennie Curran
OccupationBig-budget film director/producerWeak-side linebacker
WINNER: Harlin
Inspirational storyMade his first short film at the age of 12Family escaped war-torn Liberia and opened their home to fellow refugees
WINNER: Curran
Early success"Die Hard 2"Named SEC Freshman of the Week after a 13-tackle performance against Kentucky in 2007
WINNER: Harlin
High-profile failureDirected "Cutthroat Island," which bankrupted Carolco Pictures and made the Guinness Book of World Records for biggest cinematic flop of all timeFlorida 2008
WINNER: Curran
Redemption (of a sort)"Deep Blue Sea"Repeatedly compressing Javon Ringer's spine in the Capital One Bowl
WINNER: Curran
Romantically linked toa former Miss Finland (dated), Geena Davis (married)In theory, as many Georgia co-eds as he can handle at any given time
WINNER: Curran
Career tackles0168 (107 solo), including 19 for loss
WINNER: Curran

FINAL SCORE: Rennie Curran 5, Renny Harlin 2. Another victory for the 2009 Dawgs. And I didn't even take into account which one would be scarier to run into in a dark alley.

Friday, August 28

Preseason BlogPoll ballot, part V: the cream of the crop.

Previously: #s 21-25, 16-20, 11-15, and 6-10.

5. LSU
I've rolled the LSU/Alabama/Ole Miss SEC-West-champion conundrum over and over and over in my head, and which one I think is going to end up in the Georgia Dome basically depends on what time of day it is. I wrote this at 10:30 in the morning on a Sunday, so that means LSU. I realize that LSU has just as much of a disaster to atone for on defense as Georgia does, if not more, but I think this is one of those situations where they've got tons of raw talent, they just need someone (i.e. John Chavis) who has the first clue what to do with it. Kind of like Ole Miss last year. Hmmm, maybe that means Ole Miss . . . no, I'm not going through another round of this. They're only playing for the right to lose the SEC title to Florida, so in the end none of this matters anyway.

4. Southern California
The Trojans are starting a true freshman at quarterback. Their defense got pillaged by the NFL, and they bring back only three starters. I would love to be the guy who goes out on a crazy limb and picks someone other than USC to win the Pac-10 title for the first time since what feels like the Great Depression, because if I turned out to be right then I'd be hailed as the greatest CFB prognosticator ever, but we've all looked at the rest of the Pac-10 and we know that's not going to happen. I think 2009 for the Trojans is going to look a lot like 2006 -- mediocre offense, they lose a couple Pac-10 games to teams they really have no business losing to, but in the end they're right back in the Rose Bowl kicking the crap out of whoever wound up at the top of the equally mediocre Big 10.

3. Oklahoma
The conventional wisdom, which in this case I happen to agree with, seems to be that the national-title game will be Florida vs. whoever wins the Oklahoma-Texas game. Allow me to start the campaign for Texas right now, because dammit, I don't want to sit there and have all the suspense taken out of my national-title-game viewing by Bob Stoops showing up to crap yet another BCS bed in a rematch of last year's game. You know I'm right, people. Fortunately, the Sooners have to replace four of five offensive-line starters, so there's a reasonable chance we won't have to spend too much time worrying about this.

2. Texas
Last year the Longhorns carpet-bombed Oklahoma and came within a game (or a play, or a poll voter's ballot, or whatever) of a shot at the national title even with no running game to speak of whatsoever and only four returning starters on defense. I realize that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me, but I think it's reasonable to assume that Texas will be at least a little bit better than they were last year, and that should be a scary thought not only for Oklahoma but for the rest of the Big XII and anyone else who has any ambitions toward making the national-title game. Florida included.

1. Florida
When I did my half-assed research into Texas's 2008 season and how much talent they bring back for '09, I started giving serious thought to put them in the #1 spot. And any other year they would be totally deserving, but then I double-checked who all Florida was bringing back this year. Sorry, 'Horns, but any team that won the previous year's national championship and brings back all 11 starters on defense plus a Heisman-winning QB gets to continue wearing the #1 big-boy pants until someone shows up to forcibly remove them. Besides, if I didn't vote the Gators #1, Urban Meyer would refuse to forget about it and would proceed to make it "a big deal." I don't actually know what that means -- maybe he'd wait until I was eating an undercooked meal at a restaurant or engaged in particularly unsatisfying sex with an ugly chick, and then call two time-outs toward the very end just to draw out my unhappiness for as long as he possibly could -- but either way, it's not something I want to subject myself to. So here you are, Gators. Preseason number-one ranking. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed ours last year.

Th-th-th-that's all, folks. Weekly updates, of course, to follow as the season progresses.

The Friday Random Ten +5 goes searching for a new president (no, not like that).

Yesterday I read a story saying that Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue -- yes, good ol' pray-for-rain Sonny -- was angling to become the next president of the University of Georgia once Michael Adams retires. At the time, I thought it was just a joke, or a rumor blown out of proportion, but then I read it on Blutarsky's site this morning, and now I have to assume it's legit. Look, I'm sure Sonny's a nice guy, a great granddad, yada yada yada, but -- how do I put this politely? -- the guy's a hayseed, and I say this as a lifelong Southerner who's never resided north of Lynchburg, Virginia. And if he won't even give individual counties the right to decide for themselves whether they can sell alcohol on Sunday, you think there's a chance in hell he'd leave the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party alone any more than Adams did?

