Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seal Block Week 14: The Grand Finale

Thanks everyone who voted for the Seal Block Top 25 and for everyone who slogged their way through 14 weeks of exciting academic symbolism! Before revealing the final poll results, I'd like to award a couple of special jury prizes. I looked for 126 seals and some schools make it easy to find and some make it almost impossible. The first special prize goes to Buffalo for the most sensible protection of their graphic identity. The gray stripes mean that an interested party can see it clearly, but can't pass it off as official. Emblematic of the wrong way to protect your identity is South Carolina, who has a great seal but makes it impossible for anyone to appreciate it. SC was disqualified from the Top 32 due to this crappiness. (Penn State was also disqualified from the Top 32 because it was, quite literally, the least I could do.) Penn also deserves mention for their clever bait-and-switch: their shield is based on the Penn and Franklin family coats-of-arms and is used on their merchandise. It's widely considered to be their seal, but their actual seal is the seven books of the liberal arts. The trivium and quadrivium: the original 3-4 defense against ignorance.

The second special prize goes to the most badass seals I found while searching. In third place is the U.S. winner, Davidson College, for featuring the brutal murder of a snake. Second place goes to Sweden's Lund University. It's a lion, wearing a crown, holding a frakkin' longsword. He's reading the Cabela's catalog in order to devise the most up-to-date countersafari techniques. "Do you know what those poachers won't be expecting?" he's thinking to himself. "A pride of lions armed with swords!" The year 1666 was a good year to be founded because years containing "666" are inherently badass.

It may be my Canadian jingoism showing when I declare Nova Scotia's Dalhousie University the winner, but no, that's some serious badassery. Dalhousie's named for its founder George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, and their shield and coronet, consisting of the eagle, crown, and unicorn head, comes from the Ramsay family coat of arms. For the Ramsays, the shield is supported by a gryphon and a greyhound, but, at some point, Dalhousie officials said, "To hell with that! That's not badass enough. We're adding some freakin' dragons." And so they did. They also get bonus points for using the only nonconfusing Latin abbreviation of a placename in North America.

And now, the 25 best seals in FBS! After the jump! I have written a haiku to celebrate each one.

Thank you for being so prompt and suggestible.

At 6:50 PM yesterday, we demanded someone prank the Big Ten Championship Game.

At 9:24 PM yesterday, this appeared and the college football blogs and twitters went berserk today.

Well done, anonymous person, who appears to be successfully posed as an employee of the Indianapolis Convention Center. Well done.

The rest of you, behold our power!!! And please make sure to donate those flat-screen TVs to the Dan Quayle Educational Center.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crescat inconstantia, vita excolatur, or, roll 'em up in a carpet and throw 'em off a bridge

When I was but an undergraduate at the University of Western Ontario (before moving on to a superior school for graduate studies), my fellow engineering students would boast of the great pranks that engineering classes of yore had pulled, such as sawing a car in half, welding it around a flagpole, and rewiring it so that it could still start. But in the time I was there, the great pranks of yore were but legends, and we had been reduced to throwing paint filled balloons at buildings and calling pointless, needless, vandalism "pranks."

Such is also the case with College Football. In the halcyon days gone by, a prank against Big Football and Big Media would require complex planning resulting in stunning beauty: sabotaging a nationally televised card section stunt, for instance, or hacking into a PDP-8 computer in order to take over the game scoreboard. These days, such pranks consist of hacking a player's Twitter account or putting a sign that says "penis" behind Kirk Herbstreit on College Gameday. Though similar in spirit to the pranks of yesteryear, these efforts require little fortitude and little skill and will soon be forgotten by all except Google's cache.

But this devolution of pranking can be stopped, and the place where we make it stop is the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. Much like Caltech objects to the Rose Bowl as a symbol of the perceived supremacy of athletics over academics, there is an institution in the Midwest that has the right to make the B1G Championship Game its prank playground. To put it in terms that geeks and nerds will understand:

Yes, the Big Ten's prodigal comrade, the triskadekic member of our conference and its Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the place where 65 years ago they cried "Enough!" and actually put academics ahead of athletics. The University of Chicago is the school with the brainpower, the deviousness, and the temerity necessary to restore pranks to their rightful place in big time college football. And what better place to do it than in Indianapolis, home to the headquarters of the moral turpitude that is the NCAA? And, seriously, Michigan State is playing. We need the possibility of non-Dean Winters related mayhem to have some reason to care.

