September 29, 2011

Idaho Wish List

These are the things I want to see on Saturday against the Vandals*.

* Speaking of, I was curious where that nickname came from.  After a little digging, I found this, which was interesting so I'm adding it to the post: Some people may see the name “Vandals” in a negative light because of its close association with the term “vandalism;” and, there is indeed a relationship between the two terms. The Vandals were an ancient Germanic tribe most remembered today for their sacking and pillaging of Rome, an event that hastened the fall of the Roman Empire. An area sportswriter during the World War I era first used the term when he noted that the University of Idaho’s basketball teams played with such intensity that they “vandalized” [destroyed] their opponents. Other writers picked up on the idea and “Vandals” as a nickname was first used in 1918. Like Furman, for the first few years the name was only applied to the basketball team. That changed in 1921 when the U of I officially adopted “Vandals” for all its athletic teams.

Anyway, the Idaho Wish List:

1) A win.  This really should go without saying, but given our recent history and proven ability to lose home games to such juggernauts as William & Mary, Duke, and Western Michigan... all I want in this game is a win.  Just win.  Please God, just win.

2) A shutout.  Idaho's offense is crap.  59th in the nation passing and 117th rushing.  Very bad.  We should be able to hold them out of the end zone, I think.

3) Forced turnovers.  Time for some interceptions, daggummit.  Mr. Minnifield, please pick up the red courtesy phone.

It's time, Chase.  It's time.

4) No matter who starts, I want to see the QB have a bang-up game and take control of the starting job.  If it's Rocco with his sore ribs, fine.  Watford coming off of a decent showing against USM, even better.  I just want one of these guys to grab the horns and ride this bull.  I want to go into the Georgia Tech game after the bye knowing who our quarterback is and excited about what he can do.

5) Stay healthy!  No big injuries in a gimme-type game, please.

6) A bounce back effort for the o-line.  Seriously, I pin the USM loss on the offensive line.  I want to see that unit come together and make amends by pummeling the Vandals into submission, giving the QBs a spotlessly clean pocket, and paving the way for a 250+ yard rushing day for the backs.

7) At least three plays longer than 30 yards.  Grinding along is fine, but we have to start connecting on some shots downfield and/or breaking some big runs.  If we're relying on 10+ play scoring drives all season, we're in trouble.  Time to find some explosiveness.

8) Limited penalties.

9) Good tackling.

10) No questionable calls from the coaches.  None.

Get that shit under control, coach.

11) Competency in the return game.

12) 30K fans and a half-empty stadium.  This is a game for the die-hards, and I want to see those die-hards and not the fairweather fans.  I want to see the real UVA fans.  Is it too cold?  Screw you, don't come.  The team hasn't won enough for you lately?  Screw you, stay home.  Et cetera.  This weekend, and this weekend only, I want to see the real Virginia fans, I want us to lock eyes in shared misery, and share that moment.

13) Sacks.  Plural.  Sacks.

14) A few more touchdowns for KP.

15) Playing time for Brandon Phelps and Ant Harris.  Our starting safeties suck.  Get the two youngbloods on the field.

16) Redemption for Kris Burd.  Make the clutch catch and exercise that demon.

Catch the GD ball!

17) 35+ points.  Run up the score.  Make a statement.

18) Start fast.

19) Finish strong.

20) A win.

"The Problem with UVA"

(Special nod to our friend Sparkle for the heads-up on this one.)

John Brandon's This Week in College Football blog on Bill Simmons' Grantland is a very good read, and today's entry just happens to focus on the Hoos.

Tap the arrow HERE to read it.

Or just read it here (but please, give Grantland your mouse click -- it's how they pay the bills.)

I had planned on addressing the University of Virginia last week, but it seemed rude if not too on-the-nose to cast aspersions right after a tough loss like the one UVA suffered to North Carolina. So I decided to wait until after Virginia hosted Southern Mississippi, which I thought might be a win for the Wahoos. So much for that plan. I can't wait any longer. They've got Idaho coming into town this week, but how do I know they can beat Idaho? It's been bugging me for quite some time that Virginia is not better at football. It's been gnawing at me because I can't figure out why. Virginia, the state, the commonwealth, is very large and populous, yes? We're not talking about North Dakota, where there are no people, or, you know, Idaho or something. Diverse population, too. Not like, say, Vermont. In Virginia it's not exclusively pale hikers who own big, happy dogs and produce their own goat cheese.
Is the high school football in Virginia poor? Is that the lack? I think not. It ain't Texas, maybe, but it's no slouch. Talent base? There's D.C. and all its remote metro stops. Hampton Roads. Virginia Beach/Norfolk. Richmond. Roanoke. Baltimore, even, unless that recruiting juggernaut University of Maryland strikes fear into you. There's that web of Mid-Atlantic private schools that are always pooling talent. (Though maybe they make it too easy for college recruiters. The current class UVA coach Mike London and his staff are putting together has four players from Norfolk Christian Academy alone.) Charlottesville is a fine town. If it weren't, Ben Affleck wouldn't have moved there. Don't he and Jennifer Garner live in Charlottesville? I heard that. Rolling hills and pretty girls, just like any other real nice place. Just like Athens, Ga. The situations aren't totally dissimilar, UVA and UGA. They've both got a big Southern state and a nice town and only a Tech to recruit against. When Georgia was weathering its last dark period, the Ray Goff and Jim Donnan regimes, it was roundly agreed upon that it was a sleeping giant and needed only the right coach to again become a national power, and this was correct. In the wake of the pretty successful George Welsh years, Virginia hired former NFL coach and Cavaliers player — dream scenario, huh? — Al Groh, and I guess he achieved a couple of decent seasons along with his mostly mediocre and horrible seasons. Maybe the Groh years were the dark ages for Virginia.
A pretty good year here and there should not be the goal at UVA. Someone needs to wake this giant (Mike London?). Or check its pulse. Sometimes you have to wake it roughly, like by kicking it. Or get someone meaner to kick it. From my vantage in the deeper South, it was comical how long it took Virginia to do something about Groh: 2005, 3-5 in conference; 2006, 4-4; 2007, hooray, it's our occasional not-bad season, 6-2; 2008, 3-5; 2009, 2-6. Virginia should not be a program that aspires to holding its own now and then. Patience is a virtue, they say, but lying down next to the sleeping giant and going to sleep yourself … I don't know. Maybe folks in Charlottesville don't really care, but I do. I mean, if nobody cares, just shut down the program. Y'all can tool around in the hills on fall Saturdays in your convertibles, taking pictures of haystacks and quaffing the homegrown white wine. Let me cook this into a bite-size question: Is there another team in the country with so many built-in advantages that makes them amount to so little?1
Let's get past the excuse stage. That's often a crucial step. First, that old chestnut about how it's difficult to maintain good football if you have a good academic school. We hear this one out of Notre Dame whenever it needs something to blame losses on. Stanford: not exactly a one-room schoolhouse full of mule-kicked farmers' sons. Georgia Tech — I don't comprehend the names of some of the classes they offer. Michigan doesn't exactly let kids in with a fishing license, and the Wolverines have been good for a long, long time, and will be good again. They're relevant. Wouldn't that be nice, Wahoos? Relevance? OK, how about Wake Forest? In a properly functioning universe, the University of Virginia's football program would be superior to Wake Forest's. Both of you went 1-7 in conference last year, so you're starting on equal footing. The couple of years preceding that, Wake had a slightly better conference record than you, and then, of course, it wasn't so long ago that they won the whole ACC. Start there. As a standard for gridiron excellence, get the Demon Deacons in your sights.
Another of the sad excuses you'll hear regarding Virginia football is that it was placed on a downward trajectory by the Vick/Curry debacle. The way I hear it told is they had Ronald Curry all set to become a Cavalier, and therefore Vick's high school coach told Virginia not to bother coming after Vick — that, essentially, any college recruiting Vick had to choose between him and Curry. UVA couldn't court Vick because they had Curry, which allowed Virginia Tech to move in and secure Vick's services. Then Curry decided he'd rather go to UNC. Result: UVA left with no huge-time QB recruit. Gracious, fellas, who cares? It's time to let this one go. Let go of that balloon and let it disappear wistfully into the clouds. One recruit doesn't make or break a program. Nor does one area code. Another pathetically pervasive recruiting lament you'll hear is that Virginia Tech dominates the talent-rich Hampton Roads 757. Listen guys, SO WHAT? Either get in there and recruit harder or recruit somewhere else. There are states with four or five big-boy programs. Recruit harder. Recruit more. Recruit farther away. Just do something. One quarterback? One area code?
To end on a high note, remember when Virginia had the Barber twins and it stung FSU with the Seminoles' first-ever ACC loss? Wasn't that fantastic? I've described FSU's losses in the '90s as perplexing, and this one fits the bill. The Cavaliers just played their hearts out and slew that giant. It looked like maybe Warrick Dunn broke the plane there at the end, but thank heavens the zebra didn't see it that way. Sigh. The good old days, when upsets were upsets.

