Monday, August 22, 2011

Joe's Simple Solution For A College Football Playoff: The Realignment

Well, it took a little time, a little horse-trading, and a little hand wringing. But I figured out how to whittle down 120 schools in eleven conferences (not to mention those four pesky independents) to 100 in ten. So let's start with the easiest conferences to rejigger, or as I called them.....

The Easy.

Pacific Athletic Conference

Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State

This was the easiest of all. Ten schools, five natural pairings. The way it has been for 30 years-plus now. The PAC-10 has become the PAC-12 now, adding Utah and Colorado to the fold, which makes no sense to me whatsoever. Looking at what they already had, if they were going to add two more schools, why not pick schools in the same state that already have a natural rivalry? The most logical candidates in my opinion would've been Nevada and UNLV. The SI issue I talked about in the last post described the PAC-10 as 'trapped in amber.' Who says that's such a bad thing?

Big Ten Conference

Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota, Iowa

Once again, tradition reigns. A conference calling itself the Big Ten should only have ten teams in it, right? Not eleven, not twelve. No 'Legends' and 'Leaders' divisions, either. Isn't that the dumbest thing you've ever heard? So adios to Penn State and Nebraska, we'll see them again later, when things get a little complicated.

Southeastern Conference

South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana State, Auburn, Mississippi State, Mississippi

More tradition here, with only minimal pruning. Arkansas has never really fit into the SEC in my opinion, and jettisoning Vanderbilt means only a loss of an easy win and combined conference-wide GPA scores.

After that, things get a little..... complicated. In fact, some of this is all new. Here come the conferences that were....

The Not-so-easy.

Big East

West Virginia, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Boston College, Penn State

I told you that you'd see Penn State again. In my opinion the Big East is one of the prime offenders in all of college athletics. 'Super-conference' doesn't even begin to describe them. In 2012, Texas Christian enters the Big East - in all sports. How wrong is that? One the one hand, while the Big East is trying to expand its football presence (the conference is trying to persuade Villanova to move its football program up to D1A as well), the addition of TCU to the conference makes seventeen member schools. Seventeen! That's just too damn many, folks. And besides - how is Fort Worth, Texas 'east?' No sense whatsoever. Dropping Cincinnati and adding Penn State and Notre Dame is just so much easier.

And what do mean, 'Notre Dame should always be independent?' Fine with me, if they want to play in D2, or maybe the CFL. Besides, Notre Dame competes in all other major sports as a member of - wait for it - the Big East.

Texas Athletic Conference

Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Houston, Southern Methodist, Texas Christian, Rice, Texas-El Paso, Oklahoma

This conference makes geographical sense. And should that retard Rick Perry take his ball and go home and Texas secedes from the Union, they could all go pro. Yeah, Oklahoma isn't in Texas, I know. But I don't want to break up the classic rivalries if I don't absolutely have to.

Mountain West Conference

Boise State, San Diego State, Utah State, San Jose State, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, UNLV, Fresno State, Brigham Young

The funny thing is, I think this is what the Mountain West wanted all along. This is pretty much the MWC as it will stand in 2012, albeit with Colorado State and the Air Force Academy out and BYU back from the wayward path of independence. While it was surprising to hear that BYU decided to take its football team independent, they do have something of a precedent for doing the unexpected: BYU's men's soccer team doesn't even play in the NCAA - instead, they play in the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Developmental League, the lowest tier of the US professional soccer pyramid.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Maryland, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke

The only reasons the ACC is relevant in D1A football are FSU and Virginia Tech. This is a basketball conference plain-and-simple, and nobody is going to miss Boston College (back where they belong in the Big East) or Miami-FL (who knows where they could wind up - if they even survive past this year, with all that's being said about them) all that much.

Now things get really weird. Forty schools , thirty spots left: Who? Will? Survive?

The Weird.

Midwestern Conference

Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wyoming, Colorado State

This is where the clusterfuck really starts, with teams from four existing conferences merging into one new one. It's not like these are the dregs of the sport, the bottom of the proverbial barrel. But the Pokes up in Stillwater need a new rivalry game after I sacrificed the Bedlam Game for the Red River Rivalry, and the Golden Hurricane should do nicely. Adding Tulsa, Arkansas and Colorado State to the remains of what was once the Big Eight would make an interesting conference, though.

