" That's just the sort of blinkered, Philistine Pig ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage!"

John Cleese

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

They Showed Some Fight...And Then They Didn't


It was tied at half.

It was a 10-point game with 8:44 left.

And then Texas stopped playing with the mouse and promptly ate it.

For a 25-point loss, though, a few positives came out of the inevitable drubbing at the hands of a clearly superior Texas.

Of course, in the middle of it all, Texas went on a 47-16 run so there's that.

The Good:

Cougill didn't look like a scared puppy going up against a man-child in Dexter Pittman. When he was beaten, which was often, he tipped his hat and moved on, keeping on a game face that didn't look frightened. This, my friends, is rare in Iowa basketball world. For an Iowa true freshman, it's positively unheard of.

May, who didn't see nearly enough time last night, is proving to be the kind of high-energy guy that isn't brutally annoying. Rare thing, that. He's going to have to wait for Bawinkel to graduate - wait, he's going to have to wait for Lickliter to understand that "The Bawinkel" does nothing, and I mean nothing, on the court outside of chucking threes for him to see consistent minutes. For a guy who preaches team ball, I can't figure out Lickliter's love for Bawinkel. Somebody please inform me.

Drive-and-kick showed some real progress last night. With Iowa's offense, this is an absolute prerequisite to get open looks. Last night, they showed faint glimmers of hope in that regard. Spot-up, designed plays went off without a hitch on occasion and the offense showed some semblance of rhythm against an very good, athletic team that Iowa gave up seemingly three inches on at each position.

The bad:

Tucker is now 9-36 (25%) from 3-point range this year and 33% from the floor overall after last night's 3-14 effort. More pointedly, though, outside of his badness from the field is his tendency to get a bit lazy with passes as the game progresses. I don't know if he's tiring, but he seems to shut down in the second half of games and when he takes over a point, he simply doesn't direct the offense. And that's not even the worst of it. On defense, he's brutal. Absolutely awful. Gives up too quickly and looks defeated when he's beaten. He has the posture that encapsulates the posture of a bad basketball team.

Gatens is now 27% from 3-point range and 27% from the field overall this year. In the second half last night, he was chucking up threes off his back foot, something reminiscent of park ball. I know Gatens is an Iowa City guy that seems to represent everything a typical Iowa fan wants to root for, but while he does many things fairly well, at some point, he has to start to do a few things very well for Iowa to be sniffing goodness. On everything, from a steal attempt to a drive to a rebound to a spot-up jumper, he seems to be missing a 5% more explosiveness that separates the good players from the merely average. Everything's just short.

Front-court passing. Ugh. Texas had 12 steals last night and it seems like 20 just in the second half alone, almost all coming from lazy front-court passing that had nothing to do with working into the rhythm of the offense. Just lazy, lazy passing from a front court that looks a little too nonchalant as the game progressed.

I had no illusions that Iowa was going to beat Texas last night. But I didn't turn the game off. The face of resignation that accompanies a team beaten didn't come until late, at least much later than I thought it would.

Now, if Lickliter can just wipe that Lakin look off his face every time somebody does something stupid. You know, that look that conveys, "What the hell are you doing?" immediately followed by a "I can't work with these guys," smirk.

I tryin', Ringo. I trying real hard to care.

Next up: Wichita State (6:45pm - ESPN2 (?)), a .500 team last year that lost in the CBI. You know the CBI. It's the NIT of the NIT. They're 2-1 including a win over Arkansas-Monticello.

Is it just me or are there even more schools this year that you've never heard of?

This Saturday, North Carolina Central. WHO?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Fucking Thanksgiving

This site has been relatively NFL free since it's inception due to the 2 teams the BRE honchos root for are, in a word, godfuckingawful, but yesterday they both had instances of showing signs of what they are and maybe will be. Sadly, for Christo, the Browns losing (somehow) to the Lions in true Browns fashion have made them the new worst goddamn team in professional sports. Hey, when you lose to the Lions like that you get the moniker....Seriously who's worse? The Nets? The Nationals? Ponder that.
Manginni has got to go. Yes. Even after one year. It's sad.
But the Chiefs actually could make a case for being 5-5 this year (a how the fuck do you lose yet outgain a team 5-1 loss to the Raiders and an OT loss to the NFL's version of Iowa, the Dallas Cowboys). I've said all along this team will show signs of life once they get the gigantic albatross known as Larry Johnson out of there. He was a product of the line that consisted of Willie Roaf, Will Shields and Casey Weigman among others. Shit, Christo and I could've run through those holes as long as their was oxygen at the end of each play. Plus, he's an asshead.
Anyway., the Chiefs beat the Steelers in OT yesterday in a game that just 5 short weeks ago they would've lost. Cassel looked good and the defense (hasn't been good since Neil Smith) is making strides into a competent unit. They have 6 games left and 5 of them are winnable. Yes, they play the Browns on December 20th. Good tickets available.
Since Iowa football is over until January I gotta watch something and the Chiefs have given me a reason to watch them for the first time in 3 years.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fatuousness - Movie Reviews


A December feature here at the BRE will be Top Ten Movies Of The Decade, following the lead of At The Movies, a show nicely resurrected after a disastrous retooling last year.

For now, Christo watched a few movies over the last week so why not review them?

I'll watch them so you don't have to.

In The Loop

A movie spin-off of the superlatively hilarious BBC satire The Thick Of It, a show criminally overlooked in the United States, In The Loop is an introduction for many to the brilliance of Armando Iannucci.