Of course, Brandon has a point.  A bunch of points, actually.  Good ones, too.

#1) Virginia Football IS a sleeping giant.  There's no good reason we're not better than we are.  Good facilities, great place, fertile recruiting territory, decent football fans (when you're winning).

#2) I'm guilty of making excuses.  Academics, Virginia Tech's success coinciding with our lack thereof, Al Groh blasting us into a crater.  It's not that these aren't legit, it's just that... I'm tired of making excuses.  Let's just win games.  Every summer, Becky asks me, "are we going to be good in football this year?"  And I reply, "maybe... hopefully... probably not.  It's a rebuilding year."  And then she says: "*sigh*  It's ALWAYS a rebuilding year."  She's right, it is.  And it shouldn't have to be.

#3) Is Mike London the guy to turn it around?  His recruiting record says yes.  The product on the field says... I'm sorry to say, but it's the honest-by-God truth... it says no.

I hope I'm wrong about that.  I just feel like I'm vocalizing what a lot of us feel in our gut at this point.

We'll see how the rest of this season goes.  We'll see how the QBs develop.  We'll see how the team - IF the team - improves over the last eight games. We'll see if we can give FSU and Virginia Tech a fight of any sort.  London needs (and deserves!) a full five seasons to get this thing on track.  I fear he won't actually have that long, playing in front of a home crowd so apathetic it can't and won't spin the turnstiles.  No bowl game this year, probably no bowl game next year (with W&M, Indiana, USM, Idaho, and Florida State replaced on the schedule by Richmond, Louisiana Tech, Penn State, TCU, and Wake Forest), and how can any coach survive three years with what looks to be something in the neighborhood of a 14-22 record?  The honeymoon will be over, and 2013 will be the make-or-break season, London's 4th at UVA.

I try to be optimistic, but being a Virginia fan for so long has nudged me toward pessimism.  One thing is for certain -- we need to see a more mistake-free team down the stretch if that lost optimism is going to return.

Sorry, just riffed for a while on my own.  Carry on.

September 28, 2011

REALIGNMAGEDDON REDUX -- Part III, The Mind Wanders... to 2015

Okay, jeez, you just have to read THIS.

Pure conjecture, but doesn't it make a lot of sense?  I don't give John Swofford that much credit, but he did move like a ninja in adding Syracuse and Pitt and solidifying the ACC's footing.  Is it so far-fetched that these two coups have also been cooking?

UConn and Rutgers are backup options.  Penn State and Notre Dame are the big fish.

Let it marinate.  2015 (maybe sooner), we'll see what happens.

Wahooze Pix -- Week Five

Scores from Week 4:
Kendall -- 9 points (boo-yah)
Pierce -- 8 points (solid)
Ben -- 6 points (sorry, not perfect)
Mike -- 3 points (terrible)

Season Total:
Pierce -- 37 points
Guest Pickers -- 36 points

Kendall -- 33 points
Mike -- 32 points

Our guest picker this week is one of our family members, who knows about the psychopaths and cyberstalkers that read this blog, and thus prefers to remain anonymous.  We'll call this person Dr. Phil.

Here's some info on Phil. 
-- Works for the Navy (hence the Navy pick).
-- From Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey (hence the irrational Rutgers pick).
-- UVA season ticket holder.
-- Can't do the chant at the end of the Good Ol' Song.  But tries so darn hard.  Maybe we can offer him a bonus point if he can do it this weekend?

New for this week (and onward), we're adding Pitt and Syracuse to the weekly picks list.  They are ACC now, so they're included... like it or not.

On to the picks!

3 points: Idaho @ Virginia (-17)
Pierce Sez: Idaho is a worse team than W&M - as long as someone is available to play QB, we should win big.
Mike Sez: Hoos get back on track in front of literally dozens of fans.  The fairweatherness could make the Marlins blush.
Kendall Sez: We'll win this game.  But I'm not sure we'll win by more than 17 points.  Gotta pick the Hoos, but I'm expecting a 24-10 / 28-14 kind of game.

USF (-2) @ Pitt
USF: Kendall
Pitt: Pierce, Mike, Phil
Pierce Sez: It's getting cold these days. I like Pitt in an upset
Mike Sez: Is it basketball season yet?
Phil Sez: I will always go with the blue collar city.
Kendall Sez: Phil, I sincerely hope you're not a Steelers fan, or we might have a problem.  Typically, I love home 'dogs, but this Pittsburgh team is dreadful, and the Bulls look pretty decent.  I feel a 2-point spread is a gimme, and I'm happy to take this free point in the standings from you chumps. Pierce Sez: Rutgers is bad. Cuse is good at home.