Mid-American Conference

Ohio, Akron, Miami (OH), Kent State, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Ball State, Memphis

I probably could've gotten away with calling this the 'Ohio Athletic Conference', with six of the ten teams in the Buckeye State. The Bearcats of Cincinnati would dominate this conference, but at least it would a fairly easy travel schedule for everyone.

Great Atlantic Conference

Miami (FL), Tulane, Vanderbilt, Southern Mississippi, Central Florida, East Carolina, Marshall, Alabama-Birmingham, Temple

Yeah, this is the bottom of the barrel. But it's still not too shabby, though the issue of which team would dominate this conference would only be decided if and when Miami gets through the latest allegations of improper payments to players. Which I don't think it will, so the Hurricanes get to rebuild in the last stop before 1AA. Still, there are a lot of teams here with histories of pulling off the big upsets here, so I wouldn't sleep on this conference come playoff time.


So there's your hundred teams in ten conferences. Here's who got left out, and why:

Army, Navy, Air Force:

Patriotism aside, if you're that busy training the leaders of tomorrow, why bother with major-college athletics? Aside from a few seasons here and there, the service academies haven't been relevant since Army tore up the gridiron back in the 1940's with Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard. You're not going there to play football, you're going there to learn the fine arts of leading men into battle. If you must play football, drop down to D2 or D3, wherever the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine academies play.

Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan:

The only relevance that these schools have is that they've traditionally composed the bulk of Michigan's non-conference schedule. Enough said.


It's all about the money for the Warriors and Wahines. UH has the highest travel budget in all of college sports. Allow me to explain....

Get up at an ungodly hour in your dorm in Honolulu. Take the team bus to the airport. Fly to Los Angeles - five and a half hours. Wait how long for the connecting flight to Dallas? An hour at least? LA to the Metroplex - another two-and-a-half hours. Pile into the charter buses now, flying direct is too damn expensive. Four hours and change later, the buses pull into Ruston, Louisiana. The team got up at 3:00am for the flight, and left Honolulu at five, but after crossing four time zones in thirteen-plus hours of travel, the Warriors finally come to a stop in Louisiana at 10:00pm Central Time......

Now that only happens every other year for the football team. For most UH teams that compete in the Western Athletic Conference, they do it every year. When every road game requires a minimum of five to six hours in flight, that's just too damn much.

Idaho, New Mexico State:

Small, isolated, out of the way. That's about the only things Moscow, Idaho and Las Cruces, New Mexico have in common. Oh, and they also have universities playing in the WAC. NMSU has at least been there a while, but Idaho only got into D1A football a few years ago, and their stadium is still too small to qualify as a sufficient D1A venue under NCAA standards. How do I know this? When Idaho entered the process to prove that they could draw big enough crowds to meet D1A's minimum standards, they didn't play their home games in Moscow. Instead, they packed up the show and drove seven miles west, to play their games at Washington State's Martin Stadium - the smallest stadium by far in the PAC-10/12, but still more than twice the capacity of the ASUI Kibbie Dome back in Moscow. And the most damning thing for the Vandals? Want to know their first stop in D1A football? The Sun Belt. Case closed.

And what does New Mexico State have that should keep them in D1A? Aside from great chiles...... not much. Enjoy playing Texas State and Sam Houston State in 1AA. You might actually win once in a while down there. And last and least......


Sorry folks, but the Bisons are just the last folks to the party, the new hires if you will. Lack of seniority sends them back where they belong.


So there you have it - ten conferences, one hundred teams. And now for my next trick, I'll actually explain how the playoff system works - easily!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Joe's Simple Soultion For A College Football Playoff

Just after I got back from my most recent trip to Nevada, I got my latest issue of Sports Illustrated, the big college-football preview. And as I look over the latest stories of what teams are moving to what conferences, where the money is going and where the power is focused, I came to the realization that college football is a steaming pile of crap. For all intents and purposes, the season is already pretty much over for about 50 of the 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (a stupid a name as it gets), as they have absolutely no shot at even getting a sniff at the still-fictitious National Championship, because they operate beyond the six largest conferences, which quite literally control the Bowl Championship Series, effectively locking out those 50 or so schools from competing.

So I said to myself, 'how would I fix it?' So here's my simple, cold-blooded solution to creating a fair, straight-forward system to naming a national champion.