In The Loop is an extension of The Thick Of It in the purest sense of the word - an intelligent, rapid-fire, gloriously profane send-up of politics with some of the best throwaway lines you'll ever hear. Centered around the build-up to the Iraq War, the film shoots between Washington and London, digging into fictional details about how the war came about at the lower levels of government, delving into some rarely-seen depths of narcissism, incompetence and bungled attempts at ass saving.

Satires always run the risk of too many wink-wink-nudge-nudges and "look at us being funny!"

In the Loop never does. These are actors playing a role they've done for years and doing it well.

Funniest comedy I've seen this year.


The Class

Taking place almost entirely in a Paris high school classroom, The Class explores the modern state of education and nobody gets off the hook. Much of it happens in a real-time format, examining how a teacher interacts with his class and how that interaction leads, builds and ultimately becomes more, for better and worse.

While French, there is nothing exclusively French about it. Everything offered translates almost to a tee to an American classroom, from the inherent detachment of students to the relative shortcomings of teachers. It's about the classroom, but it's also about how complicated human interaction, generation gaps and how people create a world is, something made all the more complicated by the intensity of a high school classroom. And how that can go horribly wrong.

And The Class is made all the more rewarding by the utter absence of American-style, uplifting "high school teacher can change worlds" with a chart-topping score crap.

Worth it. Every minute.


Gomorrah

Based on a book that shook Italy to its core (and reviewed here at the BRE), the book Gomorrah chronicles the depth and utter takeover of Southern Italy by the Camorra network of mob families. The details of control by the mob in Southern Italy are vast with their fingers in every pie of the economy and extending around the world (including Woodfield Mall in Chicago).

The film Gomorrah plays it much smaller. And that's a good thing. Where the book tended to get a tad maudlin, the film avoids it at every turn. In fact, it relies on its singular focus through only a few interconnected stories to create a much greater effect.

If this film was in English, critics would still be talking about it. Beautifully sparse, wonderfully thoughtful/careful in its filmmaking and, at its core, something that forces you to pay attention.

The back story of the author alone makes you sit up. Saviano is still in hiding and police-protected after numerous contracts were put out on his life.

Here, the film enhances the book and almost becomes something that should accompany it. Nothing sentimental or glorifying about it.

Rare thing, that.


Adoration

Atom Egoyan loves exploring isolation and loss and how that isolation and loss eventually manifests itself. Sometimes, it really works, like in The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica. Sometimes, it doesn't, as in The Adjuster.

Adoration falls somewhere in between.

There's much to offer here. Egoyan takes the loss of a teenager's parents in a car accident to dig into how he needs it to mean more, especially to him.

During a French translation class, the son hears a story about a failed terrorism plot by a couple that happened 15 years ago. He takes it as an opportunity to concoct a story that he is the son of the couple and takes it to the internet on a sort of multi-screened video Facebook with his friends. It gets around and begins to dredge up old feelings by people involved and not involved in the original incident.

The film plays many angles. It's a relative indictment on technology and how truth is rarely a prerequisite for so easily voicing your feelings out into the ether and terrorism is merely a plot device to ramp up the gravity of it all. Alienation brought on by family politics is an Egoyan benchmark and isn't missed here.

But Egoyan is such a good filmmaker because he likes to study how confused and rudderless minds work. And he posits the idea that everybody is confused and rudderless to various degrees. You never know where Egoyan is going in his films, I don't even know if he does sometimes, but he seems to like the exploration itself.

I do, too. Adoration isn't great but it is another story from a unique filmmaker.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Request Something More, Kind Sirs


As Mate said today, it seems college football writers are in cahoots, throwing a collective tantrum over the badness of the traditional college football powerhouses.

The petulant behavior acutely exposes something - there is very little actual work going into writing on a national level anymore.

I don't follow Ivan Maisel on a regular basis. Or Pat Forde. Or Gregg Doyel. My general impression of Maisel has always been one of a decent writer. Forde and Doyel seems to have found some use or inspiration in a Mariotti-type career arc, which says much.

Mostly, though, when you read columns like Maisel's latest - or Forde/Doyel always - you can pinpoint the moment where the idea for their latest ramblings went from gestation to fruition. You can see where actual, thought-provoking analysis stopped. You can see where falling back on vitriol and disappointment not only becomes a real option but the best option in their minds.

And I blame baby-boomer culture. It's becoming more rare these days to read a columnist with the ability to spin a good yarn. Oh, you can see them trying but only in a lazy way, sort of a shell of a good yarn, taking all of the critical outline elements that comes with a good story without the critical thinking behind it.

It comes down to what has risen to the top of the fat vat in recent years. There's a void, Jerry. A void. I can name on one hand how many guys I follow regularly that are in their 40's and 50's. I don't know if it's a general inability to adjust to the Internet world of writing or a misreading of what that means. I do know that good writing, period, still finds its way to the top of the heap.

It seems that established columnists, guys generally older that have weaved their way through the career field, as a group, leave a general impression that these are the leftovers, ones that just happen to be left after smarter people went to greener pastures.

So...in a college football year where they can't write "Tony Rice is the embodiment of what college football and Notre Dame is all about," right from their couch or "Desmond Howard makes you harken back to the old days of Michigan football," we instead get "College football is a fraud," because knowing who the TCU running back is forces them to do real work. And they have to prep for their appearance on the Colin Cowherd show this morning.

Good writing has to be entertaining. It's entertaining primarily because you learn something. It's wildly entertaining when you learn something in a unique way with a unique take. That takes work.

With the crop of national voices we have today, I don't learn anything. Yeah, I saw the same game you did. Tell me why what I saw wasn't actually what I saw. That's their job. There's just so little digging.

