Monday, December 31, 2007

Orange Bowl Preview: Part III

Special Teams
Fittingly, the preview will end today with some bittersweet analysis as my mood is much the same – being at work, but knowing that tomorrow I will be in sunny Miami. It looks like Sean Glennon is already down there. But I digress. As the old adage goes, "Beamer ball" starts with special teams. So maybe that's not an adage at all, but it's definitely true.

Since the Big Man got to campus, I have always viewed special teams as something of an advantage, but nothing magnificent. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, counts on these units as much as they do their offense or defense. Over Frank beamer's 21 seasons there, they have blocked an incredible 171 kicks spanning 253 games. Fortunately, many of those came in the 90's before many times put much of a priority on these units. Still though, they have 4 blocks this year and 3 in the last 2 games. Two of their blocks have come on punts, and two on place kicks (FG and PAT against BC), so they can do it from every angle.

It's an understatement to say that Kyle Tucker has been a disappointment this year. I've made mention of it all year, but after his incredible sophomore season, this guy was a front-runner for the Ray Guy Award going into last year. And though he slumped a bit last year, it was nothing like this year. On the year he has averaged roughly 37 yards per punt, good for 111th in the nation. Fortunately, Kansas has a good coverage unit, ranking 24th and only yielding a little over 6 yards per return and no touchdowns. But with opponents just trying to get the kick off, coverage has often suffered as a consequence and VT ranks 8th nationally at 14.35 per return, with two taken to the house. Suffice it to say, Tucker needs to have a good day. He doesn't need to get away incredible kicks, but the unit as whole needs to make sure there aren't any game-changing plays when they're on the field.

Kansas' punt return unit has been similarly worthless. Fortunately, it's pretty much been all one guy's fault – whoever happens to be returning the kick. Things started off well with Pendleton taking one back for a score in week one and subsequently creating quite a YouTube clip. But since then, he got the dropsies and though sure handed, Webb seemed to have no idea when to call for a fair-catch, thus resulting in minimal return yardage. That could all change this week as Aqib Talib will get his shot at creating a spark. But don’t count on it. VT doesn't punt or cover punts exceptionally well, but they don't get burned either. They are a very good 20th at 42.5 per kick and a respectable 41st in coverage, only allowing 7.38 per return with none taken back. So perhaps Aqib could elude a few defenders, but I don't see him doing anything spectacular as they are sure to key on him as well.

The kickoffs should pretty much be a stalemate. Whereas Kansas ranks 3rd with a 26 yard average (2 TDs), Virginia Tech's coverage is 13th, only allowing 18.8 yards. On the opposite end, Kansas is a below average 75th covering kickoffs, allowing 22 yards but VT has been pretty pedestrian returning them, averaging 17.83 per return, with one TD.

As for the place kickers, the advantage again goes to the Hokies. Jud Dunlevy has been nothing short of great for VT this year. He is 42/44 on PATs and 21/24 on field goals. His long field goal was 52 yards and he has not missed inside 40 yards. Scott Webb, on the other hand has been disgustingly erratic. Like Tucker, he was counted on and provided consistent production if nothing spectacular. Known for not having a strong leg coming into the year, Webb was considered extremely reliable in short range. Then came a trip to College Station, where he missed three kicks, all within 40 yards. He rebounded nicely over the next few games until the biggest one, when he missed both attempts against Methzouri from 33 and 45 yards. He was given proper protection on each and neither were difficult kicks – he just shanked them. On the year, he has been great on PATs, converting 63/64 but less so when going for 3 points, making 17/24 with a long of 48. Needless to say, KU can ill-afford any more of these blunders.

Edge: Virginia Tech

So for those of you wondering, that takes the total up to VT 2: KU 1. The Hokies have the advantage on special teams and when Kansas has the ball, whereas the Jayhawks have the edge when the VT offense takes the field. So Virginia Tech is going to walk away with this win as all the experts are saying, right? Wrong - it all comes down to weaknesses. And Kansas' weaknesses are much stronger than Virginia Tech's because of their balance. On the whole, the VT defense is better than the KU offense, but they aren't enough better to overcome their pedestrian offense. And though VT is better at special teams, I don't see any game changing plays being made there, which is what they're looking for. I said it before and I'll say it again, this one will be decided by what Kansas can get out of its quarterback. I feel like the rest of the game is somewhat predictable, but this could be the wild card. On the one hand, VT's speed and talent could be overwhelming for both Todd and the line. But on the other, the Hawks could spread them out just enough to neutralize this speed. If the latter occurs and he is able to take care of the ball while keeping the Hokies guessing, they will score enough to win the game. If he makes a couple mistakes like he did at Arrowhead, it could be a tough night. He's given me very little reason to doubt him, so I'm going with Hot Toddy.

Kansas 27 Virginia Tech 17

Just for good measure, here are a few links…

- Texas beat UCLA in Pauley and their blowout of Tennessee is starting to look better, but as predicted, their depth is taking a toll and losing to two Big 11 teams in as many tries is not how they wanted to go into the new year. Need to circle the wagons before the Gaels come calling.

- For the second time in a week, Methzou couldn't handle a team that was beaten by Miami (OH). This time they fell to Mississippi State, just a fortnight removed from their loss to South Alabama. And oh by the way, that team Methzou hasn't beaten since 1999 just lost to Tennessee State. Perhaps "40 Minutes of Purgatory" would be more representative?

- How 'bout those Sooners – now taking down Huggy Bear on the road. After a disastrous loss to SF Austin, they have since beaten Arkansas, Gonzaga and WVU. True, that's no murderer's row, but it's three quality wins that will look awfully good come bubble time.

- Not that I see it affecting the outcome too much, but White and Slaton have to be a little bit happy about this genius move.

- Nothing we didn't already know, but entertaining to see Lee Corso admit that he couldn't get any tail on his own.

- And finally, "Kansas has a linebacker who scares me…" says a VT beat writer.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mangino gets Zooked...

Well looks like a certain Illini frontman edged out the fat man for liberty mutual coach of the year.


This of course pisses me off a bit and I won't even get into the merits of their rose bowl bid least I end up sounding like a hypocrite.

And also in a surprise to no one with a pulse or a clue about how the NFL works, Booger will be returning to Methzou next year. For selfish reasons I would not have minded if he left as a) he made us look bad this year and I would have liked not seeing him next year and b) I wanted to laugh when he did not get picked up by anyone after not going in the 5th or 6th round.

Appears the other juniors will be returning as well. As much as it pains me to say it the piss and black should be the team to beat in the north next year along with the hawks.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Orange Bowl Preview: Part II

Kansas Offense v. Virginia Tech Defense
Well, it's now Friday and it's snowing, so what better time to talk about the less fortuitous match-up against the Hokie Defense. Idea #1 would be getting defensive coordinator Bud Foster to take the WVU job like now. If idea #1 doesn't pan out – and even if it does – the best thing Kansas has going for them is that VT has not seen an offense like theirs. The question remains – does it matter?

Statistically speaking, it should be a great match-up and while Kansas' offense isn't quite as good as that stats say, it's hard to defend when it's used correctly and even harder to prepare for because you can't simulate timing. Unfortunately, Virginia Tech's defense is somewhat similar. They have padded their stats too (discussed shortly), but it's inarguable that they have a great defensive team and you absolutely can't simulate their speed. Since Kansas hasn't faced a defense like this all year, the comparables we'll be using are the best offenses VT has seen.

I liked how we did things yesterday, so let's get things started with the name of the game - scoring. Both units are second in the nation. Kansas has racked up over 44 per game, while Virginia Tech has allowed 15 ½. Stating the obvious, Kansas isn't scoring 44 this time out. But they're not going to be held to 15 either. The top three scoring offenses VT has seen are LSU (12th at 39/game), Clemson (22nd at 34/game) and BC (55th at 29/game). Not exactly a murderer's row of supermen. When VT played these teams, they were humiliated by LSU for 48 points and it could have been worse. But they held Clemson and BC (both times) below their averages. To Clemson they yielded 23 and to BC they allowed 14 and 16. All three are very solid performances, but I don't think there is any doubt that Kansas has a much more dynamic and productive offense than BC and you'd have a tough time convincing anyone that they aren't at the very least Clemson's equal. Maybe I'm wrong here, but per my analysis yesterday, if Kansas puts up 23+ I think they are in great shape. (Note: Ohio (45) and ECU (47) are ranked ahead of BC in scoring, but were excluded for obvious reasons.)

