Sunday, December 6, 2009

Perspective on Bowl Season 2009/10

* NOTE: As of the first posting of this entry, it is not complete. However, I wanted to get my picks out early on, so here it is. The analyses of each bowl will follow. Also, I've gone through as bowl season has progressed and put the "Verdict" (Right/Wrong) for each game.

Now that bowl season is here, let's run through the lineup and get some insight on each game.

Notable absences: Michigan and Notre Dame. Hehe.

New Mexico
Fresno State (8-4) vs. Wyoming (6-6)
Sponsor: Many.
Prediction: Fresno State
Verdict: Wrong (0-1)

St. Petersburg
UCF (8-4) vs. Rutgers (8-4)
Sponsor: Many.
Prediction: UCF
Verdict: Wrong (0-2)

R+L Carriers New Orleans
Southern Mississippi (7-5) vs. Middle Tennessee (9-3)
Sponsor: R+L Carriers. A freight shipping company based in Wilmington, OH.
Prediction: Southern Mississippi
Verdict: Wrong (0-3)

MAACO Las Vegas
18 Oregon State (8-4) vs. 14 BYU (10-2)
Sponsor: MAACO. A collision repair and auto painting corporation based in King of Prussia, PA.
Prediction: BYU
Verdict: Right (1-3)

S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia
23 Utah (9-3) vs. Cal (8-4)
Sponsor: San Diego County Credit Union. A credit union.
Prediction: Utah
Verdict: Right (2-3)

Sheraton Hawaii
Nevada (8-4) vs. SMU (7-5)
Sponsor: Sheraton Hotels and Resorts Hawaii.
Prediction: SMU
Verdict: Right (3-3)

Little Caesars
Marshall (6-6) vs. Ohio (9-4)
Sponsors: Little Caesars Pizza, Ford
Prediction: Ohio
Verdict: Wrong (3-4)

Meineke Car Care
17 Pittsburgh (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4)
Sponsor: Meineke Car Care Center
Prediction: Pittsburgh
Verdict: Right (4-4)

Boston College (8-4) vs. 24 USC (8-4)
Sponsor: Diamond Foods, Inc.
Prediction: USC
Verdict: Right (5-4)

Gaylord Hotels Music City
Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)
Sponsor: Gaylord Hotels
Prediction: Clemson
Verdict: Right (6-4)

AdvoCare V100 Independence
Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
Sponsor: Advocare. Makers of energy drinks and nutritional supplements sold through multilevel marketing.
Prediction: Georgia
Verdict: Right (7-4)

Army/UCLA vs. Temple
Sponsor: EagleBank
Prediction: Temple
Verdict: Wrong (7-5)

Champs Sports
15 Miami (9-3) vs. 25 Wisconsin (9-3)
Sponsor: Champs Sports
Prediction: Miami
Verdict: Wrong (7-6)

Roady's Humanitarian
Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)
Sponsor: Roady's Truck Stops
Prediction: Bowling Green
Verdict: Wrong (7-7)

Pacific Life Holiday
20 Arizona (8-4) vs. 22 Nebraska (9-4)
Sponsor: Pacific Life Insurance Company
Prediction: Nebraska
Verdict: Right (8-7)

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Houston (10-3) vs. Air Force (7-5)
Sponsor: Bell Helicopter
Prediction: Houston
Verdict: Wrong (8-8)

Brut Sun
Oklahoma (7-5) vs. 21 Stanford (8-4)
Sponsor: Brut
Prediction: Stanford
Verdict: Wrong (8-9)

Navy (8-4, with 1 to play) vs. Missouri (8-4)
Sponsor: ???
Prediction: Navy
Verdict: Right (9-9)

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
Sponsor: Insight Enterprises
Prediction: Minnesota
Verdict: Wrong (9-10)


11 Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee
Sponsor: Chick-fil-A
Prediction: Virginia Tech
Verdict: Right (10-10)


Northwestern (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)
Sponsor: Outback Steakhouse
Prediction: Northwestern
Verdict: Wrong (10-11)