Making matters worse is the fact that Perdue appears to be angling to make this deal a two-fer: He becomes UGA president, Adams becomes chancellor of the entire university system. Nope, sorry, no thanks, no dice. Not in a box, not with a fox, not in a house, not with a mouse. The day these two jagweeds take over higher education is the day I start telling everyone I went to Duke. And I can think of at least five people right off the top of my head who would make better university presidents than fricking Sonny -- which is such a coincidence, because today's Friday, and that means this week's +5 is Five People Who Would Make Awesome Presidents Of UGA:

Billy Payne
Got both his undergrad and law degrees from UGA, did all right with the 1996 Olympics. Shouldn't he be doing something more socially significant than serving as chair of Augusta National?

Jack Donaghy
OK, yes, he's a fictional character, but man, what a great university president he'd be. He'd bring superior managerial and entrepreneurial skills to the table, and unlike Michael Adams, he'd maintain an appreciation for some of UGA's non-strictly-academic-related assets -- top-notch drinking, ridiculously profitable sports teams, and superior tail, just to name a few. This is the kind of balance I think would be important in a new president.

Chan Gailey
Kind of an out-of-left-field candidate, I grant you, but every time he's been in a position of power in the state of Georgia, it's been good for UGA, so I figured . . .

Conrad Fink
Good ol' Fink was my favorite journalism professor when I was at UGA. He's a non-shit-taker even in the best of times -- seriously, the picture above only gives you a tiny taste of what it's like to have him staring you down from the front of a classroom -- and was the head of the AP's Asia bureau during the Vietnam War. He's had bullets whizzing over his head in rice paddies, for fuck's sake. You think he'd let pissy boosters or brain-dead state legislators talk any shit to him?

Vince Dooley
His devotion to the university should be pretty well taken as a given by now, and the athletic department's tremendous success under his direction should give a clue as to his administrative abilities and talent for planning for the future. And man, what an awesome fuck-you it would be to Adams. I'm not going to say that's the only reason I'd push Vince for this job, but it's up there.

And now the Ten:

1. The Farm, "Comfort"
2. The Cure, "Boys Don't Cry"
3. MC Solaar, "Dégâts Collatéraux"
4. Cake, "I Will Survive"
5. Pet Shop Boys, "West End Girls" (Live at the Mermaid Theatre)
6. Looking Glass, "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"
7. Soundgarden, "Black Hole Sun"
8. Blur, "Coffee & TV"
9. Johnny Cash, "Busted"
10. James Brown, "Give It Up or Turnit a Loose"

Your turn: Random Tens and/or noms for next UGA president go in the comments, folks.

Thursday, August 27

Preseason BlogPoll ballot, part IV.

Previously: 21-25, 16-20, 11-15.

10. California
I found out long ago, it's a long way down the Holiday Bowl -- Holiday Bo-oooo-o-o-o-o-ooo-o-o-owl! The Cal Bears are the football equivalent of "law school hot": They're "Pac-10 hot," as in "pretty hot for a team that really offers no reason to think it will put a dent in Southern Cal's domination of the conference." Their quarterback pretty much sucks, but they look pretty stacked everywhere else. And I would hold out a glimmer of hope for them shocking the world with a league title -- if I didn't think, based on their track record the last couple years, that even if they did beat USC at home the first weekend in October, they'd only go right out and follow that up with something stupid like a loss at UCLA or Arizona State, thereby letting USC right back in the door.

9. Penn State
I had Ohio State ranked above Penn State in my first draft of this, and then I started having doubts, so I flipped a coin. The coin flip said Ohio State, so I was relieved, knowing that I wouldn't be guilty of sending any mixed messages here. I've seen a surprising number of people ranking the Nittany Lions above the Buckeyes in their preseason Big 10 projections, and I was tempted to do that too, but the Nits have lost half of last year's starting defensive front and three of five on their O-line, which doesn't sound like a recipe for Repeat BCS Appearance to me. He would never say this out loud, but secretly Joe Paterno is happy with that, because the climate agrees with him down in Orlando and it's closer to his kids, not like Pasadena with the forest fires and the gay clubs and the loud music and whatnot.

8. Ohio State
What's shocking and discomfiting about Ohio State's offensive frustrations over the past few seasons is not the mere fact that they weren't any good; it's the fact that they were running such a plain, conservative offense and still sucked at it. I mean, that's like getting a job at Baskin-Robbins and managing to fuck up vanilla. How the hell do you fuck up vanilla? All that said, bitching and moaning about the Buckeyes having a shitty offense is kind of like complaining about airplane food -- just like you don't choose Delta for the cuisine, you don't watch tOSU for their offense: Just sit back and shut up, and in three hours this'll all be over. I choose the Buckeyes as this year's Big 10 champion because in difficult economic times like these, you go with safe, conservative investments, and I can't think of any team safer or more conservative than Ohio State, who probably wets their pants with excitement anytime they even get close to 40 points but can make damn sure nobody else gets to 20.

7. Alabama
Fuck. I just got done saying how shaky Alabama looked as a top-five team, and yet here I have them at number seven. My excuse for that is, naturally, that I'm a pussy: I was worried that if I knocked Bama down below the two Big Ten teams immediately following them, Alabama fans would throw bricks or something really gratuitously heavy, like Andre Smith, through my window. I don't need that kind of anxiety in my life, so here you go, Tide Nation, number seven is yours. Don't go doing something stupid with it like losing to . . .