Rutgers @ Syracuse (-3)
Rutgers: Mike, Phil, Kendall
'Cuse: Pierce
Pierce Sez: Rutgers is bad.  Cuse is good at home.
Phil Sez: Can't beat the Jersey Boys!!
Kendall Sez: I hope the next two ACC expansion teams aren't from the Northeast.  Don't think I can handle much more Big East flavor on the gridiron.  This game interests me about as much as gastric bypass surgery.

Wake Forest (-2.5) @ Boston College
Pierce Sez: BC showed up to play football last weekend. Grobe is good enough of a coach to shut down their monodynamic offense, though.
Mike Sez: BC still sucks.
Phil Sez: The Demon Deacon looks more menacing than Baldwin the Eagle.
Kendall Sez: This is the ACC pillow fight of the week.  I'll always try to throw my vote behind UVA man Jim Grobe.

Towson @ Maryland (line off)
Maryland: EVERYBODY!
Pierce Sez: Towson is no Temple Owls.  I think.  Maryland can die in a fire.
Phil Sez: The Terps can't possibly lose this one, can they?
Kendall Sez: I sincerely hope they lose this one.  Schadenfreude.

Georgia Tech (-11.5) @ NC State
Pierce Sez: Underhyped preseason GT team v. WAY WAY overhyped preseason State team.  Jackets by 30.
Mike Sez: When is Vegas going to raise these lines?  Wreck runs it up again.
Phil Sez: Go Rambling Wreck!!
Kendall Sez: GT is super, super vogue right now.  Too vogue.  I sense a closer game than most expect.  But the line is still too low.  GT in a 30-17 type of affair.

Bethune-Cookman @ Miami (line off)
Pierce Sez: Temple>Maryland>Miami>Ohio State>Bethune-Cookman
Mike Sez: Confusion abound with this team again.  Smacks Ohio State and loses to K-State?  Who knows.  This won't be close though.
Phil Sez: Who is Bethune?  And who is Cookman?  And when did they first meet?
Kendall Sez: If I were ACC Commissioner for a day (hmmm, there's an idea for a post!), these lame-ass games would not be played.  Anyway, have fun Miami.  Enjoy cashing your check, Cookman.

Clemson @ Virginia Tech (-7)
Clemson: Pierce, Mike, Phil
VT: Kendall
Pierce Sez: Clemson seems to fall in games like this every time they start to look dominant.  Hokies have plenty of holes though.
Mike Sez: Tajh Boyd out jesuses Logan Thomas.
Phil Sez: Clemson will continue to overachieve.
Kendall Sez: I looked like a pimp by picking Clemson last week, so it's only fitting that I look like a pimp by picking AGAINST them this week.  The Hokies will win this game, because I'm just not lucky enough for them to lose it.

Duke @ Florida International (-3)
Duke: Pierce, Kendall, Phil
FIU: Mike
Pierce Sez: Duke is better than the Fightin' Schnellenbergers.
Mike Sez: FIU.  Never thought I'd pick them.
Phil Sez: Here's one for the smart kids.
Kendall Sez: Don't look now, but this will be win #3 for the Dookies.  But this is their last good chance for a win until they roll into Charlottesville on November 12th.

North Carolina (-6.5) @ ECU
UNC: Pierce, Mike, Kendall
ECU: Phil
Pierce Sez: ECU isn't quite as good as recent ECU teams have been - can they take advantage of a UNC team that might be looking ahead to conference games? Probably not.
Mike Sez: Gift line here.
Phil Sez: I just like ECU in general.
Kendall Sez: ECU lost this game [in Chapel Hill] 42-17 last year. I'm expecting more of the same in Greenville.


UCLA @ Stanford (-20.5)
Andrew Luck needs to boost his Heisman stats.
Notre Dame (-12.5) @ Purdue
Purdue is really bad, while I think the Irish have turned the corner on their season. With so little room for error in their schedule, I think Coach Kelly has the Domers ready to roll.

Nevada @ Boise State (-27.5)
Revenge is a dish best served mashed. Or twice baked. Or scalloped. God I want potatoes.
Nebraska @ Wisconsin (-9)
Can Russell Wilson handle this test? Is Wisco a title contender? I'm convinced. Why didn't we go after him? Jump around. Wisco rolls.

Air Force @ Navy (-3)
Nebraska @ Wisconsin (-9)

Alabama (-4) @ Florida
I just can't help myself from picking Bama and picking against Florida.
Notre Dame (-12.5) @ Purdue
Love the home 'dog. Love the Boilers. Fun pick to make.

No pictures today.  The posting interface is going completely nutty.  Sorry.

September 25, 2011


THE REALITY is that yesterday's loss might be a backbreaker for the goal of achieving six wins and making a bowl appearance.  Can you count four more wins from our remaining eight games?  Idaho, GT, NC State, @ Miami, @ Maryland, Duke, @ FSU, VT.  Idaho and Duke, I'll grant you.  Maybe steal one more from someone else.  But right now, I think 5-7 is the ceiling for this team.

THE REALITY is that while a sack-strip against Indiana might have saved the season, horrendous coverage on a [nearly unbelievably ballsy] fake punt might have doomed the season.

THE REALITY is that we are currently no better than an average Conference USA team.  Difficult to read, but it's the truth.

THE REALITY is that we're recruiting better than just about any C-USA team in the history of that conference.  So there's the silver lining.

THE REALITY is that this is year two of a four- or five-year rebuilding process.  Al Groh left us with a roster full of scorched redshirts, devoid of quarterbacks, dangerously thin at safety, missing important o-line and d-line depth, and light on explosive athletes and playmakers.  It takes time - a long time - to crawl out of that crater Groh blasted us into.

THE REALITY is that our freshmen and new players seeing the field for the first time are not ready to buoy this team and win games.

THE REALITY is that Mike London is still a relatively inexperienced head coach.  He will make mistakes on game day, and we saw plenty of those yesterday.  The important thing is that he grows into this role over time.

THE REALITY is that Mike Rocco is still our starting quarterback.  The decision to go with David Watford at the end of the game was made more with Rocco's health in mind (he got beat up pretty bad on a few big hits) than because of the three INTs or because Watford was ready.  Straight from London's lips in the post-game presser.

THE REALITY is that David Watford IS NOT ready.  He made some plays yesterday, for sure.  The two-point conversion was incredible.  But he made way, way, way too many bad reads, bad decisions, and mistakes.  He's not ready.

THE REALITY is that maybe none of it matters.  Greyson Lambert enrolls in January.  I have a hard time believing he'll be anything but squarely in the mix in the QB battle from day one.

THE REALITY is that our student fans continue to suck.  It wasn't cold, it wasn't raining, it wasn't a noon kickoff, the team was 2-1 entering the game with plenty of hope for a win... and the student section was half full and quiet as a mouse.  Something has to be done about this.  I don't know what, but something.  Give away free tickets to the game in the GA student section to area high schools, Boy Scout troops, homeless shelters, prisons, something.  Anything.  Waiting for our students to show up and hoping for the best is not working.

THE REALITY is that Chase Minnifield is MIA.