So the obvious question is; how are they getting to 23? For now we're going to discuss total offense, but I'll give you a hint: Hot Toddy is involved. Both units are again top ranked with Kansas coming in at 6th and VT 5th. To get there the KU offense has accounted for 491 yards (6.45 per) leading to 64 touchdowns. And the VT defense has held opponents to 292 yards (4.3 per) and 24 TDs. Again it makes the most sense to look at their best opponents, who were LSU (20th at 448), BC (27th at 437) and Clemson (47th at 412). They were again bludgeoned by LSU for 598, but were much better in the others. They held BC to 317 the first time and 387 the second and they held Clemson to 380. So nothing that really blows your hair back, but solid outside of Baton Rouge. My argument again would be that Kansas is every bit as good if not better than BC/Clemson and getting at/near 400 yards would likely be enough good for the aforementioned 23ish points.

Now for the bad news. I'm not sure how well the Hawks are running in this game, as the Hokies are a bit stingy here. Statistically, Kansas is 27th with 197 per game (5/carry) and 29 touchdowns. But if you saw the Methzou game, you are worried. Especially when you consider that VT is ranked 5th and only allows 87 per game (2.75/carry). Fortunately, they again have not faced the stiffest of competition. Their top three opponents in terms of rushing offense were LSU (11th at 219), Georgia Tech (18th at 203) and Clemson (50th at 159). And similarly, they were raped by LSU for 297 yards, but were solid against GT and extraordinary against Clemson (though aided by Tommy Bowden). Against GT they allowed a very acceptable 105 yards, nearly 100 below their season average. Against Clemson on the other hand, they yielded a staggering 8 yards, or 151 below their average and if you've watched James Davis or C.J. Spiller, this is no small feat. You do have to consider that after falling behind 17-0 very early (Pick 6, FG, Punt Return TD), Bobby's son forgot he could still run the ball, giving it to each back only 6 times, while letting Cullen Harper throw 66 times. So I'm impressed but it's not quite as astonishing at the core of it. So as you may have guessed, Kansas is going to have to be quite a bit more diverse with their play calling on the ground and they are definitely going to need to pass to open up the run.

Fortunately, that seems rather doable. Needless to say, they're a bit more promiscuous here. That is not to say that VT doesn't defend the pass well, but it's certainly less of a fortress than their run defense. On the year they rank 27th, allowing a 53% completion rate for 207 yards. More specifically, they allow 5.6/attempt and 10.5/completion. So calling it a chink in the armor might be a bit much, but it's unquestionably vulnerable. The Kansas passing attack is ranked 14th on account of 295 yards per game and 35 touchdowns. They've averaged 8 yards per attempt and 13/completion, which they do 64% of the time. These are the statistics I would argue are by no means inflated – and I think you could easily dispute that they are somewhat deflated. Whereas the defense was able to beef up its stats against the poor early competition, Reesing was always on the sideline by the 4th quarter as Kansas' backup running backs were grinding out the clock.

There are two things I primarily like about this match-up and one that I don't. First the latter, I'm concerned about Kansas' ability to protect Reesing. On the year, they've allowed 22 sacks (47th), while VT has gotten to its opposing QB on 43 occasions (8th). Specifically, three players worry me. First, DE Chris Ellis is a thrill to watch unless you're facing his team. And from the linebacking corps, Xavier Adibi and Vince Hall are both extremely active, instinctive and just plain fast. The Kansas O-line had trouble with players not nearly as skilled as these three against Methzou and the coaches forgot to roll Todd out until the 2nd half. If the same occurs, I'd hope they have learned from their mistake.

But onto the positives, Virginia Tech has not seen an offense anything like Kansas' all year. As you've noticed, they haven't played too many offensive juggernauts at all and certainly none that spread the field or throw it as well as the Jayhawks. The top three passing attacks they faced were BC (6th at 329 yards), Clemson (40th at 254 yards) and LSU (59th at 229 yards). They held BC slightly below, giving up 285 the first time and 305 the second. They had no such luck against Clemson, allowing 372 or LSU, when they yielded 301 – both well above their respective averages. Take that for what you will, but the best equalizer in football right now is the ability to spread the field and Kansas does it much better than any of those teams.

The other thing I like here is Kansas' ball security. This has been an enormous advantage for the Jayhawks all year and can be in this game also. As you may remember from yesterday, the VT offense is beyond bad and as a team they're extremely dependant on getting points/field position from their defense and special teams (preview to come soon), so holding onto the ball is essential. And fortunately, Hot Toddy usually doesn't have a problem doing so. Aside from his 32:6 TD: INT ratio, he also went 6+ games without a turnover of any kind. His six turnovers have come in 3 games, which means he has been turnover free in 75% of them – bump that up to 77% and he'll be shocking at least one lass later that evening. It's not a stretch to say that his 2 picks against Methzou were the difference and if he avoids those same mistakes, I like their chances to move the ball through the air.

Which brings us to the little things - where Kansas also has the edge. Most notably, the only teams that have been as disciplined as Kansas are made of up members of a service academy, as Kansas, Army, and Navy tied for fewest penalties on the year. In a game where yards may be hard to come by, not shooting yourself in the dick with a stupid penalty will be a key to sustaining drives. And just as importantly, Kansas needs to find a way to convert a decent percentage of their 3rd downs. They currently rank 28th, converting 44% of their chances, while VT is 3rd, only allowing a conversion 29% of the time. Anything over 35% would be well received by yours truly.

As was the case yesterday, I'm not sure if I told you much you didn't know here – but it's always nice to confirm suspicions with numbers. Although in this case, maybe I would have been better off having not known what VT can do to a running game. Contrarily, it was rather refreshing to reaffirm my belief that they haven't played against an offense that would be in the top half of the Big 12 (LSU aside, but I think even VT would rather I not analyze that one too much). As clich├ęd as it sounds, I really think this game will ultimately come down to the Kansas QB play. If Todd can spread the field and take care of the ball, there is no reason they can't get into the 20s and as I mentioned yesterday, I'm inclined to think that will be enough. For those of you scoring at home, though…

Edge: Virginia Tech

And since we all enjoyed them yesterday, here are a few links to bide the time…

First, courtesy of The Big Lead, enjoy the wonderful world of hate mail – which apparently was written by someone with no familiarity to the English language and how it is presented in writing.

And another from TBL, wondering about D-Mac's Cotton Bowl Availability?

For the second straight day, here is some Alamo Bowl discussion. More than anything, I just like the picture of these hellacious d-bags.

And for those that care, Bobby Frasor is gone for the season with a torn ACL. I'm not in the camp that thinks this is make or break for Roy's boys, but he their biggest weakness is from beyond the arc and he was one of their best. He was also one of their best perimeter defenders.

Even though it's been beaten to death already, I just want to thank Texas for overcoming the efforts of Mack's red-headed stepchild Chris Jessie and ensuring that I will finish over .500 this college football season.

Bienvenido a Miami

If you needed any further proof that KU football (thinks) it has arrived look no further than Jamal Greene sporting his best "prime time" sanders suit while boarding the plane to the city that parties all night on the beach till the break of dawn. Respect!

The only thing that really could make it better is the addition of a technicolor dreamcoat to go along with the strong pimp hand.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Florida Dreaming




The forecasts for the day leading up to gameday, gameday and the day after. Dallas should be real fun, considering the Tigers play at something like 8 in the morning(I know it's 10:40, but seriously) the day after New Years Eve. Predicting some rain in Miami on gameday, as we know that can change daily. Pretty sure Miami will be the best weather though. Rock Chalk!

Orange Bowl Preview: Part I

First off, since this is an Orange Bowl post, I would be remiss if I didn't at least extend you the courtesy of informing you where and how to get your very own Orange Bowl urinals. Onto the game...

Kansas Defense v. Virginia Tech Offense

Since I'm at work and the Chippewas dropped my bowl record to 5-2, I'm in need of some regalement, so we'll start with the good news. Despite what the confidants at ESPN and the like will tell you, this Hokie offense is about as malodorous as your common Methzourian. Needless to say, it's not very productive either. I know what you're thinking, "…But they've embraced the 2-QB system and really taken off!" Not exactly.

I'll even be generous and discount the LSU game entirely, because apparently it was an anomaly and should be forgotten as an aberration (just ask them). After doing that, we can split their season into 2 halves: in the first six games they totaled 190 points – in the last six, 184. Now that's improvement! Granted, I will give you that their competition did get tougher as the season went on so to keep putting up the same amount of points against better opposition does constitute improvement.But to act like this offense just took off as soon as they embraced this system is about as logical as Eddie Sutton returning to coach San Francisco. Speaking of, what's the over/under on days it takes for him to get drunk, stumble into a gay bar and again be in the papers for all the wrong reasons? But I digress.