6. Virginia Tech
This is where it gets super fun for you readers, because it's the part where I'm like "No really! Virginia Tech is gonna be in the mix for the national title this year!" and y'all are like "Ha ha, yeah, whatever, they suck" and I'm all, "No, guys, come on! They always play great defense and this year they've got this guy or that guy on offense" and y'all are like "Dude, they play in the fucking ACC, give it a rest" and I'm like, "Come on, Tyrod Taylor! He's a future superstar!" and y'all are like whatever and I'm like fuck you then and what does Tech proceed to do but get blasted into Dorito crumbs by the first solid, elite-bowl-aspiring team they face. And you're in luck this year, because they get just such a team in Week 1 in the Georgia Dome, which means you get the whole rest of the season to tell me what a fag I was for picking them in the first place. You're welcome in advance.

Tomorrow, the big finale and the top five.

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Insurance salesgirls and Twitter accounts, but first, porn!

· Contrary to what some of you might think, just because I'm a raging commie pinko liberal doesn't mean I'm all that different from you. At the end of the day, I'm just a man. I like my beer cold, my chicken wings hot, my football loud, and my boobs D-cup or bigger. Yet there's one thing I've never gotten into: hard-core porn. Why would I want to watch two people have sex if neither one of them is me? Don't get me wrong, I'll watch naked women 'till the cows come home, but you throw a dude into the mix and suddenly the only thing I can think about is all the sex I'm not having. (That and the fact that I'm looking at another guy's dick. I really don't like looking at dicks, period, and more often than not that includes my own. But I digress.)

So it was with trepidation that I clicked this link, sent to me via Twitter by Jerry of The Joe Cribbs Car Wash. Don't blow a gasket, Jerry's married, for crying out loud, and that link is completely safe for work. But it's about a pornographic parody of "30 Rock." Here's the safe-for-work-except-for-some-naughty-words trailer:

I was prepared to hate everything about this film, based on, among other things, my revulsion at the mere thought of Liz Lemon (or a Liz-Lemon-like character) getting twisted out by one or perhaps multiple cast members of the show. That mental image still makes my inner child cry, but here's the thing: The trailer's really funny. Being a screenwriter for a porn flick has to be kind of like being Orrin Hatch's vice chief of staff for LGBT relations, but whoever the writers of the "30 Rock" parody are, they've nailed the show's comic sensibility. ("I bought this table with the money I made from my hit movie 'Little Black Baby, Cracka-Ass Parents.' ") The dude who plays the Jack Donaghy stand-in, Herschel Savage, sounds so much like Alec Baldwin I don't know that I'd be able to tell them apart with my eyes closed. Someone clearly did their research and put some effort into this, and I'm glad to see it.

It's all enough to make me seriously consider buying a copy of the DVD . . . but my mom specifically told me not to.

· Last week's Friday Random Ten+5 got me thinking about Flo, the Progressive Auto Insurance Salesgirl -- not that I shouldn't think Flo is hot, just as none of you should, but anyway, WSB News tracked her down and uncovered some interesting info about her in what I can only guess was an EXCLUSIVE interview. Among them: Her name is Stephanie Courtney, and she's 38; she's a member of the L.A. improv group The Groundlings; and she has a recurring role on "Mad Men." And it's apparently not easy being Flo:

"They tease my hair, spray it and stick the headband in it," Courtney explains. "And the makeup is like painting a portrait on my face," she says, laughing. "It's insane. It totally changes things on my face. It's like having a mask on."

I think you mean it's like having an adorable mask on. But Flo isn't bad-looking in real life, either, as evidenced by the picture with the article.

· Who is the richest fictional character in the world? Apparently it's Scrooge McDuck, whose mining/manufacturing/treasure-hunting empire is valued by Forbes magazine at around $29.1 billion. I'm not counting Uncle Sam in this ranking, because he's not so much a fictional character as he is a generic symbol for a government that can print basically as much money as it wants. I was surprised to find Princess Peach off the list due to a revolution within the Mushroom Kingdom. I have no idea how they calculated any of this, but it's still a fun read, and yes, it includes Jabba the Hutt's interstellar criminal empire.

· I've said it before on Twitter, but it bears repeating: If you're not following shitmydadsays, you're missing out on a real opportunity to maximize your Twitter potential.

· One more inuendo-riffic embedded video, courtesy of faithful reader Matt, to amuse you on a rainy Thursday: the "Shake Weight," which lets women achieve toned, shapely arms and presumably acquire some other valuable talents in the process.

Wednesday, August 26

Preseason BlogPoll ballot, part III.

Previously: #s 21-25 and 16-20.

15. Oklahoma State
I realize I'm dooming Georgia to the fifth circle of Hell for putting the Cowboys down here -- that's the circle reserved for overconfidently premature trash-talkers, the wrathful, and women who don't reciprocate oral sex -- but sorry, Pokes, I'm just not that into you. Yes, we're all impressed with your sexy offense and your dual-threat quarterback, but that QB has exactly one proven WR (Dez Bryant) because the others were all dismissed for fairly embarrassing reasons, and meanwhile, your defense? Has never finished higher than 89th in the country in total yards allowed since Mike Gundy got there. I'm not going to make any highly specific predictions about the Georgia-OSU game at the moment, for that way lies only madness, but I will advise Cowboys fans not to get their hopes up about any BCS bowls.