Capital One
13 Penn State (10-2) vs. 12 LSU (9-3)
Sponsor: Capital One
Prediction: Penn State
Verdict: Right (11-11)

Konica Minolta Gator
16 West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)
Sponsor: Konica Minolta. Manufacturer of office equipment, medical imaging, optical devices, and measuring instruments.
Prediction: West Virginia
Verdict: Wrong (11-12)

Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi
8 Ohio State (10-2) vs. 7 Oregon (10-2)
Sponsor: Citi
Prediction: Oregon
Verdict: Wrong (11-13)

Allstate Sugar
5 Florida (12-1) vs. 3 Cincinnati (12-0)
Sponsor: Allstate Insurance
Prediction: Florida
Verdict: Right (12-13)

South Florida (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)
Sponsor: Many.
Prediction: South Florida
Verdict: Right (13-13)
South Carolina (7-5) vs. UConn (7-5)
Sponsor: Papa John's Pizza
Prediction: South Carolina
Verdict: Wrong (13-14)

AT&T Cotton
19 Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Ole Miss (8-4)
Sponsor: Southwestern Bell Corporation / SBC Communications / AT&T
Prediction: Oklahoma State
Verdict: Wrong (13-15)

AutoZone Liberty
Arkansas (7-5) vs. East Carolina (9-4)
Sponsor: AutoZone
Prediction: East Carolina
Verdict: Wrong (13-16)

Valero Alamo
Michigan State (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)
Sponsor: Valero Energy Corporation
Prediction: Texas Tech
Verdict: Right (14-16)

Tostitos Fiesta
6 Boise State (13-0) vs. 4 TCU (12-0)
Sponsor: Tostitos

Prediction: TCU
Verdict: Wrong (14-17)

FedEx Orange
10 Iowa (10-2) vs. 9 Georgia Tech (11-2)
Sponsor: FedEx
Prediction: Iowa
Verdict: Right (15-17)

Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)
Sponsor: GMAC Financial Services
Prediction: Central Michigan

Citi BCS National Championship Game
2 Texas (13-0) vs. 1 Alabama
Sponsor: Citi
Prediction: Alabama

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why This Season is Not a Huge Disappointment

There's a lot to complain about this college football season (officiating, parity, etc.), and if anyone would, you'd expect it to be me. And I did (see the previous blog about PSU football). But now it's time to look at the great stories in college football and be thankful (after all, it's this time of year). How's that for a segue?

First, Temple is bowl eligible. I can't describe with words how completely, utterly excited I am to see them in a bowl. It might be the thing I've looked forward to most this season (mainly because it isn't accompanied by an impending sense of dread like PSU-Iowa, PSU-OSU, Iowa-Indiana, etc.). You may be asking yourself, "You pig of an elitist, why do you care about a lowly, barely-Division IA (aside: I will NEVER use "FBS") team from one of the crappiest places on Earth?". And to be honest, I don't know why. Maybe it's because Al Golden is coach. Maybe it's because everyone loves the lovable loser that finally lifts itself up and succeeds. Maybe it's something else. But I love this team, and they're 8-2 and looking good.

Bill Simmons commonly uses the "Shawshank Redemption" as a metaphor for the 2004 Boston Red Sox season. I think that this metaphor could easily be applied to the 2009 Temple Owls season too. They've definitely crawled through their share of feces to reach the promised land that is bowl season. If you look at the Temple football program, its statistics look like this:
  • First season: 1894
  • Bowl record: 1-1-0 all time (Won Garden State Bowl in 1979, Lost Sugar Bowl in 1935)
  • All time record: 406-541-52 (.432)
  • Attendance record: 69029 (11/10/07 vs. Penn State)
  • Average attendance record: 34543 (1986)
That gives you an idea of where this program has been for the past 115 years. But this season has a different feel to it. Granted, they played one Division I-AA opponent (and lost) and their Division I-A opponents have a combined record of 32-61 (helped along by 9-2 PSU and 8-3 Navy). However, they finish their season with 5-5 Kent State and 7-3 Ohio, two wins that would go a long way toward legitimatizing their record (at least in the MAC).