As outsiders, we implore Chicagoans to take their rightful place as the kings and queens of Midwestern pranksterdom. However, we know that like all institutions, you may suffer from bureaucratic inertia that prevents you from forming new traditions. So, in order to help give birth to a new annual source of dread for Jim Delany, we humbly propose building upon your current traditions with the following.

For as true a scavhunt experience as we can provide, download the list in PDF or TeX format, or read it in HTML after the jump.

Breaking! Must credit HSR. Urban Meijer hires assistant coaches.

Although some news reports indicate that Urban Meijer is, in fact, not a store and actually a human being who goes by the unlikely name of "Urban Meyer," this is a clearly-perpetrated smokescreen designed by the Ohio athletic department in order to misdirect Michigan from knowing their true plans. However, we here at Hoover Street Rag have not fallen for the ruse, and we have discovered that Urban Meijer has all but locked up the following assistant coaches, who will be revealed after the jump.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm confused by this Urban Meijer thing

I have to admit that I am befuddled by today's announcement that Ohio is hiring an Urban Meijer as their next head football coach. It was my understanding that the Meijer clan is exclusively rural and suburban, and having checked the central areas of Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Chicago, and Cincinnati, I am uncertain as to whether this Urban Meijer even exists. The smaller new concept store in Melrose Park, Illinois, near the CTA Blue Line may be the Urban Meijer, but I am not certain. I thought that Grand Rapids would be the most likely home of an Urban Meijer, but it turns out that even there they are merely suburban in location. It may be that Ohio plans to design, break ground, and construct an Urban Meijer in Columbus in time for the 2012 football season.

Having a store serve as head coach causes obvious logistical difficulties. Not only will Urban Meijer be unable to travel to road games, he (all news reports have been referring to the neuter Urban Meijer as a he) will not be able to fit inside Ohio Stadium without severely cutting into its seating capacity or covering up a significant portion of the field. No wonder, then, that there are rumors that Luke Fickell will stay on as assistant head coach, as Ohio will need a more ambulatory coach to handle gameday sideline duties.

Urban Meijer's inability to move will definitely affect his ability to recruit as he will be unable to make home visits to promising players - it goes without saying that hiring capable assistants as recruiters will be a must. However, when recruits come to Columbus on their campus visit he should be able to relate to them well: being ensconced in the inner city should give him a deep empathy for the problems of recruits with unstable family situations, and his competitive prices on thousands of items make it clear that he has something to offer every recruit.

The New York City-based Reputation Institute ranks him as one of the Top 30 most reputable coaches, but a scan of the Meijer corporate website shows a potential willingness to look the other way when it comes to NCAA violations. The first problem is their motto, "Higher standards. Lower prices." While higher standards are clearly laudable at any academic institution, I believe it was lower prices on tattoos that got Ohio into the NCAA mess in which they are currently embroiled. Looking deeper into the website, it appears as though Meijer offers team members the ability to "save instantly on thousands of products not at stores." If Urban Meijer participates in this offer Ohio will be looking at serious sanctions as a repeat rules violator.

Despite those concerns, I think Michigan fans should be wary of the many positives that Urban Meijer will bring to the Ohio program. Based on my scouting of the Ann Arbor-Saline Road and Carpenter Road locations, he will be up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week coaching his players, breaking down film, devising game plans for upcoming opponents, and he will always be sure to keep some of his focus on "that corporate headquarters up north." He will also have excellent ties with Big Ten Network sponsors as he will have shelves stuffed with Rotel products. If he brings the Meijer values of being customer-centered, having a competitive spirit, and promoting freshness and familyness to Columbus, he will definitely improve the Buckeyes' record next year while promoting teamwork and loyalty, and Ohio will be a force to be reckoned with on and off the field.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter's End

If you're a Michigander, you know that winter is miserable. As much as the first snow fall of the season might be entertaining and even maybe a little bit pretty, while snow days may be a nice respite from the daily grind, the reality is that it's cold, dark, wet, and miserable. You stay inside, you may get seasonal affective disorder, and you wait for spring. You may be so desperate for any sign of spring, you seize false hope, only to see the snow return with a vengeance, the darkness fall. No matter what the calendar says, the end of winter is a feeling and you know it when it happens.