People flock to sabermetrically-inclined worlds because of this void. It's almost done by default. There's just so little stuff out there that challenges the brain. So, when someone writes a column that tells me that Belichick was right in going for it on fourth down, I'll read it. May not agree with it in the end but at least I saw a different take and it forced me to see it in a more complicated light. Heck, at least it made me see it in any light outside of what I saw.

There are two worlds nationally: One is something akin to Monday Night Football where everything's "Great! It's Great! Just Great!" and the other is the Terry Boers world of "Everything sucks! I hate it! Idiots!"

As a fan, I would like more of something in the middle, please. Something more nuanced.

Or least TELL ME why it's great or it sucks.

I don't think that's too much to ask.

Hangin In a Chow Line....


Pretty good write up on BGHP ripping on Ivan Meisel and ESPN. Pretty much what we at the BRE have been saying all along about college football writers and their disdain for anything new. Kind of ironic that they rip on Ferentz and Tressel for being too conservative yet they keep wanting the same 5 teams to compete for a national championship every year.
I really think they are going to need grief counselors in Bristol now that USC officially sucks donkey ass.
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I have now been unemployed for 2 months. Interviews? None. Call backs? None. Polite e-mail responses? None.
Conversations with the dog? Many. Boredom food? Many.
I have resisted the urge to spend alot of time on the message boards however...but my question was asked in an Adam Rittenberg ESPN chat a few weeks ago. Yay for me.
I'm one week away from being able to sing the "Good Times" thing unironically.
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If there were 3,000 people at the Iowa-Duquense game on Tuesday I would be shocked. That was just goddamn embarrassing. Seriously, folks, i lived in Iowa City for 5 years. There's not much to do on a Tuesday night at 8. Go to the game. I know they suck but what are you doing that's better? The Airliner? And please don't say 'studying'..None of us are that stupid.
Christo and Mate will be making a trek. It's what you do for the things you once loved letting themselves go to pot.
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Is it just me? I have absolutely no interest in seeing that "Sherlock Holmes" movie....Who's clamoring for that?
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I was pretty disappointed in "Modern Family" last night. It was the first time I generally didn't laugh. Yeah, there were a few chuckle moments but all in all it was pretty sub par for a show that has really raised the bar. The reason? Fucking guest spots from movie stars. Stop. With. This.Now.
Ed Norton? Does this guy know every fucking producer in Hollywood? He has more cameos than Charles Nelson Reilly. Christ. And his last night was so forced and unfunny I was a bit embarrassed for the cast. Not funny.
And the woman (I forget her name but she's in a few things) was only slightly more funny mainly because her plot line was a bit more believable.
Bad effort, guys. But I don't blame them. I can just see some douchebag exec at ABC making them do the cameos. So, get me next week and I'll just remember to skip this one when it goes onto DVD.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I See The '91 Indians Basketball Team Has Been Reincarnated


And oddly, they're wearing University of Iowa basketball uniforms.

It ain't gettin' better tomorrow. Duquesne's good.

Some observations.

In many ways, it wasn't like this was a given. Texas-San Antonio knew Iowa, playing them close last year - a two-point game with two minutes left.

And UTSA played five seniors, a junior and a freshman. Iowa had three true freshman, three sophomores, a junior and a senior (Bawinkel...) see the floor last night. Outside of the top programs in the nation (of which Texas is, a team Iowa plays one week from now...WHOA!), that's a recipe for ugliness. It was.

And they're just so...short.

Lickliter gets a pass for another year and a half. This was/is a program in utter shambles. After Alford left, it wasn't just a bulldozing of the building and starting from scratch. This was a ripping out of the foundation, calling in the EPA and begging for SuperFund status. We're talking the definition of 'contaminated site'.

He tried a middle ground in the recruiting and rebuilding process when he arrived, taking and using Alford guys. Didn't work so the rebuilding is pretty much still in Year One. Even with the loss and the spaz-like play last night, it DID look like some semblance of an entirely different offensive strategy was being employed. Executed badly, but still different.

They went 5-27 from beyond the arc with Gatens and Tucker combining for a stellar 2-15 performance all by themselves. YEAH!! Tucker was a black hole chucker in the truest sense of the phrase and, if there was a sabermetric site for college basketball, he would be considered the Adam Dunn of the sport. Just brutal defensively.

Now, of course, if they hit something better than 18% of their threes, they're in the game.

But a question.

What high school senior with any degree of tallness would see Iowa play and say, "Yeah, I want to go there and set high picks for 35 minutes a game."?

It's not good. Eric May, though, has the potential to be something quite good. Athletically, he's already there and he looks polished, engaged and calm beyond his 18 year-old self. If he were two to three more inches taller, he looks like a cornerstone to build around. But if he had that, he probably wouldn't be at Iowa.

Cully Payne, another true freshman, isn't a dumb basketball player. In fact, he also looks like a guy that can consistently improve as he ages, something that Iowa historically doesn't have - guys that take that next step as they play at Iowa.

Gatens is an enigma to me. He's the kind of guy you want as your fourth-best player on your team. If that's the case, you have a good basketball team. If he is asked to be more than that, you do not have a good basketball team. If he's your best player, your team is awful. Does a lot of things good, but nothing particularly great.

Overall, along with the team being rather diminutive in stature, they had zero fast-break points last night. Zero. None. Couldn't even create enough havoc in the backcourt to get a run game going. Two steals all night to go with 16 turnovers.

