It was a disaster of a weekend for the Big Ten. Ohio State lost at home to Virginia Tech, Michigan State left Oregon with an embarrassing scoreline, and Michigan had their first shutout loss since Billy Ocean's "Caribbean Queen" topped the charts. Purdue and Northwestern lost to their MAC-rifices, while Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska eked out wins of dubious quality. There has been a lot of collective hand-wringing and worry that the Big Ten is a step behind the rest of the conferences, and that it may not have a representative in the season-ending Big Ten Playoff.
The emerging “pro-conference” boosterism is puzzling. On a personal level I have always been reluctant to get into the collective support of fellow members of the conference. I delight in watching teams like Michigan and Ohio State falter on the brightest stages. It may be different in the SEC, but my rival is my rival 365 days a year in the Big Ten.
The narrative that “we need our conference to be strong so our strength-of-schedule looks awesome!” is weak. For one, the days of computer polls are over. Secondly, if you are undefeated in a Power Conference you will go the postseason playoff. End of discussion. You only need to look at Florida State for years in the ACC to know this is true. If you are 11-1 and leaning on opposing strength of schedule to get you into a big game, you are looking for technicalities when your team should have taken care of business out on the field.
Another reason for this delight in collective misery runs deeper than rivalry. Big Ten schools, as a conference of equals, have done nothing to assist or promote Penn State in its efforts to emerge from the disasters of 2012.
The doghouse has been quiet lately. I was planning on fading away with a whimper. But I just can’t hold it in any longer.
You see, I hate the SEC. I mean, really, really hate the SEC. Once again, they’ve managed to backdoor their way into the BCS Championship game through their trusty combo of luck and a super-strong media bias. How is it that a 1-loss SEC team is automatically the unquestioned best 1-loss team in the country? No matter that they were 3-9 last year. No matter that they were 0-8 in their league last year. It’s funny how Alabama got the benefit of their 2012 season in its consensus preseason #1 ranking. Once they lost, everyone found a way to eschew that mantra because it applied to a Big Ten team. Now, let’s just sweep it under the rug for Auburn. As I angrily tweeted Saturday night: college football is now a world where an LSU loss is better than a Notre Dame loss. I never thought I’d see the day that Notre Dame carried less weight than another college football entity. That used to be a day I prayed for. Now that I see what that other entity is, I abhor it.
[Dennis Miller voice] Now I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but the SEC crap is beyond ridiculous. Does anyone even know how the absurd national love affair began? It started a long, long time ago. You see, the south didn’t have any professional sports to root for like us northerners. No baseball, no basketball, no hockey, and no pro football. Much like today, they couldn’t read, so entertainment was scarce. The lone source came by way of cops chasing bootleggers. Then along came college football. Within 5 years of its southern existence, Alabama had already claimed 28 national championships. Florida had already stopped travelling to away games. Houston Nutt had already signed 64,723 players. In other words, college football was an instant hit with the rednecks.
Fast forward several decades, and not much had changed. The athletes still couldn’t read. People were still racing cars in circles. And the south still had very little else to root for beyond college football. Perhaps inspired by the wads of money Bear Bryant handed to high school players, someone got the brilliant idea to make their own money off the recruiting scene. An early pioneer in the process, Tom Lemming had already claimed Notre Dame for himself. That left the newbies to choose where to set up shop. There was only ever one choice: the south. The region that we have been told treats college football like a religion. The region that has nothing else going for it. And so, the bias began.
Recruiting sites put more emphasis on the SEC region because they sell the bulk of their subscriptions there. In order to feed the beast (and their own coffers), sites devote more scouts and writers to the southeast. In doing so, they are able to evaluate more players. By evaluating more players in person, it gives an unfair bump to the south’s talent crop. That bump translates into better recruiting rankings for SEC teams. The inflated recruiting rankings lead to lazy talking heads assuming SEC teams are better. ESPN, the king of lazy talking heads, is already in bed with the SEC. They have no problem looking at unworthy paper stars and furthering the SEC hype machine with Bristol’s most powerful megaphone. The preseason rankings demonstrate both the pull of ESPN and also its gullibility. No matter, the damage is done once August rolls around and the SEC has 14 ranked teams.