Ohio. Beat. Arts & Crafts.

I'm sure Craig will have a longer game column up for you later today, but for me two words will suffice: Hell. Yeah.

Many of you saw our Denard Robinson periodic table iron-on shirt design, and one of you was kind of enough to take a picture of my chest yesterday at the D.C. alumni bar - I love you, entertaining loud drunk guy! However, some of you are probably thinking, "Those are his 2010 stats. Why would I want to remember 2010?" Well now you can remember 2011 Denard instead with the updated version of the shirt:
Click for 1600 x 1600 version!

To make your Denard T-shirt, follow these instructions:
  • Download the mirror image version of the design.
  • Purchase an inexpensive T-shirt from a craft store or elsewhere.
  • Purchase iron-on printer paper (e.g. Avery 3271) from your local office supply store.
  • Print the mirror-image version on the iron-on paper. Follow the instructions that come with the paper to make the T-shirt transfer. Kids, make sure to have parental supervision.
The stats have been updated for 2011 with his slightly less impressive passing and rushing numbers, but with the infinitely more impressive 10-2 replacing his 4.44 fake 40 time.

You may also be saying, "Sure, I love Denard, but what about our seniors? They deserved to beat Ohio this year more than anyone." That is true, and over the next month or two we'll put out periodic table designs for each of them. We'll be starting right now with my beloved D-Linemen:

For the linemen, the numbers on the left are total tackles and TFLs.

All designs freely available under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. Please attribute to "The Hoover Street Rag" and link to this post if applicable.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Michigan Defense Theater Experiment 1112: Brady Hoke Conquers the Buckeyes

In the not too distant future, Saturday A.D.
There was a guy named Jordan, not too different from you or me
He worked at Schembechler Institute, just another face in a maize jumpsuit
He did a good job cleaning up the place, but his bosses kinda liked him so they made him play in space
(Curse you GERG!)
We'll send him speedy runners, the best we can find
He'll have to stop, tackle them all as we monitor his mind
Now keep in mind he can't control when the games begin or end
He'll try to keep his sanity with the help of his D-Line friends...
Martin! (I'm Captain!)
Heininger! (Left side!)
Van Bergen! (Where've you been?)
Rooooooooooooooooh! (I'm sophomore!)
If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts
He's got a meal card and it's set on earth so you can really just relax
For Michigan Defense Theater 3000.
Hi, everyone. It's just a regular Thursday in most of Windsor, but it's Thanksgiving here at the Satellite of Yost. I'm Jordan Kovacs and the D-line and I are counting the things we are thankful for.
I'm thankful for Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison for finally teaching me how to play defense. And I'm thankful for Coach Borges for improving the offense to the point where we don't have to carry them anymore.
Roh, I'm not looking for sarcasm right now! We should be genuinely grateful for Coach Borges and the offense, who help us out when we're not at our best. Although, admittedly, it's been a while since we haven't been at our best.
I'm thankful for Jim Delany and Don Beebe, who have worked together to make the Big Ten bigger and better than ever.
I'm thankful for the 100,000+ fans that come out and support us every home game. I'd name every one, but we do need to play a game on Saturday.
Indeed you should thank them, Heininger. And I'm even thankful for the Mads, who have furnished the Satellite of Yost with a fabulous stuffed animal collection. Hey, they're calling right now.
JORDAN pushes the red button.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seal Block Week 13: As bad as the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving halftime show

If you haven't already done so, be sure to vote for The Top 25 university seals! We will announce the results a week from Wednesday. In the meantime, we take you on a grand tour of the dregs of academia as we celebrate the Worst Seals in the World!!
Imagine, if you will, a universe in which the Stanford Tree goes off and establishes its own college. You don't have to imagine very hard, because the resulting college would be roughly the same as Evergreen State College, the winner for worst overall seal. Its motto is omnia extares, or "let it all hang out." I believe the concept behind this seal is that the drawing is supposed to represent a childlike sense of discovery and wonder. However, it more accurately represents a childlike inability to draw and/or use an Etch-A-Sketch. I think the student body at ESC is quite content with their seal, but they could do much better by commissioning their most famous alumnus, Matt Groening, to draw a new one. If they want a drawing done without lifting the pen, they could go with this one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Sermon on Thanksgiving

Oh, Hi Denard!