To further understand the Virginia Tech offense, we need some comparables. Since the object of the game is to score, let's start with their ability to produce said statistic. Not surprisingly, they are extremely average in doing so, ranking 50th by lighting it up for 29 per game. The closest comparable is A&M, who is 53rd and who Kansas had shut out into the 4th quarter on their home field. Then again, when you consider what their defense and special teams do for them, this isn't really as much of an offensive accomplishment as one the whole team can take pride in. No shame in that.

The shame comes into play when you look at the specific offensive stats. First and foremost, this Hokie juggernaut is averaging an astonishing 332 yards per game, good for 99th nationally. Or in other words, about 5 yards better than Iowa State. But they didn't achieve this status by magic; they had to earn it by moving at a pace of less than 5 yards per play on the way to pay dirt 37 times. I'll be the first to admit that Kansas' countering stats are still slightly inflated from their pre-conference foes, but let's just say if this were played on paper, it wouldn't be pretty. The Jayhawks are 14th nationally, giving up 312 yards on 4.5 per play, totaling 24 touchdowns. Take that for what you will, but in all the KU defense has looked great in 9 games, average in 2 (OSU/NU) and porous in one (Methzou). When looking at the opponents' offenses it's no secret as to why, but where the VT offense would fall is similarly translucent.

How exactly do the Hokies produce such magnificent offense? They like to both run and pass the football. They do exactly neither well, though. On the ground, they usually like to give it to Branden Ore or let Tyrod Taylor try his best poor man's VY impression. On the year, Ore has been slightly less than superb, running for 876 yards (3.6 per) and 8 touchdowns – not exactly what you're looking for out of your feature back when you have a defense/special teams combo that just asks you to control the clock a little. He eclipsed 100 yards exactly once, but was close on 2 other occasions. Since "embracing the system," Tyrod Taylor has run for 431 yards (4.4 per) and 6 touchdowns. Considering that was in limited action and he does pass sometimes as well, that's pretty solid and it's definitely good enough that the defense has to prepare for it. But it's not exactly Pat White either. Before we get to their production, I think it's also relevant to mention how many tackles for a loss they have allowed. Only Notre Dame was worse as they ranked 118th by allowing 110 of them, or 8.5 per game. 82 were of the solo variety and 56 were assisted – that's a whole lot of action in the backfield. As a team, they rank 82nd by moving it 134 yards (3.35 per) and have scored 21 of their touchdowns this way. For comparative purposes, Colorado ranks 61st (150), Nebraska 70th (144), the Purple 83rd (133) and Texas A&M is 12th (216). All of these rushing attacks were completely shut down by Kansas, with Nebraska moving the most at 79 yards, most of which came on the 2nd and 3rd teams.

As uninspiring as that may all seem, I am actually a bit wary here after seeing Savage and Temple each get about 100 yards – because I think Ore is a similar back. Any idea if she has any eligibility left? And though the Kansas run defense is ranked 7th nationally, yielding only 91 a game (3 per and 7 TDs), the aforementioned games stick in my mind. It's also worth pointing out that in VT's two games against the first ranked rush defense (BC at 68 yards) they gained 98 and 116, respectively. Not exactly jaw-dropping, but pretty productive against a statistically good unit. Then again, when you look at BC's schedule, it's tough to find a competent offense on there, so maybe Kansas wasn't the only team whose stats were aided by its competition. Have you stopped looking at that tank yet?

Even more telling, is when the ball travels through the air. I don't think I'm out on too much of a limb when I say that Kansas was more worried about the pass (Methzou is 7th at 328 per and OSU has Adarius Bowman) than the run during those 2 games. The Sean Glennon/ Tyrod Taylor combo doesn't instill quite as much fear, airing it out for 199 yards a game, good for 86th nationally. In doing so, they have accounted for 16 scores and gained 7.43 yards per attempt. Only one team in the Big12 – not surprisingly the one that forgot that there are 2 ways to progress the ball – Texas A&M, produced less with 187 yards. As you may have guessed, this isn't their bread and butter. But they do have balance and athleticism at the receiver position to go along with some big play ability. And they are all seniors, too. Seven guys have had receptions of 30+ yards and 6 of them have scored. Justin Harper leads the way with 37 catches for 572 yards (15.4) and 4 scores. Josh Morgan is next with 43 grabs for 522 yards (12.1) and 5 scores. Eddie Royal has contributed 32 for 485 (15.2) and 4 TDs. And Josh "The" Hyman has nabbed 25 for 339 (13.6) and 1 score.

So yeah, they've got the guys to make the plays if they can get the ball in the right position. This is where I love Kansas' match-up. The Hawks have been largely average defending the pass, ranking 57th nationally by yielding 227 yards and 16 TDs on a 58% completion rate – nothing too overwhelming. What I love here though is that though Kansas is susceptible to an efficient passing attack, they don't usually give up the big play. They are 3rd in the nation, behind only A Ohio State University and USC in allowing 5.5 per attempt. And they are even better when the pass is completed, allowing only 9.4 per, which is second to only AOSU. This meant bad news against Methzouri, but could prove very beneficial this time around. Whereas Booger was content to sit back and throw outs to Rucker and Alexander, Taylor (54%) especially, and even Glennon (63%) do not fit this mold. Glennon is accurate enough, but he has only thrown it 207 times (compare that to 534 for Booger) and has not had to go out and control a game with his arm. And along these same lines, the VT line has as much trouble protecting their QB's as they do preventing TFLs, allowing 49 sacks (or just under 4 per game) on the year, good for 114th nationally. Kansas couldn't get a lot of pressure on Booger (MU is 35th, 20 SA), but you have to think they'll be in the backfield a bit more come January 3.

And now for the little things. With their extreme emphasis on special teams, you would think a "Beamer Ball" team would concentrate on doing all of these well. But that's not entirely the case. They take care of the ball pretty well, having only thrown 7 interceptions (t-11th) and lost 10 fumbles (t-48th). But they aren't too disciplined, ranking 80th nationally in penalties with 88, or just under 7 per game. It probably doesn't need to be said, but their offensive production doesn't lend itself to withstanding many penalties. And given these issues, it's no surprise that they don't convert all that well on third down. Much the same as many of their statistics, this is below average at 35.9% and good for 85th nationally. Though half of the ACC (GT, FSU, the U, UNC, & Duke) are below them, only two Big 12 teams are worse with Baylor at 35.7% and Colorado at 34.5%. Though statistically a strength, this was my biggest worry heading into the Methzou game and actually it turned out pretty decent. Kansas is currently 12th only allowing a conversion 31.4% of the time, but allowed Methzou to convert on 40% (they were at 1st at 57% going into the game) of their tries. Holding VT at or below their average should be good enough.

I'm not sure if much surprised you here, but I for one, feel better about things. Iowa State aside, November wasn't a great month for the Jayhawk D and though I have long since known of VT's offensive struggles, I started to have some doubt. And trust me, there's still plenty, especially since KU is in the midst of a 40 day layoff, but I feel a lot better after confirming my suspicions with some numbers. And I've come to the conclusion that there is no reason not to hold this offense well under 20 points. Can you see this unit scoring 3 times? I sure can't.
Edge: Kansas

And just for good measure, here are a few links.

First, courtesy of the Washington post (via Deadspin) comes the tale of a true man's man, someone we'd all love to have around. Hell, it may not even be a stretch to call this guy by the name of Billllll Brasky.

I wonder if it's too late to change my Penn State v. Texas A&M pick? Don't fuck me Anthoney Morelli!

And a nice little diddy by LSU Freek to get you in the mood for tonight's Holiday Bowl.

If you're after something a bit more analytical, try this.

If you watched Mike and Mike today, you'll find this funny. If not, probably no need to bother and we'll talk again soon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Post-Christmas Thoughts...

In light of my most recent post, I want to take the time to gloat for a while as my hubris may or may not be humbled in the coming weeks. So far, so good. But lest we forget there are still 26 to go and games played after a month long hiatus are a bit less predictable than your standard Big 12 clash. But without further ado, my Big 12 record for the regular season finished as follows:

Against the Spread: 29-8-1
Straight Up: 30-8

Not exactly Biff Tannen, but not too shabby either. As you may have noticed, I have begun this bowl season 5-1 (it should be noted that all bowl predictions are straight up rather than ATS), running my overall record to 35-9. Or in other words, exactly 26 games over .500 – so I need at least 1 more win the rest of the way to come out ahead this college football season. You know, if gambling were legal (sorry Simmons).