14. Boise State
As Dr. Saturday, Holly, and I discussed a few weeks ago, Boise State is the only mid-major with legitimate grounds for expecting a BCS bid rather than just gazing wistfully out the window and hoping for one the way one would hope for world peace or a pony. But that has more to do with their schedule than anything else, which their #14 ranking here should indicate. Would they "deserve" a BCS bid by "conventional standards," and am I only using these "scare quotes" to try to "bully" you into thinking they "probably wouldn't"? I have no idea what you're talking about, "assface."

13. Georgia
I promise you this is only a coincidence and I didn't deliberately rank Georgia at #13 just because both the USA Today and AP polls did. I think 13 is a pretty good place to be: far enough out of the top 10 to discourage runaway preseason hype, but high enough that they're not having to claw their way out of a deep hole; a win here, a win there, and all of a sudden the Dawgs are being treated as a contender. That's "contender" in the generic sense -- they're not going to contend for an SEC title as long as the Gator juggernaut is taking up all the oxygen in the room, but I'm convinced this team has a chance to duplicate last season's 10 wins despite the losses of Stafford and Moreno. The mere fact that I said that out loud significantly increases the chance that the Dawgs will get donkeypunched by a score of like 48-24 at Oklahoma State in a couple weeks, because that's just how my life has been rolling lately, but still.

12. Ole Miss
Of the pundits' trendy preseason dark horses, I obviously buy Ole Miss more than I do Oklahoma State, due to their more proven coaching and the higher likelihood that the Rebels will actually field a defense this year. But we've all seen the "performs better when expectations are low" story play out before, not to mention its weak-chinned fraternal twin brother "wilts when expectations are high," and while those may be annoying clichés, that doesn't make them untrue. You can talk about last year's win at Florida all you want, but it's probably unwise to mention that without at least paying lip service to games like the home loss to Vanderbilt or the road almost-loss to Arkansas. The returning talent on this roster is enough to make me believe the Rebels will be a little less prone to those types of performances this time around, but not enough to get them into the SEC title game.

11. Georgia Tech
Yes, it fucking kills me, as I'm sure it fucking kills the rest of you, but Georgia Tech needs to go above Georgia in the polls for the time being, folks. Yes, I believe that Tech will find it harder to bedazzle people with their triple-option magic than they did last year, and yes, I believe Georgia's defense has a lot more talent and ability than they displayed down the stretch last season. But the only evidence I've got to hang that on is a good game against a resolutely vanilla Michigan State offense in the bowl, which is pretty well balanced out by the acid flashbacks I still have of Georgia players literally bouncing off Jonathan Dwyer last November. (WRAP UP, you flailing, shoulder-bumping maggots.) So until I see something substantial from either the Jackets or the Dawgs to wipe out the latter image, Tech has droit de seigneur here. See, Techies? Don't say I never said anything nice about ya. And now that I've jinxed you good and proper, eat a dick.

Tomorrow: We enter the top 10.

Tuesday, August 25

Audience participation time.

Two opportunities for you football fans out there to prove you're smarter than me:

First, join the Big Ass Pick'Em Group, my college pick'em league on Yahoo. We pick each week's top-25 games against the spread, and the person with the most correct picks at the end of the season wins. Sadly, they don't have official point spreads for I-AA games, so you will not get the chance to predict whether Florida can actually cover 73 on Charleston Southern. But you'll be able to pick nearly all of the non-embarrassing games. Go to this link and enter group ID# 13556 and password "gingerninja."

If the NFL is more your bag, or even an additional bag, you can also join the official Hey Jenny Slater survival pool. If you're not familiar with the concept, how it works is you simply pick one team each week that you think will win their game. However, once you pick a team to win, you can't pick that team again for the remainder of the season. Players fall by the wayside each week, and the one left standing is the winner. To join, go here and enter group ID# 10854 and password "jankyspanky."

The winner of each group gets mentioned by name on this blog at the end of the season, which is a prize literally worth its weight in gold. Sign up, e-mail the usual address if you have any questions, and good luck.

Preseason BlogPoll ballot, part II.

Previously: #s 21-25.

20. Texas Christian
I've been trying to figure out where the Horned Frogs fit into the Mountain West firmament, assuming that the Mountain West even has a firmament, and I think I've decided they're a leeeetle bit better than Utah but not as good as BYU. Sorry, TCU, but the Associated Press asked me to remove their Sportswriter's Poll of Mascot Weirdness from my rankings calculation -- if they hadn't done that, y'all might be top ten.

19. North Carolina State
I guess you'd have to call this my big dark-horse pick for 2009. Dark horse for what? The ACC title? The Champs Sports Bowl? Obama's next Supreme Court nominee? Ask me later, I'm not really sure. But they have improved their record every season since Chesty Chuck Amato got canned, their QB somehow managed to go from "Oh my god now this is just cruel" to first-team All-ACC in the span of a single year, and they have a notorious hard-ass of a coach who has never smiled once, ever. And isn't that last one pretty much what's made Florida the juggernaut it is today?

18. Nebraska
Isn't it weird how we know more about the shitty teams in the Big XII North this year than the good ones? Like, we know Kansas State is paying Ron Prince millions of dollars to do nothing and Iowa State's players are still trying to get over the hurt feelings from their breakup with Gene Chizik -- who still hasn't returned their DVD of "The Notebook," by the way -- but we haven't heard shit about Nebraska. I'm guessing this is because the North Division appears to be headed back into that morass of a few years back when the entire division stunk and the champion had won nothing more than the right to get anally vivisected by Texas or Oklahoma in practical terms, but whatever the case may be, I'm sure long-suffering Husker fans will be happy just to get back to the title game, and maybe even rediscover the concept of defense along the way.