Next comes a shrewd move by the SEC. They schedule league games early. This accomplishes two things. First, it gives the illusion that the league has a tough schedule. Instead of playing Joe’s Plumbing School in week 2 like everybody else, the SEC pushes that back to November when no one is watching. (This also allows teams to suspend players late in the year, yet in an inconsequential game). Secondly, early conference matchups give the SEC a better chance of pitting 2 ranked teams against each other. Remember, everyone is high off the preseason stars. No matter that Ole Miss is undeserving, as long as they have a number next to them, their ranked opponent can claim “they were ranked when we played them” once bowl selection time comes around.
Today, the Rivals 2015 Top 250 came out. Not surprisingly, only a handful of players reside outside the SEC footprint. Where do you think most of those kids are going to go to play football (notice I didn’t say “go to school”)? In the south, of course. Near home. Yet another cycle of pretending the SEC collects the best talent. Throw in the conference’s ability to cut players and you’ve got all 250 kids accounted for.
Speaking of oversigning, let’s move on to the next issue. There is no need to rehash the obvious advantages of oversigning. Instead, I would like to focus on an aspect of oversigning that feeds into the media’s cauldron of SEC brainwash serum. For some reason, recruiting rankings aren’t based purely on quality over quantity. So, when an SEC team takes 45 3-stars, its ranking shoots up the charts ahead of an actual academic institution like Stanford whose class may only consist of 18 4-stars. Do that several years in a row and suddenly there is a perception that the SEC team has “better talent” than Stanford. Never mind how those numbers get pared down to the magical 85. The damage, once again, is done.
They say that games aren’t played on paper. Isn’t it ironic that the league whose players haven’t turned in a paper their entire college existence is unfairly benefitting from the papers in front of the talking heads in Bristol?
As Breaking Bad nears its series finale, there are still a lot of unanswered questions as to how it all plays out. Who will prevail: Walt or Hank? Who is going to survive? Where is the flash-forward going?
The one question no one seems to be asking is: how does Breaking Bad relate to Penn State?
J Schnauzer: RowlffDogg misses his first PSU home game in decades and comforts himself with a keg of Bell's Octoberfest and a Costco box of Milkbones, Penn State converts on 50% of its third downs, and another surprising defender comes up big to squash the early efforts of the Eastern Michigan Eastern Emus.
45-7 good guys.
For the first time in our site's history none of our writers will be living in State College. We can't provide you the same in-game thoughts and experience, but we thought we'd re-introduce a series we began two years ago when RowlffDogg visited West Virginia. From time to time, we will venture out to different venues and record our experiences across the country. College football is a national game, with hundreds of locations offering great experiences every Saturday (and occasional Friday or Thursday). While Penn State won't be going to a bowl game soon, that offers us an opportunity to check out other places celebrating this awesome game.
Last Friday I went to one of the first games of the season: a home opener at Bill Snyder Family Stadium between Kansas State and FCS Powerhouse North Dakota State.
Two games since 1985. Michigan in 1995 and Central Michigan in 2005. Those were the only two home games I have missed since the middle of the Reagan administration.
As much as I would have loved to have witnessed the Snow Bowl and Joe Nastasi’s fake field goal touchdown, I was not allowed to leave the house. I wasn’t grounded or anything. We were just the victim of a nasty snow storm that prevented us from driving the three hour distance.
Central Michigan was a different story. Suffice it to say that Fall weddings are not acceptable. There is a name for people who have fall weddings. They’re called jerks.
So, there we have it. Two circumstances beyond my control have prevented me from a consecutive game streak that dated back to Temple 1986.
It is hard not to get excited over Christian Hackenberg’s performance in his first collegiate game. The highly touted freshman already had sky-high expectations and his debut did nothing to lessen them. I, for one, cannot wait to see what Bill O’Brien can do with this kid in a few years.
