Friday, September 29, 2006

The Bear/Woody/Bo/Joe Pa of Alaska

I run two blogs - this one, and an occasional look at the distinct insanity of living in Alaska.

Well, last week up here, the toughest footbal coach in America died after heart surgery.

Here in Alaska, we have no college football, the only state without it. That leaves high school, where the first games are played in mid July and the State title is decided in October.

Like everything in Alaska, it's a little different.

None of that diminishes the memory of Buck Nystrom, whose legacy matches his name.

Coaching in the 40-below-in-November Fairbanks area, first at tiny Eielson and then nearby North Pole (yip, North Pole, a town with almost as many Santa-themed giftshops as oil refineries), Nystrom won two state titles. He remains the only non-Anchorage coach ever to win State (needless to say, Anchorage, with its huge schools, is the giant black hole at the center of Alaska high school sports).

Nystrom died after heart surgery last week, which is ridiculous because anybody who coaches North Pole High school to a state title ain't lackin' heart.

Here's one for ya: When Nystrom won his second title with North Pole, they trounced several Anchorage teams in the playoffs. Afterwards, Nystrom would tell people it was his first real title because when he won it all with Eielson, their path that year hadn't gone through any Anchorage teams.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just How Big A Boy Are Ya?

A feature from the New York Times Magazines on Ole Miss lineman Michael Oher. Its excerpted from Michael 'Moneyball' Lewis' new book.

No matter what you had planned for the next 15 minutes, don't stop reading until you get to the part about the bus.

Monday, September 25, 2006

OU President Weighs In On ND-Mich. St game

The President of boohOU, David Boren, who called for the OU-UO game to be erased from the record book (original letter, PDF), has weighed in on this weekend's most improbable comeback:

Dear Big 10 Commissioner Jim Delany:

To describe the lapses in testicular fortitude at the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game last Saturday as constituting an outrageous injustice is an understatement. As I asked my commissioner a week ago after a game was similiarly “won” by the totally wrong team, I must look to you to launch a vigorous effort to correct the situation.

On behalf of Michigan State University, I ask that you as Big 10 Commissioner take the following actions:
  • First, seek an apology from the Notre Dame coaching staff, players and everyone wearing skirts along their sideline regardless of gender (what’s the deal there, by the way?), for the gross inconsideration they showed playing hard in the fourth quarter. This is a particularly outrageously understated injustice, considering the docile behavior extended to MSU’s public sister-school from Ann Arbor a week prior.
  • Second, it is my understanding that the Big 10 has a rule that only Big 10 players can be used at games hosted by Big 10 members. In light of the injustice that was outrageously understated Saturday, the Big 10 should request that in any game played in a Big 10 stadium, visiting teams like Notre Dame should provide a crew of six players to suit and play for the Big 10 host. These six should include at least two starters from both offense and defense, plus an undersized white kid to run up and down the sideline slapping helmets.
  • Third, the Big 10 should request that the Notre Dame-Michigan State game should not go into the record books as a win or loss by either team in light of the level of sorry-ass give-up. We all know who was winning for pretty much the whole entire game and who should have won and who sucks like big sucky suckheads. Let’s be real for five seconds, and stop acting like an outjustice wasn’t underageously instated.
  • Fourth, the Big 12 should place on the appropriate agendas of NCAA meetings and meetings of the conference commissioners a discussion of how the “final score” process should be implemented. Outrageously will this injustice be understated.

Since Michigan State University and its officials are required by conference sportsmanship rules to limit their comments in situations like this, we must look to you as the commissioner of the Big 10 Conference to vigorously demand that your teams be treated fairly, ragously, and with stated justice, when they roll over and play dead.

It is truly sad and deeply disappointing that members of MSU’s football team should be deprived of the outcome of the game that they deserved after three quarters because of an inexcusable breakdown in Notre Dame qutting.


David L. Boren
President, The Waaaaaaahniversity of Oklawaaaaaaaaama

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

2006, Week 1 - Just a Dreadful Weekend of Football

Just awful.

It looked bleak going in, with only two games between ranked teams and virtually no conference play. But the college game abhors a vacuum, which meant surely something good would happen.

Oklahoma-TCU springs to mind. Northern Illinois-Maryland.

Nope. Nothing.

The only mildly interesting result was Montana State, a I-AA power, beating Colorado, an occasional I-A power, giving The Index an excuse to mention an update on Katie Blair, Ms. Teen Montana 2006 whose march to the Ms. Teen USA is chronicled below.

Used to touch underwear for money
Turns out, back in Billings, she worked in a Victoria’s Secret (bottom of the article). Does that count as interesting? Vaguely tawdry? I’m leaning toward no, but her forehead-to-the-eye move against Ms. North Carolina remains the hit of the year after this boring weekend.

So without a single quirky result to catch the attention, we’re left with two actually-pretty-friggin’-pedestrian Big Games.

One, later today, features the increasingly unwatchable antics of Miami-FSU. UPDATE: Man, did that suck. Again. I'm expecting Summer Redstone to make a public and embarrassing break with FSU-Miami any minute. When was their last entertaining game? 02? 97?

And the other, as it happened, featured me.

On to The Index....

On the weekend, more or less, of the Katrina anniversary, another stark reminder of the distance between...
The Haves and Have-Nots

20-0: Ranked teams-vs-unranked teams this weekend.
29.14: Avg Margin of victory in those non-upsets.