So...they're young, short, kinda slow, have nothing resembling an inside game, are comprised of a bunch of guys that have to be hitting their shots every night and have absolutely no home atmosphere to help things along (8,486 people at the game last night - it was like watching a Fresno State-UC Irvine holiday tournament game played in Hawaii. The silence was deafening.).

But...they're young, not terribly slow in Iowa terms and...well...young. Just as a time killer, I'll watch, the games that are actually on TV, that is. Who knows? Maybe a trip to Iowa City will happen. It's not like the tickets are a tough get.

BTW, have you ever seen so many spelling errors in the graphics of a broadcasted game than were on the ESPU broadcast last night? Solid work, guys.

Dead....Maybe?

If you want to put me in a time machine immediately all you have to do is put a VHS tape of an old "Remote Control" episode and I am transported to my old house after school (usually with Christo and a few others) and Junior High/early high school era. It's as if I can smell the mildewed gym towel I forgot to take out of my locker.....
The show is kind of stupid if you watch it now. It is a bit of a precursor to the Gen X Instant Nostalgia that haunted my generation for a time and I find exhausting (even then we were clamoring for stuff from our youth...We were in HIGH SCHOOL!!!) but it was fun and entertaining for our feeble 15 year old minds. We do have to blame them for giving us Colin Quinn and Adam Sandler but hey, the chick was hot. What the hell was her name?

Anyway, the host of that show Ken Ober died last night. He was 52.** He didn't really do anything else of note but he seemed like a decent enough guy. But it's another piece of my childhood down the chute along with my hair, John Hughes and good Star Wars movies.

**Apparently this may not be true but I'm gonna go with it anyway...Just call it a hunch.

*** (UPDATE-- This has been somewhat confirmed via a few stand ups Twitter accounts..Take that for what it's worth and...Kari Wuhrer!! THAT was her name!)
**** (UPDATE TO UPDATE-- He's dead.



Oh, Good Lord....


Settle in. It's gonna be a LOOOOONG Winter, Iowa basketball fans. Those of you that still bother.

And I'll officially be counting the days to Spring Training the minute the Iowa bowl game reads 0:00.
.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Son Of A...!!!!!


As everyone loses their collective poo over Ferentz not going for it with 52 seconds left, consider this.

Vanderberg, while he had a superlative game considering the situation, was getting a little sloppy throwing in the middle of the field in the second half. In his brief résumé so far, Vandenberg has a blind spot and it's the linebackers in drop-back.

With the prevent Ohio State was going to install, it screamed disaster with eight defensive backs in a zone. Remember. Vandenberg made two terrible decisions that should have been interceptions on the last TD drive - the offsides call and the floater that Moeaki inexplicably caught on the carom.

Oddly, Vandenberg looked worse with more space to work. His best play came when the field was tight, creating an impression that he likes the idea of the quick hit with less room for error. With space and a big field, the flurry of options open to him seemed to make him force things a bit. Overtime is short-field ball.

Plenty of message board blatherings have said that "You can't win if you don't try." In general, yes. Sure. But I think you have to take into account the very recent history. He was shaky at best in spots and was missing reads.

That is not to say Ferentz's decision was an iron-clad, rock-solid one. It's questionable. But...I think I would have done the same thing.

I question the run on 1st and 10. It does nothing and can only hurt you. A safe eight-yard out to the sideline would have given you a ton more options. But I think I understand the thinking overall.

The outcome hurts because Ohio State was so beatable. And Iowa was not outmatched in any phase of the game. In fact, in this game, Iowa showed they were even from a talent standpoint taking everything into account.

But for Iowa to win, Pryor had to make a few mistakes. He didn't.

Sash and Greenwood had to be a factor. They weren't. In fact, collectively, they had probably their worst game this year, especially in run defense. Just too much guessing and getting burned.

The linebackers had to stuff holes. In many ways, they were relegated to clean-up duty with few big plays being made. I don't recall anything from Angerer.

Receivers had to be sure-handed. Stross...was...not sure-handed. Counting his drop in the end zone and Murray later in the game missing a chip shot, seven points were taken off the board.

Iowa had to limit mistakes, period. They didn't. Yet they were still very much in this game throughout. As even as it gets. Really, it was the definition of a big stage game and they showed up without an ounce of a deer in the headlights look that usually accompanies a trip to Columbus.

The defensive line was superb. Same for the O-line. Their few mistakes just happened to be huge. McNutt and DJK took a huge step forward, finally looking like complete receivers. Vandenberg was shockingly poised, making it inevitable that a 'Vandy' chant will rise from a Kinnick crowd after a bad Stanzi first half next year (sigh). But, talent-wise, he might be better.

In the end, all the talk of how lucky Iowa was this year is over. They probably showed more in this game about who they are than in any previous game this year - they're a Very Good team that is realistically in any game against any team in the nation.

I'll take that.

On the precipice of thinking National Championship with some help during the course of the year? I'll take that.

Looks like the Fiesta Bowl barring something apocalyptic next week vs. Minnesota. I'll take that.

The whole season. I'll take it all.

Oh, and that wasn't a horse-collar.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The BRE Family Expands


Church Cookbook Weekly is dead.

I made the hamburger casserole last week and it tasted like an old widow's house smells, firmly bringing me to the conclusion that this is a waste of time and money. The kitsch factor wore off quite quickly.

But where Crap Food Weekly dies a quick death, a new food-related enterprise arises from just over the horizon.

It's On Vino, a food and wine blog, done for the express purpose of forcing me to write this shit down in a log-type form so I don't forget it. Hey, 'log' is in the word 'blog!' How 'about that?