Though problems persist, turmoil has vanished. 
Though the memories linger, the wounds have healed. 
Though the clouds hover, the storm has passed. 
Joy has returned. 

I missed you.  I missed you more than I realized.  I missed this feeling.  I cannot even remember the last time I had it.  Complete, unadultered joy.  No questions, no fear, no complaints, just joy.  I wanted to say the 2007 Notre Dame game, but that was actually coming off of the heels of arguably the darkest darkness, so instead I'll drop back to 2006 when Michigan destroyed a #2 Notre Dame team in South Bend 47-21.  The difference today is we know better.  In 2005, we thought 7-5 was "the year of infinite pain" (and even that year had…"Henne…Fires to the end zone…TOUCHDOWN Manningham, Michigan wins!") It's different and it's better.  We've been down in the hole, and now, here we are, all of the sudden, looking at the possibility that this team could be headed to a BCS bowl.  Just one more obstacle remains.  The most important of all obstacles.  The Game.

And since I proved last week I am not above using the hoariest of cliches, allow me to now list what I am thankful for with regard to Michigan football:
  • Greg Mattison and his understanding of blitz schemes.
  • Brady Hoke and his understanding of the rivalries and his willingness to go for the throat.
  • Al Borges and his realization that he had Denard Robinson at quarterback.
  • Denard Robinson for being so easy to appreciate as both an athlete and as a person.
  • Fitz Toussaint for the way he's making the second and third cut.
  • Tay Odoms for sticking with it, even when reason and logic would have forgiven him otherwise.
  • Rich Rodriguez for the athletes he brought to Ann Arbor during his three seasons here.
  • Jordan Kovacs for doing the things that a former walk-on can do with commitment and effort.
  • David Brandon for creating the future*
  • The Michigan Marching Band for the weeks when they are not doing fanservice to the student section.
  • DTE Energy for making lemonade out of lemons.
  • The student section for getting there mostly on time and for being an auditory play clock for the team when they were heading southbound in the first quarter.
  • Nebraska fans for being classy and passionate without being jerks.
  • Jon Falk for being Jon Falk
  • The Michigan Daily sports reporters for killing it.  Every. Single. Week.
  • The awesome people in my well curated MGoTweet feed.
  • Brian Cook for saying better what most of us are thinking.
  • Geoff for, five years ago, giving me a place to say all of this that was on my mind, and for having a killer tailgate.
  • Jeremy, for doing awesomely underrated stuff on here.
  • David, for being the rookie of the year for his awesome contributions here.
So go, eat some turkey, enjoy some great games on Thursday and Friday, and then remember that Saturday, at noon, in front of the largest crowd watching a football game anywhere in America that day, only two words matter.  Two words only.

Beat Ohio.

*-No, I'm really not thankful for everything that has been done to create the future.  I just worry if I don't say it, it looks like I am ungrateful for those future creations which I do enjoy.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Bo

­                                                                                                                                November 17, 2011
Dear Bo,

                You have no idea who I am and you probably wouldn't care much beyond the fact that I am a Michigan alum and football fan.  You'd probably throw me a cocked eyebrow and a headshake when you heard that I am a blogger, because I'm one of those damn media types, and what's worse, I'm pretending to be a media type.  But then you'd probably laugh and move on to whatever it was you were planning to do next.  This is my best guess based on what I have been told about you and from what I have read.  But I hope you understand that in writing this letter to you, or perhaps moreover, to your spirit, I'm trying to make sense of a world that's changed so much in the five years since you left.

                There are those who claimed that your passing was a curse, that your death the day before the #1 Ohio State/#2 Michigan "Game of the Century" was operatic in nature, but ultimately a harbinger.  That your passing took the last bit out of Lloyd's will to give it his all, that it cost us a win in the Rose Bowl, and then that led to the Appalachian State disaster and the Oregon nightmare.  But that's too simple, too easy.  Curses are the name we give to a series of unfortunate events that can easily be better explained by logic and investigation and ultimately faulting ourselves.  Since we do not want to do that, we're cursed.  It absolves us of any guilt.  And yet, I cannot help to believe that maybe there is something here.  Not the curse, but the loss of the anchor.  It is said when Pericles died during the Peloponnesian War, a certain way of thinking died and it ultimately cost the Athenians their golden age.  While you had been retired for more than a quarter century before your passing, you were still the pater familias because you had never really gone away.  You'd left the family business in the capable hands of the second son, not the one you envisioned, but one who was working hard to uphold the good name of the business.  And then all hell broke loose.