THE REALITY is the Kris Burd had a good game, yet dropped the most important pass of the day.  It just hit him in the hands and he flat out dropped it.

THE REALITY is that I will be doing a little less hand-wringing about losing so many seniors after this season if those seniors continue to fail making plays when plays need to be made.

THE REALITY is that our offensive line was highly underwhelming yesterday.  USM runs a 4-2-5, and has smaller athletes on D.  We should have been able to line up and blow them off the ball, and generate some real juice in the running game.  Instead, we struggled to run for most of the game, and the pass pro - while not giving up a sack - yielded plenty of pressure.  Our QBs were running for their lives and absorbed plenty of hits.

THE REALITY is that our special teams suck.  Robert Randolph is fine, but the rest of the operation needs major improvements.  The fake punt was a backbreaker, we couldn't generate a single decent return, and the kickoff out of bounds after we pulled to within 3 was an egregious mistake.

THE REALITY is that our defense continues to bite way too hard on misdirection, fails to generate turnovers, and struggles to make key tackles.  I worry about Georgia Tech hanging 50+ points on us in three weeks.

THE REALITY is that I'm still pretty pissy and bitterly disappointed about that loss yesterday.  That's just not a game you can lose at home.

THE REALITY is that I'm looking forward to basketball season.  *sigh*

September 22, 2011

REALIGNMAGEDDON REDUX -- Part II, The Present is a Gift

So the Pac-12 is staying at 12, the Big XII is saved as Oklahoma and Texas work to reconcile their differences, the Big East is working to fill the Syracuse and Pitt-sized holes the ACC chomped out of it, and the SEC is content with an odd number of teams -- unlucky 13?  The talking heads are telling us full-scale REALIGNMAGEDDON is averted... again. Do you believe them?  Even for a second?

I sure as hell don't.

Here's how I read between the lines...

  • The Pac-12 is staying at 12 ONLY because it sensed that Texas would ultimately reject them over the revenue sharing of the Longhorn Network (LHN).  That, and it was a hard sell to the current Pac-12 schools to stomach Texas Tech and Oklahoma State coming in as the ugly little brothers to Texas and Oklahoma.
  • The Big XII is staying together only due to a lack of better options for the member institutions.  Adding BYU is not the bandaid that will save the conference and provide long-term stability.  The Big XII is like the mouse just dropped in the snake tank.  Still alive, but only because the python isn't hungry... at the moment.  But you're surviving only at the whim of the Pac-12, B1G, and SEC.  When those conferences get hungry -- and they will -- the Big XII will be eaten.  The reason the Big XII is so weak is because it's now riddled with distrust.  Mizzou wanted to jump to the B1G last year, there is no even revenue sharing, and none of the schools (except for maybe Texas Tech) trust Texas, which happens to be the conference's biggest brand and general lynchpin.  I'm telling you, it's only a matter of time before this conference is devoured.  It's a Jenga tower with too many missing blocks.  And as a sidenote, I truly feel for the Kansas, K-State, Baylor, and Iowa State fans.  They have no protection and no apparent recourse.  When the conference crumbles, these four schools will be buried in the rubble.

  • ECU, Navy, Air Force, Villanova (moving up to the FBS level), and maybe Temple.  These are the white knights that will save the Big East.  Huh?  If/when the ACC comes calling a third time, UConn and/or Rutgers will be ready to jump.  What kind of football conference do you have with West Virginia, USF, Cincinnati, Louisville (who might prefer to go independent), TCU (who might decide to abort their move to the Big East altogether), ECU, Air Force, Navy, Villanova, and Temple?  I'll tell you: It's a football conference that will lose its automatic qualifier status with the BCS.  And thus, it is a conference equal in stature with the MAC, the Sun Belt, Conference USA, the WAC, and the Mountain West.  There's no saving the Big East.  It's like the girl in Jaws, still swimming along, missing a leg, bleeding to death, but still frantically swimming because panic has set in and her body has gone into shock, and there's nothing left to do but swim.  Adding these middling football schools is shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  And good luck selling the basketball-only schools (Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall, etc.) on the hoops power of East Carolina and the Naval Academy.  Their best option might be to marry themselves with the leftovers from the Big XII.  How about a nation-spanning superconference comprised of this mish-mash of Big East remnants and the Big XII unwanted quartet of KU, KSU, ISU, and Baylor?  Odd... but yet oddly fascinating, too.

  • Speaking of odd, 13 is an odd number.  How do you structure divisions, set up schedules, and conduct a conference with an uneven number of teams?  I guess the Big Ten showed us how to do it with 11 teams for all those years, but I have a strong feeling that the SEC is not content to stay with 13 teams.  There will be a 14th member of college football's semi-pro league, and that member will be added sooner than later.  The smart money is probably on Mizzou.  We know it won't be West Virginia, who was already humiliated with a public rejection.  We also know it won't be Virginia Tech, Florida State, or any other ACC school after our conference circled the wagons by increasing the buyout to astronomical levels and adding Syracuse and Pitt.  The hush-hush #1 target appears to be Oklahoma, to my untrained though experienced and well-read eyes.

  • And what about the ACC?  Are we set at 14?  Is the conference done expanding?  The official word is... maybe.  The unofficial feeling is... of course not.  It's all about 16, but at this point it's a waiting game for Notre Dame and to a lesser extent the Big XII and Texas.

I won't be shocked if things settle down a little bit right now.  Maybe for a year or so.  BYU will go to the Big XII as that conference "saves" itself again, just like last year.  Some combination of ECU, Navy, AFA, 'Nova, and Temple will go to the Big East.  TCU will either stick with the Big East or get cold feet... or jump over to the Big XII.  And that's it.

Until next year.

So enjoy whatever stability exists right now.  Follow along as Texas A&M, Syracuse, and Pitt packs their bags.  Watch closely as the awkward courtship between the SEC and Missouri plays out.  Peek through the glass as the Big XII and Big East rummage through the scraps.  And size up the "free agent" schools, and ponder the next move the ACC will make -- now strangely operating from a position of strength instead of weakness and fear.

If you care what I think -- and obviously you do being that you've read this far -- here's my list of targets for the ACC's expansion to a complete set of 16 schools, listed in my perceived order of preference:
1) Notre Dame
2) Penn State (Believe it's possible -- the money is sweet in the B1G, but it's so sweet due in no small part to Penn State.  If the Nits join forces with Notre Dame in the ACC, the money could be sweeter.  And PSU has always considered itself an Eastern school with an Eastern audience and Eastern rivalries.  The Midwest is a bad fit and a dying economy.)

3) Texas
4) UConn
5) Rutgers
6) Louisville
7) Villanova
8) Navy

The present is a gift, and right now the ACC has to decide how to divvy up 14 teams into two divisions for football.  My sense is that we'll keep the Atlantic and Coastal divisions intact, and just add Syracuse and Pitt into those divisions and then re-arrange the yearly crossover "rivalries."  My best guess on the new-look layout:

Boston College
Florida State
NC State
Wake Forest

Georgia Tech
North Carolina
Virginia Tech

Crossover Rivalries

Expand the ACC schedule from eight games to nine, and keep the two rotating matchups intact.  *POOF*  Done.