It's called On Vino because I tried three other names that were taken and was through trying to come up with something. And Fuck Malbec was too racy.

I'm no expert but it could be fun tracking the food and wine and the pairing of food and wine.

Or, in what could become many cases, I can drink and eat it so you don't have to.

It's entirely self-indulgent but who knows? Maybe some of the info I come across might be beneficial to others.

So come on over. Or not. Either way.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Talk About Jumping the Shark

Really? Really?! 18?! If you need any further proof that CFN was just salivating at the chance to drop Iowa down the pole look no further than their increasingly odd rankings. Yep. That's Wisconsin at 13. The same team that Iowa whipped in Madison.
Yeah, yeah I get their half assed explanation. It's bullshit. Oregon stays at 5?!
I can go on but it's best just to take a gander and try to remember the good ol' days when Collegefootballnews.com was actually worth two fucks.
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Despite Marc Morehouse trying to explain that it maybe, possibly, coulda maybe been a hold, it's the BRE's position to obsess and overanalyze the two bad calls that cost Iowa the game on Saturday. And, yes, just like CFN a week earlier we're going to ignore all other aspects of the game and focus solely on these two plays.
First off, it wasn't a hold. Not even close. It was a pancake block. If this was a hold then you can seriously call it on just about every successful running play.
Secondly, NW grabbed Iowa receivers on the last drive 3 times. Once, by the jersey two feet in front of the back judge. And, of course, just like the Indiana "touchdown" that was called back, it may not have caused the outcome of the game, it certainly effected it.
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Ohio State is so beatable. That's what's so frustrating about this week. Iowa had a very good chance to play in the Rose Bowl but it's going to go down the drain because of injuries. Just too many goddamn injuries. But I wouldn't be shocked if Stanzi somehow plays...I just have a feeling. It's not a break. He just rolled it. Maybe I'm just bullshitting myself but...it's for the ROSE BOWL! If they win the Minnesota game means nothing. Let him sit that one out.
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And Iowa plays at NW next year. If I have to watch thumb dick Fitzgerald dance around like a retarded Donkey again I'm going to go bat shit.
Fitzgerald has found the perfect way to beat Iowa: Injure their best player on offense and hold on for dear life...
Fuck 'em.
All 16 of their fans are dancing in the streets!
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Well...That Happened


Is this the place where I write a 10,000 word screed broken up into five parts, scattered throughout the week, regarding the morally and spiritually reprehensible officiating?

Is it here?

I didn't think so. Because it's college football.

Do you know what just happened?

A bunch of guys in their late teens and early 20s dressed in gladiator pads and spiffy uniforms lost a timed sporting event played solely for our amusement.

Sure, it's over. The Big Ten Championship, that is. As discussed here ad nauseam, Iowa wasn't playing for the BCS title. Dreaming for that would be like hoping a baseball team overcomes a 12 game deficit on September 1. Go ahead and dream if you want...

It is odd, though, to see such a shift in perspective and fortunes with one play. I can't fathom how a naked bootleg in the end zone with Stanzi's back intially turned in carrying out a play fake is anything resembling a good idea. With that, a high ankle sprain and he's done for the rest of the regular season. It's the Vandenberg/Weinke show now. Bulaga said in an interview right after the game that Vandenberg never took one snap with the first team all year. Brilliant, Ken. Just brilliant.

Now we shift to watching the string play out and focusing on the progress of said QBs, which has about as much sizzle to it as tracking the progress of Aaron Fuller and Matt Gatens.

I'll be briefly small, though. That wasn't close to a hold by Eubanks, the Wegher fumble should have at least been reviewed and at least one of the three pass interferences on the last drive should have been called. You know, just to make it look good. As Hawk would say, "Make-up!"

Nothing was overshadowing the empty feeling of a fait accompli after seeing Vandenberg's first few reps, though.

Oh, wait. It actually wasn't Vandenberg according to ESPN. It was Iowa sophomore safety Thomas Donatell of Peachtree Ridge, Georgia. Sly dog.


So...9-1, probably end 10-2 with 9-3 a definite possibility. I still think a face-saving performance happens against Minnesota but everything is up for grabs now. No more magically putting off the 'what happens next year' ruminations. And now we can start thinking about a rematch with South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. My brain is already tired just thinking about it.

And I have to try to dig up some fake enthusiasm for Lickliter ball, starting in one week against Texas-San Antonio. Tipoff at 5:05 Sunday on ESPNU. Hawkeye basketball fever! Catch it!

Great season. It was fun. Saturdays were a good time this year and Iowa is a program seemingly with direction and a philosophy, unlike the train wreck currently on display in Ann Arbor. 1-5 in the Big Ten, folks. One. And. Five. A Michigan team is 1-5 after going 3-5 last year.

Iowa's a young team with oodles to like. I don't foresee Bulaga, Clayborn or Spievey jumping early to the NFL so next year looks solid. Even more solid is the schedule:


I'll just jinx it now and say if they can get past the Arizona game, they could conceivably be in the same exact spot next year that they were this year. What stands out? Penn State and Ohio State of course, but they're at home. Once again, November 13 - at Northwestern. Lovely.

But hey, Notre Dame is still down 21-7 late in the third quarter so there are things to smile about in the world.

It's not all bad.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Call Ripley's

For one glimmering second, women's soccer caught my interest...

Via Deadspin

Side note:In a Six Degrees moment--Julie Foudy's whiny ,dickface husband is who got me fired at my hotel job in 2007. Small world.