                I'm not going to rehash the last five years for you, because they're a mess and because Bacon did a great job covering it, as I am sure you would have suspected.  (He keeps doing an impression of you around these parts, and it's pretty spot on.  I'm assuming you haven't seen it because you don't get Big Ten Network where you are.  I presume this is because Mark Silverman is only so good.)  But the reality is, we're in a new place now, kind of like where you were when you got here in 1968, except the landscape is even more high pressure, even more potentially toxic, even more self-immalatory.  In the past year alone, two "successful" Big Ten coaches saw their tenures end, both because they essentially didn't tell someone something they were bound, either by rules or by law, to tell.  It's a different world than the one you left Bo, Twitter alone would make you throw a headset.  This weekend, instead of playing Ohio State the weekend before Thanksgiving, Michigan now plays Nebraska in a Big Ten Legends Division game trying to keep pace with Michigan State, because the season now stretches to Thanksgiving weekend, Nebraska's now in the Big Ten, there are two insanely named divisions, and there's going to be a Big Ten championship game, and the Spartans may be playing in it.  I'm comfortable in saying I'm pretty sure you would not approve of any of those things.

                All of that said, the world, both inside college football and beyond, still has a lot of you in it.  Start in Baton Rouge, where one of your former players is running the #1 team in the country and doing it pretty much as a slightly crazier version of you.  Or look at the work that Dr. Billy Taylor is still doing with his expanded Get Back Up Foundation, helping to treat addicts and put them on the road to recovery.  Look in the locker room, where Jon Falk's still there, still doing his thing better than anyone (and telling us some great stories about you.)  Or look up at U of M Hospital, where your Heart of a Champion Resarch Fund is rolling along.  Or simply upon State Street, whereanother of your former players is running the Michigan Athletic Department, following in the grand tradition on Canham's marketing prowess with a low-key but ever present ferocity and a number of 21st century twists.  These are just a few of the most prominent examples of your former players doing great things, but that wouldn't surprise you.  It's what Michigan men do.

                There's not a statue of you at Michigan Stadium Bo, but you know that's not how Michigan does things.  But in borrowing the words which inspired Michigan's state motto, "If you seek his monument, look around," you don't need a statue.  Your monument is in the phrases "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions." and "The Team. The Team. The Team." and, unfortunate as it might be, "A Michigan man will coach Michigan."  Your monument is the fact that the Big Ten Coach of the Year trophy is named for both Woody and yourself.  Your monument is our program, as you would remind us, a link in the chain from Yost to Kipke to Crisler to Oosterbaan to Bump to you down to Mo and Lloyd and yes, even RichRod, and now Brady.  Your monument is in our memories of you, five years gone, but not forgotten.

                We've been warned in the past week about the dangers of any one coach having too much power; we can see the stark reminders of investing too much in a football coach as anything more than a football coach. So maybe you left at the right moment, maybe the plan is not ours to question, because maybe you just weren't made for these times.  But that doesn't mean we can't miss you.

                                                                                                                                My thanks to you,

                                                                                                                                Craig Barker

P.S., someone else you knew paid you a pretty exceptional compliment about always doing the right thing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seal Block: Vote for the Worst! Vote for the Best!

So we are all finished ranking the official seals of the school in the so-called Football Bowl Subdivision. You can browse the whole series of posts here.

To finish off the series, we want input as to the best and worst university seals there are. For the best, the Top 32 are available in one image: (click to enlarge)
We're going to whittle that down to a Top 25, so post your Top 25 vote in the comments, or tweet it to me @schnoxl.

But before doing the best, we're going to vote for the worst. For the worst, you can nominate any post-secondary institution you want from anywhere in the world. The categories you can nominate schools in are:
  • Worst Concept
  • Worst Font
  • Most Outdated Design
  • Most Needlessly Busy
  • Most Boring
  • Creepiest
  • Worst Use of an Ancient Language
  • Most Incongruous Symbol
  • Most Unintentionally Hilarious
I will evaluate your nominations based on the strength of your case, so if you really feel a school deserves to win a particular category, write up your case and make it funny.