Now, on to something much more entertaining…I have wanted to (and may still) do a mascot analysis. But in the meantime, I need to try and figure out how not to plagiarize this little diddy, which is pretty much spot on. And the extremely logical and insightful comments below are pretty entertaining as well.

In other news, some Big 12 basketball teams took a bit of a "hit" this weekend.

- Neither Oklahoma's win nor Methzouri's close loss to Arkansas look all that fabulous after their loss to Appalachian State.

- Oregon similarly discounted a win/close loss from a couple Big 12 teams (Nebraska and Kansas State) with their humbling loss to previously 5-6 Oakland. But at least Ernie Kent had some time to schmooze Detroit recruits.

- A day after I wrote this, "Methzouri's last test comes tomorrow against Illinois. A win here is almost a must as the Illini are coming off a home loss to Miami (OH) and I'm pretty sure Methzou hasn't won this "rivalry" game this millennium. Assuming they don't shit the bed tomorrow, I am going to go ahead and confirm my suspicions that I originally underrated them." They of course proceeded to go ahead and soil the chaise by going scorless the last 3 minutes. And now they will head into conference play with their best OOC win coming over Purdue as their earlier win over the Terps has lost all credibility (VCU, Ohio and American have done the same).

- Not surprisingly, Texas' joy ride ended with a loss to Michigan State. More surprising, depth didn't appear to be the fatal flaw - Sparty genuinely looked like the better team on the floor. As long as they beat Bo and Badgers and then the Gaels, all will be well in Austin.

- And then Tech let a golden opportunity slip away with their loss to Stanford. Leading for most of the second half, they forgot how to be patient on offense and wound up losing by a point to give the Pac 10 the edge in the inaugural Big12/Pac10 Challenge, 7-5. Of course, when you factor in the games outside of the challenge, the Big 12 wins, 9-7 (KU over USC, KSU over Cal, Neb. over Oregon and TAMU over Washington). All in all, a good showing for both leagues, but since the Pac10 is widely regarded as the best league in the country I'd say the Big12 has to be happy with the showing.

Switching sports, if this doesn't confirm to you the greatness that is baseball, I don't know what will. I have a slight hunch that more credit should go out to the researcher(s) that compiled all of this, but well done Jayson Stark.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Matthew Berry continues to be completely devoid of talent, humor and nearly everything else that typically makes for a good columnist. But I'm sure he has some "sexy" picks for you.

Back to a better brand of football, not to mention real, I want to apologize for having not truly discussed the upcoming Orange Bowl. I feel almost as badly as Ryan Wood after succumbing to a silly hijinx. I assure you that detailed preview will be appearing shortly, as I leave for South Beach in 6 days and will have it done prior to that.

In the meantime, here are some predictions from other sources.

- From ESPN, the previously mentioned and always articulate (and of course knowledgable), Rod Gilmore.

- From CFN, the staff picks. Only Clucko seems to be on board after Fiutak had originally gone the way of the Jayhawks. (Scroll down for both)

-'s Stewart Mandel gives his hypothesis here.

- Here is a peak at Methzou alum Pat Forde's thoughts on the game.

- And sticking with the Black and Urine, here is Mizzourah's completely non-bias, non-jealous, educated take on the Orange Bowl.

- The take from Texas blog, Barking Carnival.

**Added afterwards** I knew that someone somewhere had picked the mighty Jayhawks, and this morning I remembered who it was - here are some picks by ESPN's Chris Low.

As you may have noticed, there is a pretty common theme among these prognostications. Fortunately, if everyone is leaning one way, things usually go the other. And in case you missed it, I have already pledged my pick to the 3.5 point dog.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bowl Predictions

Poinsettia: Utah over Navy - The Midshipmen already had their bowl in South Bend

New Orleans: Florida Atlantic over Memphis -Gotta go with The Schnellenberger Cincinnati over Southern Miss - Brian Kelly needs a big time job

New Mexico: New Mexico over Nevada - Home game

Las Vegas: BYU over UCLA - No coach

Hawaii: Boise State over East Carolina - Could ECU have to travel further?

Motor City: Central Michigan over Purdue - Home game, revenge game, and they actually want to be there

Holiday : Texas over Arizona State - Assuming Texas plays the right linebackers and they generate a pass rush

Champs Sports: Boston College over Michigan State - Sure they got screwed but they always win bowl games. And MSU is perpetually overrated.

Texas: TCU over Houston - No more Art Briles

Emerald: Oregon State over Maryland - Another late season surge for the Beavers

Meineke Car Care: Wake Forest over UCONN - Just not sold on the Huskies

Liberty: Mississippi State over Central Florida - Kevin Smith may go off, but Sly Croom seems to have a little sumthin cookin

Alamo: Penn State over Texas A&M - A&M has no coach, albeit Fran. And Joe Paterno is technically alive.

Independence: Colorado over Alabama - Bama will have more fans, but the Buffalo players want to be here.

Armed Forces: California over Air Force - My instincts say Air Force, but the talent disparity is too much.

Humanitarian: Fresno State over Georgia Tech - Can't see the coachless team from Hotlanta being too pumped to play on the blue turf of Boise.

Sun: South Florida over Oregon: Both of these teams were #2 this year. And one of them still has their quarterback.

Music City: Kentucky over Florida State - I had the ' know, until half the team decided they didn't want to go.

Insight: Oklahoma State over Indiana - Could be Adarius' pre-combine spectacle.

Peach: Auburn over Clemson - No way I can take Bowden over Tuberville

Outback: Wisconsin over Tennessee - Just a hunch that PJ Hill is going to have a good one

Cotton: Methzouri over Arkansas - The Hogs are going in Nuttless. On second thought, maybe that's for the better this time.

Gator: Texas Tech over Virginia - Quick - Who is the best passing team in the ACC? Here's to thinking Tech is better at it.

Capital One: Florida over Michigan - I actually had some trouble with this one. Tebow and Percy will dominate the Wolverines. But last I checked, the Florida defense left a little to be desired. All Michigan coaches are auditioning now though...

Rose: USC over Illinois - Just being here is a win for the Zooker

Sugar: Georgia over Hawaii - Knowshon Moreno

Fiesta: Oklahoma over West Virginia - May not even be close

Orange: Kansas over Virginia Tech - Hot Toddy! Hot Toddy!

International: Rutgers over Ball State - Maybe if Ball State were playing Nebraska I could go the other way...

GMAC: Tulsa over Bowling Green - Why not - they've got a good offense.

BCS Championship: Louisiana State University 17 over A Ohio State University 16 - And for some reason I'm not even convinced

Bold = Actual Winner
Italic = My selection

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Robert Earl Keen- Merry Christmas From The Family

Merry Fucking Christmas from Columbia Misery. Great song though really...yes I know he is from Texas...but it just seemed fitting

Happy Festivus!

And we will begin with the "airing of grievances."

I got a lotta problems with you people!! ......

- NCAA Football: It's the most tired rant in sports, but this is the most asinine way possible to decide a champion. And what's worse - you know it.
- BCS: If you are going to bother to issue rankings other than 1 & 2, you have to take the teams accordingly. If your system is good enough to decide the 2 best teams, it's good enough to decide the next 8 as well.
- Bitching fans:
Methzouri - You can't lose a December game by 21 points and argue that you got robbed.

USC - Regardless of how "hot" you think you are, you lost at home to Stanford. End of story.

Georgia - Not only did you not win your own division, but you lost it to a mediocre Tennessee team and in doing so lost at home to non-bowl team South Carolina and those same average Volunteers.
Virginia Tech - I'm sure you are better now than in September, but no team that loses by 41 points deserves to be anywhere near a national championship. Especially one playing in the ACC.
- SEC fanatics: Your league is tough and extremely middle-heavy. I would even argue it's the best. Now quit jerking yourselves off and get over it.
- Trevor Matich: Are you getting paid to do this?
- Mark May: Enough said.
- Lee Corso: Ditto.

No USC, you lost to Stanford.

- All-American voters: Do any of you have an original thought? How is it that there are at least 119 choices for every position and you all think the exact same person merits All American status about 90% of the time. Aqib Talib's stats last year dwarfed what they were this year, but since Kansas is in the top 10, now he is a consensus All-American while last year he was lucky to make the 3rd team.

And don't give me John David Booty was hurt, Stanford was playing their backup quarterback...