1.) Limiting the number of teams

Remember that I said there are 120 schools participating in the FBS.... fuck it. It's Division 1A. I fucking hate that stupid name. Now where was I? Oh yes. 120 schools, competing in eleven conferences, with four independent schools (Notre Dame, Army, Navy, now joined by BYU). That's about twenty too many. So they've got to go. First off, it's time to take off the belt. As in the Sun Belt Conference. While that conference has generated some good players in its brief tenure in 1A, its nine member schools are aboard the 1A train for little more than meals and quarters, so they're gone. That leaves eleven teams left to cut, and that can be done by culling the bottom-feeders from the remaining 'mid-major' conferences (Western Athletic, Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA), and reorganizing the 100 remaining teams in to ten ten-team conferences.

2.) Simple scheduling

These ten conferences will all play simple ten-game schedules, playing all nine conference foes as well as one non-conference game. Five home games, five road games. Simple, no? And there will be no games scheduled against non-D1A schools. No more cupcakes. And no more independent schools, either. If you're not in a conference, you're not playing in D1A any more, simple as that.

3.) Simple playoff system

After the ten-game regular season is over, the ten conference champions are joined by the best six remaining teams as determined by computer rankings. The sixteen teams are then seeded by those same computer rankings. The first round of the playoffs takes place on the home fields of the top eight seeds, while the quarters, the semis, and the final all take place in the major bowl games, like the Rose, Sugar, Orange et al.

The counter-argument to a playoff system has been the excuse of players playing too many games, especially when the academic calendar puts semester finals during bowl season. I call bullshit on that. Teams in the largest conferences can play as many as fourteen games a season already, between a twelve-game regular season, conference championship and bowl game. My system would put no more strain on players than what currently exists.

And what about the rest of the bowls? Keep 'em! Maybe even arrange them into a football version of the NIT. Some bowls may not survive, since there may not be as many bowl-eligible teams left out there for them to pick from. But we've all seen shitty bowl games between mediocre teams and scratched our heads at the thought of it, so maybe a few less bowl games isn't such a bad idea.

4.) Yes, promotion and relegation

The simple fact is that college football expanded like it has because of the expanding pool of money being offered to the NCAA, the conferences, and to individual schools themselves, in the form of television revenues. Where do these teams come from? From 1AA conferences, of course. The WAC has continually raided the 1AA Big Sky Conference for talent (Boise State, Nevada and Idaho), and will likely do so again after Nevada, Hawai'i, and Fresno State join Boise State in the Mountain West, with 1AA powerhouse Montana likely the WAC's first target in an attempt to stave off irrelevancy and effective banishment from 1A. (NOTE: Under current NCAA rules, for a conference to be recognized as 'official', it must have at least eight members - the departures mentioned above will leave the WAC with only five member schools) And then there's the Sun Belt - entirely lifted from 1AA.

But why not give those schools a chance to move up? Here's my idea: Of the ten last-place finishers, the worst of the worst, number 100 of 100, will play the 1AA champion from a conference in the same region in a promotion/relegation game, with the winner going to 1A, and the loser going to 1AA. Once again, simple as that.

I know, you probably hate my idea. But I don't care. This is my blog and mine alone, so therefore it's my opinion and mine alone. Don't like it? Start your own blog and tell the world what your opinions are. Over the next few days, I'll come up with new conference alignments, and even altogether-new conferences, and I'll explain my reasoning for moving what teams where.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fred Meets My Brother-In-Law

Time to rip my in-laws a new one again. I just found out earlier today that my wife's brother Doug had de-friended us on Facebook. I wonder why? Perhaps it was because I'd found out about the shitty way he treated his sister when she told him that she had kidney disease during her family campout last month, and that I'd flamed him, his brothers, and even his mother for their refusal to accept Joy's illness as real. He even went so far as to tell Joy that he couldn't believe her because he thought that the tests had been done by a naturopathic doctor.


Doug isn't an evil man, just one that's about as sharp as a bowling ball. Blood tests of that type aren't done by your average family practitioner. In fact, I don't think I've ever had my blood tested for anything by a doctor him or herself. But having been with Joy now for nearly eighteen years, I know the drill well enough. The doctor, whether or not they're medical or naturopathic, orders the blood tests to be done by another clinic. We go to said clinic, and a phlebotomist gets a blood sample from Joy or myself, and said sample is analyzed seven ways from Sunday to get results for whatever illnesses and/or conditions can be determined from a blood sample. Once the analysis is complete, the results are sent to the doctor, who then informs the patient and determines a course of action for whatever ailment is in play. What was Doug thinking - a naturopath would take a sample, then what? Drop some herbs in the sample and see what happens next?