The worst overall seal will not be a contested category, as we already know which college will be the clear winner in that category, and that college are clearly happy with that outcome.

We'll reveal the worsts next week and the bests the week after that, so submit your nominations asap!

Seal Block Week 12: The Independents and FCS cheer them on to their rivals

To finish off Seal Block's regular season, we consider the FBS Independents. Because there are only four and we know you need quantity as well as quality in order to best kill time, we're also including the six FCS schools that "won their way" into Seal Block by defeating FBS schools this year. Congratulations, FCS schools! The symbols of your identity can now be made the subject of fun.
10. BYU
What it's trying to say: A commonly used short form for "Brigham Young University" is "BYU."
What it's actually saying: Please don't think too much about the life and times and wives of our school's namesake.
At least at New Mexico State, someone had to have had a tiny glimmer of inspiration to say, "I know! Triangles!" BYU couldn't even reach that level of creative process.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

F. Scott Louverture

Photo by Melanie Maxwell/Ann
"There are no second acts in American lives."

Over the last few years, we've been told, by anyone who holds an opinion on the matter, what Michigan football is and how it should look and feel.  I've always viewed that notion as a mirror which reflects one's view of what one wants football to look and feel like.  As I've said before, I have weaknesses for running backs that blend power, speed, and the ability to make the key cuts and fundamentally sound safety play.  Jordan Kovacs has done a great job this season with the latter, but since Mike Hart left Michigan, the former has been solely missing.  (No offense Brandon Minor, I liked you a great deal as a back, but durability issues man, durability issues.)  So when Fitzgerald Toussaint emerged as the lead running back for Michigan after what seemed to be an interminable search, I wondered if he would be "enough" or could he become something more, something greater.

"Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle." 

I think we can all agree that yesterday's game was a classic example of "left wanting".  Though Michigan had a two score lead, on the road, against a team that considers Michigan its arch-rival*, it still felt like all of the missed red zone opportunities were going to come back to haunt Michigan, because we're taught that when you don't put the boot on the throat, it will cost you.  Except, it didn't.  Michigan's defense looked like "Michigan defense" again, they made stops, they pressured the quarterback, and while they made some mistakes (4th and 26?!?), they did enough that Michigan's counter punches on offenses were enough to bring home the eighth win of the season, one better than last year, ensuring a .500 record in the Big Ten (which shouldn't be a big deal, but come on...), and ensuring a .500 road record for the year (yeah, four games is not the best sample size on that.)  Michigan may not be Michigan again, but an eight win season, with a solid chance to win either of the last two games, if not both, well, isn't that what we were clamoring for?  Isn't that what we so direly wanted?  I've said it before, but it's true, the last four years changed us as fans.  For the first time in a very long time, certainly in the modern modern era, we know what the depths of despair look like in college football, so we appreciate not mediocrity, but the realization that true ecstasy in the college football sense requires perfection, and perfection is so rare that it cannot and must not become commonplace.

(*-Seriously, the Illinois people have an unhealthy obsession with Michigan.  It's kind of a compliment when you think about it.  It's also hilarious.)

"Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck."

Am I wrong here, or did like every replay review go against Michigan yesterday?  I realize that replay reviews are supposed to get things right, but man, every single break went against Michigan yesterday and Michigan still won.  Sometimes you don't need luck.

"You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say."

If I've been quiet on the last week's major story, it's because I simply do not know what to say that either hasn't already been said, or that would make much sense.  Besides, Spencer Hall and Joe Posnanski handled this (along with hundreds of other writers far superior than I am) and when you feel like every thing has been said, at some point you just realize you have nothing to add.  But I realized I did have one comment eventually that I wanted to make.  It has been so easy to show this last week as the final straw of a rotten system, that college football is irredeemably broken and that we should be ashamed to love it, feeding the rotten system.  Perhaps those people are right.  But the longview says something different.  The longview says that college football has always been screwed up.  College football has always meant too much to too many people, it has always been a target for critics for any number of reasons.  The violence, the money, the institutional racism, the money, the overemphasis of athletics over academics, the money, the lowering of admissions standards in the name of winning percentage, the money.  The criticisms are out there, and they are fair.  If you wanted to walk away, no one would blame you.  Our greatest danger is in making college football more than something than it is, fulfilling narratives established by ourselves, or by the media, to short hand our way through life in a metaphor.  If we understand what it means and do our best to not assign it value beyond that, its power to shock us when it fails to live up to any higher standard is diminished.