- The Mitchell Report:$20 million and 409 pages to unearth that some clubhouse attendants say Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and some others were with the juice. Pathetic. If you want me to take a dump in a box and slap a guarantee on it, I will. I've got spare time.
- Baseball Writers of America: You aren't going to vote these guys into the Hall? Well I hope you are ready to admonish al of their statistics, along with what their teams accomplished accordingly as well. Because you can't have your cake and eat it too this time. And while we're here, since you all were too fucking stupid to broach this subject when it was actually occurring, perhaps someone else should be voting for this anyway.
- Players named in said report: Nut up. If you still have any. If you were too stupid to write a check for steroids you deserve to be humiliated. And the only people you could possibly be fooling with this whole "took it twice for recovery" charade is the aforementioned gullible writers.
- Billy Packer & Jim Nantz: That'll do.
- Writer's Strike: This shit is getting old fast. Writers - just know that syndication makes money for the stations, but not for you. Chew on that for a while.

No! Even Notre Dame beat them...

- ESPN: I don't have time to go through everything, but here are a few...
NFL Coverage - I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that on a random Wednesday, I think there are a few things we'd all rather have covered than Sean Salisbury's opinion of the Patriots.
Michael Vick - There should be no reason we again hear his name until he is released and attempting to play football again.
Barry Bonds - He did steroids. If something actually happens, let us know.
Alex Rodriguez - He's making a lot of money. Scott Boras is a shitburger. Get on with it.
- Isiah Thomas: Who am I kidding...You are wonderful! But you are fielding a team of sunts.
-Lew Perkins and Mike Alden: Quit being money-grubbing bastards and stay the fuck away from Arrowhead.

Alright, I'll see what i can do. But I'm not making any promises.

On that note, let's move on to the feats of strength...

As of this moment, Kansas University is ranked #3 in basketball and #8 in football. And given that the only basketball game between now and 2008 is against Yale, it is highly likely that the year will end that way. Their cumulative record for 2007 is... 44-4! (And assuming a win v. Yale it will end at 45-4) Broken down, that is 21-3 from last year's basketball team, 11-1 from football and 12(13)-0 for this basketball season. It's always great, but talk about a wonderful time to be a Jayhawk.

And something tells me 2008 will be pretty fun as well. See Below.

Both right away...

And then when an addition is made in April...

Any additions are welcome. And yes, I'll be doing a bowl post shortly. And though some have already been played, you can rest assured everything is truthful.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Festivus is Coming...

It's only two days away, so here is your early present.

Given what has occurred since revealing my Big 12 Predictions/Preview, I thought it necessary to make an additional post to keep everyone updated. And given how the landscape of college basketball changes even more dramatically than that of football, I would expect to have a further revised synopsis up right before conference play begins. From there we may just revert to power rankings.

First off, if you haven't noticed, the conference on the whole is getting some great resume wins. Even Gary Parrish has taken the time to point it out, and he does it oh so eloquently.

As he also mentions, Baylor went on the road this week and snapped a 25 game road losing streak to South Carolina. In the process of doing so, they also came back from a 20 point deficit. I'm not sure if that should make me more or less confident in my prediction of 6th for them. For the time being, we'll leave them there.

After a crushing home loss to Stephen F. Austin last week, has gone ahead and completely redeemed themselves with wins over Arkansas and Gonzaga. They still have a roadie at West Virginia and if they can manage to win that one, the SFA debacle will be all but forgotten with their only other losses being close ones to Memphis and USC.

Methzouri's last test comes tomorrow against Illinois. A win here is almost a must as the Illini are coming off a home loss to Miami(OH) and I'm pretty sure Methzou hasn't won this "rivalry" game this millennium. Assuming they don't shit the bed tomorrow, I am going to go ahead and confirm my suspicions that I originally underrated them (8th).

Kansas State continues to unimpress, so I really want to believe I overrated them (4th), but I can't find a team to move ahead of them. We'll reserve judgment until I see them play at Xavier.

I've already mentioned Nebraska's program-changing(?) win over Oregon but it warrants again pointing out that they have wins over two Pac10 teams and have not lost at home. Even factoring in that they're Nebraska there is no reason they should be tested again until conference play starts and Kansas comes to Lincoln. Finishing OOC at 11-2 with no bad losses should be considered a big victory for them and put them in good shape if they can at least continue to defend the Devaney Center. Perhaps 9th was too low?

Texas Tech, Iowa State and Colorado continue to look like they will effectively round out the bottom of the league. And to my slight surprise, Oklahoma State is looking like they may only be a notch above that tremendous trio. I tried predicting them 5th on account of default and Gallagher-Iba, but I was clearly ignoring the Sean Sutton factor.I'm not sure if they'll end up 9th as I just alluded to, but they're sure as hell not finishing 5th. I can forgive an ORU loss if it was an anomaly, but they were clearly the second best team on the court (how badly does OSU want to trade their Sutton for Scott?!) - and factor in a loss to North Texas and this team clearly is not what they had hoped to be. They aren't quite airing of grievances worthy, but they have looked awful.

Kansas, Texas, and Texas A&M continue to roll, further establishing themselves as the class of the conference. Texas still has tests @Michigan State and home to Wiscy. I'm not sure if they'll beat Sparty tomorrow, but I'd be shocked if they lost to Bucky. And man, if they win both, they will be sitting pretty. I still don't see how lack of depth and an inside presence doesn't hurt them at some point (see Duke last night). A&M is playing a typical A&M non-con so it's hard to evaluate them, but other than falling apart in the desert, they have looked every bit the part of a sweet 16 team. Kansas has not done anything nearly as spectacular as Texas (2 top 10 wins and going for a 3rd), but they have big wins in the Pac10 (home and road), and they already have 1 roadie in the ACC and will be going for another in a couple weeks. They have all the pieces, but certainly have some issues to rectify before they can do anything special.

All in all the conference looks solid so far. The only teams that have really impressed have been the top 3. But, as predicted, it seems to be an extremely middle-heavy league and as long as everyone doesn't beat up on each other, should be able to garner the league a few extra bids. If anything else happens, I'll keep you updated. And per Ryan Wood's advice, I'll try to confirm anything before it's on here.

Revised Predictions.
1. Kansas (1)
2. Texas (2)
3. Texas A&M (3)
4. Kansas State (4)
5. Oklahoma (7)
6. Baylor (6)
7. Methzouri (8)
8. Nebraska (9)
9. Oklahoma State (5)
10. Texas Tech (10)
11. Colorado (11)
12. Iowa State (12)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And.........Boom Goes the Dynamite!

Kansas football coach and everyone's favorite round mound of touchdown, Mark Mangino was named Associated Press Coach of the Year today.

"That's awesome for coach," Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing said. "He's earned all the recognition he gets. I don't think anybody realizes how hard coach works for us."

"Mangino received 28 of a possible 58 votes, easily outdistancing Missouri's Gary Pinkel, who had 11. Hawaii's June Jones was third (seven votes) and Illinois coach Ron Zook fourth (five votes)."
Or in other words, 30 voters didn't follow college football this year, but the 28 that did were more than enough.

And from Ryan Wood's report of the award, you have to love Mangino's humility about all of these accolades.

"Head coaches get far too much credit for winning, and far too much blame for losing...I'm taking it all in stride. I appreciate it, I'm thankful for it, but it really reflects the entire program."

Most all coaches can say the right things, but given the moral flexibility some college coaches have displayed the last week or so, it's still refreshing. Here's to hoping Sandwiches sticks around for a while. Hot Toddy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just Win...KU 71 GT 66

Had to have a quick post after that game...It was ugly and in many ways we did not play well, but we went into a hostile ACC arena facing a team with some obvious talent. Mario and Russell choke away some game clinching free throws and we still find a way. Darnell and Mario get a few late phantom foul calls to get DQ'ed and we still win. Officiating was awful both ways and took the pace of the game and runs away from both teams and we battle to the finish.
Tough games will help later on and while I am not in the least satisfied with how we closed out this game, we all know that 10 games from now it won't matter how or by how many, but that we prevailed. I am pretty sure that we can safely say this team would not finish a game out like that, against that team, three months from now. Let's not forget that basically this same team had lost to ORU at home and DePaul on the road at this point last year and they rebounded pretty nicely. To summarize, you gotta take the good and the bad, but when the bad is winning on the road, it isn't so bad...11-0! Excelsior!

P.S.-Someone tell Paul Hewitt how to manage timeouts...takes his final in a 6 point ball game at 2:40 left with a TV timeout still to come...blows my mind

*Edit* You know what doesn't blow my mind?...This...