I add this to the end of this post just
because I found it and think it's awesome.

    September 21, 2011

    Wahooze Pix -- Week Four

    You know the drill, no need for fluff this week.

    Scores from Week 3:
    Pierce -- 13 points
    T.J. -- 11 points
    Mike -- 7 points
    Kendall -- 7 points

    Season Total:
    Guest Pickers -- 30 points
    Pierce -- 29 points
    Mike -- 29 points
    Kendall -- 24 points (Spotting my opponents a bit of a lead to make them feel good about themselves before I crush them underfoot.  Makes it more fun.)

    This week's guest picker is my dear, dear friend and longtime Wahooze loyalist Ben Bledsoe.  This man needs no introduction, other than this:  Next time you see me, ask me about Ben, the lotion, and the fan.

    No but seriously, this man is one of my very best friends ever.  He spoke at my wedding, and I consider him my brother.

    Fatherhood: It'll put that 4-inch spot of hair
    on your chest.

    On to the picks!

    3 points: Southern Miss @ Virginia (-3)
    Picking the Hoos: Everybody!
    Ben Sez: Pleasantly surprised by our team and especially Parks.
    Kendall Sez: This is a crucial game in our quest to notch six wins.  USM lost to Marshall two weeks ago, so they can be had fairly easily.  Plus, Coach London has hinted at opening the offense up a little bit.  That could mean more turnovers, but I have faith in Rocco playing in front of the home crowd.  I think the Hoos win going away, a 35-17 type of game.  But Vegas knows best, and this spread makes me nervous.

    NC State @ Cincinnati (-7.5)
    Picking the Bearcats: Everybody!
    Kendall Sez: I kinda like NCSU in this game, but 'Nati being at home with that potent offense gives me pause.  I'm thinking this is a 38-28 win for Cincy.

    North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (-6.5)
    Picking the Tarholes: Mike
    Picking the Yelluh Jackets: Pierce, Kendall, Ben
    Kendall Sez: Not sold on either of these teams, actually.  But when in doubt, I usually go with the team playing at home.

    Temple @ Maryland (-9)
    Picking the Turtles: Everybody!
    Kendall Sez: Temple can't hang.

    UMass @ Boston College (no line, pick a winner)
    Picking BC: Everybody!
    Ben Sez: My God could BC be any worse?  What the hell happened?

    Tulane @ Duke (-10.5)
    Picking Tulane: Pierce, Mike, Ben
    Picking Duke: Kendall
    Ben Sez: Duke wins, but by less than the spread.
    Kendall Sez: I probably agree with you.  That's a big spread for Duke.  But I'm thinking that win in Chestnut Hill put some wind in their sails.

    Florida State (-1.5) @ Clemson
    Picking the Semenholes: Pierce, Ben
    Picking the Tigers: Mike, Kendall
    Ben Sez: Regardless of QB, the 'Noles win and beat the spread.  Trickett makes FSU's future look even brighter.  I hate/envy them.
    Kendall Sez: Don't sleep on Clemson.  I love home underdogs, and I love them in this game, a lot.  See the bottom of this post for more inspiration.

    Virginia Tech (-21) @ Marshall
    Picking the Chokies: Mike, Kendall
    Picking the THUNDERING HERD: Pierce, Ben
    Ben Sez: Marshall beats the spread by out-inbreding Tech, but Tech stays unbeaten.
    Kendall Sez: Appy State, ECU, Arkansas State, Marshall.  Whaaaah, why don't we get any respect?!?  This schedule is a joke for a program that fancies itself nationally-relevant.  Guess the Stanford beatdown left a lot of wounds to lick.

    Kansas State @ Miami (-13.5)
    Picking the Canes: Everybody!
    Ben Sez: They show up again.
    Kendall Sez: Yeah, they're back in a groove... but winning by two touchdowns against an okay K-State team?  Might be tough.


    Colorado @ Ohio State (-14.5)
    Oregon (-14.5) @ Arizona

    Arkansas @ Alabama (-11.5)
    Notre Dame (-7) @ Pitt

    Arkansas @ Alabama (-11.5)
    I think I might be slightly gay for Nick Saban.
    LSU (-5.5) @ West Virginia
    This spread is like a license to print your own money.  LSU will win this game by 20+ points, easy.

    LSU (-5.5) @ West Virginia
    Have no faith the WVU is worth their ranking.
    Oregon (-14.5) @ Arizona
    I hope picking with my heart doesn't damage the guest pickers' score.

    I think the FSU Cowgirls thing has run its course, and we're about seven years late to that party, anyway.  So no pic of them today.  Instead...

    Go Clemson.

    September 20, 2011

    REALIGNMAGEDDON REDUX -- Part I, The Odyssey Begins...

    Oh man, oh man, oh man.  I have a freaking metric ton of thoughts about REALIGNMAGEDDON to share with you.  But I've had trouble getting things organized, struggling to get my mind right, and I wanted to spend some time reading up and watching what's happening (or not happening, as it were) with Texas and Oklahoma before I started posting.

    Turns out, I've arrived at the decision to just vomit this out as it rises up my throat.  Splatter.

    Please keep in mind that this is [mother-f#cking] Wahooze, and everything you're about to read from me is going to be from a strictly University of Virginia-based standpoint.  I love college football, but I only really care about UVA.  A strong ACC means a safe and secure athletics home for the University of Virginia, simple as that.  In an expand-or-die landscape, it's important to do what you need to do to survive.  The ACC is the best possible home for us -- the B1G isn't a good fit and would destroy our elite baseball program while putting us in line for several poundings by football factories like Ohio State and Wisconsin.  The SEC would be even more brutal, as we'd join Vanderbilt as the nerd getting pounded by the meathead bullies.  The ACC is our best possible home.  Anyway, back to it...

    First up, we need to learn a thing or two about the history of the ACC.  To understand where we're going, we have to appreciate where we've been.


    The [Brief] History of the ACC:

    May 1953 -- Seven schools leave the Southern Conference to form the Atlantic Coast Conference: Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest.  (The SoCon was already weakened because 20 years earlier, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Sewanee (?!?), Tennessee, Tulane, and Vanderbilt cut and ran to form the Southeastern Conference, now the football juggernaut SEC.)  Virginia was left in a swirling abyss with Virginia Tech, VMI, and Washington and Lee.  The SoCon was dead/dying, and Virginia was going down with the ship.

    December 1953 -- The fledgling ACC rescues Virginia, and the Hoos become the league's 8th team.

    1971 -- South Carolina gives us deuces, and the Gamecocks peace out to become an independent.  Back to seven schools in the ACC.