17. Brigham Young
I don't really have a lot to say about BYU. They'll probably win the Mountain West, but they're not going to go to a BCS bowl, and these days if you're a mid-major who's not going to a BCS bowl nobody gives a rat's ass. My thumbnail sketch of their season goes something like this: They get bent over by Oklahoma on opening day, "upset" Florida State (it won't really be an upset, but everyone on ESPN will call it that) two weeks later, and then you won't hear from them again until they get punked in the Las Vegas Bowl by some schmoe mid-Pac-10 team who wanted to be there more than they did. That's my Five-Star Power Play of the year right there, folks. Don't forget to thank me when you're cashing your check.

16. Michigan State
My other Five-Star Power Play of the Year -- and you really should throw me an extra fin or something for this, because it's like I'm giving you free money -- is that this season will be almost a carbon copy of '08 for the Spartans: They'll run a train on Jimmy Clausen for the third year in a row, beat Michigan again, and go right back to a New Year's Day bowl to get whacked by Georgia. I know 16 seems kind of high-altitude for these guys at first glance, but how much of our collective disdain for Sparty is actually merited and how much is simply held over from the days when John L. Smith was slapping himself at press conferences? Yes, they lose their starting QB (Brian Hoyer) and last year's second-leading rusher in the Big Ten (Javon Ringer), but Hoyer wasn't exactly Joe Montana, and as for Ringer, I don't think anybody from an RB corps that averaged 3.3 yards per carry quite meets the definition of "indispensable."

Tomorrow: 15-11.

Monday, August 24

Preseason BlogPoll ballot, part I.

The preseason AP sportswriters' poll was released over the weekend, so now the coaches and pundits both have their preseason picks in place -- and so do I: Thus begins another season of participation in MGoBlog's famous Blog Poll, the first edition of which will be up on Wednesday.

I'll be issuing my preseason ballot five at a time over this coming week in highly stream-of-consciousness fashion, influenced by a possibly unwise combination of George Dickel and muscle relaxers, but first, here are the five that fell just outside my final top 25 list:

Rutgers -- Wow, this ended up being the only Big East team that even came close to getting in here. That is gonna be one butt-ugly league this year, but a conference title is a conference title. I guess what that means is go ahead and slit your wrists now, Orange Bowl organizers, because it's gonna be Hokies-Scarlet Knights on January 5.

Southern Miss -- Nineteen returning starters on a team that was hitting on all cylinders by the end of last season, yet they only got a handful of votes in each of the preseason polls. Fewer than UCLA. Fewer than Auburn. If I were a USM player, that kind of insult would be enough to motivate me to muder someone on the field.

Kansas -- Would be a serious contender for the Big XII North title if they didn't draw Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech out of the South. But nobody gives a crap who wins the North Division anyway, so this hardly qualifies as a crushing loss.

Iowa -- Another shitty offense, eight starters back on defense. That qualifies as sexy talk in the Big 10, and could be enough to put the Hawkeyes in third place by the end of the season.

Texas Tech -- I asked the question in a Dr. Saturday roundtable a few weeks ago and I'll ask it again: Does anyone seriously think a Mike Leach offense is gonna go in the tank just because they lost Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree?

And now The Show, the honest-to-goodness top 25, starting at the bottom and working our way up:

25. Oregon State
You know them as the team that makes USC look merely mortal every other year. They have to go to L.A. to play the Trojans this October, so this isn't going to be one of those years. But they do bring back two awesomely named skill-position players: Jacquizz Rodgers, the jockey-sized running back who torched USC last year, and split end Darrell Catchings Jr. Think about that for a second: a receiver named Catchings. That's like having a quarterback named Colt Passington or a cornerback named James "Speedy" McPicksix, and is a clear sign that the Beavers have another special season in store for them in '09.

24. North Carolina
Let's make one thing clear -- any respect I give UNC is grudging at best, since they wait-listed me when I was applying to colleges back in high school and I've never quite forgiven them. But I will say this for the Tarheels: Unlike Syracuse, they're smart enough not to start a Paulus at quarterback just for shits and giggles. Backup Mike Paulus, Greg's younger brother, subbed in for an injured T.J. Yates last season during the Virginia Tech game and singlehandedly killed the 'Heels' chances by going 3-of-8 for 23 yards and two picks, so you know they're not anxious to try that experiment again.

23. Clemson
I'll be honest, I hate putting Clemson here. Nothing against them, but I tried every way I could think of to keep from putting them in the top 25 at all, mainly because I just don't trust Dabo Swinney as a big-time head football coach. Yeah, he went 4-3 with the Tigers last year after taking over for Tommy Bowden, but you know who else won 57% of his games? Tommy Bowden. I guess the fact that I still gave them a top 25 spot indicates that I'm open to the prospect that they might have too much sheer talent for even a questionable coach to eff it up entirely, but we'll see if that's still the case after they get whacked at Georgia Tech on the second Thursday night of the season.

22. Oregon
I kinda hate putting Oregon here, too -- really, it was probably the cheerleaders that put them over the top. But the more I read about the team, the less jazzed I get: New coach, only 10 returning starters, yet nearly everyone in the preseason top-25 composite had them top 15, and they're still clinging to 14/16 spots in the official preseason polls. Since when was only one returning starter on both lines a recipe for success? I'm not convinced these Ducks could control the trenches against the AFLAC duck at this point, and that duck's been nursing a hamstring injury off and on for the better part of a year. (You hadn't heard that? I'm not surprised; being from Columbus, home of AFLAC's world headquarters, I get a lot of the insider information that the rest of the world isn't privy to.)

