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Wednesday, January 2, 2013
If you just look at the W-L record, the Big Ten did not do well this bowl season. On the other hand, Big Ten teams were competitive in all but one of the games (sorry, Purdue) - and that was without two of the top teams in the league, Penn State and Ohio State. Given the total destruction that the conference had faced in recent years, especially at the hands of the SEC, it wasn't a bad postseason.
But let's look at what might have been...
Monday, December 31, 2012
I made a bunch of predictions a month ago about college football's continuing conference realignment.
I can now check off a second box, namely the collapse of the Big East as a football conference. With the departure of the seven Catholic basketball schools (plus Notre Dame to the ACC), and today's announcement that Boise State has regained its sanity and is staying in the Mountain West1, there will barely be enough football teams to keep the conference afloat through the next two years.
The Big East won't go away, but it won't be relevant either. Cincinnati and UConn are desperately looking to jump ship, and that will leave them somewhere around where Conference USA and the Sun Belt are in terms of both on-the-field talent and media coverage. In other words, they're going to be left behind as the gap between the haves and have-nots in college football continues to widen.
In the very near future, I think we will see a 4+2 arrangement in college football, with the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-12 on top and the ACC and Mountain West close behind. The Big East - once a BCS conference - no longer fits into that picture.
1 With San Diego State to follow close behind? Assuming the Mountain West lets them back in, of course.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
So here's the thing. I just said who I thought the Big Ten was going to go after in any future expansion. But you can expect that stuff not to happen for a while. The Big Ten likes to make a move, then wait for the dust to settle before they stir things up again. They know they can get almost anyone they want (Texas and Notre Dame notwithstanding), so there's no point in rushing into a decision.
Right now, we're in the reaction phase. And the following things are absolutely going to happen, sooner or later:
- UConn to the ACC - they might try to take Louisville. If they do, it doesn't matter, because at some point someone is going to poach them again and they'll have to take UConn to fill out the roster.
- Florida State and Clemson to the Big XII - they want to go to the SEC, but Florida and USC aren't going to let them. They're not staying in the ACC.
- Louisville (and Cincinnati?) to the ACC or Big XII - maybe to both, in that order. It mostly depends whether the Big XII wants 12 or 14 teams, and whether the SEC goes to 16 (and who they poach to do it).
- Virginia Tech (and NC State?) to the SEC - get over it, Hokies, it's only a matter of time. Could be prevented if the SEC decides it's better off at 14.
- Collapse of the Big East as a football conference - to be replaced by the ACC and Mountain West as the "also-ran" conferences, capable of occasionally putting a team in the BCS or playoff but not on par with the "big four" leagues.
Update: Louisville should be invited to move to the ACC today, but it's only a matter of time for UConn and Cincinnati.
Sources said there is a sense among league presidents that the ACC will vote to add only one member because the remaining two Big East schools have no other options and the ACC could get them later on if the ACC lost any other schools.
While I like the idea of a 14-team Big Ten, everyone seems to think 16 is the endpoint of expansion. Fine. Who will the last two teams be?
The Big Ten probably still wants Notre Dame. In a four-league "Division Zero" (Big Ten, SEC, Big XII, Pac-Whatever), they're going to need to find a home and the Big Ten would be the best place for them to land.
On the other hand, I don't actually think a Division Zero is coming any time soon, and Notre Dame has always seemed happy bumming around with mid-tier conferences so that they can keep their independent status. Considering their recent success in both major sports, it doesn't make sense for them to jump again any time soon, even if the ACC erodes a little.
So, let's leave the Irish out of the picture. There are exactly four schools the Big Ten could realistically look at for #'s 15 and 16, all of which are AAU members. I'll list them from most probable to least probable:
- North Carolina - who doesn't like the 'Heels? Great in b-ball, not awful in football, nice big stadium, huge and growing media market. Geographically, they're not a great fit, but they're enough of a marquee program that it wouldn't matter.
- Virginia - the Big Ten doesn't need more orange and blue, but UVA brings a lot to the table. They'd capture whatever part of the D.C. market doesn't go over with Maryland, plus the Virginia Beach area (another huge population center). Again, middling athletics but nice facilities and a very wealthy fanbase. As a bonus, taking UVA means that the Big Ten can also take UNC without violating their "contiguity" rule.1
- Georgia Tech - Gives you good football, a large fanbase, and the city of Atlanta. Culturally and geographically they're not a good fit, though, and there's no way to add them without breaking the contiguity rule.
- Kansas - Gets you KC and a few smaller cities, decent basketball, good cultural fit. I don't think they bring enough of the table for the conference to take them except in a real pinch.
People have been floating Texas as a possible add. It's never going to happen. There's just no way it makes sense; the state of Texas is a hotbed for football and Texas owns it; they've basically already constructed an entire conference that orbits around Austin.