**Added later by Hiphopopotamus** First off, nice "finish" link and of course any ManBearPig reference is always a bonus. I think you may have been a bit tough on Coach Hewitt...But then again, there is this post-game nugget to consider "We are a talented team, but not a good basketball team, and there’s a difference. That’s why I thought we were going to win.” Say what now? My guess is that he was hoping to play NBA junk ball and just isolate for a bunch of 1-on-1's...And I guess that probably gave them the best chance to win considering, but if this isn't further proof of how he gets so little out of so much, I don't know what is.

On Kansas' end, I am surprisingly content with how the game went. And I think it's because there is no way to evaluate the game - mostly because of how "dumb" it was. From the officials calling phantom fouls or not allowing timeouts to Paul Hewitt misreading the scoreboard to Kansas forgetting their offense or Sherron Collins throwing the ball away under his basket, stupidity dominated last night.

But interestingly, that last incident with Collins ties directly into an officiating blunder and may not have happened had the first mistake not occurred. With KU still well in control, Chalmers chased a ball down on the baseline and before falling out(while having a foot on the ground) called timeout. At first, it was awarded and then quickly changed per the the rule alteration prior to last year...even though that is only supposed to apply to players that are airborn. So, the direct effect is that instead of being Kansas ball, GT got it and scored. And the indirect effect (though entirely a guess on my part), was on Collins' thought process. With the zebras mis-interpreting rules, he probably had no idea if it was legal to call timeout so he decided to do the next best thing and throw it off a white boy's legs. Was it the right thing to do? Of course not. But if it works (and he did it successfully earlier in the game), it was a heads-up play by a guy with few options.

As for the free throw shooting, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned. But in all honesty, it was fine last night...until the last minute. You could easily throw that back in my face and say that's when they need to be made. And though you'd be right, are you really worried that Chalmers not having any late game savvy is going to do this team in? Me neither. Let's look at the individual performances...Jackson (0/1), Kaun (5/6), Chalmers (2/3), Rush (2/2), Stewart (0/1), Collins (2/2) and Robinson (6/10). I'd say the bigger problem is lack of attempts. Obviously Russell and Kaun did a great job getting there. But Arthur didn't even attempt one. Chalmers only got there twice. And Rush and Collins only got there once a piece. Take away the five late attempts and in a horribly foul-plagued game they somehow would only have taken 20 free throws. Call me crazy, but I'd call that the much bigger issue.

All in all, there are a lot of loose ends to keep tying up before conference play (I haven't even mentioned the rebounding woes). But at this time last year, they had a home loss to Oral Roberts and a roadie to DePaul. And both were in games just like last night's. This team isn't where it's needs to be - far from it. But don't forget that there is still two weeks before Kansas' bowl game.

Kansas Football 2007

A little highlight video to pass the the intro...

and to add on to that, it was edited by film student and football player Micah Brown


No matter how hard to NCAA tries to lull us to sleep during December, it simply won't work. As a society, we're pretty much insatiable for everything and sports enthusiasts are the worst of all. So despite the aforementioned stoppage in major college football - while every other division enjoyed and concluded their playoffs – there is a lot to talk about as we prepare for a much anticipated January. And I apologize in advance if I begin rambling incoherently with no semblance of thought, ala Bill (the self-proclaimed) "best memory in sports" Mayer. I promise to at least attempt to organize my thoughts.

First and foremost, the Jayhawk basketball team takes its show on the road tonight as they venture to Hotlanta to play Paul "mediocrity works for me" Hewitt. Before I go on, let me state that Big Paul is apparently well-respected for his ability to not push the envelope and for his recognition of the school's athletic standards. I guess I just have to question how he can get so little out of so much. And would I really be so foolish to wonder how much his adherence to academic standards impedes recruiting as Ra'Sean Dickey finishes up his suspension due to academic ineligibility? But I digress. The real thing to watch tonight is how the Jayhawk bigs deal with someone their own size. The guards on this team will always outperform or at the very least equal the opposition. On the inside that is not always guaranteed. They have been dominant the last two games, against DePaul and Ohio, and we would be irrational to think it will continue as so. But there is no reason not to expect the four of them to combine for at least a 30/20 no matter the opponent. Logistically, do you think it's unreasable to expect 16/7 from Arthur, 8/8 from Jackson, and 8/7 from Kaun? Me neither. Aldrich's minutes fluctuate too much to guess, but you can count on something there too. And if that happens, this team will absolutely go to San Antonio.

Secondly, Stewart Mandel wrote an interesting article yesterday about how the BCS foiled a pre-arranged Oklahoma v. Virginia Tech Orange Bowl, pitting #3 v. #4. For whatever reason, it has never been publicized (or at least not much so) that per certain circumstances, bowls/teams can "petition-out" of their conference affiliations to set up different match-ups. And even though this one was agreed to, it was vetoed at the eleventh hour, apparently with no justification as to why. Lost in all of this is the fact that the Fiesta Bowl still wanted Kansas even if the Orange took Oklahoma. I guess no one wants a team that loses by 3 touchdowns in December. Shocking! (Obviously I say that humbly, based on Nov. 24th) In hindsight, I guess Oklahoma screwed Methzou twice that night as voters, bowls, etc. had to regret their mistake of allowing OU to play and lose in the national championship (causing a split) after they too were humiliated in the conference championship a few years back.

In other news, it makes me smile that Scott Van Pelt delivered a commencement speech, albeit at a University he did not even attend. Per the article, we all know him best for that voice-mail message and his Flight of the Conchords references, which of course we here at "It's Business Time" appreciate. But throw in his references to The Wheel, the Wang Burger and especially the reason why he drops those lines and well…this just cracks me up.

Per the coaching carousel going on right now, I thought old Fiutak had a good devil's advocate take. I guess it's just nice when someone offers up a different opinion, especially if it's not the cookie-cutter article they're supposed to churn out and has some substance. Plus, how can I not give the Cavalcade some press with Festivus a mere 5 days away. Get your poles ready!

This has nothing to do with anything, and yet there was no way not to pass it on.

Back to basketball, the Big 12 has had a pretty good last few days. On Saturday…Kansas embarrassed Ohio. Nebraska beat Oregon - court storming followed. Oklahoma beat Arkansas – which they badly needed. Baylor beat Wayland-Baptist! It appears they have yet to play East Texas Baptist, Dallas Baptist and, juggernaut, Houston Baptist before they can claim Baptist supremacy in Texas. Perhaps tomorrow's game @ South Carolina will be a better gauge anyhow. UAB reportedly blew-out a couple teams in the Paige Sports Arena - this has yet to be confirmed though as the combined attendance for the two games was 9,191, none of which could be reached for comment. Kansas State beat Florida A&M and made sure to re-insert Beasley up 30 late in the second half after realizing he didn't have a double-double yet. Don't worry, he got it. Even Iowa State won. Texas and TAMU both won, but not nearly the way they should have. Who can blame them, though? The laggards of the week were OSU, who was handled by Pitt (not surprising), and Tech, who was similarly handled by New Mexico. Colorado did everyone a favor and just didn't play. A couple more weeks like this and the conference should have a pretty decent RPI. It's sad we have to care about these things, but given the alternative presented by college football, quite appealing and good to know.

And finally, if you weren't planning on it already, make sure to set your TiVo for the Orange Bowl. Assuming there is a pre-game show after all, it's Fox), set that to record as well. In addition to the obvious reason of wanting to re-watch the game however many times, Fox will be doing a special on a certain safety that you won't want to miss. (knock on wood) And for those of you going, what's the over/under on shots we're buying Obie? I'm going to have to open the gates somewhere around 25...suggestions welcome.

I think we'll call that good for the day. If you're still reading this, I guess things were coherent and articulate enough not to lose you. And for that I am grateful. Hot Toddy!

I Know I Am An Asshole, But...

Who is really all that surprised by this? Don't worry, as a pennance for my not being able to ignore the obvious humor in this, I will lend a helping hand per the advice in the last paragraph.

ESPN All-American list

Congrats to Aqib for making the espn all-american team.

Nice to see Jordy on there as well, he was maybe the only reason the purple finished as well as they did (not saying much).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Booger Escaping Methzouri?

I would be shocked beyond belief if it actually happened, but it's hilarity is interesting enough to warrant a post.

And in other news, what exactly does $4 million per annuum buy you these days?

For those of you who don't know what a "Sunt" is, you simply must find out.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Good News For Hawk Fans

Pinkel is staying at MU. This is good news for KU fans as The big man has found ways to beat statistically superior MU teams during his career usually due to Pinkel getting involved and having to coach. So thanks for staying coach Pinkel your friends in Kansas salute you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Lists

But none of them have anything to do with the Mitchell Report. In fact, they're better and they didn't cost $20 million to put together. In celebration of the last day of the worst sports week of the year, I will be taking the time to first, summarize my Big 12 conference predictions in a sentence or two each. And secondly, I will be giving you my national Top 10 based upon this young season. Those picks will also be accompanied by a sentence or two of justification.