We've all reached an age where we know how the process goes, but his ignorance of medical procedure, not to mention his sister's health, is unforgivable in my book. Joy and I have long suspected him of being the source of the misinformation that has poisoned my wife's immediate family against her, and this recent course of events pretty much confirms it. I wonder what his beef is with Joy, what he knows, thinks he knows, what he's hiding...... who cares any more.

So, it is with great pride that I announce the latest winner of The Fred Phelps Award for Dumbest Humanoid On The Planet - my brother-in-law, Doug Walker. But to be totally honest with you, I'm basically ready to wash my hands of Joy's entire family, and so is Joy. Their treatment of her these past few weeks has been so shitty, I'm glad that I wasn't there to see it. I'm glad that I wasn't there, either - had I been, I'd probably be in jail for multiple counts of aggravated first-degree murder. Maybe this is why when I'm around, he doesn't get in our faces. But then again, I don't think he's ever liked me either. After all, he didn't bother to show up at our wedding. All Joy's other siblings showed up, as did several of their kids - including the nephew who'd just been in a horrible car-wreck and arrived in a fucking halo - he broke his fucking neck and he showed up, why not you, Doug?

Oh well. Enjoy the award, Doug. It's the last thing you'll ever get from us - unless you'd like to receive my fists to your face - over and over again. May whatever deity you believe in have mercy on your soul, asshole.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Marching Upon Oblivion, or "Life Of A Vidiot"

Another quiet night in Port Angeles. And that means one thing for me: video games. Well, Joy is sick, and since our tastes in TV differ pretty drastically, I opt out of trying to get her to change her mind on watching that Law & Order: SVU re-run for the 63rd time, and retreat to the basement. Down below, my old nineteen-inch TV is hooked up to an XBox 360 that I bought from my little brother for $40 and a carton of cigarettes. My game of choice these days: The Elder Scrolls, Vol. 4: Oblivion.

I never thought I was going to like the system, let alone the game. Let's just say that I've never really been an early-adopter of video-game technology. Which is kinda funny, because I've always been a video-game freak. Hell, the first real video game was made the year I was born (IIRC). I've never really known life without them. My first real memory of video games was seeing a Pong machine at a skating rink when I was barely big enough to skate by myself. Then I remember playing a baseball game at a Shakey's Pizza in the Seattle suburbs at the age of five or six. An Atari Video Pinball console graced the home here in Port Angeles, though it was never quite the same after I spilled spaghetti on it. That wound up being the last system my family ever bought for me. I remember bitching, whining, begging and pleading for an Atari Video Computer System (better known as the Atari 2600), a Magnavox Odyssey, Mattel's Intellivision and Coleco's ColecoVision, all to no avail. Those were dark days, indeed.

And then in late 1986, when the Port Angeles High School Marching Band went to San Diego to play at the Holiday Bowl, my addiction to video games really began in earnest. During a trip to a shopping mall in downtown San Diego (Horton Plaza, I think that was the name of the place), I saw a Nintendo Entertainment System for the first time. I was still playing games in arcades, but I'd never seen anything like this before. Let's just say I was jonesing pretty bad. But I never got the chance to really mess around with one for several years, until I'd gotten together with Joy, and found her kids playing an NES. But by this time, the Super NES was already coming out, and it was a few more years before I could finally mess with one of those.

The pattern kept on going over the years, getting one system after another, and always pretty much right at the end of their particular cycles as the preeminent system in the world. Didn't care much, though - I was having too much fun. The Super NES was replaced by a Sega Genesis, then briefly by an NEC TurboGrafx 16. Then along came a Sony PlayStation. All along, the games were getting better and better, but I found something a bit disturbing in all of it.

I found that the games were getting too complicated, the controllers too complex. When I was a child, that old Video Pinball console had only two buttons on it for the flipper buttons, a dial in the center for playing Breakout, and switches to turn it on, and start and select the games. Now each individual controller had a directional pad, four control buttons opposite, and two more buttons on the controller's 'shoulders' in addition to start and select buttons. The addition of 'analog' sticks to the controllers, as well as two more shoulder buttons for PlayStation 2 controllers, sent me into 'oh, hell no!' mode. How the hell was I supposed to coordinate that kind of activity? Was I being generation-gapped out of video games?