Second, SMU is bowl eligible. Similar to Temple, this is a program that had fallen on hard times for more than two decades (although, to be fair, it was of their own accord) before this season. The only football program in the history of the NCAA to receive the "death penalty" (for those of you that don't know, the "death penalty" is when the NCAA terminates a sports program for a certain amount of time), they haven't been relevant since 1984, when they beat Notre Dame in the Aloha Bowl. Since they were reinstated, they've only had one winning season and have not gone to a bowl. That's changed this year. Looking at their first bowl in 25 years, they only really need to win one of their last two games (at 5-5 Marshall, vs. 3-7 Tulane) to lock up a late-December trip to a postseason game.

All that being said, it'll bring a tear to my eye to see Craig James' alma mater get up off the mat. The perennial crushing of his soul is a ray of sunshine in my life.

Third, many traditional powers continue to struggle. Why is this good? Wouldn't weak (and "weak" is a relative term here) Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Penn State, and Oklahoma teams be bad for the sport? No, it's not, and not just because I hate Michigan, Notre Dame, and USC, and love watching Rich Rodriguez being raked over the coals.

While there's been a dearth of truly outstanding games this season (due to the inability of any two good teams to meet... for example, this is Rivalry Week and the best game is Oregon-Arizona), non-traditional powers have emerged as contenders. It's entirely possible that TCU, Boise State, and (shudder) Georgia Tech could slip into the National Championship game (as a result of a series of terrible, terrible events, but still). And while these teams will likely be stuck on the outside looking in, they've shown the country that there are high-quality teams at schools not named Texas, Florida, USC, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.

Fourth, nobody wants to win the Heisman. At least, it seems that way. Again, isn't the lack of a truly dominant player bad? And the answer is unequivocally "No". Defensive players have a glimmer of hope. Running backs are once again relevant. Just like TCU and Boise State are showing that there are football programs other than Florida, players like Toby Gerhart, Dion Lewis, C.J. Spiller, and Jerry Hughes are showing that there are positions besides quarterback. By the way, I would do terrible things to see a defensive player win the Heisman.

Fifth, it's possible that all three service academies could make it to bowls. At least two of them will definitely be playing in bowls. Navy is 8-3. Air Force is 7-4. Army is 4-6 (and can become 6-6 and bowl eligible by finishing their season by beating 2-8 North Texas and Navy). Nobody doesn't want this to happen. Except the University of Kabul. Man, do they hate the service academies.

The truth is, I absolutely love seeing the service academies succeed. And not just because of who their players, fans, and alumni are, and the tremendous debt we owe them. I love seeing them succeed because they play a style of football not often seen today. Navy runs a predominantly option offense (if you don't know how I feel about the option, read my last post) and has shown that it works (statistically, they have 779 rushing yards to 3108 rushing yards on the season, with an average of 4.8 YPC). Air Force is a predominantly ground-based attack too (they have 7 guys with 100 yards on the season, 2 of whom have over 700 yards thus far; their offense has 900 passing yards to 3071 rushing yards, and they average 4.5 YPC). Army is similarly run-heavy (697 passing yards to 2133 rushing yards with 4.2 YPC). And yet two of these teams are bowl-bound, and the third could potentially sneak in. In the age of spread offenses, this is quite a feat.

All three have NEVER made bowls in the same season, so here's hoping Army rolls on 11/21 against the Mean Green and again on 12/12 in Philadelphia (Army, here's a hint to help you with Navy: you may see a triple option at some point).


So, in the spirit of the season, be thankful for all of these things. This has been a... unique... college football season, and I've actually enjoyed it on the whole. I'm getting crushed by work right now, so I probably won't be posting again until after the holiday, so have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Reflection on the State of Penn State Football

Writing during (and after) the Penn State - Indiana game, here are some quick thoughts about the Penn State football program and why we can't get back to a National Championship (and won't for years to come).

Poor Quarterback Play

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I now believe that Anthony Morelli was a better PSU quarterback than Daryll Clark (or was at least comparable). What evidence do I have? Take a look.