Big 12

King in the Castle Division
1. Kansas
: The only team that could argue it has looked better is Texas. And since Kansas has an easier schedule and has been playing without 2 of the 10 best players in the conference, I don't think there is much room for argument here.

Nursultan Tulyakbay Division
2. Texas:
No one in the country has done more. Augustin is unbelievable. Damion James and Connor Atchley are much improved and playing great. The question becomes, can the undersized James and/or the pussified Atchley provide an inside presence with any consistency.

3. Texas A&M: How do they replace Acie Law? Will DeAndre Jordan hit a freshman wall? Where will the assists come from? This is a very solid, balanced team and will perform well even without answering those questions, but if they can answer them they could do some things on a national level too.

The Jake Taylor – "I Don't Know What the Hell He's Thinking" Division
4. Kansas State:
Michael Beasley will be great. Bill Walker should be good when he's not pissing himself. And Hoskins will be solid when he returns? But will they get solid point guard play? And more importantly, how many games will Frank Martin cost them?

5. Oklahoma State: I said in the preview that they were here solely because of Gallagher Iba. I have since reminded myself that Sean Sutton's ineptitude far outweighs a good home court advantage over the course of a season. I won't re-submit my preview, but look for them to be closer to 7ish.

You Serious, Clark? Division
6. Baylor:
They've got the talent to be here. So why am I less convinced by the day that this is where they'll finish? Oh yeah, they have never been above .500 in league play and only been in the top half once – 10 years ago.

Colin Cowherd Division
7. Oklahoma:
I tried to defend them by saying that they had beaten the teams they were supposed to and been somewhat competitive against USC and Memphis. And then they promptly lose at home to Stephen F. Austin. Their next 3 are against Arkansas, Gonzaga and WVA – and if they don't win at least 2 of those, they are going to have to come up with a hell of a conference season to be thinking about the big boy tourney.

8. Methzouri: I said at the time that I thought I was underrating them and the more I watch other teams, the more I think I did. But then I watch them play and I start to think this is about right. But given that their only bad loss was at Cal (which isn't a terrible team) and they play in the north, I wouldn't be surprised to see them bump up a few slots.

9. Nebraska: Aleks Maric is a big camel toe, but can score some points. We'll know a bit more about the team after the Oregon game tomorrow. Doc Sadler is already begging for people to come, saying that Oregon is the best team that will play in the Qwest Center this year. Let's hope not, considering that would make for a nice 1st/2nd round destination for the Jayhawks as a high seed.

10. Texas Tech: As I said, I'm not sure they are quite this bad. And it pains me to put a Bob Knight team this low. But I don't see how they aren't the worst team in the south and they're certainly not decidedly better than any team not in the JLH Division.

Jennifer Love Hewitt Division
11. Colorado:
When I previewed them I said they only had one "hard" OOC game left, at Wyoming. Of course they lost that one, but then they went ahead and lost to New Orleans as well. The only thing this team is trying to accomplish this year is not to embarrass itself. Best of luck.

12. Iowa State: Aside from an aberration excuse, I couldn't not put them here after losing to Drake by 35. Fucking Drake. Amazingly, they do have wins over the Pac 10 and Big 11. If they work hard, maybe they could get to the top of this division, but that's probably as high as they're climbing.

National Top 10

1. Texas: How can I put them second in the Big 12 and 1st nationally? Because one is a prediction and one is an evaluation. No one in the country has done more than them with a humiliating of Tennessee in Newark and a win in Pauley Pavilion. They still have games against Sparty and Bucky – win those and no one in the country will have a better OOC.

2. North Carolina: I'm surprised and mildly impressed they are only playing 2 of their first 9 at home. But beating Kentucky is nothing Gardner Webb couldn't do and beating aOSU is nothing Butler couldn't do (and even Coppin St. held them to 47 points). That said, they've looked good and if they find some consistency behind the arc, they will be really good.

3. Kansas: Amazingly, they seem to be flying under the radar. I knew they would locally with people not used to following two sports, but I wasn't so sure it would happen nationally as well. But along the way, they have beaten UofA and won at USC without their full team.

4. Duke: They a far cry from the team that went 8-8 in the ACC last year and still managed a 6 seed. Even though their best win was a 4 point one over Marquette and they have absolutely NO inside presence, they have probably sown up a #1 seed.

5. Washington St.: Their best wins are at Gonzaga and Baylor and neither was decisive, but this feels right to me. They remind me a lot of Kansas football because they: get the most out of their ability, don't make mistake, are opportunistic, and always get a little less respect than they've earned.

6. Memphis: Now here's a team that's overrated. Watching USC zone them, shadowing Rose and CDR and making the others shoot jump shots was highly comical. I will be shocked beyond belief if they make it to San Antonio and they seem like a prime candidate for a second round upset.

7. UCLA: To be this high with a home loss says a lot about them. And yet I'm still not sold. Their defense looks decidedly worse than the past two years and Kevin Love isn't half as effective as he was made out to be. That said, he is a great rebounder and once/if he gets up to speed they will be a lot better. No Aaron Afflalo, no San Antonio though.

8. Georgetown: I know they're undefeated and were a Final Four team last year, but look at their schedule. Their "big" win is over Alabama and their only decent game left is against Memphis. Win that and at the least, they'll flip flop. If I was mildly impressed with many more teams, I would have held them out.

9. Marquette: This really says something about the top of college basketball this year. But they destroyed Oklahoma St., won @ Wiscy in a rivalry game and lost a close one to Duke.

t10. Pittsburgh, Michigan St., and Vanderbilt: None of them have done anything to separate themselves. MSU has won "tough" games on the road and should have beaten UCLA. Pitt and Vandy are undefeated, but their best wins are by 1 point @ Washington (Pitt) and a toss up between 6 @ DePaul (Vandy) or 13 over GT (Vandy).

And finally, congrats are in order for Tim Tebow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Big 12 Basketball Preview: Part V

King In the Castle Division

"Oh well, King in the Castle, King in the Castle, I have a chair! Go do dis, go do dis, King in the Castle."So if you're planning on reading this when you make toilet, I would suggest printing it out - otherwise you'll burn your crotch, cause it's going to be bottomless. In keeping with yesterday's theme, we have climbed the final rungs on the ladder to the Kings of the Castle, AKA, the…

1. Kansas Jayhawks
That's right, it's business time. And that means that Kansas will try and win their 51st conference championship in 101 years of conference affiliation. If they accomplish this feat, it will be their fourth consecutive title and 6th in the last 7 years. To put that in perspective, the Jayhawks' "rivals," Kansas State and Methzouri have combined for 32, none of which have come since 1994 when Methzou sandwiched one in between 7 Kansas championships (winning it in '91,'92,'93,'95,'96,'97 & '98). Perhaps, this is part of the problem. Maybe if they were to join forces they could put an end to this futility and compete once in a while. But for the time being, it looks like the Crimson and Blue will continue to dominate the conference.

Unfortunately, that conference domination has not led to nearly as many national championships as Jayhawk fans would hope. Had Phog Allen not been forced to retire due to his age, this number would obviously be larger, but it is what it is and I digress. Their last one came courtesy of (now assistant coach) Danny and the Miracles in 1988. They have four in all and have high hopes of honoring the 20th anniversary of their last one by adding a fifth on April 7, 2008.

Thus far, their out of conference games have gone extremely well. That is not to say the Jayhawks have always played well, but they are currently 9-0 and have 2 very good wins. Their biggest "resume win" to date is over USC. Not only does USC have one of the ten most talented rosters in the country, but also the game was played on the road in the Galen Center. The game was extremely ugly and the first ten minutes were pretty much unbearable, but it was the type of win that gets a team a Number 1 seed come Selection Sunday.Their second best win thus far came at home, amidst the Methzou hangover, over another very talented Pac 10 team in Arizona. This game was equally frustrating as the Jayhawks had a sizeable advantage early and let Arizona come back and actually lead a good portion of the second half before finally forcing overtime, where the Jayhawks took over. But again, it was a win in a game they didn't play well against a good team. It would also be foolish to not point out that Kansas has played this schedule at much less than full strength. Brandon Rush missed the first few games as he was recovering from offseason ACL surgery and he is still not near 100%. Sherron Collins also missed all but the first two games, before returning to play a very small role against DePaul last Saturday.