    1978 -- The ACC throws the life raft to Georgia Tech, which had been toileting in the Metro Conference.  Eight again.

    1991 -- In an attempt to take a bolder step toward the golden egg that is football revenue generated by television deals, the ACC lures Florida State out of independent status to become the conference's 9th team.  (This move was seen as a direct response to the Big Ten dragging Penn State from the ranks of the independents a year earlier, in 1990.)

    2003 -- You probably remember the clumsy, litigation-marred, politicked-to-death additions of Miami, Virginia Tech (shouldabeen Syracuse), and Boston College (whose defection from the Big East was delayed an extra year).  This expansion to 12 is supposed to cement the ACC as a football powerhouse, with basketball quality trampled underfoot.  It doesn't really work out for the conference, with Miami and FSU both falling on relatively hard times.  ACC football cred suffers, in spite of the expansion.  When Virginia Tech is your vogue football program, you have some troubles.  But hey, at least the economy of Southwest Virginia is saved!

    September 2011 -- Syracuse and Pittsburgh submit formal written applications to join the ACC.  Both are accepted into the conference the following day, in a bold, confident, scalded-dog-quick move that made the entire nation take notice.  The ACC is now positioned at 14 teams, stable and strong, with a newly-renegotiated $20 mil / 125% annual revenue buyout clause.  None of these schools are going anywhere, and the conference as a whole is suddenly positioned as an aggressor in the conference realignment game.  We are the hunters, not the hunted.  Get lost, SEC poachers!  Scram!

    What do Syracuse and Pittsburgh bring to the table?

    #1) Both deliver strong academics (Syracuse ranked #62 by US News and World Report, Pitt ranked #58), which -- believe it or not -- is important to the ACC.  It's the main reason West Virginia will NEVER be in this conference.  The schools of the ACC share a very lucrative research/academic relationship, and that's an important part of identifying the right schools to add to the league.  You have to have decent academics, which 'Cuse and Pitt definitely do.  And for those keeping score at home, the USNWR rankings for the other 12 ACC schools: Duke #10, UVA #25, Wake #26, UNC #29, BC #31, GT #36, Miami #38, UMD #55, Clemson #68, VT #71, FSU #101, NCSU #101 (tie).  The ACC has some really good schools.

    #2) Both Syracuse and Pitt grant access into important media markets, which is the real driving force behind all of this conference realignment stuff.  Pittsburgh is the 22nd-biggest market in the US, and New York City is [obviously] the #1 biggest.  Now, if you're about to say "BUT New Yorkers don't care about Syracuse football," you're totally missing the point.  It's all about access into these markets.  Get the conference on those TV sets, and the networks will pay out the ass for the rights to that broadcast.  That's an oversimplification, but you see my point.  Will TV sets flicker on to watch Duke/Syracuse?  No, of course not.  But will New Yorkers click on the tube to watch Florida State/Clemson?  I'm thinking yes, or at least enough to really move the needle for the networks.  The top-50 ranked markets touched by some of the other 12 ACC schools: Boston #5, DC #8, Atlanta #9, Tampa #12, Miami #17, Orlando #20, Baltimore #24, Charlotte #27, Raleigh-Durham #29, SC #35, Hampton Roads #42, Greensboro/Winston-Salem #47.  Important markets, but small fries compared to the Big Apple.

    #3) Syracuse and Pitt are good enough at football.  Good enough to hold their own on both the recent performance and long-term legacy platforms.  Not good enough to really elevate the conference's football profile, but good enough to not damage it, either.  In other words, status quo.  Syracuse enjoyed some great success under Ben Schwartzwalder in the '50s and '60s, they were damn good in the late '80s, and rock solid in the '90s.  Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, John Mackey, Art Monk, and Donovan McNabb are all former players for the Orange.  Pitt boasts NINE college football national championships, and is top-20 all-time in wins.  Famous Pitt football alumni include Tony Dorsett, Dan Marino, Mike Ditka, Darrelle Revis, and Larry Fitzgerald.  These two programs have been middling (or worse) of late, but they have rich history and the potential to return to increasing levels of relevancy as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Good enough.

    #4) Syracuse and Pitt are obviously awesome basketball schools.  I won't belabor this point, other than to say the ACC has increased its pool of elite basketball programs by two, while simultaneously decreasing the Big East's by two.  There should now be no doubt about which conference is the best basketball conference in America.  It's the ACC, baby (and she ain't done expanding -- more on that later)!

    #5) Syracuse brings great lacrosse to the mix.  Love that.

    #6) This guy:

    #7) Football recruiting.  Similar to the expansion of the media market footprint, adding Syracuse and Pitt opens up new recruiting territory for the ACC schools.  New York is a dry desert for football talent, but Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania... it's verdant.

    I'm excited about these two schools joining the conference, mostly for #4, above.  It will be interesting to see how the conference forms its divisions, and that's a process that could ultimately screw Virginia depending on how the Plinko chips fall.

    It will also be interesting to see if the ACC stays at 14.  Bet the farm that it won't.  16 is the magic number, and UConn and Rutgers are already throwing themselves at us like 4:30 AM whores.  But I think [ACC Commissioner] Swofford has his eye on bigger fish... one whopper in Austin and one leviathan in South Bend.  More on that later, unless you happen to be click-savvy and literate.

    Or in case you like your links spoon-fed to you by yours truly.

    The Latest on Realignment

    Notre Dame Should Jump to the ACC... and Fast

    Notre Dame Needs to Change with the Times

    My prediction?  The ACC can't reconcile the concept of allowing wiggle room for the Longhorn Network and won't take Texas Tech, and its attempts to smoke Notre Dame out of hiding by burning up the Big East fall just short, and we settle for the whores.  UConn and Rutgers, welcome aboard!

    But gosh, how awesome would it be to land Notre Dame...

    Anyway, one more great article for you to sink your teeth into:

    The Geography of College Football Fans (and Realignment Chaos)

    September 19, 2011

    Competence Without Confidence

    (This is the UNC game post mortem, I'll have the Wahooze update on Realignmageddon sometime soon...)

    A few stream-of-consciousness thoughts after a good 36 hours to digest the game:

    After last year's 44-10 drubbing in Scott Stadium, I wasn't sure we'd be able to hang with the superiorly talented Tarholes.  We hung... sort of.  I saw a UVA team with the ability to compete with that Carolina team, I saw a team with the raw tools to scratch out a win in that game.  What I didn't see was a total team belief, from top to bottom, that Virginia would win the game.  Competence without confidence.  But more games like these first three, and that confidence will come.  Our team is pretty good, and is going to win some more games this year.


    I agree with the Roanoke Times' Aaron McFarling -- Mike Rocco has been undersold to us.  I'm not sure about the Diet Mountain Lion analogy (read the article), but I think Rock looks pretty good.  He's made some mistakes, sure.  But he has also moved the team up and down the field, he's made some pressure throws right on the money, and he's won me over with a cagey sort of "coach's son" guile and moxie.  I see Dan Ellis with Matt Schaub upside.