Bowl records
Anthony Morelli: Victories in Outback ('06-'07 season, 20-10 over Tennessee) and Alamo ('07-'08 season, 24-17 over Texas A&M)
Daryll Clark: Loss in Rose ('08-'09 season, 38-24 to USC)

Career record as starter
Anthony Morelli: 18-8 (9-7)
Daryll Clark: 19-3 (11-3)

Other big games
Anthony Morelli:
- Wins over: Notre Dame ('07), Iowa ('07), Wisconsin ('07), Michigan State ('06)
- Losses to: Notre Dame ('06), Ohio State ('06, '07), Michigan ('06, '07), Wisconsin ('06), Illinois ('07), Michigan State ('07)
Daryll Clark:
- Wins over: Oregon State ('08), Illinois ('08, '09), Ohio State ('08), Michigan ('08, '09), Michigan State ('08), Wisconsin ('08)
- Losses to: Iowa ('08, '09), Ohio State ('09)

Total offense (as of 11/13/09, with 2 regular season games left in Clark's career)
Anthony Morelli: 5275 passing yards, 31TD, 19INT
Daryll Clark: 5022 passing yards, 37TD, 14INT

While Clark's numbers are slightly better than Morelli's, they're not that much better. Morelli also brought home two bowl victories, while Clark has managed to lose every major game that he's played in. Maybe that's the difference here; nobody expected anything from Morelli, and he fulfilled (and probably surpassed) that expectation. People expected great things from Clark and he has been anti-clutch.

A final interesting point: Morelli was a five star recruit coming to PSU. Clark was a three star recruit. What this means, I don't know, other than the "experts" are apparently morons.

All that being said, both pale in comparison to the one, the only, Michael Robinson. But even MRob wasn't a great QB... he wasn't even a full-time starter at that position until his senior year, and it could be argued he was just an outstanding athlete that was stuck at QB. Before him, there was Zach Mills. The QB's of the last decade have not been quality.

The bottom line: PSU hasn't had a real quarterback since Kerry Collins (who graduated in '95), which was also the last time PSU was included in the National Championship discussion (well, in '94, but that's besides the point). Coincidence?

Under-utilization of Athletes / Poor Offensive Playcalling

This one is squarely on the shoulders of Galen Hall, the champion of the "three yards and a cloud of dust" mentality. A typical PSU drive looks like this:
First Down: HB Draw
Second Down: HB Draw (maybe a FB Dive if Hall is feeling frisky)
Third Down: WR Screen
Fourth Down: Punt

The most annoying thing to me is the general unwillingness of the PSU offense to run the option. This is something I've been harping on for years now. A good read option can freeze a defense in its tracks and really open up the play action pass. You can't tell me that a three-man backfield (in the 2008-2009 roster) with Clark, DWill, and Butler running the read option wouldn't make a defense think twice about doing anything? Even a triple option now and then would be refreshing. Anything that involves two men running in the same direction with the ball carrier having the ability to pitch to the other player is fine with me. Instead we get the "Spread HD", which is actually just the spread, but with a lot more HB Dives and less excitement.

To name a few of the players from the past five years that have not been allowed to reach their athletic potential:
1. Mike Robinson (he can do this)
- PSU took one of the greatest athletes ever to come through the school and stuck him in the backfield and told him not to move unless he had to. Come on. This man ended a Minnesota safety's football career. He could've been a RB, FB, QB, TE, WR, DE, LB, or FS (in my opinion, the position he was best suited for), but they made him a pocket passer. Talk about a total waste of talent. The fact that they treated him as a journeyman for the first three years of his collegiate career doesn't help.
2. Daryll Clark (he can do this)
- Again, the whole "Stay where you are until you're about to be annihilated. Then feel free to move."
3. Derrick Williams (he can do this)
- Whether his athletic talents were under-utilized is debatable, as he was sometimes lined up as an RB, sometimes as a WR, and sometimes as a QB (basically the Wildcat before it was called that). However, running the option would've really allowed him to blow some defenses apart. After a while, defenses get that any weird formation equals a DWill run.