But what would have happened if the Paternos got a hold of Hackenberg? First, one would have to assume that Hackenberg would want to play under the tutelage of Jay Paterno. Secondly, one would have to assume that Joe would have made the effort to secure and maintain Hackenberg’s commitment. That is some heavy suspension of belief, my friends.
Let’s make those bold assumptions and dip into fantasy world for a moment, shall we?
Despite Rowlff's excellent take on Fantasy Football, we must acknowledge that you have probably been sucked into a fantasy football league due to a conversation similar to this one:
Friend: "Dude, do you want to play fantasy football?"
You: "Umm... I really just want to watch NFL football without having to worry about that now."
Friend: "C'mon, I really need a 14th person to make a complete league, and if we don't get one the entire league will collapse and everyone will hate you for the rest of your life."
You: (defeatedly) "Yeah... OK, whatever, I guess. What's the password?"
So now you sit with a date and time to randomly pick guys in colorful jerseys and slot them into random positions. Initially ambivalent, you now wish to dominate your friends, wrest the commissioner's spot after a first place finish, and then conveniently forget to re-start the league in 2014.
I know what you're thinking: "What do I do, JoePa's Doghouse? How do I get the inside edge to dismantle the league like Napoleon dismantled the Holy Roman Empire?" We are offering you an exclusive, surefire way to dominate your league, mock your friends, and bring back the simplicity of watching football for the sake of football through our Fantasy Football Draft Guide!
We are offering the top 10 fantasy picks at no cost to you. For our comprehensive guide of the top 6,320,931 fantasy picks, just send MM15.99 (Matt McCoin's, the only legal tender in The Doghouse!) plus shipping and handling to JPDH, 239 Joepasdoghouse Drive, Studio City, CA 90210. You'll get the insider information you so, so, so desperately crave.
JPDH'S TOP 10 HOT TAKE INSIDER GUIDE PICKS!
1st Pick-Isaako Aaitui (NT-New Orleans).
One of my favorite sports books is "Loose Balls," a historical review of the American Basketball Association. The best draft-related story concerns the Dallas Chaparrals in the first ABA draft. The owner of the Chaparrals went to the draft with a list of players provided by the coach. He called the Chaparrals' coach that evening triumphantly, stating that he got "all of the guys we wanted."
The coach fumed, "that wasn't a talent list--that was a list of players in alphabetical order!" The first player drafted by the Chaparrals was Matt Aitch. The second round pick was Jim Burns, and so on.
Fast forward 45 years, and those Dallas Chaparrals are now the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have been a standardbearer of greatness for decades, with 4 Championships, 5 Conference titles, and 19 division titles in their history. As a fantasy football owner, you want your team to have a similar foundation for greatness. Correspondingly, your first pick should be alphabetical. Picking Aaitui will shock and stun your fellow draftheads, but it's the smart move.
2nd Pick-Tim Tebow (QB-New England).
In the past three seasons, Tim Tebow has featured in our top ten a remarkable seven times. This is an "edge" pick--meaning by drafting Tebow you have gained an edge on your opponents. Everyone is concerned about the statistics you can measure, but how about those statistics you can't measure? In our opinion, no one has greater "immeasureables" than Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is the best player in the NFL when you factor in things like heart, sticktuitiveness, heart, gut-knowledge, ESPN-speak and heart. Get that edge and pick the guy who can lead you to a fantasy football victory on sheer will.
I don’t play fantasy football. In fact, I hate it. It’s somewhere between soccer and Bethany Frankel on my list of things I wish would go away. Just because I don’t desecrate the great game of football by turning it into a Dungeons & Dragons numbers game; that doesn’t mean I lack a fantastic vision.
So, football gods, I’m just sitting here, typing away on my computer. Getting sleepy. So tired… Thinking about college football… And what I’d like to see happen this year… Hehehe… Hmmm, that would be so cool…
Cue Robot Chicken dream sequence…
Another football season is upon us. That can only mean one thing- time for me to make myself look like an idiot.