No. I was just being a pussy.

And I shouldn't have been. By this time, I was just beginning to warm up to games on a PC - something I hadn't touched in years, since I was removed from the presidency of the PAHS Computer Club in something of a nerd coup d'etat. And I was handling the combination of mouse and keyboard to play Diablo just fine, so why not buck up and get a better home console? And thus the timesuck truly began as I found some really great games to play on the PS2, like Dragon Quest VIII. I could see why people rated that game so highly, and why that series had hung around for so long - the original game in the series was a debut title for the NES under the name Dragon Warrior - great story, awesome music (with a real orchestra!), and gameplay that didn't tax my brain too much. Then there was Kingdom Hearts 2, where the universe of characters from the legendary Final Fantasy series met up with the Disney Universe, and what could've been a colossal clusterfuck became video crack for not only me, but for Joy as well.

And then I was offered the 360. I'd never even messed with a first-generation XBox, let alone its sequel. But Mac had one to spare, so I figured 'what the fuck?' and picked it up. By now I was used to the dual-analog controllers, so the 360's sticks, d-pad, four buttons, shoulder buttons, shoulder triggers and three start/select buttons wasn't that big a deal any more. Though come to think of it, fourteen - fourteen! - control surfaces on a single controller is pretty fucking crazy. But I found it all to be pretty intuitive. And Oblivion uses them all. And while I knew that a good game could take up a serious chunk of time, I don't think the timesuck factor really hit home for me until I started playing Oblivion. I mean, DQ8 could require up to 40 to 50 hours of gameplay to finish the game. With Oblivion I could rack up 140 hours or more of play and still not really have accomplished much of anything. But it's a fucking awesome kind of not-really-accomplished-much-of-anything. And the next chapter in the Elder Scrolls series - Skyrim - is coming out on Veteran's Day this fall (11/11/11 - yeah, I can remember that). I might actually have to buy that game new instead of used - maybe even pre-order it......

And then on top of all that, we got a Nintendo Wii. Our daughter-in-law back east in North Carolina is an EBay reseller in her spare time, and apparently she's pretty good at it. Enough so that when a lot of 24 Wiis came in to her possession, she sent one our way as an early Christmas present last year. And it came with a whole shitload of bells and whistles. Like a WiiFit game and balance board, a complete set of Band Hero instruments (as well as the game itself), even a Nintendo GameCube controller and a few GameCube games that the Wii was backwards-compatible with. But what interested me the most was online gaming. No, not MMORPG's like EverQuest. That's one place I won't go - and more on that later. I'm talking about the Wii's Virtual Console. Y'see, the bright beans over at Nintendo came up with the idea of placing their entire back catalog of games for all their old systems (NES, Super NES, N64, even games from other manufacturers like Sega, NEC and SNK's NeoGeo) and make them available to be downloaded onto the Wii's internal memory (or a handy-dandy SD card). The idea of being able to download all my old favorites and play them again gave me a full-on video boner! Although I haven't bought nearly as many games as I would've liked to, now I can play River City Ransom, Mega Man 2 and Dr. Mario (Joy's all-time favorite) any time I damn well please. And I can do this with my 360 as well. I've downloaded internet-browser games like Bejeweled 2 and Hexic HD to the 360's hard-drive, as well as the classic arcade game Bubble Bobble. I've even gotten some downloadable content for games like Oblivion and Forza Motorsports 2. Now if only I had a more stable source of broadband-internet, then I could actually play online more......

Except for MMORPGs. For those of you still living under a rock, that unwieldy acronym stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. More like massively-expensive, massively-hacked, massively-risking-my-marriage-even-more-than-I-already-do-with-long-ass-videogames-games. Ironically though, Joy found one she likes and plays when she can, Wizards 101. It's really more of a kid's game, but she likes it - so who am I to argue? And it's free to play. Well, it's free to play if you really don't mind that your character never gets anything good - you've got to pay for the good stuff. I think that's what I hate most about MMO's. - having to pay for membership and/or 'premium content'. And then there are the 'adult' MMO's. Don't ask me how I know about them, I just know about them. Rule 34 in full effect, y'know. I already hate MMO's, but you couldn't pay me to touch those games. I don't want to risk getting a virus.....

Thank you, I'll be here all week! Try the veal!

Okay, time for bed. Stay tuned for more insane rants, same time, same channel!