A Few Thoughts On the Game Tomorrow

Oh, yeah. I thought we were going to replay the Indiana game over and over and over again per the memo we got from the college football media....

Anyway, I never thought much about Northwestern (like most Big Ten fans) until 1995. They were the annual game where Iowa fans got a look at the future because, almost always, the 2nd and 3rd stringers were in by the middle of the 3rd quarter.
Then Ass Pimple Gary Barnett decided to show up and take a meaningless (and admittedly easily misconstrued) comment by Hayden Fry after another ass stomping personally and somehow make it sound as if Iowa was the only team to ever score more than 45 points against NW.
The fact that they always seem to play out of their ass against Iowa (see 2005) And the "Oh, wait a minute now I'm a Northwestern fan. Have been all my life. Go Cats! Where is Evanston again?" bandwagon that permeated the Chicago area at the time branded a deep and lasting hatred for these asshats ever since.
Yes, I hate fucking Northwestern.
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I don't mind Pat Fitzgerald I guess. I think he's actually a pretty good coach but I really am skeptical of the rah-rah guys. But he seems to be ok. He is a Barnett disciple, though. So he's got half an ass pimple.
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If Spievey is fielding punts this week I'm driving to IC and hitting Ferentz with a wiffle bat. He fumbled in last year's game without being touched. Tough to do. And last week was as predictable as "Law and Order".
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Last year's game was the most dumbfounded I've ever been after an Iowa loss. I was there. I still have no idea how they lost. The 5 fumbles helped. Oh and i don't seem to recall a diatribe on CFN or other places last year when an OBVIOUS helmet to helmet hit on Shonn Greene and a blatant pass interference weren't called late in the game. Y'see, folks, there are missed calls all the time.
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Iowa 31 NW 21

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day One Of The 2010 Baseball Season


I always had a fondness for the Kansas City Royals.

When you approach your 30th birthday, you begin to contemplate seismic changes to your everyday world. Mostly, it involves ruminations on how you plan to move forward for what's become a move into modern adulthood in the cushy little society we live in today.

I effectively staved off such a move for 12 years living in a college town, a place where infinite possibilities cloud the idea of moving to a physical and psychological place that no longer requires another move to a physical and psychological place. In other words, in a college town, I could revel in the glee that keeps company with Step One in life. The place where you feel like the world is completely open to you but also the place where you haven't made one real decision in life.

Until you wake up one morning and realize you're the oldest person in every room. College towns have a bit of a Logan's Run feel to them. In a town perpetually young, the 20-something herd begins to thin out as you climb up the age bracket. Reach 30 and it feels like your age group was systematically rounded up and shipped out to unknown lands.

So with the loss of anyone around me that was conscious during the long national nightmares of grunge rock and OJ, a physical move was in the offing.

I never bought into the emotional and psychological torment that people tend to allow with the marking of a birthday with a zero at the end. But certain superficial changes we're entirely up for grabs.

On the board were my favorite sports teams. Since there were no plans to be an idiot and become a yoga instructor or something, the process of becoming a fan of another team could be quite interesting/appealing. I've always found it a tad odd that our proclivities for certain teams, followed for the rest of our natural lives, begin largely with decisions made in a ten year-old brain.

College football was out. I lived in Iowa City, grew up a Hawk fan and I was resigned to the fact that this wasn't leaving the bloodstream anytime soon. I'd be like turning my nose on my mom's meatloaf. Objectively, it's merely fine but I'll crave it to my dying day. The NFL should have easily been in play, but with Cleveland returning to the league, starry-eyed possibilities still bounced around in my skull with the clean slate and a deep-pocketed owner. It was like becoming a fan of a new team in old clothes, anyway. Can we send that review to the booth, please?

Coming into the 2002 baseball season, though, the Angels were up for review with extreme prejudice. The 2001 season for the Angels was yet another cobbled-together team by the vaguely-interested Disney Corporation. Pat Rapp, Ismael Valdez and Scott Schoeneweis were 3/5 of the rotation. Benji Gil and Orlando Palmeiro saw significant playing time and Shawn Wooten was The Future.

In the off-season, the synapses in my brain convened an exploratory committee to shop for a new baseball team. Like most exploratory committees, nothing came of it. Certain suggestions were made that were promptly dismissed by the cerebral cortex (Yankees, the National League). Another was intriguing. The Kansas City Royals. I loved George Brett growing up, dug their stadium, liked the town and, unlike the Angels, I had actually knew other Royal fans. The committee was disbanded, though, with the suggestions put on the back burner. One more year, I said.

And then the Angels inexplicably won the '02 World Series just a few days before my 30th birthday.

In one season, the Angels went from the LA Clippers of baseball known mostly for begging fans to come to the ballpark with cutesy Disney-themed promotions and being one strike from the World Series 15 years ago with a softball team of journeymen to a team that looked like they were actually trying. The transformation was meteoric and immediate.

But I still keep an eye on the Royals. Not as a favorite-teamy type of thing but as a slightly more-than-casual observer who wouldn't hate to see them do well in baseball-related things.

That, itself, went through peaks and valleys. But one peak was the hiring of Dayton Moore as GM three years ago. As a former scouting director of the Braves with a great reputation for finding and developing talent, it looked like the franchise had a guy that could conceivably blow up the Royals for the 12th time in 14 years but have the capability to put it back together with something other than balsa and Elmer's. Plus, he grew up a Royals fan in Wichita so he fell into that rather dopey trend of historically bad teams trying to reconnect with their fanbase by hiring a guy that is a bit like them and know their struggle. Keep an eye on Cleveland, folks. Mr. Kosar is about to become example #2543.