I'm sure there are others, but I just don't care to expand on this topic. It'll just make me angry at Galen Hall. Moving on.

Note: The two clips worth viewing are from the 2005 season. Just saying.

Note 2: About the Wildcat. I was running this offense in NCAA 2004 for XBox years before it blazed onto the college and pro football scenes, and in Madden for years before that. This offense is nothing special. A pasty, white teenager from the suburbs of Hartford that has never played a down of organized football in his life stumbled upon it on his own. Can't be that great. Or maybe I am that great. You decide.

The bottom line: Why bother bringing in fast, elusive players if you're not going to use them (or are just going to hit them on a slant occasionally)? Although to be fair, the lack of a real home run threat can be limiting at times.

Poor Fan Support

Ever since the 2005 OSU-PSU game when Kirk Herbstreit called the PSU student section the "Best Student Section In The Country", it has been anything but. There have been maybe three games since then that the student section was full both before the end of the first quarter and after the start of the fourth quarter.

Am I in favor of reducing the size of the student section (something that has been proposed over and over)? Since I am now an alumni, it is undoubtedly my obligation to say yes. If they're not going to show, I'm sure there are alumni that will be glad to take those seats.

The Athletic Department is no doubt partly responsible for the poor turnout. Two things have gone a long way toward ensuring at least some empty seats at every game:
1. Ticketing process
- Making it virtually impossible to buy/sell student tickets, many simply go unused.
2. Cost
- Not only is the current cost an issue, but the prices for tickets will actually be increasing next year. No better way to alienate your fan base than jacking prices to watch your home team play a completely overmatched opponent!

The bottom line: It's very simple. Come early, be loud, stay late. If you can't manage that, you have some much larger issues to work on. And the student section should probably be shrunk until the students prove that there are enough of them to warrant that many seats.

Poor Scheduling

Recruits (and BCS voters, and alumni) don't want to see the team beating up on Coastal Carolina and Eastern Illinois. The strength of schedule has been a running joke for a while now, and if we ever did run the table, it could be a serious problem. Not only that, the lack of quality teams each year really makes it difficult for PSU fans to gauge how good the team is (for example, the '09-'10 Nittany Lions, who have lost to the only two quality teams on their schedule).

The bottom line: Unfortunately, this won't change. It's all about economics, and PSU "needs" to pack Beaver Stadium at least 7 times a season. It's the reason we don't play Pittsburgh anymore (PSU wouldn't spring for a home-and-home series for any extended period). Tim Curley and his cronies in the Athletic Department continue to disappoint (see: "Poor Fan Support" discussion above for reinforcement).


This one usually gets overlooked. Coincidentally, it's the same reason our hottest cheerleader bears a striking resemblance to Bruce Vilanch. Where is football a way of life? PLACES WITH WARM CLIMATES. Places like Texas, Florida, California, and the Midwest.

As a result, 8 of the last 25 AP national champions were from the Midwest (actually, only 6... I cheated and included Ohio State and Notre Dame here), 12 were from the Southeast, and 4 were from the West. By comparison, only 1 ('86 Penn State) was from the Mid-Atlantic or New England.

The bottom line: We can't control this, just have to deal with it. Unless China has some wacky ideas for us. I hear they're into controlling the weather (link: AFP: Playing with weather stirs debate in China).


We play in a place that nobody wants to live, don't show up for our team, have poor offensive team leaders (both under center and in the press box), don't use the athletes we do have, and win only because we play crappy teams. Yep, sounds about right. Until a few of these things change, PSU will not be competing for a National Championship. It's sad to say, but it's true.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thoughts on Beloved Sports Movies (Part I)

(Note: This is only the first installment of a segment that will surely return later.)

