Tuesday, July 31, 2007
UMass has some natural rivalries waiting for it in the bowl subdivision (we’ll stick with 1-A for simplicity’s sake). First and foremost are the in-state rival Boston College Eagles. This year, just as they did in 2004, the Minutemen and Eagles will play in Chestnut Hill. In 2004, BC won by a 29-7 count. We’ll have more on this foe later. In 2005, UMass went to West Point to face Army and lost 34-27, and just last year they played at Navy, losing 21-20. Navy wound up winning nine games and the loss was UMass’s only one until the National Championship. Two other rivals UMass could potentially take on are Temple, with whom UMass has a basketball rivalry, and UConn, who were also basketball rivals until a 61-59 upset in 2004 by the Minutemen reduced Jim Calhoun to tears. Syracuse is also a geographically sensible opponent, and with the Orange and Minutemen facing each other on the hardwood this year, perhaps the AD’s can come together and discuss a possible gridiron meeting.
As far as a stadium, there are a few options. First, there is the option to massively renovate McGuirk Alumni Stadium. This would probably entail breaking down the walls behind each end zone and building 7,000 seat grandstands on each end. This would bring the total capacity to 31,000, which is right around the absolute minimum needed to get serious consideration from the Big East. Of course, the Big East is a stretch to begin with, but since they only have eight teams in football, you just never know. If UMass can be competitive as in independent, maybe there’s an outside chance Randy Edsall or someone else will put in a good word for us. Can you imagine a Saturday night home game against West Virginia under the lights?
First Night Game
2004:As for Boston College, the Eagles’ Athletic Department recently announced that they would not invite the UMass Marching Band to Alumni Stadium as they did in 2004. Steve Buckley wrote a nice article about this situation in the Herald (Article). In it, he notes the possibility of UMass making the jump to 1-A. There is actually already a committee in place to discuss whether or not this is a logical idea. Let this be my soap box: BRING UMASS TO DIVISION 1-A FOOTBALL. Because there's nothing quite like Saturday afternoon on a true football campus, right? I mean, we’re in a much better situation than, say, Boston University. But it could always be better.
10: Let's have a Big Ten/Pac 10 Rose Bowl.
This really shouldn't be an issue, but it is. Since the BCS was formed, the Rose Bowl has twice hosted the National Championship. Now the national title is a fifth game, separate from the old Alliance Bowls. However, aside from the two national title games (2001 Miami vs Nebraska and 2005 Texas vs USC), there have been a few seasons when, puzzlingly, the match up has not been the Big Ten and Pac 10. For instance, in 2002, USC and Iowa met in the Orange Bowl while Oklahoma met Washington State in the Rose Bowl. We wouldn't have even needed to switch the matchups in this case. Also, in 2004, Michigan was expected to play Cal in the Grandaddy, but Cal was snubbed in favor of Texas in the final BCS poll. Fortunately, Vince Young was able to prove the computers right.
9: Have the Iron Bowl in Birmingham.
This game is too big to be played in each team's home stadium. The fans in the state of Alabama should see the game on neutral territory. And don't give us the "we need to make sure each team gets equal home and road games" nonsense, because fellow SEC members Florida and Georgia play in Jacksonville every year.
8: Stop Favoring Notre Dame.
We get it. The NCAA wants the Irish to be a power again. That's great. But stop sending them to Bowl Games they don't deserve to be in. Everyone knew that LSU would manhandle ND in the Sugar Bowl, because the two BCS schools the Irish played in the regular season had done just the same. Notre Dame in the BCS has been blown out by Oregon State and LSU, and lost somewhat respectably to Ohio State. Guys, seriously, just have them play in the Gator Bowl. It will be okay, the fans won't commit suicide. Promise.
7: Throw Southern Methodist a frickin' bone.
Seriously, the only program in the history of college football to receive the "Death Penalty" has had enough. The people who are there now had nothing to do with the scandals of the 1980's. Help them out; get some Mustang games on ESPN in prime time -- preferably the winnable ones -- and let's see if the Ponies can't find their way into a bowl game by 2012.
6: Have a Big Ten Championship Game.
The idea that a conference must have 12 teams in order to have a title game is fine, but there needs to be an exception here. Ohio State and Michigan were both undefeated when they played this year, and fortunately they got the chance to sort it out on the field. However, what if there were a season when the two unbeaten schools never met? This is the only BCS conference where this is an issue. The Pac 10 has nine conference games, so everyone plays everyone, the Big East only has eight schools, and the other three (ACC, Big XII, SEC) have title games already in place. Notre Dame isn't joining a conference any time soon, so let's just have 6 teams in one division and 5 in the other. It will be okay. Promise.
5: Continue to make the BCS more "small conference friendly".
The interesting thing about the BCS is that the "big boys" are 0-2 against teams from smaller conferences. Utah dominated Pittsburgh in 2004 and Boise State of course had the fantastic finish against Oklahoma. Both were in the Fiesta Bowl, and both made it clear that it's not only fair, but also extremely fun to have these David vs. Goliath games in January. It wouldn't even be a stretch to say that a "1 non-BCS program per year" plan could work.