  • Outliers:
    4: ND margin over Georgia Tech (With an up-and-over from the refs. Try to imagine)
    7: OU margin over UAB
    48: Clemson margin over Florida Atlantic
    49: Texas margin over North Texas

Have Vs Have-Nots II
: BCS conference teams-vs-nonBCS teams.

  • ACC: 5-1
  • Big East: 4-0
  • Pac 10: 5-0
  • SEC: 5-0
  • Big 10: 10-0
  • Big 12: 10-2
  • Lessons: While the Pac 10, Big East and SEC went big, with only 14 games against defenseless teams between them, every single Big 12 team and every Big 10 team but one (Michigan) hit off a tee.

2: Victories, I-AA teams-VS-BCS teams - Montana State over Colorado; Richmond over OklaDuke.
1: Victories, all I-A non-BCS teams-VS-BCS teams, and that doesn’t even count since it was BCS-dreamer TCU, ranked No. 22, over BCS-subsidy-sponge Baylor.

The Big East: Now free of lightweights like Miami and BC, is Really Good.
: Big East vs rest of BCS
2-1: Big East vs ACC
Rutgers beat North Carolina and Pittsburgh stomped Virginia. Only lowly Wake’s win over lowlier Syracuse salvaged the weekend for the ACC.

Creampuff Scheduling: Is the Big 12 the new 'start calling from the bottom' SEC? Is the SEC the new 'anybody, anytime' WAC?
: I-AA opponents played this weekend by the Big 12. Pitiful.
0: BCS-conference opponents played by the Big 12.
1: I-AA opponents played by the SEC.
4: BCS opponents played by the SEC.

More SEC: Hitting the Heavy Bag Like It Grabbed His Ass In An Elevator
: 2005 conference champs on SEC non-conference schedule this weekend
60: Percent of all Rose Bowl participants since 2003 that SEC teams took on this weekend (USC, Washington State, Michigan. All of whom, to tie it in a bow, lost to Big 12 teams in those Rose Bowls) .

2: Additional games played by SEC teams against higher ranked teams (No. 9 Cal, No. 13 Louisville)

Big 12: Sure, they might schedule like cowards. But they actually suck.
: Big 12 losses this weekend to non-BCS teams, including I-AA Montana State.
2: End-of-game 2pt-Conversion attempts that failed against Big 12 teams, saving the conference from two more non-BCS losses – Iowa State 45-Toledo 43; Kansas State 24-I-AA Illinois State 23.

Sorry as that is for League Pride, they were pretty good games...
3:28: time remaining when I-AA Illinois State, a point down, went for two and the win at Kansas State.
70: Length of drive they’d just engineered for touchdown.
2: Years since Kansas State played in - and should have won - a BCS bowl.
0: Offensive TDs scored by KSU against Illinois State. In their first post-Bill Snyder-era game, the Wildcats got 3 FGS, a punt return and a fumble return on a muffed kickoff.

5: Overtime games in Iowa State history prior to this weekend.
0: Wins in those games.
2: In years, length of current streak of an overtime loss costing Iowa State a spot in the Big 12 title game.
3: Iowa State TDs in overtime to beat Toledo when Toledo failed to match Iowa State’s mandatory 2-pt conversion in the third OT.
367: Total passing yards for Toledo’s Clint Cochran.
99: Yards in first-half scoring drive for Toledo
2: Points scored by Toledo on the ensuing conversion of that drive, off of a blocked PAT kick (!)

Call down an Echo
: situation faced by Toledo, trailing by a TD, late in the fourth quarter.
30: Yards in ensuing completion
3: Yardline on which receiver was tackled by hometeam, leading to a QB-dive touchdown on next play.

No word on whether or not the running back pushed Cochran in. Or length of the grass.

And Now – Cal-Tennessee:

- VS -

This Was Never Going To Be Close

.13: estimated success rate, baton catches, of baton twirler in Cal band, according to two dumb-founded, Arthur Dent-like Cal fans as they watched the Tennessee band – with 7 astounding-in-every-respect baton twirlers - march down University into the stadium. It was a moment that culminated four hours of watching a small but resolute band of Cal fans wonder about the tank- and tube-top littered campus, slack jawed and wide-eyed at the Wonka-with-a-tan spectacle of an SEC gameday.
Come on in, boys. The water’s fine.
The Index cannot confirm that the Cal players spent the morning doing the same thing, but it’s a tempting rumor.

As for the Death Of Cal and the emergence of Tennessee as the New Economy of the ’06 season…
42, 80, 50, 43: Length of last four of five Tennessee touchdown plays between second and third quarter to runaway from Cal:

  • - blown tackle breakaway pass
    - blown tackle breakaway pass
    - blown tackle breakaway pass
    - blow tackle breakaway run

If that’s Tennessee’s secret weapon for the year, good luck in the SEC.
44: Cal passing attempts between two QBs.
20: Cal completions.
2: Interceptions
10: Minimum, Cal on-the-hands, openfield drops.

Tennessee played big in a home opener; Cal, with a new QB and laughably high expectations, did the little things wrong and got beat big for it.

But, unfortunately for Cal, they're going to take a full-marks bashing from everybody who saw it because, this weekend, everything else sucked.