1 As of now, the conference cannot invite a school that is not in a state occupied by or bordered by a state containing an existing Big Ten school.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Previously, I named Rutgers my most likely pick for Big Ten expansion. I also listed Maryland as a possibility, though not the most likely choice. Had I suspected that the Big Ten was willing to eat the enormous buyout, I would have put them much higher.
I'm a little surprised we made a grab for Maryland and not Virginia, but Maryland's more Northern character and the fact that it straddles two huge media markets makes it the better pick in retrospect.
I expect the ACC to respond by immediately taking UConn, and the Big East by ... uh, passing out in a pool of its own drunken vomit? I'm not sure. But the point is this: expect there to be consequences! Ramifications! Echoes resonating through all of college football for months or even years, until things finally settle and some semblance of order and normalcy can return.
At which time the Big Ten will announce it's annexing Texas and the whole thing will blow up again.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
While I'm waiting for the big game (i.e. Romney v. Obama II), here are some things that have crossed my mind this week.
The other day at the coffee shop, I overheard two women discussing the election and the messaging the candidates were doing. The discussion was really focused on the messaging and both women wanted one or the other candidate to say something specific about a particular issue.
What I wanted to say to them (but didn't since I'm not about to lecture strangers in a public place) was this: You're college-educated people. The messaging being put forward by the campaigns and PACs isn't directed at you. Not only that, but it's intentionally misleading (or at least not telling the whole story). You're smart people. Research what the parties and the candidates care about. Look at their platforms. If there's an issue, like the management of the economy, that you really care about, read the various opinions and theories on that from the experts. Then when you understand the issues, decide who to vote for.
Another (unrelated) thing that came up this week was this post about missing sessions in a tabletop game. I posted a lengthy reply, but I think this goes to a larger issue. When you're part of a team - and that could be a sports team, or a musical ensemble, or the cast of a play, or a gaming group - you have a responsibility to the other people participating. Everyone fills a role, and if you decide you don't need to be there, you're letting them down.
I've been performing with musical and dramatic ensembles - bands, choirs, musicals, etc. - since middle school. I have a deep and abiding sense of responsibility when I'm part of that kind of group. If I can't make a rehearsal of performance, I feel guilty. Even if someone could cover for me, it's still disappointing to not be there and contributing. This goes double when I'm filling a unique role, whether or not there's an understudy.
I take that same attitude into gaming. In traditional RPGs, everyone in the party has a specific role: tank; healer; crowd control; damage-dealer. As a player, if you don't show for a session, you're not necessarily ruining things, but you're putting a lot of pressure on the other players and the DM to make up the slack (or in the DM's case, to come up with challenges that aren't impossible without the missing character). Similarly, in a narrative game everyone is a major player in the story; suddenly removing one character breaks continuity and immersion for everyone.
So my philosophy when playing in games is to miss as rarely as possible and give as much lead time as possible, the same way as I would with a performance group. And when I do have to miss a session, I always feel guilty about it.
But even if I didn't feel guilty, the reason I game - and play, and sing, and perform - is because I enjoy it. The strongest emotion I feel when I can't participate is always disappointment, because it's something I would want to be doing.
Monday, March 19, 2012
I think I may have overestimated the quality of Big 12 basketball this year. Kansas really should have lost to Purdue.
Ohio State, Kentucky, and UNC still looking strong, though.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Kentucky, Misery, Bucknuts, 'Heels.
And that's about as much as I care about college basketball this year. My team started 15-3 and finished 2-12, so bear with me.
Maybe next year?
Monday, February 6, 2012
Giants are the rock to your scissors. Hope we play someone else next year.
Monday, January 23, 2012
So I was looking at the stats for the Giants and the Pats. And here's the thing: the Giants beat the Pats in Foxboro earlier this season. Which actually I think is an advantage for New England because (a) Belichick doesn't tend to lose twice to the same team, and (b) the Pats have figured out how to get penetration on defense since that game.
But looking at the statistics specifically, a few things jump out:
- Despite having an aggressive, attacking defense, the Giants give up a lot of yards. Their defense is almost as bad as the Pats' on the season.
- The Pats give up a ton of yards, but not a ton of points, and they have the best turnover margin in the AFC at +17 (the Giants are only +7). An opportunistic defense is good for quick-scoring teams.
- The Pats have just defeated, in consecutive games, two of the top four teams in the NFL in every defensive category.
We know both the Giants and Pats can score. This is going to be a very high-scoring game. But the question is: which team can stop the other one? Which team can disrupt the other team's offense? Right now, Vegas has the Pats as a three-point favorite, with an over-under of 55½. I think the over-under is right, but the actual margin will be about 7; something like 31-24. Let's see if I'm right!