So, in the final end, bring on Nebraska, learn from the past, and make a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


I'm sorry, but this is almost certainly going to be a total mess. In all cases, assume "alleged" is inserted in front of anything that hasn't been proven in a court of law.

I've come to the conclusion that the worst part of college football is when it bumps up against reality. The world is often a brutal and horrible place. Football is supposed to be an escape for all of us, something that we can care about that doesn't really matter. And when that wall comes down, it's almost always uglier than the facade. It seems like it's usually an extra benefits case, which is disappointing enough, but this? The sexual abuse of minors? It's simply appalling.

I loathe what is alleged to have happened at Penn State. It's nightmarish in its scope, and at least half a dozen people could have stopped it, including the revered leader/spiritual godfather of one of the premiere programs in college football. How does this not make it to the real cops? How can anyone sit with this for nine years? Sexual predators exist, and that's sickening enough, but how can anyone let this guy operate after what Mike McQueary witnessed?

I guess the (admittedly trite) answer is that people are often terrible, and even good people make horrible choices. It sounds stupid and obvious, but it's a hard thing to accept. Anyone who knows someone who works as a homicide cop or a medical examiner knows for sure that this is true. They've probably seen a baby who was shaken to death by his parents, overdoses, drunks, crack murders*, a teen who didn't know the gun was loaded, and a woman who killed herself by driving off a freeway overpass with her dog in the car. All too often people are horrible or weak, and people in sports aren't exempt from that, no matter how respected they are.

Penn State should clean house, from the president on down. Anyone who knew about this and didn't go to the police should be gone. Maybe it'll crater the program, but so what? It couldn't protect ten-year-olds from a DC who'd been retired for four years, possibly as a result of NEARLY IDENTICAL allegations. Who cares whether it can protect its red zone from Nebraska?

*Pro tip: If you're dealing crack, don't let your penniless addict client live with you. And if you do, definitely don't leave a hatchet lying around.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Seal Block Week 11: The Sun Belt torches secondaries

Considering that this conference is called the "Sun Belt," they have a strange obsession with artificial light in their seal designs. Torches. Lots and lots of torches, as though there were no sun in their belt at all. Hopefully the Big East has pitchforks, so the SUNBEAST will be able to fight off all sorts of villains.
9. Middle Tennessee State
What it's trying to say: Food can be exchanged for goods and services.
What it's actually saying: Tennessee has more detail than can be adequately shown in a one-color seal.
MTSU's seal is a simplified version of the state seal, with the word "Murfreesboro" added, for obvious reasons. Tennessee's state seal is in full color and doesn't look too bad. MTSU uses one color and it looks terrible. But MTSU's real identity crisis can be found deep in its identity guidelines:

You know how you know when a school has a branding problem? When their official style guide tells you not to use their logo without the wordmark, because people will probably not know what the logo stands for.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

COUNTERPOINT: The Urban Meyer Rule Must Go

So it turns out they're equally "good."
As much as it pains me to disagree with this blog's senior proprietor, I must argue in favor of abolishing the Urban Meyer Rule and setting up an LSU-Alabama rematch in the BCS championship game. Were it not for the modern barbarism of overtime, last night's match would have ended in a 6-6 tie. Truly a score that even the Big Ten greats of old would appreciate! And then both teams would be undefeated, which, as an SEC fan would tell you, is how it should be.
Now some will say that Alabama had their chance to topple LSU and that they failed, so why should they deserve another? While I am sympathetic to that argument, there is a counterargument in favor of a rematch I find more compelling.
We all know that LSU and Alabama are dirty fucking cheaters that sign way too many recruits and then use dubious methods such as grayshirting or claiming medical hardship to keep their team roster at the scholarship limit. I say we let them go off and have their precious "BCS Championship" and, if there is a consensus #3 vs. #4 matchup in one of the other BCS bowls, we argue forcefully in favor of that being the true national championship for teams that don't fuck over 17- and 18-year-old kids.
The most likely way for this scenario to go down is for Stanford to lose once down the stretch, Oklahoma State to lose to Oklahoma, and Boise State to remain undefeated. We could then end up with #3 Boise vs. #4 Oklahoma at the Fiesta Bowl. Ironically, the dirty fucking cheater of bowl games would benefit most from this scenario, but this is big-time NCAA sports. At least one cheater has to prosper.
So I say rematch! But I also say, who cares who wins? The true national champion will have been decided a week earlier.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Curse of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