"Rocky": What do you think the Vegas odds on Rocky going the distance were? The announcer mentions before the fight that "Vegas odds say 'No'", but the odds are never given. 100 to 1? 1000 to 1? Also, Gazzo, the guy Rocky worked for breaking thumbs and such, clearly had some major cash on Rocky (given his enthusiasm for the fight). What happened to the money he won? I guess this question is akin to "What would Maurice Clarett do if he came into a fortune?". Answer for yourself so I'm not held liable (by the way, Mr. Clarett apparently has a blog in prison, so take a look: The last thing I need is an angry ex-Buckeye with a history of violence coming after me.

"Mighty Ducks": Is "the Oreo line" not the most racist title for a group of three kids ever uttered on the silver screen? How did that get by Disney censors? Not that I don't love it... subtle racism in a childrens' movie is always good for a chuckle. It was just so flagrant... then again, what can we expect from a movie starring Emilio Estevez as the only responsible adult?
A few more things about Mighty Ducks that my brothers and I have discussed over the years (some of these apply to Mighty Ducks II and III):
1) Are we to believe that Trinidad and Tobago made the Junior Goodwill games while Russia did not? If you're going to reach, reach for a country that introduces some serious questions. Like Somalia.
2) Since when is Iceland the world power in hockey? Why not pick the lower-hanging fruit and choose Canada? That way you could have the awesome unintentional comedy of a mean Canadian coach. And for a bonus, that coach could've been Barry Melrose, who was at the height of his mullet-glory.
3) Luis Mendoza... the worst sports character of all time. What good is a kid if he lacks the ability to exhibit the fundamentals of the sport he's playing? That's like putting Kenny Lofton on the USA Olympic hockey team. Sure, he's fast, but he can't really do much of anything else (on second thought, that would be awesome and I would pay prodigious amounts of money to see that). In a related story, why did Jan feel the need to repeatedly and meticulously build a wall of cans (which appears to have taken hours) when he knew there was a 99.9% chance the kid was going to take it out? A large cardboard box wouldn't have sufficed?
4) When Dwayne ropes in the Iceland player preparing to rape Connie, why do the refs make up the "roping" penalty? "Roughing" wouldn't suffice? Although I guess officials are in the habit of making up penalties, with hilarious consequences ( and are two great examples).
5) Goldberg... a fat Jewish (and possible Hispanic) goalie? Really? I guess that strategy should be used more often in sports: take the groups of people that aren't known for playing a particular sport, combine them, and place a team's entire season on them. Worked for the Ducks.

"Rudy": One of the most beloved football movies of all time, I definitely need to take some shots at it. I love this movie just as much as anybody, but there are definitely some things about it that irk me.
1) I understand the whole "following a dream thing", but how many lives do you have to ruin to do it? Rudy leaves a trail of hurt people behind him to, in the end, play one down in a game where the result wasn't in doubt. Was it worth it? Was it? I guess if I lived in Indiana I'd just want to get out too, no matter how many people I took down in my wake.
2) Who thought it was a good idea to paint Jon Favreau as a nerd that needed SEAN ASTIN (of all people) to instill confidence in him? Anyone who's seen "Swingers" can't possibly watch Rudy and say "Okay, Favreau was right for the part.". Granted, in "Swingers" he played the same kind of guy (that is, a guy with no balls that needs to just get laid), but at least he had Vince Vaughn to "baby" and "money" him to the finish (if you don't get it, rent the movie).
3) A simple mistake (one that I actually posted on IMDB) that should be caught by every college football fan out there annoys me every time. In the final game in the movie, his family enters the stadium for a Notre Dame - Georgia Tech football game, but the band on the field is playing "The Nittany Lion", not "Ramblin' Wreck". Rudy, please.

So that covers three of my favorite sports movies of all time. There are a large number left to take down a few notches, so I'll probably be writing about them at a later date. Hope you enjoyed reading.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Inevitable Return of the Great White USFL

(For those of you who missed the Bloodhound Gang reference, go back to the late 1990's/early 2000's and relive those years. And pick up a copy of "Hooray for Boobies" while you're there. Thank me later.)

In the early 1980's a league of has-been and wanna-be football players got together with a bunch of millionaires that had nothing to lose and formed a springtime football league called the USFL (United States Football League). It only lasted 3 seasons and hemorrhaged cash like Chevy Chase on a three-day bender, but it permanently changed the landscape of professional football forever.