Between now and the conference season, Kansas has two more tough games, both on the road in the ACC. Next Tuesday they will play @ Georgia Tech. A couple of weeks later and two days removed from the Orange Bowl, they will play @ Boston College. Georgia Tech is a less than impressive 4-4, but has played a decent schedule. Oddly enough, though, they have only played 1 true home game and don't have any games between Dec. 5 and next Tuesday (13 days). Kansas will without a doubt be the better team, but Tech is very talented and came within a couple of points of beating Indiana in Assembly Hall. Boston College, as usual, is overachieving and could be out for revenge. After being humiliated by the Jayhawks last year in Allen, BC will be anxious to return the favor. Now, they are 7-1 with the loss coming to Providence and the "big" win coming at Maryland. Why they have already played a random conference game and won't do so again until Jan. 12th, I have no idea. They do have one common opponent, Sexy Rexy's FAU team. Kansas won by 40, BC by 6. Again, the Jayhawks are vastly superior, but there is a reason that road wins are so highly valued. Aside from those two, Kansas plays Ohio (@ Sprint Center), Miami (OH), Yale and Loyola (Md.), so if they win the two on the road and avoid an Oral Robertsesque slip, they should enter the conference at 15-0.

I understand that you don't "know" which teams are going to be good, especially years in advance, but it's pretty retarded that there is no way to rebalance these schedules every so often. After having most of their tough games at home last year, Kansas will now have to win those tougher games on the road. Last year, they breezed through the north at a 10-0 clip with only a couple of close games along the way. The north is similarly inferior this year, though maybe not as much so. Kansas State now has Michael Beasley, but then again they have Frank Martin too. As has been publicized, Kansas has not lost in Manhattan since 1983 and has never lost in Bramlage Coliseum. One would think that streak has to end at some point, and the Bease is guaranteeing that it will be this year. Then again, Huggy Bear issued the same guarantee last year, before falling short and ultimately, making his escape. Also, I'm thinking that I may have slightly underrated Methzou in my preview and even if I didn't, obviously anything can happen in that game.All in all though, I would be surprised if they have too much trouble with this half and the biggest cause for concern is a letdown due to concentrating a lot of their efforts on traversing a much tougher slate down south.

I doubt they will have any trouble with their south opponents that come to the Fieldhouse, as those teams are Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma. On the road could be a different story, with them having to travel to Texas, A&M, and Oklahoma State, teams I predicted to finish 2nd, 3rd and 5th. Winning all three would be fantastic, but even taking 2 would be great and I think, necessary. Assuming they lose one game they shouldn't and one of these tough ones from the south, I don't think a repeat of their 14-2 performance a year ago would be too surprising.

For argument's sake, let's even be bearish and say they lose a third in there somewhere. If they combine that with their non conference resume - which could well be 15-0 with a road win in the Pac 10, 2 in the ACC and also home W's against the Big East and Pac 10 – they should be in prime position for a repeat #1 seed. Then again, as the selection committee proved last year, they put a lot of stock into conference tournaments and as they've proven nearly every year, they really don't know what the hell they're doing. Whatever seed they end up with, let's just hope that they are first assigned to the Omaha pod, leading to the Houston regional and culminating in San Antonio at the Final Four.

Notable Players: The best thing about this team is balance. And the worst team about this team is balance. Nearly everyone has the ability to take over a game, but sometimes nobody steps to the vanguard. Right now they have five guys averaging in double figures and three more at either 7 or 8 per.

On the inside, Darrell Arthur is leading the way at 14, while also grabbing just over 5 boards. Watching him, the latter is hard to believe and needs to improve. The scoring can probably stay right where it is, but for Kansas to accomplish their ultimate goal this year, he needs to be more consistent. This will happen if he stays near the basket, doesn't rush his shot and plays hard. Darnell Jackson has been both the biggest surprise and the most fun player to watch in this young season. The effort has always been there, but the points rarely accompanied. He has stolen the starting job from Sasha Kaun and made the most of his time, averaging over 11 points and 7 rebounds. He probably has less raw ability than at least 7 other players, but he has been the most valuable to date. Sasha Kaun (8, 4) has been very disappointing so far, but had a bit of a coming-out party last Saturday. After starting the game similar to the previous 8, he returned later to score 15 points and grab 5 boards. If he could do this with any consistency, this team gets scary good. And lastly, freshman Cole Aldrich has looked promising. He hasn't really played many big minutes yet, but he has shown great hands offensively, the ability to rebound in traffic and to block some shots. What he hasn't shown is the ability to defend without fouling against good competition. If this improves, nobody in the country will have a better 4th big (and maybe don't as it is).

On the perimeter, Sherron Collins is technically leading the scoring at 13, but he has really only played in 2+ games. He's also averaging 2 rebounds and 4 assists. It could easily be argued that his knee was the reason for Kansas' losing last year. When healthy, he was as good as anyone on the roster and could not be kept out of the lane. When he regains his form, this team will start to really reach its potential. Mario Chalmers (12, 4, & 5) has been the true catalyst of this team and was within reach of a quadruple double his last time out when he had 12 points, 9 boards, 7 assists and 7 steals. He is the best player in the country at anticipating the passing lanes, and he's not too bad on the offensive end either. Brandon Rush is the face of the team nationally and is coming off ACL surgery over the summer. So far, he has looked good but not great. He is averaging 11 and 4 on the year and in back to back games, against Arizona and FAU he scored 17 points. But when you watch him, you know he's not where he wants to be. Everyone says he's close to being at 100%, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. In his, and Sherron's absence, Rodrick Stewart has contributed nicely. For the year, he is averaging 7, 3 and 3, far more than anyone could have expected. He is also a good defender, bringing a ton of athleticism and slashing ability to the team. He looks more and more comfortable each game and though his minutes are sure to dwindle as the injuries subside, this experience will prove very valuable down the road. Freshmen Tyrel Reed and Conner Teehan have also shown the ability to contribute when called upon. Reed has gotten more minutes and is more complete, but Teehan looks every bit the shooter he was touted to be, having kocked down 9 of 12 threes on the year. And last but not least, senior Russell Robinson is exactly what he was expected to be. he started off the year on fire from deep and if that returns, he could take his game and this team to another level. But if not, we absolutely know he will provide extremely good defense, a few points (7+ now), some rebounds (2+) and of course some assists (4+) in running the offense.

This team has all of the components of one that can cut down the nets in San Antonio. And nobody will be surprised if they are able to do so. There are no more than 4 teams in the country that can match their ability and none that have more. However, that was also the case last year when they missed 20+ layups and fell in the Elite Eight. This team looks much more weathered, hungry, and mature, but only time will tell. Rock Chalk!

**Below is a random rant I wanted to get off my chest and probably has no actual validity, so feel free to either not read it, disregard it after you do, or call me out on it. But just know that I'm not even sure I believe it and don't say I didn't warn you. I spend way too much time thinking about Kansas sports and this has been occupying some space lately and causing an unwanted tickle in my anus, so I'm hoping "saying" it rectifies the problem.**

I think this is a make or break year for the Jayhawks. Obviously it's widely known that anything short of a Final Four would be a disappointment, but I think it would be even more than that. I think this team badly needs to either win the whole thing or at least reach San Antonio for a couple of reasons.

1. Bill Self has always been touted as a great recruiter, and he has yet to disappoint. Tyrel Reed and Cole Aldrich will be great. But they aren't Darrell Arthur and Sherron Collins. Mario Little, Travis Releford, the Morriss twins and Quintrell look to be solid. But they aren't Rush, Chalmers, Julian or (ugh) Micah Downs. Obviously Kansas's success is not entirely forgotten, but just for reference, no one he will ever recruit was alive in 1988 (plenty were obviously alive in '91,'93,'01 and '03, but that was with Huckleberry). I know it sounds dramatic and whiny, but to keep getting top tier talent, I think he needs to get over the hump this year.

2. Obviously you never know what's going to happen come March, but I don't see a national title team in the near future if it doesn't happen in April. Considering that after this year, Russell, Sasha, Darnell and Rodrick will graduate. And that it is a near certainty that Brandon and Darrell will leave for the NBA. And that it is entirely possible that Mario and Sherron could join them, next year could be a bit different. Then again, he could ink the Henry's and all of this could go up in smoke.

3. I don't hate or resent Roy Williams. But it was pretty tough to watch him win a national championship in his second year at UNC. And though they lack consistent outside shooting, the "experts" say they're the favorite this year. Furthermore, Huck is having NO trouble recruiting there. And I just can't take watching him win again without getting a taste of it myself, so I have convinced myself that the time is now. Rock Chalk!