21. Utah
Their quarterback is gone, as are their top three receivers, which I guess is pretty much their entire passing game, more or less. But they still have the poo-stained boots from the time they put a foot in Nick Saban's ass, and you can't take that away from them. Not to mention a rover named Stevenson Sylvester (shown above putting the fear of God into John Parker Wilson). Say that out loud a few times: "Rover Stevenson Sylvester." That's pretty fucking smooth. I would say I didn't know people in Utah knew how to get down like that, but his bio says he's from Vegas. Figures.

Spots 20 through 16 are on deck for tomorrow. Suggestions, dissents, and boob shots always welcome in the comments.

Monday Morning Cage Match XI:
It's time to start finding out about our football team.

The college-football season is just 10 days away; the NFL season starts a week after that; and the high-school box scores are already starting to show up in the newspapers. Happiness is about to return to all our lives, people. But it's time we started getting some real relevant information about our teams and the ones we'll be facing this year, and I realize that I've been pretty slack about doing that so far this summer. I aim to remedy that with the Monday Morning Cage Match -- today's Match will be the first in what may be a series (but may not be, but maybe it will, I don't know, whatever) introducing you to Georgia players and showing you how they stack up in hypothetical, arbitrary comparisons that have little to do with their on-field prowess at all. We begin this series by matching up a pair of fiery, up-and-coming redheads: Georgia hero-in-waiting Joe Cox vs. author, blogger, and expert swear-word technician Ana Marie Cox. To your corners!

Joe Cox

Ana Marie Cox
OccupationQuarterbackWashington editor of Time's Web site
Nickname"Ginger Ninja""Wonkette"
Notable early successesWent 31-0 as the starting QB at Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C.Executive editor of, then founded one of the Web's most popular political blogs
Big breakThrowing 2 TDs in the final 9:11 to beat Colorado 14-13 in 2006Breaking the "Washingtonienne" scandal about the senatorial aide who blew Bush Administration officials for cash
Followed that up byGoing 4-of-10 for 24 yards the following week against Ole Miss and getting benched the entire second halfGot a quarter-million-dollar advance from Riverhead Books for a novel
WINNER: Ana Marie
Quote"I like the position we’re in. I like when people doubt you and don’t expect a lot from you because I think it makes you want to work for something. That’s the main thing we’ve been trying to tell people this offseason.""The difference btw Tropical Storm Ana and me? It destroys people's THINGS, I just break people's wills."
WINNER: Ana Marie
Record as a starter1-00-0

FINAL SCORE: Joe 5, Ana Marie 3. Already, a reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season.

Friday, August 21

The Friday Random Ten+5 puts itself even further out there.

With all the upheaval in my life of late -- have I mentioned that I'm being sued? -- I completely whiffed on the fact that the second anniversary of the Random Ten +5 came around a little over a month ago. Not that this milestone is necessarily as deserving of a celebration as, say, Kiribatian independence or even Disco Demolition Night, but still, y'all seem to enjoy embarrassing revelations from my personal life combined with random glimpses into my iPod, for some reason. So in commemoration of the second +5 I ever did -- the "From Russia With Love" of the series, if you will, the one that really made the series what it is, the one that made people sit up and say, "Ha, this is kind of a funny feature, and by the way, you're a sicko" -- I'm rehashing an old idea and making this week's +5 Five More Chicks I Shouldn't Think Are Hot, But Do.

Jane Curtin
Watched "I Love You, Man" the other day with my mom. Jane Curtin played Paul Rudd's mom. Looked her up on Wikipedia and it turns out she's almost 62. You believe that? Not bad for someone who was being called an ignorant slut on "Saturday Night Live" more than 30 years ago.

Bristol Palin
Yeah, her mom's a complete ass, but I've seen interviews with Bristol and she actually seems like she's got a pretty good head on her shoulders -- at the very least, she's someone who's learned from her mistakes, which, sadly, is rarer these days than you might realize. Plus she's good with kids. The thing is, no matter how cute she is, I could never be one of Sarah Palin's in-laws; I clearly don't like her, and she wouldn't like me. Even if I did score a date with Bristol, I'd give it two weeks before I'd find myself running through the wilderness being chased by Sarah leaning out the side door of a helicopter with a high-powered rifle.

Britney Spears
After a substantial hiatus for whatever reason, Brit's been out and about lately, and you know what? She doesn't look half bad these days. Granted, her abs haven't quite returned to their "Baby One More Time" heyday, but she's still way far ahead of where she was a couple years ago, when the paparazzi never had to wait outside of a Starbucks for more than 30 minutes before they could snap pictures of Britney waddling out the door, braless and dumping another Frappuccino down her gullet. Where'd all her lost poundage end up, you might wonder? Well, I do have one theory.

Phyllis from “The Office”
She has nice cheekbones. And she's apparently a complete animal in the sack, as evidenced by the "Blood Drive" episode in which she and her husband went on a double-date with Jim and Pam and then promptly snuck off to the handicapped restroom to screw. I'm not saying she's as hot as Pam, mind you, but as far as Dunder Mifflin goes she's a solid #2 in the rotation.