    There is a lot of message board vitriol about the David Watford series that cultivated in the terribly overthrown pass to a wide open receiver on 4th down in Carolina territory.  No doubt, that was a turning point in the game.  But don't lambast Mike London for leaving Watford in the game to attempt that pass.  Nothing ruins trust between a young player and his coaches faster than being sold on a bill of goods on how you'll be developed and how you'll be deployed into the game as a player, and then having that expectation not met.  Especially when it comes to playing time.  Watford was promised that series, it was HIS series.  To make the QB switch for that 4th down play would have done more harm than good, if you're a person who believes the relationship between a head coach and his [potential] starting quarterback is an important one.  Further, it wasn't just about London and Watford, it was about London and all of the players he's recruiting by offering playing time.  London trusted Watford, and he made good on his word.  That's more important than the one play in the game.


    Notes from the box score:
    • I'm very proud of our 178 rushing yards and 5 yards per carry in this game.  Carolina held Rutgers to TWO (count 'em -- 1, 2) rushing yards a week ago, and was #3 in the nation against the run.
    • Don't kill Rocco for those two INTs.  One was on a tipped pass, and both were in desperation time.  Kid played a very controlled, careful game, and avoided making the backbreaking mistakes during the meat of the contest.
    • Our 468 yards of total offense is cause for much optimism.  That UNC defense is loaded with talent, and we moved the ball on them very well.
    • 13.8 yards per kickoff return.  That MUST improve.
    • KP had 14 carries for 98 yards, Perry Jones 8 for 39, and Clifton Richardson 7 for 27.  I think it's clear who our workhorse back is going to be this season.  But all three guys should see plenty of carries moving forward.
    • Kris Burd finally had a breakout game playing with Rocco.  I think his 7 reception, 110 yard day is foreshadowing a very productive next nine (ten?) games.
    • I was disappointed in Matt Snyder.  His stat line (5 for 72) looks solid, but he dropped some passes that hit him in the hands.  Important passes that hit him in the hands.
    • That screen to Max Milien was a thing of beauty.  Mike Rocco sold it to perfection.  And Milien did his part in making the catch cleanly and rumbling down the sideline.  Great play, and a great call from Lazor.


    I think our defense still has a ways to go.  Carolina killed us with misdirection plays, screens, et al.  And then they were able to run the ball down our throats in the second half.  We have to improve on D if we want to be able to compete in the ACC.


    It was another penalty-riddled afternoon.  Gotta clean that up.


    This wasn't a moral victory.  It's Carolina, we beat them all the time.  It's not like this was David v. Goliath or anything.  But there is a bit of a gulf in talent between these two teams right now, essentially Al Groh's late recruits v. Butch Davis' heyday recruits, and I think we played fairly well given the hand we were dealt for this game (read: Carolina Refs).  This loss didn't dent my optimism for six wins and a bowl game, that's for sure.  If anything, it made me raise my expectations a half-notch.  Southern Miss, Idaho, Georgia Tech, NC State, Maryland, Duke --- these are all winnable games for us this season.  Will we win four of those six and get into a bowl game?  That's the 64 million dollar question.

    September 14, 2011

    Wahooze Pix -- Week Three

    Scores from week 2:
    Charlie -- 9 points
    Mike -- 9 points
    Kendall -- 7 points
    Pierce -- 6 points

    Season Total:
    Mike -- 22 points
    Guest Pickers -- 19 points
    Kendall -- 17 points
    Pierce -- 16 points

    Uncle Guido is starting to open up a little bit of a lead... meanwhile, Pierce and I are lagging behind the Celebrity Guests!  Not good.  Time to go into reputation damage control.  Here comes a week of perfect picks from yours truly.

    Our guest picker this week is friend and former bus driver, T.J. Bateman.  Teej is getting hitched this weekend, so treat his inclusion into this process as Wahooze's wedding gift.  T.J. -- good luck, Godspeed, and may the heavens have mercy on your soul.

    Yeah, lean back you pimp.

    Allllllllllrighty.  To the business.

    3 Points: Virginia @ North Carolina (-10.5)
    Picking the Hoos: Mike & Kendall
    Picking the Holes: Pierce & T.J.
    Mike Sez: Brynn Renner, the cocky MFer that he is, tries to pick on Nicholson for at least one pick. Coples v. Aboushi should be epic.
    Pierce Sez: Head over heart in this one.
    T.J. Sez: The ease with which Indiana picked apart UVA's defense late in the game tells me UNC's not going to have much trouble putting up big points early and often.  It brings me no joy to say this (honestly), but I think UVA's in for another disappointing run in with the Heels.
    Kendall Sez: Carolina sucks.  But they held Rutgers to 2 yards rushing, so we'll need to be able to pass the ball and score in creative ways in order to hang.  I think this game will be Mike Rocco's coming out party.  Not sure if we'll win, but we'll keep it closer than 10.

    West Virginia @ Maryland (-1.5)
    Picking the 'Eers: T.J.
    Picking the Twerps: Mike, Kendall, Pierce
    Mike Sez: As a teaser I will also take the over on the points. This should be a barn burner.
    Pierce Sez: Either of these schools have fans that could start fires throughout the stadium, let's hope they catch.
    T.J. Sez: F Maryland.  F everything about it.
    Kendall Sez: Danny O'Brien is too good.  But yeah, if a galactic wormhole opened up and sucked both teams down in oblivion, I'd go outside and burn my couch in celebration.  (At least then I'd get to stop hearing Mike shrill about the merits of West Virginia and why they deserve inclusion in an expanded ACC.)

    Auburn @ Clemson (-3.5)
    WAR EAGLE: Mike, Pierce, T.J.
    Clem's Son: Kendall
    Mike Sez: Can the defending champs have a chip on their shoulders?  I guess so.
    Pierce Sez: Could be high scoring, but I think AU rolls.
    T.J. Sez: Auburn just beat Mississippi State.  Clemson just beat Wofford.  Some Ws are more equal than others.  Auburn wins handily.
    Kendall Sez: Gut feeling on this one.  Clemson came damn close to beating Auburn last year, in Jordan-Hare.  Utah State already showed us that this year's Auburn team is not last year's Auburn team.  Clemson can win this game.  I believe.

    Kansas @ Georgia Tech (-15)
    Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk: T.J.
    Picking the Ramblin' Wreck: Mike, Kendall, Pierce
    Pierce Sez: These douchebags have been running up the score in each game so far.
    T.J. Sez: Georgia Tech will win, but not by the 15 point spread.
    Kendall Sez: Tevin Washington is slowly making a believer out of me.