4: Chill out with the celebration penalties.
I understand the crackdown here, and in a few ways I support it. I don't think we should allow players who have just scored touchdowns to rifle the ball into (or out of) the stands. However, there have been points where this has become completely absurd. Jay Cutler almost closed his college career out with wins over Florida and in-state rival Tennessee. Why almost? Well, after Cutler threw a TD pass to cut Florida's lead to 1 in the swamp, Vanderbilt was going to go for two and the win. However, a celebration penalty (and a phantom one at that) caused them to settle for a PAT. The Gators won in overtime. Let the kids play, and it will be okay. Promise.
3: Bring back the Florida Cup.
I still don't understand why this is even an issue. Florida still plays Florida state at the end of every season, and now Miami and FSU play in their ACC opener. So why doesn't Miami just continue to play Florida? It's clear that the Canes aren't afraid of scheduling tough non conference teams. They get Oklahoma this year. Plus those games were unbelievably fun to watch. In 2002, when Miami beat Florida 41-16, sportswriters began muttering about how that team from "The U" might be better than some NFL teams. Plus the 2003 game at the Orange Bowl was an absolute classic.
2: Inform Duke that they have exactly five years to field a respectable program.
Duke football is something else. They play in a horseshoe that would make Buckeye fans chuckle. Actually, it might even make Harvard fans laugh. They have one win in the past two seasons, and they probably bottomed out with a 13-0 loss at home to Richmond. If you play division 1-AA teams at home and fail to score a point, there's a problem. The ACC obviously won't drop Duke as the Big East did Temple, only because Duke helps enormously in basketball (men's and women's) and with academic standards.
1: Add the Cotton Bowl and one other game to the existing BCS, and play a 12 day, 7 game, 8 team playoff.
It's really quite simple. The first slate of games would be December 21st and January 1st, and would include all eight teams playing in the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and the Sun Bowl (or any other that gets promoted to BCS status). Then on January 5 and 6 the Rose Bowl (between the December 31st winners) and Orange Bowl (between the January 1st winners) are played, respectively. Finally, the BCS Championship game is held on January 11th. This idea can be tweaked, but I really don't see any glaring problems with it at this point. And yes, rule #5 is still in effect. A playoff is the only way to get to an undisputed champion. It will be okay. Promise.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Speaking of the Truth, last summer I went to a Modell's and found that they were selling Pierce jerseys for extremely cheap. My conclusion is that they were trying to clear out the Reebok C's jerseys for the new Adidas ones which include the clover above the player's last name (Link). I'm a bit of a purist, so I don't mind missing that detail at all. Of course, I will now contradict myself and announce that I went with the C's alternate jersey.
The weird thing about this is that Adidas owns Reebok, so why even change who does the NBA's jerseys? I guess they've remained relatively separate, as Reebok has kept the NFL and Boston College, and Adidas has kept all of its schools (Wisconsin, Tennessee, UCLA, etc). Also, when they switched the NBA's jerseys they had a fire sale of the Reebok "Hardwood Classics" collection. The interesting thing about these jerseys are that they're just like the Mitchell and Ness versions with two differences that I can notice: First, the Mitchell and Ness versions appear to be solid polyester, whereas the Reebok ones are mesh. Second, the Reebok ones suffer from what the great Paul Lukas refers to as "logo creep". So I picked up a Bill Russell jersey (which on the M&N website was then listed at $220) and put green dye over the Reebok logo. Overall I'm fairly satisfied with my purchase.
The rest of the collection isn't phenomenal, but there are some high points. There is the Manu Ginobili Argentina jersey from the 2002 World Championships, the Julius Erving jersey from the 1971 UMass team, the Nick Collison Kansas jersey, the awful Boston University throwback, which I believe is supposed to be Tunji Awojobi, and a couple of screened on hoops jerseys. Also in other sports, a Norwich City jersey, a game worn UMass football jersey (from the 2004 season), and a Trot Nixon Red Sox alternate jersey which is now a J.D. Drew jersey.
Hank of course will not be in attendance tonight, or any night for that matter, to see Bonds tie or break his record. He will not make any statement on his feelings about the record, and as he puts it, by making no statement is making a statement. Baseball has become the centerpiece of the steroid era, even though it may not be the most guilty (see: Tour de France), but that's because it's such an important sport. Major League Baseball has been around since the nineteenth century, and the idea that batting records set in the enhancement era will be as useless as pitching records from the dead ball era is just nauseating. It didn't have to happen.
But it did. Thanks Barry, think of all of us when you cross home plate after 755 and point to God.
Maybe Korea will get it right. I say we scrap the Tiburon and come out with something new; the Hyundai T2, or something like that. Give it 200 ponies, a 6-speed manual, a retractable hard top, and some nice lines, and watch the Japanese-loyalists jump the fence.