Jessica Simpson
I know, I know. Yes, she's given every indication that she's dumber than a box of nails. Yes, her dad is a freakshow. Yes, she probably still has some of Tony Romo's stank on her. And I could sit here and tell you that all those factors combined are enough to make me not want to have anything to do with her, but as Samuel L. Jackson said in "Pulp Fiction," "That shit ain't the truth." Look, we all remember the police-station scene from "The Dukes of Hazzard," and in spite of the room-temperature IQ, in spite of the creepy dad, in spite of the Romo-taint, I'd still hit that. I'm a dude, and a none-too-complex-or-mature one at that; blond hair and fantastic boobs make me do silly things.

Thank you for listening, everybody. I hope you can still respect me in the morning. Now, the Ten:

1. The Clash, "Somebody Got Murdered"
2. U2, "Pride (In the Name of Love)"
3. Groove Armada, "I See You Baby"
4. The Beastie Boys, "To All the Girls"
5. Buzzcocks, "Noise Annoys"
6. LTJ Bukem, "Demon's Theme"
7. Pet Shop Boys, "I Want a Dog"
8. Gorillaz, "Dracula"
9. Foxy Brown, "Letter to the Firm (Holy Matrimony)"
10. Ice Cube, "Dirty Mack"

Your turn to 'fess up, readers -- which members of the opposite sex (or same sex, if that's your thing) should you not be attracted to but are? Those lists, along with your Tens, are welcome in the comments.

Monday, August 17

Glengarry Glen Frank.

I went in for what will hopefully be my final back surgery this morning, so I'll be out of commission for a couple days. To tide you over until my return, here are some exclusive scenes from David Mamet's forthcoming film adaptation of "The Diary of Anne Frank."

Seven people climb tentatively into the large attic of an office building in Amsterdam. It is summer, 1942, and they are Dutch Jews hiding from the Nazis. OTTO FRANK, his wife EDITH, and their teenage daughters MARGOT and ANNE are followed by PUTTI and PETRONELLA VAN DAAN and their son PETER, about the same age as the Frank children. They set their suitcases down and stare open-mouthed at their stark new surroundings for a few moments before KRALER, a former business associate of MR. FRANK's, and his assistant MIEP GIES follow them inside.

Are they all here?

Everyone except Mr. Dussel.

Fuck it, I'm going anyway.
(to the family members)
Can I have your attention please?

The FRANK and VAN DAAN families turn to face him.

This is where the seven of you are going to be spending the next few months, or weeks, or however long it takes before the Nazis are gone and it's safe to come out. I'm a business associate of Mr. Frank's here, and this is our building; aside from Miss Gies here and myself, none of the people who work downstairs know that you're up here. We can't babysit you every hour of the day, so it is going to be up to you to keep your presence hidden from anyone else who might be using this building.

KRALER walks over to a blackboard on one of the walls and writes the letters ABC.

A, B, C. A, always; B, be; C, concealing. Always be concealing. Always be concealing. You don't display a single thing in the windows, you don't make a single sound during business hours, that might indicate your presence to anyone outside. That means no radio during daylight hours, no talking if you can help it, no running water while anyone might be --

No running water? Are you serious?

That's right.

So we can't even take a shit during work hours, is that what you're telling me?

You're Mr. Van Daan, right? What's your first name? Putti? The fuck kind of a name is Putti?

I don't have to stand here and listen to this --

You certainly don't, pal, because guess what, there's a train leaving for Bergen-Belsen in the morning. You want on it? (to MRS. VAN DAAN) How about you? You think I'm doing this for my health, ladies? Think I painted over the windows 'cause it looked nice? SS hears somebody fucking around, popping popcorn in the middle of the afternoon, busts in and finds you've all been hiding up here, I'm just as dead as you are. I'm trying to keep you alive, people. You're willing to make some sacrifices, follow some rules you might find uncomfortable, you might just make it through this thing. You don't want to, there's a whole bunch of Gestapo roaming around Amsterdam right now love to make your acquaintance.

Long pause. MR. VAN DAAN appears chastened.

So what do you suggest we do, become nocturnal?

That's exactly what I suggest you do. Once the sun goes down and everybody's gone home, you do whatever you want, eat, listen to the radio, play No-Limit Texas Hold'Em for all I care. But during the day, you might as well sleep, 'cause you're sure as fuck not gonna want to do anything makes any noise. Unless you gotta get up and take a piss so bad you think it's worth going to the ovens.

Another long pause.

A, B, C. Always be concealing, ladies and gentlemen. We've been at war for three years now and there's no reason to think we won't be at it another three, so unless you got any better ideas, it's time to tuck in for the long haul. And if you had any better ideas, we wouldn't be fucking standing here, would we?

KRALER turns and heads down the steps, followed by MIEP. The FRANKS and VAN DAANS just stand there for a few beats, looking at each other.

Does anybody want . . . a drink or something? Or a sandwich?

Fuck this, I'm going to unpack.

* * * * *

Several months later, the tenants of the attic now number eight: the FRANKS and VAN DAANS, plus MR. DUSSEL, a Jewish friend of MIEP's who is also seeking refuge. The remnants of a Hanukkah celebration are strewn about the secret apartment -- plates of food, crumpled-up newspaper in which gifts were wrapped. MR. FRANK holds aloft a scarf that ANNE has given him.

This is beautiful, Anne. Thank you.

How long did it take you to make that? Where did you get the yarn?

Miep brings it to me every few weeks.