    Duke @ Boston College (-7.5)
    Picking Dook: Kendall & Pierce
    Picking BC: Mike & T.J.
    Mike Sez: I would rather eat a car battery than watch this crap.
    Pierce Sez: BC is playing so bad - they could lose this flat out.
    T.J. Sez: Duke may be good at recruiting top-level (and offensively ugly) talent to play basketball, but their football team will never be any good.  to borrow a phrase from Pierce, "what is this oddly-shaped ball and why can't I dribble it?"
    Kendall Sez: I think everyone who watches this entire game from start to finish is going to turn to stone.  It's like staring into Medusa's eyes.  I think even Sean Renfree's mom has something better to do this Saturday.  Shopping or a perm or some such shit.

    Arkansas State @ Virginia Tech (-26)
    Picking the Red Wolves: T.J.!
    Picking Cousin Eddie: Mike, Kendall, Pierce
    Mike Sez: My Red Wolves won this game in NCAA 12.  These Red Wolves will not.
    Pierce Sez: Cupcake central.
    T.J. Sez: VT needs a win after its embarrassingly close game against East Carolina and it will get one here.  However, they're not going to beat the spread.  Arkansas State [and the points] in this one.
    Kendall Sez: More lame-ass scheduling for the Hokies.  You want to be a nationally-relevant program?  PLAY SOMEBODY.  Bunch of candyasses.

    South Alabama @ NC State (line OFF, pick the winner)
    Picking the Jaguars: nobody
    Picking the Woofpack: EVERYBODY!
    Kendall Sez: Lame.

    Gardner-Webb @ Wake Forest (line OFF, pick the winner)
    Picking GWU: nobody
    Picking WFU: EVERYBODY!
    Kendall Sez: Lame, Part II.

    Ohio State (-1) @ Miami
    Picking the Free Tattoos: Kendall, Pierce, T.J.
    Picking the Ponzi Scheme: Mike
    Mike Sez: Go ahead and call me a homer.
    Pierce Sez: Talent beats coaching in this one.
    T.J. Sez: Ohio State.  This isn't a BCS championship game, right?  Okay.  Ohio State.
    Kendall Sez: Two things...  Mike, you're a homer.  Pierce, I think you give Al Golden a little bit too much unearned credit as some kind of tour de force coaching talent.  It's one thing beating Eastern Michigan in the MAC, and another animal altogether trying to beat a team like Ohio State.  Jury has to be out on Golden until he proves his mettle.  Too bad he inherited this shit storm in Coral Gables.

    Oklahoma (-3.5) @ Florida State
    Boomer Sooner: Kendall, Pierce, T.J.
    Free Shoes University: Mike
    Mike Sez: This is still Bob Stoops in a big game, right?  I'll try not to laugh.
    T.J. Sez: Being nationally ranked means something in the Big 12.  It doesn't mean much in the ACC.
    Kendall Sez: I could see this one going either way.  I picked Oklahoma, just because I have a bit more faith in Landry Jones than I do in E.J. Manuel.  But this should be an awesome, awesome game.  Can't wait.  BIG opportunity for Jimbo Fisher to prove himself and his program to be legit.


    Tennessee (+9) @ Florida
    Notre Dame (-5) vs. Michigan State

    Wisconsin (-17) @ NIU
    Russel Wilson & Co. could be in the national title picture...
    Texas (-3.5) @ UCLA

    LSU (-3.5) @ Mississippi State
    Florida (-9) vs. Tennessee

    Tennessee (+9) @ Florida
    Road 'dog is probably a sucker bet, but I like the look of this year's Tennessee team.  Go Derek Dooley!
    Michigan State (+5) @ Notre Dame
    Another road 'dog, but Kirk Cousins is the freaking TRUTH.


    Messing with Texas?

    Bevo in the ACC?  Believe it.

    A couple of realignmageddon articles to get your juices flowing this fine Wednesday morning...

    From Alan Trubow of Texas' 247 site, Hookem: Very Latest on Realignment

    From's Andy Staples: Game of Chicken

    • Texas A&M to the SEC is a "done deal."
    • SEC to explore a 13-game schedule; won't necessarily expand to an even number of teams or to 16.
    • Oklahoma favors the Pac-12, and will (already has?) applied for entry into that conference.
    • Oklahoma State will piggyback on Oklahoma, and follow the Sooners wherever they go.
    • If the Pac-12 rejects the Oklahoma Duo (not likely), the Big 12 might still be saved by adding a team (Houston?) to replace A&M.
    • Baylor is lawsuit-happy in trying to hold together a crumbling Big 12 and protect itself from being left out in the cold.
    • Texas does not want to go to independent status, but they will require a conference that allows them full rights to the newly-created Longhorn Network.
    • In attempting to woo the Longhorns, ACC officials have presented a concept for a 16-team conference with four 4-team pods.

    • Texas makes 13.  Then who?  Does Texas Tech piggyback?  Does/can Baylor?
    • Could the ACC chase Notre Dame, and allow them to keep their own TV deal for football?
    • Rutgers and Syracuse for the NY/NJ market?
    • Pitt?  How attractive are the Panthers to the ACC, really?
    • UConn?  As a football property, it's not worth very much.
    • West Virginia?  I don't see it, not at all.  It lacks the academics to be counted as an asset to a conference like the ACC.  But WVU moves the needle for football, at least a little bit.
    • Know that if the ACC starts poaching, it'll only be from the dying Big 12, from the less-powerful Big East, or from lesser conferences like C-USA, the MAC, or the Sun Belt.  Those are our options.  So don't muddy your thought pattern by considering the possibility of Georgia joining the ACC, or something nutty like that.
    • Also know that if the ACC starts poaching, it'll be for football dollars.  Basketball doesn't matter one iota, beyond being a little bit of a silver lining for a few less-attractive options (UConn).  Don't make the mistake of thinking basketball matters in realignmageddon.  It's all about football and media market coverage.  Those two things, and that's it.  Oh, and for the ACC, academics do matter... believe it or not.
    • I'm thinking we can't get Notre Dame, and Texas Tech probably comes to the party as Texas' ugly best friend.
    • Baylor is out in the cold, and they know it.  That's why they're throwing around all of this litigation.
    • That leaves two open spots as the ACC goes to 16.  My guess is Syracuse and Rutgers, in attempt to lock down that hotly-coveted NY/NJ market.
    • I still believe that Virginia Tech and NC State could be targeted by the SEC, and Maryland might be targeted by the B1G in further expansion... but we'll cross that bridge when/if we come to it.  If the ACC takes the aggressive role (like it did when it added BC, VT, and Miami in the early 2000s), it might not matter.  The ACC could become the second superconference, after the Pac-16 gobbles up Oklahoma et al.

    The four 4-team pods of the ACC-16:
    • Northeast -- Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Maryland
    • Atlantic -- NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech
    • Coastal -- Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Duke
    • South -- Florida State, Miami, Texas, Texas Tech
    • Four team conference championship tournament, NE vs. SOU, COA vs. ATL, winners play in the championship game.

    Or something like that.

    Stay tuned.  A&M to the SEC and now Oklahoma (and OK State) to the Pac-12, and the plates are sliding in a quake bigger than Mineral.