This is the ad that the University of Wisconsin has been running during its football games.
On October 7, this ad became incorrect when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Wisconsin alumna and President of Liberia, was awarded a share of the Nobel Peace Prize.
On October 7, Wisconsin was ranked #4 in the country with a 5-0 record. Since that date, they have gone 1-2 and given up a touchdown play of at least 40 yards in each of those three games, even to Indiana. They have fallen from national championship hopeful to third place in the Big Ten Southeast Division.
If I were a university running an ad boasting about how many Nobel Prize winners were associated with the school, not only would I hastily update the ad if an alumna received a Nobel Prize, I would make a big show of hastily updating the ad.
I believe that Wisconsin is doomed to disappointing results until they fix their ad. Sirleaf's other FBS alma mater, the University of Colorado, is 0-4 since she was awarded the prize. I do not think any curse is involved there. I think they are just bad at football.
UPDATE (11/5/11, 7:40 PM): Wisconsin defeats Purdue handily, but gives up a 30-yard TD pass. Perhaps the curse's power is diminishing slightly? Also, Colorado loses again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Urban Meyer Rule

I'm officially getting out ahead of this.

I would just like to remind America that no matter who loses the LSU-Alabama game this weekend, the loser is AUTOMATICALLY disqualified from consideration for the BCS National Championship game under the Urban Meyer Rule.

The Urban Meyer Rule came about in 2006 when Florida's then-coach Urban Meyer successfully campaigned for his Florida Gators to get into the BCS National Championship game by arguing that Michigan had already had their shot at Ohio State and thus should not get a second chance.  Nothing changes in 2011.  Not the fact that the loser of that game will come from the SEC.  Not the fact that the result could be closer than three points.  Not the fact that the game was played earlier in November than the final week.  Not the fact that it may be the home team that was the #2 instead of the #1 team.  Nothing changes.  If Michigan doesn't get a rematch, neither of these teams do.  It's black letter law.

Mr. Meyer set his precedent, the SEC must be held to the same standard by the BCS and the poll's voters that Michigan was held to in 2006.  Otherwise, the BCS is just a trave...oh, right.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Michigan Defense Theater Experiment 1109: "Girl In Gold Pants"

Michigan Defense Theater 3000 - Experiment 1109: Girl In Gold Pants
In the not too distant future, Saturday A.D.
There was a guy named Jordan, not too different from you or me
He worked at Schembechler Institute, just another face in a maize jumpsuit
He did a good job cleaning up the place, but his bosses kinda liked him so they made him play in space
(Curse you GERG!)
We'll send him speedy runners, the best we can find
He'll have to stop, tackle them all as we monitor his mind
Now keep in mind he can't control when the games begin or end
He'll try to keep his sanity with the help of his D-Line friends...
Martin! (I'm Captain!)
Heininger! (Left side!)
Van Bergen! (Where've you been?)
Rooooooooooooooooh! (I'm sophomore!)
If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts
He's got a meal card and it's set on earth so you can really just relax
For Michigan Defense Theater 3000.
Hi, everyone and welcome to the Satellite of Yost. I'm Jordan Kovacs and since I'm out with a bad knee, I'm helping the D-line make motivational bracelets to keep focus on the field. Mine says "WWERD" for "What would Ed Reed do?" Coach Mattison says I could be like him, if I could run a lot faster. What does yours say, Van Bergen?
Mine says "WWTGD" for "What would Tom Gholston do?" I then try and do the opposite.
Well, that's refreshingly bitter. Roh, what's with the bracelet with all the W's?
It stands for "What would Wade Wilson, Wes Welker, Warren Wells, Wesley Walls, Will Witherspoon, and Whizzer White do?"
I don't think Coach Hoke would like that bracelet. A lot of those guys didn't play for Michigan.
[sounds a lot like Evan Caminker] I'd like to take a moment to remind the reader that this script is a parody not based on actual events, and the people appearing in this script are public figures.
Thanks, magic voice. Uh-oh, the Mads are calling.
JORDAN pushes the red button.