Great. We can't even have fucking latkes for Hanukkah, but we can have all the yarn we need.

We couldn't even cook them anyway, there hasn't been a drop of olive oil in this town since March.

So, what, we just don't have a proper Hanukkah dinner, is that what you're telling me? No latkes? No sufganiyot? We just sit up here and eat bread and fruit like a bunch of goddamn zoo animals?

We fry anything up here, we'll smell like grease for days anyway.

The fuck cares whether we smell like grease? Who's gonna know? All those meshugas out there, don't even know we're here? Fuck do you care, anyway, you've been spending all your time with your damn cat. I told you not to bring that thing up here.

What was I supposed to do, just leave it at our house?

Oh, what, you're afraid the Nazis are gonna haul a cat off to the concentration camps? Open your fuckin' eyes, Junior, you've got a lot to --

A door slams loudly in one of the offices downstairs. Everyone in the attic freezes.

The fuck was that?

Maybe it was the cleaning people.

No, no, fuck the cleaning people, they're only supposed to come every two weeks.

A thud from downstairs, followed by a loud crash. MRS. FRANK puts her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming.

You know what that sounds like? The fuckin' Gestapo, that's who! Kraler snitched on us and they're rolling the place!

Kraler snitched? Kraler snitched? You ungrateful fuck, he's the one put us up here, why would he admit it when he stands to get sent off to the camps just like us?

Otto, please, we have to be quiet --

Quiet, Edith.
(back to DUSSEL)
You got the memory of a fuckin' fly, you know that? If that is the Gestapo, I oughta throw you to 'em, show you who your friends really are.

(stepping toward MR. FRANK)
Yeah? Dutch national runner-up in the welterweight class, you cocksucker, you wanna dance with me?

DUSSEL and FRANK just stand there facing each other for a few moments, looking like they might charge each other at any moment. Eventually the tension is broken when MARGOT speaks.

There hasn't been any sound for a few minutes. I think they left.

I'm gonna go down there, see what happened. You think you can keep from pissing your pants, tough guy, you're welcome to come with.

Slowly MR. FRANK opens the attic door and heads downstairs.

You lay a finger on my dad, it'll be the worst mistake you ever made.

Fuck you.

Fuck me? Fuck you, new guy, you're only up here because we let you be up here. You don't have seniority.

MR. FRANK returns.

Bunch of drawers opened, papers everywhere. They weren't looking for us, they were just trying to roll the place for some cash.

They get anything?

The fuck should I know? (beat) I'm going to bed.

Margot, Anne, help me clean up the dishes.

ANNE follows her sister into the kitchen, but not without glaring pointedly at DUSSEL.

Watch your step, newbie. Unless you want us to stop being charitable.

* * * * *

The FRANKS, VAN DAANS and MR. DUSSEL all look very tense as they sit around and drink their morning coffee.

Has Kraler still not called?

It's been five days. He was gonna call he'da called by now.

Suddenly there's a loud pounding at the door. Everyone immediately jumps up, and some of them begin edging toward the back of the attic apartment.

Fuck. It's them.

Are we fucked?

We're fucked.

An SS OFFICER kicks in the door and charges inside, followed by three more OFFICERS and a COMMANDER in full regalia. The COMMANDER surveys his eight new prisoners and smiles.

Well. Isn't this convenient. Eight of you all in one place.

Who dropped the dime on us?

Excuse me?

It was Kraler, wasn't it? I told you all he couldn't be trusted!

(laughs derisively)
You think it was Kraler? Well, you want to take it up with him, you'll have a nice long train ride to do just that.
(seeing their astonished faces)
Yeah, he's getting the same ride to Bergen-Belsen the rest of you are. Couldn't just let him go, could we? Shoulda been using his attic to stash old records like everyone else.

The SS COMMANDER strolls around the apartment, poking at the FRANKS' and VAN DAANS' personal effects with amusement.

No, the one who dimed you was that punk burglar broke in here a couple weeks ago. You wanna know who it was? A former employee of yours, Mr. Frank. Fellow by the name of Dewijn.

That sniveling, flop-sweating little insect. I knew I should've fired that bug-eyed little fuck.

Damnedest thing: Came in here one night looking to steal some real-estate leads. We picked him up the very next day, said he heard some people arguing up here.

PETER shoots daggers at his father.

What a world, huh? Well, we can continue the chit-chat at the police station. Right now you're all gonna need to pack up your belongings and get ready to go. You don't bring it with you, you're not gonna see it again. Beck?

One of the OFFICERS rushes up to his COMMANDER and snaps into a salute.

I want you to sweep this place after they've all packed up. No personal effects lying around, nothing, you got me?

Jawohl, Mein Herr. Heil Hitler.

No no no, don't just stand there and 'Heil Hitler' me, tell me what you think I want to hear, forget what I said the minute my back is turned. I mean scrub this attic up and down, not so much as a spare yarmulke left behind, you understand me? Act like a fucking professional. You're working with men here.

BECK salutes and trots off.

Kolter, Derwein, you round up the women. I'll be down in the car. Let's see if we can't wrap this up quick.

The COMMANDER heads downstairs. The OFFICERS begin prodding the eight attic dwellers toward the door.

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.

One of the OFFICERS pokes ANNE in the back with the barrel of his rifle.

You know what, fuck that. People are cocksuckers.

The FRANKS, VAN DAANS and DUSSEL pick up their suitcases and march downstairs, followed by the SS OFFICERS.