If you haven't heard of this league before, don't feel bad. But some of the guys that played in the league are familiar to all: Doug Flutie (the greatest football journeyman of any generation, doing two different stints in the NFL (with five different teams total), one in the CFL (with three different teams), and one in the USFL (only one team!); he was also a broadcaster for ABC and ESPN, and is now announcing UFL games), Herschel Walker, Steve Young, and Craig James, to name a few. Some of the USFL coaches included Jim Mora, Howard Schnellenberger, and Lee Corso. Donald Trump was an owner (and ruined the league, but more on that later).

If those names don't convince you of the greatness of the league, maybe the team names will do it for you. Names like Oakland Invaders, Pittsburgh Maulers, Houston Gamblers, Memphis Showboats, and Boston Breakers.

Still not convinced? Let's talk about some of the rules. They'll also be familiar to you; ever hear of a "two point conversion"? How about a "coach's challenge"? Both started in the USFL and were adopted by the NFL. Some of the other rules weren't adopted but are equally epic: a four-point field goal for a 50-yard kick, no touchbacks, four-point safeties, and a three-point conversion from the 10-yard line were among the rules that made the league special.

So why would I talk about a now-defunct football league 24 years after it folded? Because it's coming back! At least, that's the plan. Supposedly kicking off (excuse the pun) in February 2010, the league still doesn't have any official teams (not a good omen for a season starting in 4 months). Suffice it to say Hartford is NOT in the running (and yet, curiously, Anchorage is - surely not a good sign for New England's self-proclaimed "rising star").

There is still much uncertainty around the league, but if I was putting the league together here's what I'd do.
1) Stick to the spring! Trump buried the original USFL by moving it to a fall schedule. Competing with the NFL too early is an awful idea for an upstart league (see: UFL), and that mistake needs to be avoided this time around.
2) Bust out some odd rules. Besides those mentioned above (4-point FG's, 3-point PAT's, no touchbacks, 4-point safeties), remove receiver eligibility (that is, make it so anyone on the field can catch the ball without penalty), make all formations legal as long as all players are behind the line of scrimmage pre-snap (think of the Wildcat on steroids and try not to smile), allow up to four players to be in motion pre-snap, and move the first down to 20 yards instead of 10.
3) Limit the league to no more than 10 teams for the first 5 years. The other thing that sunk the USFL (besides Trump's ridiculous ego) was the rapid expansion of the league (especially into cities where the level of fan interest was uncertain). Once the league has been around for 5 years, gauge interest and re-evaluate the expansion.
4) Make Bill Simmons commissioner. I feel like he's the only man fit to run such a league.

The great thing about the USFL was that it was composed of mostly no-name guys. This is something that would need to be continued in the new USFL, and I hope it is (assuming the league ever gets off the ground). Guys with no future play their guts out every game in the hopes of getting noticed by the NFL, and that was one great thing about the old USFL. The rules I outlined above would go a long way toward breeding a generation of athletes that could transition to the NFL at some point and make an impact, and yet avoid a lot of the lame issues that the NFL Europe, AFL, and UFL ran into (these were all supposed to be "minor leagues" for the NFL but failed in an epic way); think of an entire league of Darren Sproles' and tell me that wouldn't be the most entertaining league ever.

Anyway, that's enough for now. It's somewhat incoherent and rambling (and probably not as entertaining as you'd all like), but get over it. It's my first post. I'm stretching my legs here. Until next time... stay angry.

You May Be Asking Yourself "Why?".

And I would respond "Why not?". If every other person with a lot to say about nothing has a blog, why not me? I have as much of a right to rant and rave as the next fat person, so here I am.

This blog will mainly be dedicated to the sports world, which is ironic, because this is the time of year when I usually go into my sports-hibernation (basketball and hockey just don't cut it; I emerge for Bowl Week(s), but other than that, I'm usually dead to the sports world until April). Just figured I'd put out an introductory post, so stay tuned.