And then Royal fans found out that Moore didn't value such baseball things as getting on base or catching the ball with any regularity. In the three years since his hiring, he has put to the test the old argument over which would you rather watch: An old, bad team populated with a bunch of fat softball players or a young, bad team populated with a bunch of less fat softball players? Discuss.

Moore didn't acquire Mark Teahen, the main chip in the Beltran swap. That one's on Baird, a man beloved in Royals land for trading Beltran, Dye and Damon with the haul back being such Major League Hall of Famers as Neifi Perez (for Dye straight up), A.J. Hinch, Angel Berroa, John Buck and...well...Mark Teahen.

But, in many ways, Teahen was such a Moore kind of guy - a versatile guy who is bad defensively wherever that versatility takes him. Once acquired by the Royals, he was rushed to the big leagues. With a reputation in the minors as a borderline-great defensive third baseman with huge offensive upside, he become representative of so much that was wrong with the Royals as a bunch of guys with early reputations as having big upsides but never put up the numbers in the minors to definitively validate such things but some other GM duped the Royals into buying high on these Chevy Aveos of baseball badness.

I say 'was' in the Royals' context because he was traded to the White Sox today for Josh Fields and Chris Getz.

We'll get into something resembling a statistical breakdown of Mark Teahen w/r/t the Sox later on in the off-season, but this certainly feels like Jermaine Dye is no more. He's been replaced by a guy who plays a comparatively horrid right field in Mark Teahen. That's what the surface analysis would say anyway.

There are many moving parts here, though. Getz is gone because he was blah while Nix has more defensive ability and power potential so we can stop talking about Getz now. Fields was out of options if I recall correctly and was bad here, there and everywhere with the added plus of not having to hear a bad player gripe about playing time anymore.

The early talk is that Beckham moves to second base with Teahen sliding into third. Now...Kenny Williams took a load of guff over the defensive shortcomings of the Sox last year and paid serious lip service to improving such things. It was supposed to be at the top of the list.

Could someone please tell me how Teahen playing third base is a good thing? Tell me how this is a good thing. And how moving Beckham to second, a position he's never played on a regular basis, is also a good thing?

And let's not overlook the fact that Mark Teahen was the Royals' second baseman early last year before they found out he looked like a monkey humping a football over there. Could this be a possibility?

Tell me why any team needs a Mark Teahen. Tell me why any team that is bad at defense needs a Mark Teahen. Tell me why any team that says they need to focus again on OBP needs a Mark Teahen.

I can see this move as offering up breathing room on the 40 man roster for a bigger deal down the road. Yes. But what team sees Mark Teahen as a key chip in a deal? If he's not in a prospective deal, aren't you still left with Mark Teahen playing regularly?

With a five-year track record of the definition of mediocre, who is Mark Teahen as a White Sox player?

I guess we're going to find out.

Jesus, Let...It...Go

Everybody!! Christ.

Iowa scored 28 points in the 4th quarter and won going away.

But that doesn't stop CFN from writing another "weird" piece on it by somehow relating instant replay mistakes to world hunger or something... Or maybe the word I'm looking for is "patronizing" or "condescending" (scroll down)...Thanks for the ethics lessons.
I used to enjoy this site.

LET IT GO! That goes for everybody. Jesus.

Slap the Following People

Yes, it's another installment!

1. Anyone who complains that they "can't stand not doing anything"..Hey, dickface, if you wanna go tinker in the garage or fuck around in the backyard be my guest. I'm watching football for 8 hours.

2. People who keep misusing the terms 'Catch-22', 'viscous cycle' or 'strength of schedule'

3. Pat Forde, Lou Holtz, Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless and the people on the message boards who get over the top upset with Pat Forde, Lou Holtz, Colin Cowherd, Skip Bayless....

4. The reporters on Fox News who could barely disguise their giddiness over Tuesday's elections...Guys, it's off year. Means nothing.

5. The little rich pipsqueak douche who almost rammed me going down Plainfield Road in his daddy's Lexus. First off, if you flash your brights at me to "get over" I will never get over and secondly, Lexus' are overrated pieces of shit that sucker rich people buy. Go tell Daddy.

6. The FreeCreditReport.com guy.

7. The idiot at MLB who thought it was an OK idea to have the World Series being played well into NOVEMBER! Has MLB become the NBA and NHL?

8. Urban Meyer

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Have you seen the Hayden Fry Berthel Fisher ad? I can't find it to embed it but look it up. Wonderfully awkward.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Y'Know the Bottling Plant Is Hiring....

Back from sickness. And, no, it was not H1N1. So stop asking. Seriously, fifty people have asked me that after I told them I was sick last week...Get more predictable, America.
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This is a nice point to get to when you're out of work. ...The point where the in laws and parents start looking for jobs for you. It's all kinda sorta well meaning but tinged with a controlling nature about as camouflaged as an orange amongst avocado. Got a call yesterday from the mother in law (whom I love) telling me about a seasonal position at UPS. I was very nice and thanked her for the tip but, of course, decided not to pursue it. Seasonal work is shitty hours with shitty pay and if you do happen to get an interview for a real job you can't go because you have to go sort boxes at the local warehouse that smells like soup.
Also, it fucks with your unemployment (which isn't all that less than what you would get for the UPS job..what's that? I can get scads of overtime?! Yee-ha! I love 17 hour work days just to get to a mildly living wage!). But try to explain that to anyone over 60 and you might as well try to get them to learn Internet Explorer....
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And the other one i love is when someone tells you that " ____ is hiring". OK, the ____ that does things I've never done and have no experience doing and have no interest in doing and will only give me the time of day if I did have experience doing it yet you want me to waste 3 hours going down there and seeing if they need me? That one? Thanks for the tip. It's not 1966, guys. You don't grab the sign out of the door and go "When can I start?" and the boss goes "I like your moxie! You start Monday!"...Again, trying to explain this to old people is foolish.
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I'm helping my brother with a show on Saturday. It's not a big thing, just a bit at the beginning and the end. But it's my last time on stage. I can't stand it. I love writing and seeing it done by other people but I can't stomach being on stage. It's excruciating. Even a little bit. I hate it. I did a few shows back in the day where I actually had to recite lines and whatnot and barfed so bad before each show I barely could walk.
On camera? Not a big deal. But in front of an audience? Forget it. So come see the show to see my final performance ever on stage. Oh and my brother is doing some skits or something...
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I worked out for an hour and a half yesterday then did an hour and a half of lawn work (T of A participant). I'm using my unemployment as an excuse to get into some semblance of shape. But, good God, I'm sore. Holy shit. Typing this hurts. Not kidding.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Reflections Of A Game Passed


So is this what we're doing now?

Are we saying that one play determines what would have happened for the rest of the game if a call went the other way?

If that's the case, I want the entire Yankees series back. I'm waiting.

I had to wait before writing anything about this game in order to let the froth and steam subside. Usually, I can't and don't want to watch all the national talk after an Iowa game.

I did it for years, combing through everything I can find, digging for quotes in some weird effort to get a national assessment of how the Hawks came off to the dopes who influence the voters. A few years ago, I gave that up because I realized it was a stupid way to live. I watched it Saturday.

I know it was a light schedule at 11am Saturday with few marquee names playing but it seems the entire world was tuned into the Iowa-Indiana game including Terry Bradshaw, who gave his opinion during an NFL wrap-up show!. Bradshaw's comment was odd but he's odd. Matt Zemek's reaction at CFN was just weird.

Lucky teams, which Iowa is, straddle a fine line for every fan. They evoke visceral reactions right away. You either hate them instantly or like the ride. There is no middle ground.

The '08 Cubs were a lucky team. But they were also a very good team. The '02 Angels were a lucky team (Spiezio...Kennedy...c'mon) but they were also a very good team.

Mate mentioned the Steve Bono-led '95 Chiefs. After looking over that season, I think it might be the most apt comparison. I watched a good chunk of that season with Mate. They were a great defensive team, athletic as hell, with enough offense that showed up at critical times. It was the Tamarick Vanover year with Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas in their prime. They were a very good team. 13-3 good? Maybe not. Does it matter?

I would hate Iowa as well. But with a qualifier. People have talked about Iowa's luck affecting the fortunes of other teams. That's bullshit. It's still way too early to foresee anything in that respect. Right now, as it sits, Florida, Texas and Alabama are ahead of Iowa in the BCS rankings. Texas has a cakewalk to the BCS Championship game with the Big 12 North so awful. If Alabama takes care of LSU Saturday, either them or Florida (the winner of the SEC Championship game) face Texas. Done.

Iowa's computer advantage can't increase with a win over Ohio State. They're already #1/#2 in points/models relating to SOS and can't increase that advantage without serious help. If that's the case, the only thing to be upset about would be that the three better teams ahead of Iowa - which they are - don't take care of their own business.

The national media can't slobber over the superiority of the SEC and Texas, it's fertile recruiting ground and how wonderful it all is and not get all metaphysical when making their argument. Good teams built on prime recruiting grounds are near each other and that puts them in the same conference and they have to play each other. This is the system offered. When it was instituted, everyone talked about the pitfalls of the system, what sorts of things could happen and how a team could win the national championship without being the ideal model of a national champion ('02 Ohio State. Anybody?). If we knew this, then what's the argument? That a team outside that purview is in that discussion? Not really an argument. It's like buying a piece of crap car and then bitching when the wheels fall off.

I've loved the Comeback Kids tag for Iowa as well. Down 3/5/3/10 this year and won. So...in three of the four games, Iowa was a touchdown from taking the lead? INSURMOUNTABLE!

And then there's the prefacing of arguments. Things like "Iowa should have lost last week against Michigan State and probably should have lost against Indiana...." Why? Why 'should' they have?

It's probably all moot anyway. Northwestern has historically been the poop in Iowa's soup and a road game at Ohio State? That smells real bad. If the OSU game happened to be in Iowa City this year, I might have to be sedated for that game but it's not. In the end, though, this season has been an absolute blast and nothing's taking away from that.

But go ahead, Iowa. Be a BCS buster. Force a change. Be the tipping point for the downfall of the computer models. I'm good with that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beano Cook Is Still Alive?!

I know..I know..Very few posts by ol' Mate last week. I literally have felt like garbage for 2 weeks. And, gee, I can't imagine how this lovely Transylvania like weather we've had here in Chicago doesn't make me all better..
But back at it starting tomorrow.

That said, 5 interceptions and you win by 18? I get that Iowa wins ugly and probably isn't as good as their record indicates but JESUS, the hatred of this team by the national media is just sad. If this were an NCAA Basketball team making a run like this everyone would be in love but for some reason, the lunkheads that analyze college football want the same goddamn teams to play for the title every year (BTW, Lou Holtz said that he was unimpressed with Iowa's wins over Ark State, UNI and ILLINOIS!! Yep. He gets paid for this, folks.)...
And I love that the Hawks are fucking with the BCS.

Hawkeye analysis by Mate tomorrow...